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.


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.’


Lauren Scorzafava | Communications Manager

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

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

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


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.


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.



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