Our Staff

 

Ruskin Hartley | CEO & Executive Director


 

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.

 

            Susan Ciarniello | Administrative Director


 

Susan has worked for IDA since 2004. The longest-serving current employee, she has enjoyed seeing the tremendous change in public awareness of the issues regarding light pollution. As membership director, Susan organizes the IDA database and deals directly with IDA members. Most anyone who calls during business hours will hear Susan’s pleasant voice on the telephone. Members and volunteers often remark on Susan’s competence and polite demeanor. Her broad business background, encompassing sales, purchasing, and administration helps Susan slowly but surely increase IDA’s member base. In an effort to expand IDA’s sphere of influence, she has started to restructure membership retention efforts and initiated several successful campaign drives. In addition to managing our active membership system, Susan has recently taken on the role of office manager. Her bachelor’s degree in business administration from George Washington University has helped her initiate changes in IDA’s accounting system to expedite the public posting of public financial records, which has benefited donors and financial administrators.

 

Bettymaya Foott | Director of Engagement


 

Bettymaya Foott grew up in picturesque Moab, Utah. Spending summer nights sleeping on the family trampoline under the stars, she fostered an early appreciation for the night sky. Her childhood was filled with hiking, camping, boating, and wandering in the desert, both below the hot sun and under clear dark skies. She graduated from the University of Utah Honors Program with an H.B.S. in Environmental and Sustainability Studies and a Minor in Spanish Language and wrote a thesis entitled “Light pollution hazards within ecosystems and mitigation strategies for the future.” Her dark sky career began with working for Utah State Parks as a Dark Sky Intern and then seasonal employee, starting 12 International Dark-Sky Park Applications across the state. She then worked as Coordinator for the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative and the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies at the University of Utah. Now, she is incredibly excited to join the team at IDA as Director of Engagement. When off the clock, Foott loves to practice night sky photography. Preserving dark skies is her life goal and she is incredibly excited to continue this journey of saving the stars!

 

Pete Strasser | Technical Director


 

An astral photographer since age five, Pete Strasser has long been interested in the practical and aesthetic effects of light. His degree in plant pathology from the University of California, Davis, imparted detailed insight in the composition and effects of different light sources. This knowledge proved invaluable during his work as IDA’s Technical Advisor and then Technical Director from 2006-2011. After a five-year hiatus, Pete returned to his position in 2016 as the IDA Technical Director. In this role, Pete oversees the IDA Fixture Seal of Approval program, which certifies compliant lighting products as “dark sky friendly,” and educates the public and the lighting industry about smart lighting choices. Pete served on the Illuminating Engineering Society of North American (IESNA) – IDA joint Model Lighting Ordinance task force, for which he received the IESNA President’s Award. Currently, Pete serves on the IESNA Research Committee and is chairman of the International Commission on Illumination Technical Committee on the Effects of Artificial Light and the Natural Environment. He has also worked closely with the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency to establish criteria for their EnergyStar programs relating to Outdoor Solid State Lighting (SSL). Pete’s technical expertise in SSL technologies has helped many individuals and institutions promote and implement efficient, appropriate, and effective lighting practices.

 

Lauren Scorzafava | Communications Manager
+1(520)347-6276



Lauren first came on board at IDA in 2017 as the Communications Suppor
t Coordinator Volunteer. During her time as a volunteer, she answered all general email inquiries, assisted with events, and hosted panels at IDA’s Annual General Meetings. Lauren also presented at the 2018 Annual General meeting in Snowbird, Utah about Dark Sky Advocacy in the Digital Age.

Lauren hails from Western Massachusetts and has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Rutgers Business School. She previously worked in marketing in the lighting industry, specifically focused on dark-sky-friendly street lighting. Lauren does both film and digital photography in her free time and writes for her New England Lifestyle blog, Stella Cadente. She’s also the dog-mom to two Alaskan Klee Kai and has a preternatural love of autumn and all things spooky.

 

Ashley Wilson | Director of Conservation
+1(520)347-5804



Ashley is a Tucson native and has always been enamored with the natural environment and its dark skies. Ashley’s passion for encouraging people to learn and care about the world around them led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with Honors from the University of Arizona and later a master’s degree in Biological Sciences concentrating in Sensory Ecology from California Polytechnic State University. During this time, Ashley provided multiple town hall presentations to educate citizens on how their use of lighting can impact the nighttime environment, nocturnal animals, as well as their own health. She also participated in the National Park Service’s Future Park Leaders of Emerging Change internship program where she created the International Dark Sky Park application for Voyageurs National Park. Afterward, she moved to Florida to work as a lighting project specialist for Sea Turtle Conservancy, where she helped beachfront properties retrofit their exterior lights to be sea turtle-friendly. To increase her knowledge on lighting retrofit projects, Ashley also completed her LS-I lighting specialist certification through the National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors. Today, Ashley is ecstatic to work with IDA as the Director of Conservation and lead of the International Dark Sky Places Program, where she collaborates with advocates and volunteers to help them promote effective uses of outdoor lighting and protect pristine dark skies around the world.

