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Collaborating Well

Collaborating Well logo

The Collaborating Well Initiative is focused on advancing collaborative approaches to landscape conservation and stewardship by developing curricula that can be delivered in a variety of ways to practitioners. Our goal is to build the scaffolding that can support the burgeoning landscape stewardship movement and increase partnership capacity at scale by enabling us to practice conservation in ways that are more inclusive, informed, and integrative. Collaborating Well objectives are to:

  • To enhance the efficacy of collaborative efforts tackling today’s most complex issues
  • Prepare individuals to practice collaborative leadership effectively
  • Build organizations and communities with a collaborative worldview and inclusive mindset
  • Advance and promote collaboration as a vehicle for change

Given the complexity of land and water stewardship across the country – typically spanning multiple jurisdictions and involving multiple stakeholders, sectors, and sources of knowledge — the need for collaborative leadership has become increasingly urgent. While the potential of collaborative approaches to address this complexity has been widely acknowledged, there is less focus on what it actually means to act collaboratively and display the traits needed for effective, measurable, and durable results.

The Collaborating Well Initiative is made up of thought leaders working at regional, statewide, national, and international scales in service of collaborative approaches to the shared challenges of 21st century conservation. Each member comes to the work from a different background, but all are driven by the principle that in working together, we can achieve more than any one of us can do alone. Learn more about the Collaborating Well members below!

Lisa Brush

Lisa Brush has been leading collaborative conservation initiatives in the environmental sector for over two decades. In her role as CEO and Founder of the award-winning Stewardship Network she has engaged thousands of professionals and volunteers in identifying community and conservation needs of the 21st century and determining strategic support The Network can provide. She has been involved in all aspects of organizational management including foundation/agency relationships; grant based project funding; budget tracking; contract negotiation, implementation, accountability; and staff and board development. Lisa has facilitated strategic planning sessions, focus groups, citizen task forces, community visioning sessions, and public involvement and feedback meetings with groups ranging in size from four to four hundred. Lisa serves on numerous boards of directors, has a BA in Science in Society from Wesleyan University, an MS from University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, and is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Great Lakes Leadership Academy.

Sharon Farrell

Sharon Farrell is Executive Vice President of Projects, Stewardship & Science. Sharon and her team lead the organization’s project design and delivery, conservation initiatives, community science, restoration, and stewardship programs. This includes advancing opportunities for engaging partners, scientists and community members in research, monitoring and many aspects of land stewardship. Sharon also works closely with agency partners to oversee the One Tam Initiative, a community initiative to help ensure a healthy future for Mt. Tamalpais.

Prior to joining the Parks Conservancy in 2004, Sharon was the Executive Director of the Watershed Project. Her work included capacity building for “Friends” groups, with a focus on partnership and fund development with municipalities and local governments. Sharon developed training and grants programs to support this work, and forged regional partnerships with other Bay Area non-profit organizations to support community-based stakeholder groups.

Sharon has also worked as an ecologist and resource specialist with the National Park Service, a resource planner with the Presidio Trust, and as an environmental consultant. Sharon holds a MS in Park Management with emphasis on Ecological Restoration and Community Stewardship, and a BS in Chemistry.

Sharon is an avid backpacker, nature photographer, and explorer. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in the East Bay with her wife Sue, their two children, and their dog, Marco. Together they are frequent hikers of the amazing landscapes on Mt. Tam, Point Reyes, and the Marin Headlands.

Shawn Johnson

Shawn Johnson is Managing Director of the Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy at the University of Montana and co-director of the Center’s graduate certificate program in Natural Resources Conflict Resolution.  Shawn organizes and leads strategic planning and capacity building workshops for a wide variety of organizations focused on natural resource policy and management and has served as a facilitator and mediator on issues ranging from land use planning and forest management to conservation priority setting and regional collaboration.

For the past ten years, he has helped advance a joint effort between the Center and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy on regional collaboration and large landscape conservation. The joint effort explores questions of policy, leadership, and governance at regional or landscape scales, where there is often a mismatch between the scale of an existing challenge or opportunity and that of existing organizations and jurisdictions. In May 2011, Shawn helped organize and convene a group of large landscape conservation practitioners that led to a new network of practitioners throughout North America who are working to improve community and conservation outcomes at the large landscape scale — the Practitioners’ Network for Large Landscape Conservation. Shawn is co-author, with Matthew McKinney, of Working Across Boundaries: People, Nature, and Regions (Lincoln Institute, 2009). He also contributed to Large Landscape Conservation, A Strategic Framework for Policy and Action (Lincoln Institute, 2010) and Remarkable Beyond Borders: People and Landscapes in the Crown of the Continent (Sonoran Institute, 2010). Prior to his work at the Center, Shawn earned a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and spent three years as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Max Baucus.

Devin Landry

Devin Landry serves as coordinator of the California Landscape Stewardship Network. In this role, he supports the Network’s mission of advancing cross-boundary, landscape-scale stewardship through tracking the Network’s various initiatives, drafting network-wide communications, and event planning. Devin also provides facilitative support to the Network for Landscape Conservation’s Catalyst Fund Peer Learning Cohort, as well as to the Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy at the University of Montana.

