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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.


Kellie Pendoley,
Vice President | Australia

IDA Board of Directors

Kellie Pendoley has been wrestling with the mysteries of measuring and monitoring light pollution in Australia for over 30 years. In her role as an environmental practitioner, she has worked with oil and gas, mining and ports industries, and local councils to minimize and manage their light pollution and to protect nearby marine turtle rookeries from the negative impacts of artificial light at night. Kellie’s public service includes memberships on various international and local boards and committees. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Science, an M.S. in Oceanography from the Florida Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Biology from Murdoch University (Australia). Kellie is actively involved in the development of biologically-meaningful light measuring equipment, as well as research to improve understanding of the impacts of light on seabirds and marine turtles. With this knowledge, Kellie regularly provides advice to regulators, engineers, and managers towards improving industrial and urban lighting. She routinely publishes in the scientific literature and presents on artificial light at night and associated biological impacts at national and international Symposia.


Kim Patten,
Treasurer | USA

Kim has an M.S. in Environmental Planning from the University of Arizona and brings more than 10 years of experience managing projects and programs in conservation, renewable energy, and distributed data systems both nationally and internationally. She has held leadership positions in science organizations, including the Arizona Geological Survey and the International Dark-Sky Association. Her experience includes managing and conducting research on a more than $30 million portfolio, including co-principal investigator on a $3.6 million National Science Foundation cooperative agreement and project manager of a $22 million U.S. Department of Energy-funded project. Kim, currently the Assistant Director, Research and Development Services, has a deep-seated passion for connecting science and policy. While at IDA she helped organize the first Washington, D.C.-based symposium on the protection of the night sky resulting in a series of congressional briefings before both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

 

Brad Schlesselman, Secretary | 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.

 

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 Vice President of Your True Nature, a Colorado-based company that creates inspiring and light-hearted “Advice from Nature” products for national parks and other nature stores around the country.  In addition to business management and planning, Laurel enjoys the creative aspects of product creation, marketing, and web development.  Inspiring people to connect with nature on a deeper level is a mission true to her heart.  The company’s “Advice from the Night Sky” series sponsors IDA and encourages people to “stay full of wonder” and “turn off the lights!”  With an educational background in Environmental Economics, Laurel has worked in the realm of environmental consulting and mitigation banking prior to her current role.  Through the medium of singing, Laurel has been an advocate of the environment, with 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.”

 

Connie Walker | 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.

 

Tom Reinert | 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.

 

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, scientist, students, engineers, architects, political leaders, institutions, and business organizations. Documenting the great sky and the relation with culture is his tool to promotes 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.

 

Ken Kattner, Immediate Past President | USA

Ken is a business attorney specializing in corporate restructuring involving complex legal issues and litigation matters.  Ken holds undergraduate degrees in Finance, Accounting and English. Ken is also an avid amateur astronomer.   From his Putman Mountain Observatory located in the Texas Hill Country, Ken looks at the dark skies above, and the universe beyond, capturing images of far-away supernova and galaxies. Gaining insight from spending time under the dark, pristine skies of the Texas Hill Country, Ken has learned that preserving the beauty of our night skies is a significant natural resource important to each of us.  That insight has led Ken to help a number of Hill Country cities design and implement lighting codes to promote more efficient, dark sky friendly outdoor lighting.  He has also assisted a number of Texas State Parks to obtain designation as a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association.  Ken continues to work with a number of cities, businesses, individuals, and advocacy organizations to preserve the dark skies in the Texas Hill Country.

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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