Our Team


Chris Knopf, Executive Director

Chris has had a lifelong passion for environmental conservation, stemming from his childhood experiences of playing in lakes and streams and fishing. This interest led to a legal career where he practiced environmental law. His background in law combined with his love for the environment has shaped his career dedicated to preserving natural resources and advocating for conservation efforts. He has run the state office of a national, nonprofit land conservation organization and worked on Native American land conservation projects before becoming Executive Director of the Friends in 2017. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Chris is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Bree Sikorski, Operations Director

Bree fell in love with the BWCAW leading trips for a Girl Scout camp and still can’t believe how lucky she is to live so close to this wilderness gem. She has worked in non-profit management and operations for over a decade, at YHA St. Briavels Castle in the UK, Glensheen Mansion in Duluth and, most recently, at First Universalist Church of Minneapolis. Bree loves to be outdoors and enjoys running, cross country skiing, reading, cooking and camping.

Pete Marshall, Communications Director

Pete has canoed more than 9,000 miles through remote regions of Canada and put on plenty of miles in his “backyard” BWCAW. He has written for a number of publications and produced a documentary film for Twin Cites Public Television. Before coming to the Friends he worked at a marketing agency, and in another life flirted with a career in academia.

Mike Linnemann, Development Director

Mike sees fundraising as the art of helping passionate supporters have the greatest possible impact on programs and ideas they hold dear. As an Eagle Scout from central Minnesota, his foundational experience took place in the Boundary Waters, which he considers to be the state’s greatest natural asset. More recently, he honed his fundraising skills at the University of Minnesota Foundation, and today is most happy doing what he can to help keep Minnesota beautiful.

Alison Nyenhuis, Education Director

Alison heads up our No Boundaries to the Boundary Waters program, where she combines her passion for education with her lifelong love for the BWCA. In addition to teaching middle school, Alison has guided young people on trips with Wilderness Canoe Base, and worked in residential environmental education programs in the Seattle and New York City area. Her love of all things outside keeps her cross country skiing, hiking, paddling, and cooking outdoors whenever possible.

Max Kieley, Legal Director

As Friends’ Legal Director, Max brings 15 years of legal experience in private practice and public service, including over a decade at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office where he primarily worked in the Environmental and Natural Resources Division. He is proud to apply his legal expertise to fighting the good fight to protect the Boundary Waters for generations to come. Along with his hobbies of ice hockey and gardening, Max enjoys spending time with his wife Alex, his son Beau, their dog Willa and two cats Bunny and Mozart.

Steve Schultz, Government Relations Manager

As Government Relations Manager, Steve brings more than 25 years of experience working in politics including lobbying at the capitol, volunteering for campaigns, and organizing people and communities to protect our water. When not at the capitol, or plotting with coworkers on how to win on our campaigns, he is probably in his garden or at the lake enjoying the outdoors on his kayak or sitting on the beach. He also enjoys camping, hiking, running, biking, disc golfing and Minnesota Twins baseball and Green Bay Packers football.

David Meier, Digital Communications Manager

David loves to introduce new people to the Boundary Waters, most recently his two elementary aged boys. He has worked in nonprofit digital communications, TV production and technology for over 20 years. He enjoys the adventure of traveling internationally, but feels that the most special places are here close to home on the North Shore and BWCAW.

Karen Johnson, Grants Manager

Joining the Friends team in 2021, Karen combines her love of the outdoors with her almost 20 years of nonprofit experience. She helps support the Friends through corporate and foundation grants and partnerships. While originally from Illinois, she is a Minnesotan at heart and fell in love with the Boundary Waters Canoe Area soon after college. When not writing grants or connecting with foundations, you can find Karen reading in the sunshine, camping, hiking, biking, or skiing with her husband and two kids.

Romisha (Misha) Van Acker, Development Operations Manager

Misha is a rockhound, houseplant hobbyist and regular camper who believes that a life best lived is one dedicated to helping others. Her passion is to introduce more people to the Boundary Waters, and to spread serenity, gratitude and empowerment to those who could use a little more of it in their lives. Misha is excited to bring her 19 years of experience working with nonprofits to support the preservation of the Boundary Waters. During her free time she likes to spend time with her husband and two girls while embracing the beauty of the outdoors.

