Steve Bridgland, Co-Chair. Steve joined the Wild Bear Board in 2014 after deciding that it was about time to try and make a contribution to a local organization dedicated to bringing science-based environmental education programs to young people – something he believes should be made available to everyone under the age of 90. Steve is originally from England but we don’t hold that against him. He splits his time between Nederland and New York City where he works for a boutique European bank that specializes in investing in commercial aircraft on lease to airlines around the world and where he has primary responsibility for fundraising. Steve discovered Colorado in 2006 and is on his second Nederland home and there is no place he would rather be than outside in the Rockies enjoying one of his drugs of choice – hiking, biking, swimming, running, photographing the stunning vistas, figuring out how to play the banjo or contemplating his next bike purchase. Steve is married to Andrea, a doctor, and they have a daughter, Milly, who they are rather fond of. They believe that Milly and other young people like her need to be educated about and learn how to enjoy our precious natural resources in a sustainable way.
Dorothy Whalen, Co-Chair. Dorothy has fond memories of being a “free-range” child while spending summers with her grandmother in northern Michigan. The nearby woods and lake provided the background for many day-long adventures. Because of Wild Bear, Dorothy’s granddaughters get to enjoy some of the same joys of exploring the great outdoors, just a little more supervised. Today, one of Dorothy’s greatest joys is to watch the elk as they walk behind her house, moving between the meadows along Magnolia Road. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, College of Engineering, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California, and a Masters’ in human development and family studies from Colorado State University. She last worked as an adjunct instructor at Front Range Community College teaching sociology and gender courses. She retired at the end of the fall 2014 semester after 16 years of teaching. Dorothy now volunteers as a docent at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum and as a Wild Bear board members. She also enjoys traveling with her husband.
John Farrell, Vice-Chair. John joined Wild Bear’s Board in 2014 shortly after moving back to Colorado. John received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Purdue University and his doctoral degree in physical chemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has spent his career in the energy field with a focus on transportation, and is currently Program Manager for Vehicle Technologies at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden. His passion for connecting children (and reconnecting adults) with the land was ignited when his own children were young; he was initially surprised, and eventually dismayed when he would take them outside to play in the dirt, interact with insects, or romp in the woods and find that there were no other children outside. He is convinced that establishing a strong tie to the earth is critical for the health of our culture and for healing our planet.
Amber Erickson Gabbey, Secretary. Amber joined Wild Bear’s board in 2014 out of a desire to give back to the community and passion for environmental education. By day, Amber is a content marketer and freelance writer. She believes her life purpose is to share information that helps people live their happiest and healthiest life possible. Amber has a B.A. in journalism from Boise State University and M.A. in holistic health studies with a focus on environmental health from St. Catherine University. Born and raised in MN – with a 2-year stint in Idaho – Amber and her husband Erik moved to Nederland in 2012 with the intention of trying something new, living more intentional lives and surrounding themselves with the great outdoors. For fun, Amber enjoys teaching yin yoga, mountain biking (or attempting to), hiking with her puppies, identifying wildflowers and relaxing in the sunshine.
Laura Wilkins, Treasurer. Living in Illinois her whole life, and with her only daughter Alexandra in college, Laura and her husband made the move to Nederland. Always wanting to get involved in an organization like Wild Bear, she decided to become a part of it in 2016. Laura has always had a passion for fostering education through animals and nature. That’s probably why her work life is such a zoo, literally. She has been a part of Brookfield Zoo (located in Brookfield Illinois) since 2002 in their financial department. Now working for the zoo as their Manager of Budgeting, Forecasting, and Grant Administration from her home in Nederland, she can always catch a glimpse of the wildlife passing through and spectacular mountain views. She graduated with a B.A in accounting and a Master’s in Business Administration both from Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. Laura is also a Certified Public Accountant. She is a proud of being a member of such a wonderful organization and hopes to connect both the young and the old to nature.
Lisa Bayer. Lisa is a founder and Principal at Opus Financial Solutions, LLC, having begun her career in finance 30 years ago. The roles she held previously included securities compliance, investment analysis, institutional portfolio management, and teaching corporate finance and financial planning topics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Lisa is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA); a Certified Financial Planner (CFP); obtained her MBA in International Business from DePaul’s Graduate School of Business; and her BS in Finance from the University of Illinois.
Lisa grew up in Western Springs, Illinois and lives in Boulder, Colorado. While an adventurer at heart, enjoying world travel and ever new experiences, her greatest joy has been watching her children—both now attending college–evolve into kind, smart, empathetic human beings who she believes will change the world for the better.
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