Wisconsin's Green Fire Staff

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Fred Clark

Executive Director

EXPERIENCE: Fred Clark joins Green Fire as our first Executive Director from a 30-year career in Wisconsin conservation. Fred was previously the director of The Forest Stewards Guild – a national organization dedicated to sustainable forestry and forest science. He has worked as a forest ecologist for Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, as a forester for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and as a consulting forester and owner of a forestry contracting business. He was appointed by both Governor Doyle and Governor Walker to the Wisconsin Council on Forestry from 2004 – 2014. He served three terms as a Representative to the Wisconsin State Assembly between 2009-2014 representing Sauk and Columbia Counties, and he has served on the Assembly Committees on Forestry and the Environment, and the Committee on Natural Resources.

EDUCATION: Fred received a B.S. from Michigan State University in 1985, and an M.S. in Forest Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1992.

PERSONAL: Fred lives in Bayfield, Wisconsin. His son Joe is a graduate of the UW-Stevens Point in the Conservation Law Enforcement program. He enjoys hunting, sailing, maple sugaring, and volunteering.

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Paul Heinen

Policy Liaison

EXPERIENCE: Paul joined Green Fire in October of 2018. He works closely with Green Fire’s work groups and volunteer members to share their expertise and knowledge with policy makers and their staff and other conservation and environmental groups statewide. Paul started his career as a legislative aide to the Chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. He was the Legislative Liaison for the Department of Natural Resources for over 34 years. He has worked to pass hundreds of new laws including the Acid Rain law, Recycling Program, the first Groundwater bill in the United States, the Stewardship Program, numerous deer and wildlife management program changes and air quality standards for the state. He has also directed legislative affairs for the Nature Conservancy of Wisconsin. Continuing his work with many former colleagues in and around state government is one of the most satisfying parts of his job.

PERSONAL: Paul is married to his artist wife Kathleen and spends time at art shows and galleries with her, marveling at people who have talent. His daughter Priya, who turned out to be interested in all sports, allowed him to see the state’s venues for basketball, softball, soccer, and tennis. There are a lot of venues. His golden retriever Harper and black cat Barlioz welcome him when he returns home.

Paul Heinen

Nancy Larson

Senior Water Resources Specialist

EXPERIENCE: Nancy Larson has been with Wisconsin’s Green Fire since it formed in 2017. She currently focuses on special projects, having served as Assistant Director until 2021. Nancy retired from Wisconsin DNR after 27 years with the state of Wisconsin. Her background in aquatic ecology and interest in communications led her to positions including Deputy Director of the Bureau of Watershed Management, Northern Water Program Leader, and UW-Extension Natural Resource Educator. Prior to that, she worked for the state of Minnesota and EPA contractors. Nancy spent a good portion of her career working to protect the greatest lake in the world– Lake Superior. She was recognized for her work with partnerships in 2003 with the DNR’s Rebecca Wallace award.

EDUCATION: Nancy has a B.A. from St. Olaf College and M.S. from the University of Minnesota in biology.

PERSONAL: Nancy lives in Drummond where she splits her time between being in town and at her cabin in the woods built by her late husband John Spangberg (also retired DNR), where she indulges her love of writing.

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Brianna Neumann

Administrative & Data Manager

EXPERIENCE: Brianna joined Wisconsin’s Green Fire in the summer of 2022. Her work is predominately behind the scenes, with an emphasis on streamlining systems used for accounting, payroll, and database management. She has nearly two decades of accounting experience, a decade of payroll experience, and several years of database management experience, specifically with nonprofits. She is heavily focused on racial and social justice, and how environmental justice intertwines with and deeply impacts groups who are marginalized.

EDUCATION: Brianna believes that many higher education institutions have deep roots in oppression and white supremacy. Attaining a degree or even attending many colleges and universities continues to be a privilege disproportionately available to those who have not had racial and socioeconomical constraints inflicted on them. Until these disparities are addressed and rectified, and because education does not inherently equate to knowledge or understanding, Brianna does not believe in sharing our educational experiences to express expertise. Many times lived experience and ancestral knowledge is just as, if not more, informative than a formal education.

PERSONAL: Brianna is originally from California and after a few years, still finds herself enamored with fall leaves and beautiful blankets of sparkly white snow. She enjoys spending time exploring all the things that make Wisconsin beautiful. When not checking out her new surroundings, she can be found baking, painting her nails, and watching trashy TV.

Brianna Neumann

Sarah Peterson

Science Director

EXPERIENCE: Sarah Peterson joins Green Fire as our first Science Director from a career in coastal ecology, community-based conservation and science engagement. She works closely with Green Fire’s working groups to advance science programming for the organization. Prior to joining the team, Sarah was a Project Manager for the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Thriving Earth Exchange Program. There, she managed and facilitated community science projects across the United States, including many with environmental justice communities. Prior to AGU, she coordinated the Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative with Maryland Sea Grant Extension.  There, she directed a network of scientists and managers dedicated to integrating local observations from across the Chesapeake Bay to improve planning and management decisions regarding sea level rise and coastal wetland loss. Sarah is an alumna of the prestigious Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, class of 2014.

Sarah is an experienced facilitator and workshop designer who is passionate about science engagement with all types of communities.

EDUCATION: Sarah holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Vermont and a M.S. in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

PERSONAL: Sarah lives in Madison with her husband Tim and son Otto. She enjoys discovering new recipes, hiking, camping, and vegetable gardening.

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Jenny Washam

Communications and Outreach Coordinator

EXPERIENCE: Jenny has been working with WGF since the summer of 2021, recently completing her year-long position as the Communications and Membership Fellow and moving into the Communications and Outreach Coordinator role with WGF. Jenny has been a part of WGF's Aspiring Conservation Professionals Work Group since its creation in the fall of 2020 and has collaborated with fellow work group members to expand WGF's social media presence. Jenny holds experience in large carnivore conservation, policy development, and large landscape conservation, and is particularly interested in communicating about conservation to diverse audiences. 

EDUCATION: Jenny holds a B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from North Carolina State University and a M.S. in Environmental Conservation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She most recently completed her master's capstone project working with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission creating communication materials amplifying the Ojibwe perspective on the gray wolf. 

PERSONAL: Jenny grew up in a rural county outside of Williamsburg, Virginia on the Chickahominy River. Growing up where seeing a herd of deer in her yard and bald eagles soaring overhead was an everyday occurrence, wildlife conservation was a natural career choice for her. Jenny now lives in Middleton with her husband, Owen, and enjoys hiking, biking, traveling, and spending time enjoying the beauty of Wisconsin! 

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