Our Mission

The mission of Friends of the Sonoran Desert is to conserve the Sonoran Desert ecosystem through education, advocacy, science, and stewardship.

Our Board Members

Our board members have spearheaded the conservation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems around the world.
Roger McManus
Roger McManus
Roger McManus, Chair, is a conservationist and biologist who grew up in the Sonoran Desert. Roger worked on domestic and international conservation in the Executive Office of the President for two Administrations. He is the President Emeritus of the Ocean Conservancy, an organization which, under his direction, became the largest exclusively marine conservation non-government organization in the world. Roger served as a program Vice-President of Conservation International and managed marine programs in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Pacific. 
Jenny Miller Garmendia

Jenny Miller Garmendia has extensive experience in education and conservation. She serves on the Board of several conservation organizations including PADI AWARE Foundation, WaterWays and CARE (California Artificial Reef Enhancement). For seven years, Jenny was the Executive Director of Project AWARE Foundation, an international non-profit organization that works with water enthusiasts to conserve underwater environments through education, advocacy and action. Garmendia also has extensive experience working with government agencies and has served on standard-setting and policy committees at the local, national and international level

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Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is Professor Emeritus in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. Andrew is a mammalian conservation biologist who has worked on the Tibetan Plateau in China for over 30 years to preserve endemic species and has served as an advisor to the government of China on biodiversity issues. As Chair of the IUCN-SSC Lagomorph Specialist Group since 1991, Andrew has taken a lead role in the conservation of rabbits, hares and pikas worldwide. In 2015, he was honored to receive the Aldo Leopold Conservation Award from the American Society of Mammalogists. He is coauthor of The Astonishing, Astounding, Amazing Sonoran Desert.

Arlo Hemphill

Arlo Hemphill is a marine scientist and protected area advocate who has worked on large-scale ocean conservation efforts for over 20 years. He is currently Senior Oceans Campaigner with Greenpeace USA, where he leads the organization’s US-based efforts on ocean sanctuaries and against deep sea mining. He has served in programmatic and public relations roles at Conservation International, Stanford University, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean. Arlo also collaborates with Ecuador’s Waorani people, balancing development needs with long-term protection of their indigenous lands.

Beth Polidoro
Beth Polidoro

Beth Polidoro is Associate Professor of environmental chemistry at Arizona State University. Beth was a Senior Research Associate for the Marine Biodiversity Unit of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in Hawaii and has a broad background in ecology, conservation biology, toxicology and environmental chemistry. Her current research combines risk assessment, species conservation and sustainable development in the Phoenix metro area, the Gulf of Mexico, Latin America and West Africa. 

Harriet Smith
Harriet Smith

Harriet Smith, Managing Director, is a retired clinical psychologist who grew up in Tucson, Arizona. She first learned to love nature by hiking in the desert and snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez, where she began to appreciate the diversity of species that inhabit the Sonoran Desert ecosystem. Harriet’s goal for retirement is to work diligently to preserve this very special environment and all of its native species.  She is coauthor of The Astonishing, Astounding, Amazing Sonoran Desert.