In 2008, FireWise moved from being primarily an educational entity to actually achieving results on the ground.
Ashley Downing, Executive Director
Ashley has a BS in Journalism with a minor in French from the University of Colorado, Boulder and an MA in International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California. For the last 5 years, she was living in Reno, NV working as Program Manager for a nonprofit on the Walker Basin Restoration Program, which protects environmental and agricultural interests in Nevada's Walker River Basin. In this position, she oversaw conservation programs, stakeholder outreach and performed grant and financial management.
She grew up in the mountains of Southern California and spent summer vacations traveling around the West including visits to Southwest Colorado, so she is happy to now call this region her home. She enjoys hiking, photography and exploring the area in her free time. She is excited to join the FireWise team, and she is looking forward to meeting with many partners and volunteers in the coming months.
Rebecca Samulski, Assistant Director
Rebecca has been with FireWise since 2011. She was raised in Montezuma County, spending much of her childhood as a resident of Mesa Verde National Park, where her father was cross-trained to serve as a wildland firefighter. Rebecca received a B.A. in Anthropology from Fort Lewis College and a M.A. in Political Science from the University of Colorado. Rebecca and her husband Joe have two young sons.
Rebecca’s knowledge about fire mitigation and preparedness comes mostly from growing up in the area, ecology classes, land use planning, and wildland firefighter training as a U.S. Forest Service seasonal employee. Rebecca also has many community organizing skills from a long history of community involvement, training and experience in leadership and facilitation, and volunteer management and administrative skills from her position as an administrative consultant to the Bridge Emergency Shelter Board of Directors.
Bill Trimarco, Archuleta County Chapter Coordinator
Bill has lived in the mountains of the Western US and Canada for most of the last 35 years, and currently resides in Pagosa Springs. He is an avid outdoorsman who has always been concerned with healthy wildlands. Machinery repair and ski area management have been a large part of his work history. Besides his outdoor pursuits, he is a musician and martial arts (Aikido) instructor.
Amanda Brenner-Cannon, Montezuma County Chapter Coordinator Amanda lives in Cortez with her husband, Sean, and her two rescue dogs, Murray and River. She came to FireWise after completing an internship with Southwest Conservation Corps and Mountain Studies Institute where she was placed at the Dolores Public Lands Center as a Visitor Information Specialist. She has assisted in research including black-footed ferret reintroduction, post-flood evaluations, and landslide surveys. She has also helped lead volunteer efforts including trail building and fence removal for the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation Herd on Soapstone Prairie.
Amanda holds an A.G.S. in Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resources. She also holds several certifications including Environmental Education, Project Wild, and Project Learning Tree. She is completing a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Natural Resources and Conservation.
Charlie Landsman, La Plata County Chapter Coordinator Charlie grew up outside of Seattle and moved to Colorado in 2010 to attend Colorado College where he graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Policy. While he has always been interested in environmental issues, his passion for wildfire-specific issues developed when he saw the devastating impact the Waldo Canyon fire had on the Colorado Springs community. Since then, he focused much of his studies on comparing wildfire policies of the United States and Australia, specifically looking at how residents can act in a safe way during a fire and adequately prepare their homes to increase a structure’s likelihood of survival.
In his free time, Charlie enjoys mountain biking and camping in the summer and backcountry skiing in the winter. He is excited to be a part of the Durango community and to explore a new region of the state.
Charlene Swansen, Administrative Coordinator
Charlene is a 21-year resident of Montezuma County. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a M.L.S. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has lived in western wildfire threatened zones for 34 years. After working to extinguish an afternoon lightning strike on adjacent, uninhabited land a few years ago, she and her family eagerly joined the FireWise community. She has spent the last 18 years working in administration in area libraries specifically in collection development, circulation, technology, youth and adult services and reference. She is excited to learn more about the FireWise community, its partners and the research efforts these communities engage in.