Board of Directors

Tom Reinert, President | U.S.

Tom is a retired Washington, D.C. lawyer who spent most of his career representing airlines and railroads in labor and employment matters, including extensive experience translating scientific experts for lay decision-makers. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Law School.  His environmental activism included a decade fighting water pollution with local riverkeeper organizations on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. In 2013, seeing the Andromeda Galaxy for the first time with his naked eyes from atop Kitt Peak rekindled an interest in astronomy and a desire to eliminate light pollution. Currently residing in Northern Virginia, he and his wife Chris travel extensively in the Western United States seeking dark sky locations. For several years he has assisted IDA as a volunteer on legal and public policy issues at the national level.


Nalayini Brito-Davies, Vice President | New Zealand

Nalayini holds a Master of Science degree in astronomy from Swinburne University in Australia. She is currently the Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand and is the Chair of AstroNZ, a registered charity that is the country’s leading distributor of astronomical equipment and an important charity for the promotion and education of astronomy and dark skies. 

With a Master of Science degree in finance from London Business School, University of London, she is also a qualified Chartered Accountant and holds a Financial Studies Diploma in banking from the Institute of Bankers, UK. Having previously worked for Kuwait Asia Bank, the Bank of New Zealand and Citibank where she was a Vice President, Nalayini is presently Executive Director of Vinstar Consulting, one of New Zealand’s leading economic and financial advisory service providers, which has government clients in 35 countries worldwide.

Nalayini was instrumental in the successful effort to establish Aotea / Great Barrier Island as an IDA accredited Sanctuary. She also co-leads the promotion of New Zealand’s journey to become a dark sky nation. She has spoken at Dark Sky conferences & workshops around the world.


Brad Schlesselman, Treasurer | U.S.

As Senior Research Engineer with Musco Lighting, Brad has worked closely with IDA for many years helping to establish benchmarks and best practices for exterior lighting that align with IDA’s purpose and goals. Brad has helped spearhead Musco’s decades-long mission of controlling and applying light in ways that significantly reduce glare, spill, and skyglow; and is a firm believer that the best outdoor lighting systems are designed in a way that’s equally focused on preserving darkness as on illuminating the intended area. Lighting at night, when necessary, can co-exist with protecting the enjoyment of observing the dark night-time skies.


Ken Walczak, Secretary | U.S.

Ken Walczak is the Senior Manager of Far Horizons – a scientific research and engineering program at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago – engaging students, volunteers, and the public in hands-on, participatory research projects. These include over 130 stratospheric balloon flights, an underwater meteorite retrieval craft, and nanosatellite missions. He helped design and implement innovative instruments for light pollution research and has co-authored numerous papers on the subject. He helped lead the successful designation of the world’s largest Urban Night Sky Place, The Palos Preserves southwest of Chicago. He owned a lighting and furniture design company is a trained photographer, an avid public policy advocate as well as an experienced science and astronomy communicator.


Diane Knutson, Immediate Past President | U.S.
Earthling, Mother of Two, and Business Owner

Board President Diane Knutson

As a grassroots organizer, Diane founded South Dakota’s first and only local  International Dark-Sky Association Chapter and continues to serve as a fellow advisor still today. She works with councils, public utilities, businesses, organizations, and federal entities to protect the night from light pollution.

Diane has both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees; yet states her best education comes from connecting with others under a sky full of stars.

When she’s not volunteering for IDA, she enjoys spending time in He Sapa where she and her husband own and operate a historic inn. When you come to visit, she’ll always leave the lights off for you. Diane came on as a Director in 2018 and served as IDA’s Board Chair in 2021 and 2022.


Connie Walker | U.S.

Connie Walker is an astronomer dedicated to dark skies education as well as measurement and mitigation. Inspired from an early age by astronauts landing on the Moon and the original Star Trek series, her curiosity for anything astronomy propelled her to be the first in her family to go to college and earn a Ph.D.

Connie has been a Scientist at NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (or NSF’s NOIRLab, basically your national observatory) for almost 20 years, creating innovative programs on dark skies education (like Globe at Night) and sharing them via workshops, talks, and events all over the world.

She holds a Bachelors’s degree in Physics and Astronomy from Smith College, a Master’s Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Arizona. She is president of the International Astronomical Union (IAU)’s commission on light pollution, and chair of the IAU Executive Council Working Group on Dark & Quiet Skies Protection. She is co-chair of the SATCON workshops and chair of the Dark & Quiet Skies workshop & conference. She is past-president of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific Board of Directors and is thrilled now to be back on the board of directors of the IDA. For her efforts in bringing dark skies awareness to the public, the IDA awarded her their Hoag-Robinson award in 2011. Asteroid 29292 ConnieWalker was named by discoverers, David Levy and Carolyn Shoemaker, for her efforts in educational outreach. Her amazing astronomer-husband, daughter, son, and cat thankfully tolerate her interest in the dark side of astronomy.


