Chris Knopf, Executive Director

For more than 25 years Chris has worked to protect, preserve and restore our wild places. Prior to joining the Friends, he was a practicing environmental attorney, served as the Ohio Office Director for The Trust for Public Land and worked as a major gifts officer with the Indian Land Tenure Foundation. He has deep love for the outdoors and enjoys hiking, kayaking, canoeing, biking, backpacking and photography.

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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.

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Pete Marshall, Communications Director

Pete has canoed more than 8,000 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.

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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.

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Scott Beauchamp, Policy Director

Scott has worked as the Manager of Public Affairs for the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, as Communications Director for the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, and as a freelance Strategic Communications Consultant. As an award-winning public speaker, Scott has written, co-authored, or edited, numerous successful speeches for politicians, business leaders, and other influencers.

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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.

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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.

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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 digital communications and technology at InFaith Community Foundation and TV production at Twin Cities Public Television and local sporting events. 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.

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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.

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Romisha (Misha) Gray, 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.

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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.

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Ozzie Reif, Northern Communities Coordinator

Ozzie first fell in love with Ely and the Boundary Waters on a Scouting canoe trip. He spent summers guiding and leading volunteers in the BWCA between semesters at Lewis and Clark College. Eventually, he decided to make Ely his home and has quickly become a big fan of winter in the north. He loves spending time in the woods, sewing, and learning regional history. Ozzie is excited to continue learning from the incredible people and communities that border the Wilderness.

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Board of Directors

Lee Vue, Board Chair

Digital Content and Marketing Manager, Seiche

Ryan Johnson, Vice Chair

Attorney, Fredrikson & Byron

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 Gappa

Former CFO, MOM Brands Company

Suzie O’Gorman

Director at Optum Technology Development Program

John Willoughby

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

Jason Long

Cafe Imports, CEO

Tom Donaho

Partner, BakerHostetler

Evan Nelson

Attorney, Maslon LLP

Jaime Roquebert

Finance Manager – Commercial Solutions, 3M

Emily Vikre

Co-Owner and CEO, Vikre Distillery

Pete Fleming

Honorary Board Member

Richard Flint

Honorary Board Member