Board and Staff

Friends of Gold Butte is governed by a passionate Board of Directors and managed by a small but effective staff.

Board of Directors

Karen Adams is an avid adventurer and naturalist. Karen grew up in Los Angeles and spent her childhood holidays camping with family throughout California. Employed as an international business development manager, Karen spent several decades traveling to, and working in, more than 60 countries. Karen’s husband, Don, was the organizer of one of Los Angeles’ largest hiking clubs. When not working, the two of them hiked and backpacked in Southern California and organized club trips as far afield as Machu Picchu. Currently, Karen serves as a volunteer at Red Rock, Sloan Canyon, Gold Butte, and Cedar Breaks. When not volunteering, she spend her time camping and hiking in the National Parks. Karen is looking forward to participating in efforts to protect and conserve Gold Butte. Karen serves as the Secretary of the Board.

Jim Boone is an avid outdoorsman. Jim camped and backpacked throughout the western US with family and did month-long summer backpacking trips with friends when 15 and 16 years old. Jim worked a dozen seasons in western National Parks, and with his wife Liz, attended Humboldt State University (B.S. in Wildlife Management, 1987) and the University of Georgia (M.S. in Forest Resources; Ph.D. in Ecology, 1995). Jim’s dissertation involved the morphology and genetics of rapid evolution in field mice, which required months of time hiking and camping in southeastern hardwood swamps. Arriving in Las Vegas in 1995, Jim did ecological research on the Nevada Test Site, spending 11 years with the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Project. In 2002, he began building, a website that helps people to find peace and solitude in wild places and thereby gains public support for protecting these places for future generations. In 2006 Jim started an environmental consulting company primarily engaged in desert tortoise surveys and enforcing environmental laws on construction sites. Now retired, Jim and Liz hike, camp, watch birds, work on the website, and agitate for land conservation issues.

Theo Anne Byrns is a long- time resident of Southern Nevada; her family moved here in 1966.  She is a retired (as of June 30, 2017) professor of the College of Southern Nevada.   She was the founding chair of the World Language Department and is retiring from that department.  She also worked as a Director, Dean, and Academic Vice-President.  She has been active in community service having served on the Board of the Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Chair of the North Las Vegas Salvation Army Advisory Board, and Chair of the Winchester Advisory Board as well as others.  She has traveled to many places, gone scuba diving in some, and explored and hiked in others.  She first learned of Gold Butte several years ago when serving on the Friends of Nevada Wilderness Board and has since gone hiking there.  With her retirement, she looks forward to working on conserving Gold Butte and on being an active participant on the Board.

Geoffrey Frasz is a soon to be retired Professor of Philosophy at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas. His area of specialty is environmental philosophy reflecting his lifelong interest in the natural world. A long time cave explorer, canoeist, hiker and camper, he first discovered Gold Butte when he arrived in southern Nevada in 1991 from Back East. Since then he has explored the Gold Butte area and is committed to its protection and enjoyment by all people. He enjoys leading trips for new people to discover the wonder of the area and looks forward to finding new special spots in Gold Butte. With his upcoming retirement he looks forward to more trips up from Vegas during the week. He also has a standing $20 reward to anyone who can show him a “real” cave in Gold Butte!

Byron George grew up in southern California where he developed an appreciation for the environment and the great outdoors. He has a passion for hiking and backpacking in wilderness areas. He graduated from California State University Long Beach with honors, obtaining a degree in Political Science and a teaching certificate from the College of Education. He completed post graduate studies at the University of Oregon. He stayed in Oregon for the next 40 years. While working and raising his family, he remained a political and environmental activist, working on issues that are important to protect human rights and the environment. He helped organize neighborhood groups in the blue collar community of Springfield, chartering Springfield’s first active consumer group, Fair Share, which championed life line utility rates and opposed service termination to help protect the poor. He was appointed a board director for the Springfield Utility Board, the second largest public utility in Oregon. He also served as vice chairman of the bicycle committee which developed a system of trails throughout the city and county. Byron served as a precinct worker in both Oregon and Nevada. He served as the chairman of legislative district 42 and served on county and state central committees. Byron practiced real estate sales prior to retirement and was a principal broker for a major real estate firm in Oregon. Later, he owned and operated his own real estate office. Byron and his wife, Annie, retired in Nevada in 2007.  He enjoys hiking and all the grandeur of the desert and the spaciousness, quietude and serenity it offers.  Gold Butte plays a large part in his love of southern Nevada. Byron serves as the President of the Board.

