Our never boring board

Departures and additions to our honor-worthy volunteers.


High Country News has been blessed with a dedicated, ever-changing group of volunteers who have helped us navigate the tricky waters of the rapidly changing West for five decades now. They make up our Board of Directors, and we honor them all — past, present and future.

We were saddened to hear that Farwell Smith of Big Timber, Montana, who served on HCN’s board in the 1990s, passed away in June at the age of 94. Farwell, the first member who truly understood finances and fundraising, was instrumental in creating a small financial reserve for HCN. He enlivened many a board meeting with his wicked sense of humor; as a young man, he and his Harvard roommate, writer George Plimpton, crashed the Boston Marathon. According to the Bozeman Chronicle, Farwell ducked in just before the finish line, sprinting to finish third before jumping into a getaway car driven by Plimpton.

Brian Beitner, who steps down from the board this month after four years, has continued in Farwell’s footsteps: As chair of both the Finance and Fundraising committees, he has revamped HCN’s investment strategies and encouraged the organization to develop a more systematic approach to major donor work — putting the “fun” back in fundraising, as he’s often quipped. It has paid off splendidly — we are completing a successful 50th Anniversary Campaign — and we will miss Brian’s leadership.

This month, we are delighted to announce the most recent additions, voted in at our June board meeting: 

Fátima Luna of Tucson, Arizona, serves as the climate and sustainability policy advisor for Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, leading the development and implementation of the city’s climate action plan.  She worked as the environmental and natural resource economist for the Sonoran Institute in the Water and Ecosystem Restoration program (formerly known as the Colorado River Delta Program). In addition to being a racial and environmental justice advocate, Fátima is a mother of three, and enjoys weightlifting, gardening and hiking.

Kara Teising of Nashville, Tennessee, is a managing director at Koya Partners, a national, mission-driven executive search firm committed to keeping diversity, equity and inclusion at the center of the search process. She spent 17 years as a professional matchmaker, specializing in partnering with national conservation and environmental organizations, including HCN. The youngest child of a career Navy officer, Kara grew up in the West and loves exploring the region with her two young children. 

Andrea Otáñez of Seattle, Washington, a lifelong devotee of the high-desert country, has worked as a reporter, copy editor, team editor and columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune and The Seattle Times. She is currently an associate teaching professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington, Seattle, where she has developed courses in race, gender and equity, focusing on critiquing the rituals of journalistic objectivity and the media representation of Latinx people.

Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes) lives in San Clemente, California, and is a lecturer in American Indian studies at California State University San Marcos. She teaches courses on environmentalism and American Indians, traditional ecological knowledge, religion and philosophy, Native women’s activism, decolonization, and American Indians and sports, especially surfing. She is also the author of two books, including As Long As Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock.

Nick Martin joins the HCN staff as the new leader of our Indigenous Affairs desk.
And finally, we welcome Bryan Pollard back to the board. Bryan spent the last six months as an HCN staffer, leading our Indigenous Affairs desk. As Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Sahn put it, “He didn’t just hold down the IAD, he put processes and systems and guidelines in place to allow this work to flourish into the future.” He also helped us find our next IAD editor, Nick Martin, a member of the Sappony Tribe of North Carolina, who starts this month. Nick comes to HCN with substantial experience as a writer and a producer of projects and story packages at Deadspin, Splinter, The Washington Post and, most recently, The New Republic, where he has penned several smart stories a week for the past two years. Our hiring panel was especially impressed with Nick’s big-picture thinking and his ideas for how to make HCN’s Indigenous affairs coverage stand out from that of other outlets. Welcome aboard, all!  

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