Izzie Smith, Education Coordinator

A life-long paddler and devotee of Type-2 fun, Izzie came to Friends after years of guiding for Wilderness Inquiry and working at Midwest Mountaineering. As the education coordinator, she believes everyone deserves access to green space, especially wilderness areas like the Boundary Waters. She loves empowering and connecting youth to the BWCA, and giving the future generation of wilderness lovers and protectors the tools they need to explore this special place.

Rachel Hedlund, Northern Education Coordinator

From the first time Rachel put a canoe on her shoulders, she knew she would spend the rest of her life connected to the outdoors. She spent five years guiding at Camp Menogyn and for the last ten years worked for the Voyageur Outward Bound School. Rachel has led 50-day canoe trips in the Arctic and has been a part of some rad, masochistic adventures, such as paddling from International Falls to Lake Superior in 99 hours and racing in the Yukon River Quest in 2016. She is based out of our office in Ely.

Jenny Gilles, Executive and Administrative Assistant

Having grown up exploring the woods with her siblings, Jenny love for the outdoors has led her to wild places throughout the US. Before coming to the Friends, Jenny worked in Arts Administration for several years, most recently with nonprofit arts advocacy agency Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. In her free time, Jenny loves exploring the Mississippi shoreline with her kids and dog, hiking, reading, and painting.

Abby Taylor, Development Coordinator

Abby graduated from the University of Minnesota -Twin Cities with a degree in Global Studies and American Indian Studies in 2016. Before coming to Friends she worked in Risk Management and at the Washburn Center for Children. In her free time, you can find her climbing, mountain biking, skiing, running, hiking, camping, and playing kickball or volleyball with friends. She is excited to be a part of a team dedicated to protecting the Boundary Waters, providing students with educational trips, and helping communities near the BWCA thrive.

Maggie Morin, Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator

Maggie first fell in love with the natural world at her family cabin on Madeline Island in Lake Superior. As a climate justice advocate, Maggie strives to create a safe space within the environmental movement by engaging new and old BWCA supporters. In her free time, you can find Maggie reading, running, eating at new Thai restaurants, nature journaling, and embroidering (but is most likely sleeping).

Jake Anderson, Major Gifts Officer

Jake joined the team at Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness to protect and connect people with a place close to his heart. Prior to the Friends, Jake worked with individuals doing great things at Project for Pride in Living (PPL), Ragamala Dance Company, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, and the Glimmerglass Festival. Jake loves wild ramps, chickadees, Star Wars, Euchre, trolling for lake trout, and spending time outside with his wife, two kids, and standard poodle.

Board of Directors

Lee Vue, Board Chair

Digital Content and Marketing Manager, Seiche

Ryan Johnson, Vice Chair

Attorney, Fredrikson

John Penshorn, Secretary

Retired Senior Vice-President, United Health Group

Robert Scott, Treasurer

Portfolio Manager, NCG

Deborah Huskins

Retired Area Director for Human Services and Public Health Department at Hennepin County

John Willoughby

Vice President for Business Partnerships & Negotiation and Merchandise Analytics at Target

Jason Long

Cafe Imports, CEO

Laura Wildenborg

Fintech Innovation Manager, Sunrise Banks

Tom Donaho

Partner, BakerHostetler

Evan Nelson

Attorney, Maslon LLP

Jaime Roquebert

Senior Lecturer, University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management

Emily Vikre

Co-Owner and CEO, Vikre Distillery

Niles Deneen

President and CEO of Deneen Pottery

Adán Torres

Senior Manager – Student Outreach & Engagement, Project Success

Kelly Schuller

CEO, SitelogIQ

Laura Wildenborg

Fintech Innovation Manager, Sunrise Banks

Pete Fleming

Honorary Board Member

Richard Flint

Honorary Board Member