Prior to working in landscape conservation and stewardship, Devin conducted wildlife research across the U.S. Northern Rockies. Whether it’s his background in research, policy, or connecting the two through practice, he maintains a passion for understanding how people connect with nature and place to care for the land and their communities. Devin holds a B.A. in English and Religious Studies from Skidmore College and a M.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana, where he also gained certification in the Natural Resources Conflict Resolution Program.

Amy Mickel

Dr. Amy Mickel earned her doctorate from University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. She has been a full-time faculty member at Sacramento State since 2000. She has taught in MBA programs domestically and overseas and in the inaugural CA Parks Leadership Development Program. Her research is published in prestigious and international journals such as Academy of Management Review, Human Relations, Journal of Management Education, and Journal of Management Inquiry.

Dr. Mickel has also served the State of California and other organizations as a principal research investigator and consultant, including California Department of Parks and Recreation (Division of Boating &Waterways and OHMVR Division), Delta Protection Commission, and One Tam (Marin, CA). The most recent projects she has completed include: (a) 2018 California Boating Facilities Needs Assessment (Ten Volumes), (b) Recreation & Tourism in the Delta (2019) for Delta Protection Commission, and (c) Generating, Scaling Up, and Sustaining Partnership Impact: One Tam’s First Four Years (2018) and Partnership Impact Evaluation Guide (2019) for One Tam and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Chandni Navalkha

Chandni Navalkha is the Program Manager for Land Conservation Programs within the Department of Planning and Urban Form, where she works on projects to advance and accelerate the enduring protection of land and water resources worldwide. Prior to joining the Lincoln Institute, Chandni was a fellow with the Sri Lanka Program for Forest Conservation, conducting research on the impacts of conservation on local livelihoods near the Sinharaja World Heritage Site. Chandni has worked for organizations in North America, Latin America, and South Asia supporting urban, peri-urban, and rural communities involved in voluntary land and resource conservation, and earlier in her career worked in change management for private and public sector organizations as a consultant with Accenture. She holds a Master’s in Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a dual Bachelor of Arts in English and Economics from Cornell University.

Yakuta Poonawalla

Yakuta was born and raised in India, and her love affair with nature began during her first trek to the Indian Himalayas at the age of fifteen. Since that initiation, she has continued to develop her relationship with the natural world, and has worked with various non-profit organizations in India and the US to educate, inspire, and cultivate love and respect for the environment.

She studied Communications and Media with a focus on social issues at Sophia College in Mumbai, India which fueled her passion for women’s rights, and environmental, racial and social justice, and gave her the confidence to pursue a life of intention. Yakuta currently works for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy where she leads the San Francisco Park Stewardship Program and is developing creative programs that focus on inclusion, cultural relevance, mindfulness and healing. She is a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee at the Parks Conservancy, and is deeply involved in various initiatives across the park. 

When she is not working, you will find her on a trail – either examining a wildflower or in awe of a mountain. 

Armando Quintero

Armando Quintero, of San Rafael is the Chair of the California Water Commission and serves as the Executive Director of the University of California, Merced Sierra Nevada Research Institute. He was an independent environmental educator and outdoor trip leader from 1998 to 2008 and held multiple positions with the U.S. National Park Service from 1977 to 1998, including ranger-naturalist, personnelist, district ranger and chief of the special park uses group at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. As an elected Board Member of the Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors, Mr. Quintero was very involved with the creation of the One Tam Partnership.

Dylan Skybrook

Dylan Skybrook is the Manager of the Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network. Previously, Skybrook was a systems leadership consultant who has worked with United Way, Arts Midwest, Impact Hub Minneapolis/Saint Paul, the Minnesota Social Innovation Lab and many others. Skybrook designed online learning modules on systems thinking and complexity at the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota as well as guest lecturing on the topic at Kaos Pilots in Aarhus, Denmark and the Masters in Strategic Leadership toward Sustainability program at Blekinge Tekniska Hogskola in Karlskrona, Sweden.

Skybrook’s recent article, Navigating Purpose and Collaboration in Social Impact Networks for Stanford Social Innovation Review can be viewed here.

Kevin Wright

Kevin Wright is the Government Affairs Manager for Marin County Parks and Member of the Policy Committee and Steering Committee of the California Landscape Stewardship Network. Mr. Wright has a background in forestry and redwood ecology, active transportation planning, and partnership development. He is a Cultural Intelligence trainer at the County of Marin and participates on a Collaborating Well team focused on curriculum development for effective collaboration. His latest paper, Advancing Collaboration In California, describes aspects of California’s policy environment that support collaboration and makes recommendations for furthering regional stewardship approaches. Mr. Wright plays three prominent support roles in team settings: He helps to activate the ideas of others, brings humor and hard work, and challenges himself and team members to reconsider current ways of thinking and doing.