Board of Directors

Diane Knutson, President | USA

Board President Diane KnutsonBienvenidos. Welcome. 欢迎.Velkommen.

A pivotal moment occurred in Diane’s life while working as a National Park Ranger. During her night sky program around the campfire, a child from the audience asked, “What happens if we don’t stop light pollution?” Not having a good answer, Diane’s mission became to reverse the harmful impacts caused by using artificial light at night. Diane began efforts to preserve night sky quality worldwide and address light pollution. A grassroots organizer, she brought together personnel from city councils, public utilities, businesses, organizations, and National Parks.

Diane emphasizes, “Night sky quality is important, and it’s about much more than viewing the cosmos. While access to the night sky is marvelous in itself; natural night conditions are essential to the wellbeing of all life on Earth.”
Diane began to advocate for the reduction of light pollution by connecting policymakers with night-sky preservation advocates within South Dakota, founding an IDA Chapter in South Dakota. The chapter coordinates events in the Black Hills (Paha Sapa), such as the Mickelson Star Trail nights and city-wide dark sky festivals.

Diane earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Iowa, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Health Education from the University of Nebraska. Diane believes some of her best education comes from connecting with others under a sky full of stars. “The stars have great knowledge, and they have it for you.”

As a business owner and currently an involved parent, Diane brings business experience and leadership skills to the board.

Diane’s faith, family, and friends serve vital roles in fulfilling her life’s purpose. Diane is reminded of Matthew 2:10. “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” and finds assurance in Psalm 19. “.…night after night they (heavens) reveal knowledge.”

Diane wants us to remember that a portion of our time belongs under a star-filled sky.

 

Tom Reinert, Vice-President | USA

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.

 

Brad Schlesselman, Treasurer | USA

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.

 

Connie Walker, Secretary | USA

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, UK. 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

 

Laurel Alyn-Forest | USA

Laurel is a business-minded professional helping purpose-driven organizations leverage sales & partnerships to generate revenue and advance their missions for the betterment of the earth and humans.  Her demonstrated success is in the fields of public lands, dark sky parks, environmental economics, and tourism.

In addition to business systems, management, and planning, Laurel enjoys the creative aspects of product creation, B2B sales, marketing, and e-commerce.  Inspiring people to connect with nature on a deeper level is a mission true to her heart.  Through the medium of song, Laurel has been an advocate of the environment, with concerts set in nature, cause-related programming, and a self-produced, full-length CD of classical songs.


Dr. Alejandro Sanchez Miguel, Ph.D.
 | Spain

Board of DirectorsAlejandro has been involved in light pollution issues since the mid-1990s and has contributed to over 100 articles, many related to light pollution. He is the leader of “Cities at Night,” a citizen-supported project coordinated with NASA and other space agencies that use ISS night imagery to raise light pollution awareness.  He earned his Ph.D. from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), with a thesis titled, “Spatial, Temporal and Spectral Variation of Light Pollution and its Sources: Methodology and Results.” He is currently doing his postdoc at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA) and serves as a light pollution advisor to IAA’s newly created Office of Night Sky Quality.  He is an active member of several astronomy and light pollution-related organizations and research networks in Europe, including Cel Fosc (Spain’s association against light pollution) and Sociedad Española de Astronomía (SEA), Loss of the Night Network (LoNNe), and STARS4ALL. In 2014, Alejandro received an IDA Dark Sky Defender Award for his leadership role in “Cities at Night.”

 

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.

 

Sergio Montúfar 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 | USA

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.

 

Nalayini Brito-Davies | 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.

 

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).

 

Ken Walczak | USA

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.

Non-Voting

Charles Mudd, General Counsel | USA

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 | USA

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.

Like this? Share it!