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Our Board of Directors

As a state and federally recognized nonprofit, Conservation Montgomery is governed by a distinguished Board of Directors. Our board is an all-volunteer working board. The Board meets every month throughout the year and the Executive Committee, composed of the Board Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary meet in the months between full Board meetings. If you are interested in serving on our Board, please contact us at 

Caren Madsen
Chair, Board of Directors

Caren is a Silver Spring resident and was involved in environmental issues for 26 years at the national level at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of the Interior, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. She became engaged in local issues in 2004 when a developer demolished an acre of urban forest in her neighborhood, which has the lowest percentage of tree canopy in the county. Caren led the Trees Matter Coalition in 2013, which advocated for passage of two landmark tree laws in Montgomery County.  She developed Conservation Montgomery’s Home Tree Care 101 program and manages it for this nonprofit. Caren is the author of Healthy Trees, Healthy Communities, the county's first guide to tree care.

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Ginny Barnes
Vice Chair and Advocacy Team Chair

Ginny chairs the CM Advocacy Committee. She has led grassroots water quality, stormwater management and forest conservation efforts for decades. In addition to serving as vice chair of Conservation Montgomery, Barnes co-chairs the Legacy Open Space Advisory Group, and is Vice-President of the West Montgomery County Citizens Association.
Known for eloquently spearheading efforts resulting in strong environmental policies, Barnes received the Star Cup Award from Montgomery County Civic Federation, and, in 2010, was named one of the “40 Environmentalists who made a difference in 40 Years” by the Montgomery County Council. Recently she has published articles on the environment and is teaching nature writing workshops.

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Helen M. Wood

 After a distinguished career that culminated in working with the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) in her position with NOAA, this lively Bethesda resident has transitioned from global to local.  Helen is a recognized leader in national and international programs aimed at reducing disaster losses by using science and technology.  After retiring from NOAA, Helen started a new adventure by joining the board of Conservation Montgomery.  She is a recipient of two U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medals, the Department’s Silver and Bronze Medals, and the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award.  She holds a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Maryland and an M.S. in Computer Science from The American University. 
Helen is an accomplished artist and is active with the Maryland Pastel Society and the Montgomery County Art Association. 

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Helen Burns
Board Secretary, Communications Committee Member

Helen is known to many as the writer of the former "MoCo Millennial" political blog.  She is a graduate of Oberlin College (‘11) and Georgetown University (‘15) and now works as a cyber security analyst for a private contractor. She spent three years living in Eastern Europe teaching English while independently researching environmentally sustainable economic development. She is fluent in Russian and Spanish. 
As a resident of Takoma Park, she enjoys hiking and biking on the Sligo Creek trail. Helen is  interested in improving water quality locally as well as mitigating the water crises in other parts of the United States that result from climate change. Currently, she is working as a volunteer with youth advocacy groups to assist the County Executive in developing affordable housing strategies that minimize environmental impact and maintain green space.

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Alan Bowser
Board Member, Past Secretary

Alan is an attorney who has lived in Silver Spring for more than 20 years. He serves on several nonprofit boards, including Conservation Montgomery, Safe Silver Spring and the Montgomery County Civic Federation.  He is a former Deputy Undersecretary with the Department of Commerce and was Chief of Staff to County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg during her time on the Council.


He is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, holds an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and an undergraduate degree from Princeton University.

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Lauren Brown
Board Member, Advocacy Team Member

Board member Lauren Brown has lived in Montgomery County most of her life and is excited to do environmental work at the local level. A recent graduate of the University of Maryland College Park and Johns Hopkins University, Lauren holds degrees in environmental politics and policy and psychology. As a leader in college environmental clubs, she ran successful campaigns for divestment and sustainable practices and policies. She has worked at Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Fountain Rock Nature Center, and most recently, the Audubon Naturalist Society (now Nature Forward). Lauren has volunteered at various environmental organizations in Montgomery County, including 350MoCo, Sierra Club, and Sunrise Youth Movement.

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Beth Daly
Finance Committee Member

As the Cole Porter song goes, Beth does not like to be fenced in, and prefers to spend time out in the open -- whether it be hikes on Sugarloaf Mountain, competitive equine trail rides, or plain air landscape painting in Montgomery County’s Ag Reserve. She has lived in the Ag Reserve with her family for many years. 

Beth has worked as a political and advertising professional for more than two decades. When not outdoors, Beth works in her profession and spends her free time and energy following conservation issues.  In addition to Conservation Montgomery, Beth has held leadership positions with Sugarloaf Citizens Association, Sugarloaf Riding Club, and the nonprofit Equestrian Partners in Conservation.

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Amanda Farber
Board Member, Advocacy Team Member

Amanda first caught the attention of the Montgomery County Planning Commission by using a scale Lego model to illustrate the potential impact of a local urban development project. She has quickly become one of the most respected advocates in the county. She's passionate about data and fact-checking as she monitors issues.
Amanda monitors issues related to trees and forestry. She represents Conservation Montgomery in the MoCo Forest Coalition and was involved in the 2023 amendments to the county Forest Conservation Law, as well as efforts to update the tree replacement fees associated with the Tree Canopy and Roadside Tree Protection Laws. She is current Vice President of the East Bethesda Citizens Association.

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Cornelius Kuteesa
Board Member

Cornelius Kuteesa, who earned a master’s in sustainability and international development from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, is passionate about inclusive social policies. As part of his studies, he worked as a climate change data and policy researcher for the United Nations in New York. In 2017, he and his team published “The Ripple Effect: Climate Change and Children’s Access to Water and Sanitation.” The policy brief highlighted how climate change is endangering the lives of millions of children.

Upon graduation, Kuteesa was hired by a D.C.-based UN agency as a policy researcher on global labor issues. He is a former program manager for outreach services for Bethesda Cares, focused on affordable housing and homelessness. Additionally, he serves in the United States Airforce Reserves and is a recipient of the National Defense Medal.  In his spare time, he enjoys time with his wife, son, and peers; serves as a church greeter; and hikes, runs and travels.

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John Parrish
Board Member, Advocacy Team Member

Environmental activist John Parrish is well-known in the local natural resource community. A botanist who was formerly with the National Park Service Center for Urban Ecology, John is past vice president of the Maryland Native Plant Society and is a longtime member of the Montgomery County Legacy Open Space Master Plan Advisory Group.
A lifelong resident of Montgomery County, he currently works to protect the Ten Mile Creek watershed from over-development. Parrish is a naturalist with extensive knowledge of local geology, soils, and fauna, and is an expert in rare plants and rare plant communities of the Mid-Atlantic region.

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Vanesa Pinto
Board Member

Vanesa Pinto organizes community building, advocacy and support network programming for CHEER (Community Health and Empowerment though Education and Research) in Long Branch. Before finding her passion in community organizing, Pinto was an accountant in her hometown of La Paz, Bolivia.

For more than 20 years, Vanesa has volunteered for Long Branch community organizations and Silver Spring schools, promoting the community school approach. She has taught Spanish literacy and basic computer classes (through the YMCA-Linkages-To-Learning Program) to parents at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School. Since the outbreak of COVID in 2020, Pinto — in collaboration with community members and youth from Long Branch — has led the school’s weekly CHEER food distribution program serving 350 families

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