Kevin Gaston Ph.D. | U.K.

Kevin is Professor of Biodiversity & Conservation at the University of Exeter, U.K. He has more than 35 years of research experience in environmental issues. He has been working on the biological impacts of artificial nighttime lighting since 2006 when he became intrigued by what was causing European robins to still be singing when he emerged from late-night visits to the cinema. Since then Kevin has conducted studies on the spatial and temporal variation in artificial lighting, the wide diversity of biological impacts that this has, and on means of mitigating these effects


Sibylle Schroer | Germany

Photo by Daniel Außenhofer

Since 2010, Sibylle Schroer is the scientific coordinator of the working group “Light Pollution and Ecophysiology” at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin, Germany. Among other projects, she has coordinated the COST-Action “Loss of the Night Network” (ES1204, 2012-2016) and contributed to developing guidelines for environmentally friendly outdoor lighting. Today she is transferring this knowledge into practice within the project “Species protection through environmentally friendly lighting”. She is committee member of the ALAN conference series. Her research focus is the protection of insects and biodiversity. She has studied biological alternatives for chemical pesticides in projects at the German Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants (JKI) and at the University of Florida (Fort Lauderdale, US). Sibylle Schroer holds a doctorate in agricultural science from the Christian-Albrecht University (CAU) of Kiel and a diploma in horticultural science from the Humboldt University of Berlin.


SergioMontúfar Codoñer | Guatemala

Award-winning astrophotographer, CEO Pinceladas Nocturnas dark sky project, served as the First Official Astrophotographer of the La Plata Planetarium of the Astronomical Observatory of La Plata, Argentina. 8 years dedicated light pollution activist, in 3 years he explored 800 sites, 90 cities, and 8 countries, produced 3 lights out in Guatemala, art exhibitions in 16 countries, his goal is to bring together public focused in artist, communicators, scientists, students, engineers, architects, political leaders, institutions, and business organizations. Documenting the great sky and its relation with culture is his tool to promote dark sky behaviors in society.


Mike Simmons | U.S.

Mike Simmons has been an amateur astronomer for almost 50 years and loves sharing the night sky with others. He is past president of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society and was co-founder and president of the Mount Wilson Observatory Association. His organizing efforts went international after his first trip to Iran for the total solar eclipse of 1999, and a later trip to Iraq, where he found enthusiastic but isolated amateur astronomy communities. He co-chaired the 100 Hours of Astronomy Cornerstone Project for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 and is the founder and past president of Astronomers Without Borders. Mike is retired from a career in medical research at UCLA.


Paulina Villalobos | Chile

Paulina hails from the Atacama Desert in Chile–the driest, brightest, and starriest place on Earth. In 2005 she founded DIAV, an Architectural Lighting Design practice based in Santiago, Chile, and developed Conceptual Design for Singapore. Her lighting design work has been awarded in Europe, Asia, and America. In 2012 Paulina found Noche Zero, an initiative to change the paradigm for urban lighting planning, promoting the importance of lighting design and incorporating ecology, human health, and light pollution control. Noche Zero received the IDA Dark Sky Defender Award in 2012 and was nominated for the Award at large in PLDC Copenhagen.

She is currently a lighting design professor for post-graduate programs at the University of Chile and is recognized as an enthusiastic speaker. She has spoken at many conferences, classes, and seminars worldwide. Additionally, Paulina is the editor of the lighting chapter for the guide of sustainable public spaces for Chile (Chilean Chamber of Construction, Ministry of Urban Planning), a consultant for the new regulation of interior lighting in Chile, and current consultant for regulatory review of outdoor lighting in Chile (Ministry of Energy.


Samyukta Manikumar | Kenya/Slovenia

Samyukta is an astrotourism consultant and the director of Noctia Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of natural dark skies. With a background in science communication, outreach, astrotourism and experience design, Samyukta is interested in an interdisciplinary approach to dark sky conservation that integrates science with cultural and environmental preservation.

She received the Dark Sky Defender award from the International Dark-Sky Association in 2022, and is currently involved in the establishment of the Kenyan chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association.


Fernando Avila Castro | Mexico

Fernando Avila was born in Nogales, Mexico. His bachelor and graduate studies were in physics, with a specialty in astrophysics. Besides being a physics and mathematics teacher at college level, he has astronomy articles published in peer-reviewed magazines and journals.

