The mission of Friends of the Sonoran Desert is to conserve the Sonoran Desert through advocacy, science, and stewardship.
Our Board Members
Our board members have spearheaded the conservation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems around the world
Roger McManus, Founder, 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.
Jan Schipper is the Field Conservation Research Director of the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation--Phoenix Zoo. Jan is a conservation biologist and wildlife ecologist who studies the effects of conservation corridors on mammal movement and dispersal and the effectiveness of protected areas in conserving species. Jan is Co-chair of the IUCN-SSC Small Carnivore Specialist Group and has developed tools for the conservation of jaguars and other area-sensitive species.
Andrew Smith, Chair, 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.
Helen Rowe is the Director of Parsons Field Institute, McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, Scottsdale, AZ whose mission is to preserve and advance natural open space through science, education and stewardship. Dr. Rowe co-chairs the Sonoran Desert Plant Species Specialist Group with IUCN (International Union of the Conservation of Nature). She engages citizen scientists, research partners, and students to improve ecological restoration and invasive species management techniques in arid environments and to conduct long term monitoring to detect changes caused by urbanization and climate change.
Beth Polidoro is an Assistant 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, 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.