The Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV) benefits from a staff with a wide range of professional experience, including non-profit management, bird conservation science, Geographic Information Systems, policy and strategic marketing and communications. The staff has also worked with a diverse set of organizations, from state and federal wildlife agencies and non-profit groups to Silicon Valley high-tech companies.
Mike Carter, Joint Venture Coordinator
Mike brings to the PLJV 20 years of experience in the bird conservation field. He joined the Joint Venture in May 2001 after serving as executive director of the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (formerly Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory), a non-profit organization he founded in 1988. The Bird Conservancy employs more than 20 full-time staff members specializing in conservation-based research and public education about Rocky Mountain and Great Plains birds. Mike also served in the Peace Corps from 1985-1986 in Liberia, West Africa. While in Liberia, he worked as a biologist and conducted bird inventories of a newly formed Liberian national park on a grant from the World Wildlife Fund. He has twice returned to Liberia with teams from the American Museum of Natural History on grants from the National Geographic Society to continue work on documenting birds of that country. Mike received his master’s degree in zoology in 1984 from Oklahoma State University where he studied wintering Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks on a tall grass prairie in Oklahoma. He has given more than 80 presentations at technical meetings and contributed to mainstream publications such as Birding and Bird Conservation and technical publications such as The Auk, Audubon Field Notes and Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club, as well as proceedings, transactions and chapters in books.
Bob McCready, Deputy Coordinator
Bob has been involved with conservation for the past 20 years and has managed large-scale projects across the Great Plains of North America, Mexico, Chile and Mongolia. After 13 years with The Nature Conservancy, and serving on the PLJV board for eight years, Bob joined the PLJV team in August 2010. While with The Nature Conservancy, he held several positions including the Director of the Northeast Mexico Program, Director of Prairie Wings, Director of Conservation for the Migratory Bird Program, and Director of the Great Plains Initiative. He also served as a board member for the Prairie Potholes and Northern Great Plains Joint Ventures. As well as extensive program management experience, Bob has been closely involved in developing conservation partnerships among state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, public agencies, landowner groups and academic institutions. Bob received his undergraduate degrees in Environmental Studies and Political Science from the University of Montana and his Master’s degree from the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington.
Anne Bartuszevige, Conservation Science Director
Anne joined the PLJV in 2008 as Conservation Science Director and brings a wealth of experience focused on grassland ecosystems, avian science and private lands conservation. Anne most recently worked at Oregon State University’s Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Union, Oregon. There, she studied the change in territory occupancy of Red-tailed, Ferruginous and Swainson’s hawks on a northeast bunchgrass prairie known as the Zumwalt. Anne earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Hope College in Holland, MI and a master’s degree in biological sciences with a conservation biology emphasis from Illinois State University (ISU). While at ISU she studied pesticide contamination in grassland songbirds in Illinois. After completing her master’s degree, Anne attended Miami University in Ohio and received a Ph.D. in botany in 2004. During her Ph.D., she studied the spread of an invasive shrub to new forest fragments. Anne also has extensive experience working with PLJV partner organizations such as the USDA Forest Service, USDA Farm Service Agency and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and The Nature Conservancy.
Alex Daniels, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Director
Alex joined PLJV in 2012 with a broad range of experience using GIS in natural resources. Most recently Alex worked at Colorado State University in the department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture where he applied GIS to investigate water conservation, plant physiology, and global climate models. Prior to that, he earned a master’s degree in Forest Sciences with a specialty in GIS at Colorado State University. Alex also has a background in wildlife biology. As a post-graduate researcher for the University of California at Davis, he studied the effects of stress on native salmon populations in California’s Sacramento/San Joaquin delta. He earned a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology from the University of California at Davis in 2003.
Miruh Hamend, Communication Director
Miruh has more than 24 years experience developing and managing marketing communication campaigns—including direct mail, radio, video, websites, and social media—for a wide variety of healthcare and non-profit organizations. Most recently she worked as a consultant in the healthcare industry, providing communication services for many California hospitals, healthcare systems and physician groups, as well as Blue Cross of California and the Los Angeles County Department of Health. Miruh received her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Walla Walla University in 1991.
Andrew Mackintosh, Business Operations Director
Andrew brings over 20 years’ leadership and management experience in finance, operations, and administration to PLJV. In addition to a passion for animal welfare and education, he enjoys developing relationships to support nonprofits, and his career has involved the coordination of numerous development projects from donor cultivation to strategic and capital planning. Andrew currently serves as Treasurer on the Board of Trustees at Mackintosh Academy, and is a board member for life with Best Pets Colorado, a nonprofit dedicated to finding permanent homes for the hardest-to-adopt shelter animals. He is currently finishing his degree in Organizational Communication and Public Relations at the University of Colorado Denver. Andrew joined the PLJV team in December 2014.
Christopher Rustay, Conservation Delivery Leader
Christopher joined the PLJV in January 2003 and currently serves as the Conservation Delivery Leader. He started working for the JV as the Shortgrass Prairie Bird Conservation Region coordinator, a role he also served prior to joining the PLJV staff. Previous roles have included the New Mexico Partners in Flight coordinator from 1999 to 2002, where he compiled and wrote the first New Mexico Flight Plan and developed partnerships and habitat projects throughout the state including North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) proposals, one of which became the first Standard NAWCA Grant awarded in the state. While in New Mexico, he has also worked for Hawks Aloft as their songbird coordinator, organizing bird surveys for agencies such as the USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Christopher has mapped nesting raptors and conducted raptor counts at potential wind power generation sites in Texas. He has conducted more than 125 USGS Breeding Bird Surveys in New Mexico since 1988. His prior professional experience has been in the arts grants management and social service fields. Christopher has been involved with Audubon New Mexico since 1986. He has served as a member of the New Mexico Bird Records Committee and on the board of the New Mexico Ornithological Society. He earned a degree in psychology from Oberlin College in 1982.
Kyle Taylor, GIS Analyst
Kyle joined the PLJV in 2014 as a GIS programmer/analyst and brings a wealth of experience focused on ecosystem modelling in grassland and rangelands. Kyle most recently worked jointly as a research assistant with the Botany department at the University of Wyoming and as a wildlife technician and GIS specialist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The focus of his research and professional efforts has involved forecasting plant community responses to climate change and relating how associated changes in plant community structure propagate up trophic levels to affect obligate fauna. While at the University of Wyoming, Kyle cut his teeth on spatial ecology and landscape modelling, earning a master’s degree in botany with a focus on species distribution modelling and population modelling of invasive brome grasses. Kyle earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti MI. Kyle has experience working with PLJV partner organizations such as the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Geological Survey, and The Nature Conservancy.