A big proponent of science outreach, Fernando Avila has done public talks, public astronomy observations, interviews and news articles for newspapers, magazines, radio,
and TV, for over 25 years.

Fernando is currently employed at the National Astronomical Observatory of the Astronomy Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. At the Ob-
servatory, he is in charge of the Dark Skies Law Oce where he has put his outreach experience to educate about the issues of light pollution and how can it be reduced
without compromising safety.

A big part of his work at the Dark Skies Law Oce is working closely with the three levels of Mexican government, promoting laws and ordinances to reduce light pollution. Among his results are two updated city ordinances (Ensenada and Mexicali, Baja California), one new city ordinance (Tijuana, Baja California), one new state law in Baja California, two state laws proposals for Sonora (one approved, the other pending), and an update to a federal law that included artificial light at night as pollutant. He has also helped promote laws in the states of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Hidalgo and Quintana Roo, which are advancing every day. At the moment, there are two states with applications to host a Dark Sky Park (Hidalgo) and a Dark Sky Sanctuary (Baja California), both of them promoted by Fernando.

During the years 2014-2016 he collaborated as technical advisor in a project to re-
place the public lighting system in the city of Ensenada Mexico from 17,000 HPS semi cut o, to 25,000 LED full cut o. The project had a moderate success due to budget constraints. Still, the city night sky became darker by around 0.8 magnitudes and the city had significant savings in the energy consumption even if there were 50% more light fixtures.

In the past years, he has presented talks at international meetings as an invited speaker
to present the results of the Dark Skies Law Oce in Mexico. Some of these meetings
have been organized by IDA, IAU, and UNESCO.

Fernando Avila is also the International Dark-Sky Association representative in Mexico, and has been part of the IDA education committee and participates in the IDA Mentor Program. He also has helped to translate IDA material to Spanish. In 2016, IDA gave Fernando a Dark Skies Defender Award.


Doug Barker | U.S.

Doug is a strategic advisor for Barker & Scott Consulting which assists leading regional, national, and international nonprofit organizations with leveraging the power of information technology for organizational advancement and mission success.

He is passionate about helping nonprofit organizations use the art and science of fundraising to connect more deeply with donors and achieve greater impact. Prior to co-founding Barker & Scott, Doug was Vice President and Chief Information Officer for The Nature Conservancy. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Doug was the nonprofit industry lead for the consulting practice of Arthur Andersen in Washington DC. Doug resides in DC where he is active in local environmental causes including advocating for reducing light pollution. He loves nature, night skies, travel, hiking, canoeing, biking and gardening.



Charles Mudd, General Counsel | U.S.

Charles Lee Mudd Jr. is the founder and principal of Mudd Law.  He has positioned his firm and practice at the forefront of space law and the expanding commercial space industry.  Charles regularly speaks and writes on space law and policy internationally.  On these topics, he also has participated in United Nations conferences, testified in Washington, D.C., and lectured at universities in the United States and Russia. Charles is a founding member of the Internet Law Leadership Summit. He serves as a board member of NewSpace Chicago as well as General Counsel for the International Dark-Sky Association.  He also maintains memberships in the International Institute of Space Law, European Centre for Space Law, ITechLaw, American Astronomical Society, AAAI, AIAA, and the IEEE.


Ruskin Hartley, CEO and Executive Director | U.S.

Ruskin Hartley is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director at The International Dark-Sky Association. In this role, he champions equitable access to dark skies and quality lighting for all through IDA’s award-winning programs.  Ruskin works closely with volunteer leaders and donors to secure increased support for our priorities around the world. Ruskin believes that experiencing a dark sky, and appreciating quality lighting, are essential to IDA’s mission.

Before this position, Ruskin directed and managed conservation programs that protect land, water, and ocean resources. He served as executive director of Save the Redwoods League, a non-profit dedicated to protecting and restoring the redwood forest. He also served as the president and CEO of Heal the Bay in Los Angeles and as vice president of resource development at Fair Trade USA, an award-winning social enterprise seeking to alleviate poverty worldwide.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Ruskin holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cambridge and a master’s degree from The University of East Anglia. Ruskin loves to head out on the trail with his wife and kids or cook under the stars.

Committees of the Board

Board Policy

As a nonprofit organization, IDA deeply values the trust that has been placed in us. Our members and donors trust us to use their contributions wisely. Governments and private entities trust our science and ability to create solutions that protect the night skies, wildlife, humans, and the planet. To preserve this crucial trust, IDA is committed to best practices in governance, accountability, and transparency. This commitment exists at all levels of the organization.

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