Eric Larsen is the owner of Urban Cairn in Las Vegas, a consulting practice specializing in event development and management as well as race production services. He has over ten years experiencing working in the outdoor recreation industry in Las Vegas. Eric feels that Gold Butte is one of the last wild, untouched places in Nevada. He was drawn to Gold Butte for its quiet, open space and opportunity for solitude. He joined Friends of Gold Butte in 2014 to help with the campaign to protect this incredible landscape. Eric serves as the Treasurer of the Board.

Leora Olivas is the State Director for Silver State Voices, where she coordinates dozens of local and national organizations conduct nonpartisan civic engagement and push for the expansion of voter access. She helped partners register over 47,000 Nevada voters since 2012. Drawn to Nevada and politics during the final months of the 2008 election cycle, Leora worked previously as the 2012 Democratic Presidential Caucus Director and the Data and Targeting Manager for ISSI. Born in Kremmling, CO and raised in Idyllwild, CA among a family of sportsmen and outdoor adventurers, she took her rural roots to UCLA where she graduated with a B.A. in Visual Arts. While she and her partner Howard live near downtown Las Vegas, she still takes any opportunity to visit small towns and wild spaces in the West. Leora is enchanted by the diverse beauty of Gold Butte and the ability to feel a world away while still being close to home. She looks forward to helping the organization grow in order to protect this special place and introduce more people to the great, unspoiled outdoors.

Terri Rylander is a freelance marketing communication and web consultant with a passion for conservation—protecting our natural and historical resources or future generations. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, she finds everything about the desert, and Gold Butte, fascinating as well as precious. She enjoys getting outdoors, filling all five senses with nature, through hiking and photography. Terri is fortunate to have a career that is flexible and allows her to spend time both in Mesquite, Nevada and Redmond, Washington. She does much of the communication for Friends of Gold Butte, including the website, Facebook, Twitter, and the email newsletter, and looks forward to the day when Gold Butte receives its National Conservation Area with Wilderness designation. Terri serves as the Vice President of the Board.

 Klaus Schmitt was born and raised in Rimbach, Germany, a small town in the Odenwald Hills near Heidelberg. Nature was close to him there and his love for the outdoors was formed in that environment. After graduating from high school he had the opportunity to start his higher education at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he majored in Mathematics and Physics. Subsequently he did graduate work in Mathematics at the University of Nebraska, where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1967. He then started his academic career in teaching, research, and administration at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where he retired, as Professor Emeritus, in 2010. His academic career also made it possible for him to extensively travel the world serving as a visiting Professor or Researcher at many Universities across the World. He is an avid outdoors man and he has very much enjoyed skiing, snow shoeing, hiking, and backpacking in the mountains and canyons of the West. His other leisure activities include playing tennis, much reading, and listening to good music. He is married to Claudia, a Southern California girl; three years ago they decided to leave winters behind and resettled in Mesquite, Nevada. They are the proud parents of children who live in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.


Executive Director
Jaina Moan has over fifteen years of experience working in a broad range of environmental fields and six years of experience in non-profit administration. She joined Friends of Gold Butte as Executive Director in 2015, an excellent fit to her passion for conservation and experience with environmental science and non-profit management. Jaina moved to Las Vegas, Nevada from Flagstaff, Arizona where she had previously worked as an Executive Assistant to the Director and Human Resources Manager for the Museum of Northern Arizona. Before her time at the Museum, Jaina worked for two years as a Program Manager for the Coconino County Sustainable Economic Development Initiative where she coordinated the activities of sustainability-focused programs, from green business and workforce development to renewable energy and regional food systems. Prior to her non-profit career, Jaina worked for six years as a Research Specialist at the Colorado Plateau Analytical Lab, an environmental chemistry laboratory located at Northern Arizona University. Jaina holds a Master’s in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry and Biology from Northern Arizona University. She loves to explore wilderness on foot and is passionate about land conservation.

Outings and Outreach Coordinator
Brenda Slocumb has lived most of her life in southern Nevada, growing up in Boulder City and currently residing in the Moapa Valley. Brenda spent 18 years with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in both the Animal Science department and the 4-H Youth Development Program. Her focus was on volunteer and club management as well as education in informal settings. She facilitated meetings and assisted volunteers in organization of projects, camps, fairs, leadership events and trainings. Brenda is an avid horsewoman and competes in barrel racing. She also enjoys team roping, training young horses and trail riding.  She enjoys spending time outdoors, whether it be camping, hiking, or gardening and believes Southern Nevada is a valuable resource that should be enjoyed by all and preserved for future generations.

We are always looking for additional volunteers to help lead hikes, share information about Gold Butte at community events, help with desert restoration projects, and more. If you’d be interested in being on the volunteer list, please drop us an email at: