1. Board of Directors
  2. Honorary Board Members
  3. Advisory Council

Board of Directors

Nicholas Banovetz, Public Affairs Manager for MinnCAN, is experienced at mobilizing people and connecting key players to help create change in the fields of the environment, education and health care. Prior to MinnCAN, he served as a Senior Account Executive in investor relations at Padilla Speer Beardsley. Nick earned his master’s degree in Public Communication and his bachelor’s degree in communications, legal institutions, economics and government from American University. Originally from Duluth, Minn., he has enjoyed more than two dozen trips to the BWCAW.

Margo Brownell is a partner at the law firm of Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, LLP, and Adjunct Professor of Law and Director of the Insurance Law Clinic at the University of Minnesota Law School. Margo has long been involved with environmental issues including as a freelance journalist (prior to law school) and after law school interning at the National Wildlife Federation in Ann Arbor, MI, teaching environmental law at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources, and as an active member of the National Parks Conservation Association, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in Montana, and a former board member of the Linden Hills Food Coop. Margo was a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, but now prefers to stay closer to home, i.e. to her cabin on the on the Gunflint Trail from which she makes many wonderful canoe trips into the BWCAW.

Dodd Cosgrove, Treasurer, retired in 2008 after employment as an Investment Manager at Wells Fargo. Dodd serves as Treasurer of the Board of the Quetico-Superior Foundation. He makes regular trips to the BWCAW; his family owns a cabin on Little Long Lake (outside of Ely) and has ties to Camps Widjiwagan and Warren.

Pete Fleming, Chair, a chemist by training, retired in 2004 after a 36 year career at 3M in primarily technical management. Pete has been an active volunteer with the Friends, serving on the Development Committee as well as working on special projects to inventory roadless areas in the Superior National Forest and improve relations with Ely outfitters. He is a volunteer naturalist at the Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul and a former member of the city council and planning commission in Woodbury. He holds a BS degree in chemistry from Union College in New York and a Ph.D in inorganic chemistry from Iowa State. Pete is the father of five grown children and lives in Woodbury with his wife, Barbara.

Mark Hennessy is the Resource Director at YMCA of the USA. He served 15 years as CEO at the Red Wing Family YMCA. Before that he worked as a camp Executive Director for the Minneapolis YMCA. He received a BA of Applied Science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Mark has professionally guided Boundary Waters trips for youth and has taken countless personal trips there. His wilderness experience includes trips in all seasons and with many different people.

Tom Mahlum, Vice-Chair, is a partner with the national law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP where he focuses on commercial and intellectual property litigation.  Tom has been making regular canoe trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the surrounding areas since the 1970′s.  Tom lives in the Twin Cities, and has three young children who are becoming good canoeing partners.

Dan Pauly is a partner in the intellectual property and technology law firm of Pauly, DeVries Smith & Deffner, LLC. Before practicing law Dan worked on groundwater pollution issues as an environmental consultant and remediation project manager. He has traveled extensively through the BWCAW in all seasons, and is the author of the guidebook Exploring the Boundary Waters, published by the University of Minnesota Press. Dan is also the founder of Voyageur Maps, which makes a series of canoe maps for the BWCAW. Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University, and a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Matt Poppleton is currently the Manager for REI’s Outdoor Programs and Outreach in Minnesota. This position allows Matt to introduce people to new outdoor recreation activities as well as connect with local nonprofit organizations to volunteer and help take care of public lands. Prior to working with REI, Matt worked with Wilderness Inquiry, Camp Widjiwagan, and other outdoor organizations in MN and around the country. Matt’s first trip to the Boundary Waters was with his dad when he was 10, and now he’s committed to sharing the wilderness with his family through annual canoe trips to the Boundary Waters and time spent at the family cabin on White Iron Lake.

Steve Safranski is a partner at the national law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP, and practices in the field of commercial litigation. Previously, Steve was an associate at Jenner & Block, LLP, and served as a law clerk to U.S. Magistrate Judge Raymond L. Erickson, in Duluth, Minnesota. Steve has a B.A. in political science from Northwestern University and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. An avid angler and outdoors enthusiast, when he is not practicing law, you may find Steve casting a rocky point or weedbed somewhere in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Ontario, pursuing that trophy muskie, northern, or bass. Steve has been a regular visitor to the BWCA and its surrounding communities, starting nearly 15 years ago when he proposed to his future wife on the rocky shores of Burntside Lake.

