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.
Susan Serven | Director of Development and Communications
Susan grew up in New York State and currently lives in Connecticut, about an hour north of NYC, so understands the critical importance of mitigating light pollution and its negative impacts on wildlife, biodiversity, and human health.
Susan brings her corporate and nonprofit experience in marketing, development, and finance to her current role at DarkSky and is a longtime, avid volunteer for conservation and justice initiatives. She enjoys biking, hiking, and gardening and has a BBA from Pace University and an MBA in Finance and MBA in International Business from Fairfield University.
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!
Brian Liebel, PE | Director of Strategic Initiatives
Brian Liebel develops long-term educational, technical, and advocacy programming and implementation planning for the IDA. His objectives are to elevate the Five Principles of
Responsible Outdoor Lighting to be a central tenant for outdoor lighting design and to develop further collaborations with the lighting community to promote IDA’s objectives of reducing light pollution. Brian first started collaborating with the IDA through his previous position as the Director of Standards and Research at the Illuminating Engineering Society, working closely with the IDA to achieve the first IDA/IES MOU and the successful passage of the joint IDA/IES Five Principles of Responsible Outdoor Lighting. This partnership led to successfully integrating the IDA as an organizational member in IES technical committees, ensuring that IDA’s perspectives are represented in the IES standards development process.
Throughout his 35-year career, Brian has dedicated his efforts to balancing the human need for light with environmental concerns, and always with a reliance on solid science. His career in lighting started with the University of Kansas Architectural Engineering program, after which he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and became an established lighting designer, electrical engineer, lighting educator, and energy conservation advocate. Brian’s private consultation practice has kept him independent while receiving significant appointments, such as the Lighting Program Director at the Pacific Energy Center and the Principal Investigator for the U.S. Department of Energy in assessing the effects of light spectrum on vision. In his last position at the IES prior to joining the IDA, Brian was the chief architect in modernizing the IES’ standards development process and in expanding collaborations with international organizations.
Brian comes from a small town in the mountains of California, where he grew up gazing at the stars, unfettered by light pollution. To this day, he makes an annual trip from his home in Florida to backpack in the backcountry of the Sierra Nevada mountains to get his ‘fix.’
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).
Allison Bressler | Development Operations Manager
Originally from Pennsylvania, Allison moved to the Southwest first to attend the University of Arizona as an Astronomy and Physics major before transitioning to marketing. As a young teenager, she volunteered at the Harrisburg State Museum’s planetarium, running star shows on a Spitz projector before moving to Tucson and the Flandrau Science Center. While there, she fulfilled her original career goal of programming and designing star shows for planetariums to teach children about the night sky and the history and science contained within it. After finishing her studies, she transitioned to working with non-profits across Tucson including animal rescue organizations, supporting the national parks throughout the Western United States, and food justice advocacy. Her background includes financial administration and donor stewardship. She is especially interested in ensuring that donors know they’re valued – honoring their wishes and finding alignment between their philanthropic goals and the organization’s mission.In her spare time, Allison enjoys attending comic cons and creating geeky and useable art through upcycling discarded items.
Michael Rymer | Program Associate
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.
James Brigagliano LC, LEED Green Assoc. | Lighting Program Manager
Active in the lighting community for 20 years, James brings a unique blend of technical knowledge, real world experience and a passion for dark sky preservation. James champions the development of existing and new DarkSky Approved Lighting programs for luminaires and sports lighting applications.
James began his career in lighting working in the Planning, Design & Construction Dept. at Cornell University. In his time at Cornell James gained experience measuring and photographing built projects, collaborating with professionals on master planning, and creating site lighting standards for the campus. Dedicating himself to lighting, James continued his career at Selux Corporation in Highland, New York, where James wrote multiple continuing education articles, developed award winning dark sky luminaires, and gained a strong appreciation for environmentally friendly lighting.
Being able to utilize his expertise in lighting to support environmental stewardship is extremely exciting to James. Outside of work he loves adventuring with his family and pursuing his interests in nightscape / landscape photography, rock / ice climbing, mountain running, and ski / mountaineering.
Melissa Jimena Pardo-Choza | Advocacy Intern
Driven by inclusivity, Melissa takes pride in providing support to a wide range of communities. As an advocacy intern, her goals include inclusivity and raising awareness of light pollution. Outside of work, Melissa is the co-president of Latinx Student Union at the University of Utah. She is currently in her junior year of her urban ecology degree and is excited for her senior year.
Savannah Pobre | Advocacy Intern
My name is Savannah Pobre and I am a senior at Princeton University majoring in Astrophysics and minoring in the History and Practice of Diplomacy with an expected graduation date in May of this year. During my undergraduate career, I’ve had the opportunity to engage in a range of independent research projects in which I have pursued astrophysics research in topics such as Brightest Cluster Galaxies and protoplanetary disks both at Princeton and internationally with organizations like the European Space Observatory and Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). Alongside these projects, I have partnered with the Princeton Sociology Department and the School of Public and International Affairs to conduct research on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts for planetary and space scientists as well as space policy and space law for cislunar space and space debris mitigation efforts. Off campus, I am a new member of the Committee to Protect Astronomy and the Space Environment (COMPASSE) AAS committee and am looking forward to starting my Master’s Degree in Space Studies from the International Space University (ISU) program this upcoming fall. I am excited to work as an IDA Advocacy Fellow this year and continue to reach my goal of becoming an asset to the scientific research community both as a researcher in the field and as a voice to policy makers in areas such as space debris mitigation, space sustainability efforts, and dark sky awareness.