 

Amber Harrison | Dark Sky Places Program Associate
+1(520)347-6363



Amber grew up in Wichita, Kansas where she spent most of her time riding and caring for horses. She received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Anthropology with a focus in bioarcheology at Wichita State University. Amber worked in the field of cultural resource management for several years before becoming a Park Ranger and Interpreter at Big Bend Ranch State Park – the largest, most remote, and darkest park in Texas. Being a Ranger allowed Amber to share her knowledge and experience with the public through outreach and education programming focused on the natural and cultural resources of the park and greater Big Bend region. Her focus on dark sky conservation developed during her time as a Ranger where she incorporated dark sky education in her programming and community engagement to raise awareness about the importance of natural dark skies on the natural world and the human experience. Amber has completed successful applications to the IDA Dark Sky Places Program for public lands in the Big Bend of West Texas and is active in dark sky advocacy throughout the region. In her free time, Amber enjoys photography, hiking, mountain biking and spending time with friends and dogs (one and the same).

 

Megan Eaves | Editor, Nightscape


 

Megan is the editor of IDA’s quarterly magazine, Nightscape. She first got involved with IDA as a Delegate for London, U.K. and in addition to producing Nightscape, she now writes monthly STAR features spotlighting the work of IDA’s incredible network of advocates around the world. Megan originally hails from New Mexico but has been a Londoner for more than a decade and founded Dark Sky London, a community group dedicated to restoring the night in the British capital. By day, Megan is a freelance travel journalist for publications like the BBC, the Independent, CNN, Thrillist and Lonely Planet, where she previously served as Destination Editor for North and Central Asia.

 

Heather Kantor | Contract CFO


 

Heather is the contract Chief Financial Officer for IDA and is responsible for overall financial management of the organization.

Heather is a nonprofit finance consultant and fractional CFO focusing primarily on conservation-focused organizations. She previously served as the CFO at Peninsula Open Space Trust in Palo Alto, CA for eight years.  Prior to that, she was the CFO/VP of Finance for several organizations including Business for Social Responsibility and a sustainable seafood startup called CleanFish.  Heather spent many years at Gap Inc. including running the global Supply Chain Finance organization as well as leading Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting for the corporation.  She was an auditor at Coopers & Lybrand in Boston, where she got her CPA, and holds an MBA from Simmons and a BA from Hampshire College.  

Early in her career, Heather was a park naturalist and environmental educator and, as a result, developed a passion for environmental protection.  One of her favorite naturalist activities was leading night hikes and doing astronomy and planetarium programs for the public. 

Heather splits her time between Tucson, where she moved from the Bay Area in 2019 to help care for her mother, and Flagstaff with its beautiful dark skies, exceptional hiking, and live music scene.  She serves as the Treasurer and Executive Committee member at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

 

Gretchen Hayes | Accounting Manager


 

Gretchen is the Accounting Manager for IDA and is responsible for day-to-day financial services.

Gretchen provides consultant bookkeeper services to both non-profit and for-profit companies. She joined Green Foothills in early 2020 providing bookkeeping services. Prior to this, she served as the Administrative Services and Grants Manager for the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council for five years and had a small bookkeeping business for several years as prior to that. Before the birth of her twins, Gretchen worked for the County of Santa Clara Green Business program for six years. She graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Environmental Studies.

Gretchen moved to north Idaho three years ago and loves enjoying all the outdoor activities and nature that are now in her backyard. Gretchen enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, kayaking, and gardening. She recently started a new homesteading education business and enjoys learning and sharing her knowledge with others.

 

Michael Rymer | Advocacy Intern


 

Michael Rymer is an online graduate student at the University of Northern Alabama pursuing a Masters of Science in Recreation Management. He is a current director on the board of the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas and has been a member of the club since January 2020. He also joined the IDA Advocacy program in 2022 and has since learned how to inform and educate others on the dangers of light pollution to our world and to ourselves. Michael enjoys hiking in the mountains and deserts of the Western U.S., and he loves to spend time with his camera and telescopes taking pictures of the beauty of the cosmos. He hopes to one day blend his love of the night sky with his love of the outdoors.

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