Susan Hendrickson-Schurke, founder and former owner of Wintergreen Northern Wear, lives on White Iron Lake near Ely, MN and with her husband Paul, owns and operates Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge. Susan worked for six years at a rehab/nursing home facility as the Director of Therapeutic Recreation and became the first hired employee of Wilderness Inquiry, an adventure program involving persons with disabilities, before moving to Ely in 1982. She has enjoyed many trips in the BWCAW and Quetico over the past 32 years.

Rolf Thompson, Secretary, is the Executive Director of the National Eagle Center, a world-class interpretive facility in Wabasha, MN, focused on teaching the world about North American eagles. From 2000 to 2011 Rolf was Division Director – Development and Communications at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, a large human service non-profit in Saint Paul, MN. Prior to Wilder, Rolf had been executive director of YMCA Camps that use the BWCAW including Menogyn on the Gunflint Trail, Widjiwagan on Burntside Lake outside of Ely, and Manitowish in northern Wisconsin. Rolf was a member of the 1996 BWCAW Federal Mediation Panel, is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. He has traveled the BWCAW extensively, in all seasons, since 1968.

Curt Yoakum is the Director of Communications and Legislation at Minnesota Department of Administration. Previously he worked in the office of Minnesota Management and Budget and at the Association of Minnesota Counties. He was also the legislative director for Congressman David Minge. He has a master’s degree in Public Policy, Public and Nonprofit Management from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota – Morris. Curt visited the BWCAW first as a young man and the experiences left an indelible impression upon him.

Honorary Board Members

Richard Flint, an attorney at Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett law firm in Minneapolis, served on the Friends’ board from 1992 until 2005, when he became an honorary member. Richard, whose work emphasis is business law, mergers, and acquisitions, lives in Wayzata, Minn. with his wife. In addition to formerly serving as chair of the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, Richard is one of the founding members of the Friends and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. He holds a B.A. from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a J.D. from Northwestern University.

Advisory Council

Chel Anderson is an irrepressible outdoor enthusiast powered by insatiable curiosity. Chel has lived and worked in northeastern Minnesota’s Cook County since 1974. From 1974 -1985 she worked on the Superior National Forest including nine years as a Wilderness Ranger in the BWCAW. She served on the Friends Board from 1987 through 2003. Chel has worked as a lead plant ecologist and botanist with Biological Survey of the MN Department of Natural Resources since 1999. She is responsible for planning, executing and coordinating the Survey’s efforts in data collection, integration and interpretation, providing technical expertise on plant and plant communities to those within and outside the Department and communicating the Survey’s work and results to the public, other agencies, organizations and within the Department.

Lee Frelich (Ph.D., Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1986) is Director of the University of Minnesota Center for Hardwood Ecology, St.Paul, and Senior Member of the Graduate Faculty, in the Natural Resources Science and Management, Ecology, and Conservation Biology programs. He teaches a course on the ecology of fires and other disturbances in forests. Frelich is the author of 60 scientific publications on forest ecology, and has been listed among the top 1% of all scientists in the world by the Science Citation Index in the Ecology and Environment category. Frelich and graduate students have appeared more than 100 times in the news media including such venues as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CBS Radio Osgood Files, public radio and TV, Newsweek and National Geographic. Frelich is also Vice President of the Eastern Native Tree Society, and Chair of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioners Advisory Committee on Natural Areas and Nongame Wildlife. Current research interests include: the big blowdown of July 4th, 1999 in the BWCAW, invasion by exotic earthworms in forests, impacts of deer browsing in forests, and regional patterns of tree height in the eastern U.S.

Lynn McClure is Senior Midwest Director of the National Parks Conservation Association. As a lifelong resident of the Midwest, Lynn McClure loves the region’s parks and natural areas. Lynn brings a wealth of professional experience to the Friends strategic Advisory Council. She is co-chair of the Healing our Water Great Lakes Coalition, a group of 120 organizations working for restoration funding. Prior to NPCA, Lynn was an award-winning strategic planning and public relations consultant who has worked with many conservation and environmental organizations, public park agencies, as well as Fortune 500 companies.

Steve Piragis and his wife Nancy are owners of Piragis Northwoods Company in Ely. Steve came to Ely in 1975 as a lake ecologist to work for the U.S. EPA on the Shagawa Lake Project. He subsequently worked for the DNR and taught for two years at Vermilion Community College in the Biology Department. Steve opened his business in 1979 specializing in alternative energy products and quickly evolved the business into a canoe retail and outfitting business. Steve has been a board member of Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and is a current board member of Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. Steve is an avid birder and he guides sea kayak trips for Worldwide Paddling Adventures into diverse ecosystems from Greenland to France and Vietnam. The Quetico Superior country remains his favorite to paddle, photograph, fish and recreate with friends.