Meet the CVNM Community

Anita Davis Schafer, Davis Ranch in El Morro, New Mexico, CVNM Member

Why are you a CVNM member and what initially drew you to becoming involved with CVNM?
I first saw CVNM, I believe, at a Quivira Coalition Conference and picked up a flyer, then joined.  We love the work CVNM is doing and especially like to see the elected officials’ voting records.  We think the most important thing in the world is the environment, not big industry.  Living near the Four Corners region, we realize we are near one of the most threatened parts of New Mexico for that.

Why is conservation important, in your opinion?
I love going out on the range, watching our cattle graze on untreated grasses, breathe clean air, and drink pure water.  There is nothing more exhilarating than taking a big fresh breath of New Mexico air and knowing your cattle are as pure and healthy as they can possibly be, and we want to keep it that way.

What are some of your hobbies?
When we are not ranching we are hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, making beer and enjoying our friends.  Bob and I also operate the lights and the sound for productions at the Arts Council.  We have a good life.


DaveMichelsohnw

David Michelsohn, Albuquerque, Michelsohn Creative Communications, CVNM Business Partner

Why do you support CVNM?
I’ve always liked Theodore Roosevelt’s outlook on the environment. He was more a conservationist than environmentalist. As a ‘child of the ’60s’, I always wanted to help save this beautiful land of ours for my children and their children’s children. As the poet John Perry Barlowe says:

“We don’t own this place, though we act as if we did, It’s a loan from the children of our children’s kids. The actual owners haven’t even been born yet.”

Why do you believe that conservation is important?
It’s the least we can do as human beings to make an effort to leave this planet in better shape than we found it.

What is your favorite natural place in New Mexico?
My favorite natural place in New Mexico is Fourth of July Canyon. It’s one of the unique spots in New Mexico that is replete with deciduous trees. In fall, it is absolutely stunningly beautiful: many trees you don’t see in New Mexico like maples and sycamores. It looks like a fireworks display, therefore the name. We used to pick wild strawberries while we hiked there and there is a sensational view at the top of the hill. I haven’t been there for years and need to go back this fall!

Tell us about yourself.
I’ve been the owner of an advertising agency, Michelsohn Creative Communications, for the past 35 years. That means I write, produce and purchase media time for a variety of clients – from auto dealers and fast oil change retailers to doctors and attorneys, as well as many retail establishments in the southwest. I also make the coffee here in the mornings, as well as do the dishes at our office a few times a week.

When I’m not writing, producing or purchasing media time for clients, I play guitar (mostly Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead) and spend as much time as I can with my four children and lovely bride of 21 years.


MichelleOterow

Michelle Otero, left, and her husband Henry Rael, Albuquerque, CVNM Member

Why do you support CVNM?
I care about New Mexico’s air, land, and water and I think CVNM does the best job in the state of protecting those vital resources. My family has been in New Mexico for 10 generations, and my love and respect for the land run as deep as my family history.

Why do you believe that conservation is important?
We have to listen to the land and what it’s telling us about how to protect it. It’s nice to know there is an organization that is doing just that. CVNM looks at the long term and how we can relate to the land in a way that protects it for our children and our grandchildren.

What is your favorite natural place in New Mexico?
My favorite natural place in New Mexico is the Río Grande bosque, which is only an eight-minute walk from my home. It is the place to me that feels the most ancient and vulnerable and it’s constantly changing, depending on the season, the time of day or the way the light filters through the trees. I love that the river connects all New Mexicans.

Tell us about yourself.
I am a writer and creative director at Valle Encantado, an organization committed to sustainable development in Albuquerque’s Atrisco neighborhood. I love hearing and learning from the stories of our elders. I also enjoy reading, acting, running along the acequias, swimming, hiking and spending time with my family.


BobHearnw

Bob Hearn, Las Cruces, CVNM Monthly Sustaining Donor

Why do you support CVNM?
I was drawn in to CVNM by meeting CVNM people everywhere I turned while working on important issues at the local and state level, including elections. It made sense to become even a small part of an organization so thoroughly aligned with the things I saw as important.

The political scene can be tough to navigate as a citizen. CVNM’s work is important because they provide us with a constant, credible, enormously capable presence and voice in our political scene. Because of their abilities, hard work, and respect, CVNM has amazing power – and they use it for good.​​

Why do you believe that conservation is important?
I believe that we have to conserve to save the planet. Somebody has to save some of the planet, and if not us, who? ‘They paved paradise and made it a parking lot’ is a real good description of what has happened to all the places I grew up playing and hiking in, in the desert around Phoenix. It’s just gone and you can’t even imagine what it once was like.

What is your favorite natural place in New Mexico?
My favorite natural place in New Mexico is the Organ Mountains right behind my house​​ – you can get up to 7,500 feet with some work, and look east across White Sands, west across the Mesilla Valley and the Rio Grande, and all the flora and fauna are just there, along with old mines and trails.

Tell us about yourself.
I am retired and a converted activist for people in need, and more effective government. I was converted from the natural passivism of the big city and work and career to taking a very active part in the affairs of our community; especially in a small town in a hard-pressed area where every person can easily get involved and become active, whatever their preferred direction or cause. My trail went from animal care and campaigning to city, county and state politics to issues like Tax Increment Development Districts (known as TIDDs) and State Land Office deals. Then I began to work with people needing assistance. I’ve worked on hunger, homelessness, joblessness, living in substandard situations – all the New Mexico stuff. Then there are the amazingly great people to work with like CVNM and Voices for Children – and it’s hard not to get active.

When I’m not working on all those issues, I spend time hiking in the mountains and keeping an eye on our local government.

Learn more and sign up to become a monthly sustaining donor!


LarryMcDanielw

Larry McDaniel, Silver City, CVNM Member

Why do you support CVNM?
CVNM provides a voice for all of us individual New Mexicans that care about protecting and preserving our natural resources. CVNM makes our opinions heard at the state level in Santa Fe and serves as a crucial counter balance to lobbying efforts on behalf of entities that seek to undermine sensible environmental controls and regulations.

My friend and fishing buddy Dutch Salmon introduced me to CVNM and I’ve been a supporter ever since. I often contact my local legislators on important conservation issues and I feel being a CVNM member adds weight to my efforts.

Why do you believe that conservation is important?
I share Aldo Leopold’s vision of “Thinking Like a Mountain.” The concept implies a holistic view of the health of ecosystems. Habitat protection and restoration, clean air and water, endangered species protections and addressing bigger issues like human induced climate change are all part of conservation to me. Failure to address the overall health of our environment is not only bad news for plants and animals, it’s bad news for our own long term survival as a species.

What is your favorite natural place in New Mexico?
My favorite natural place in New Mexico isin the Gila. The riparian areas in both the Gila and the Black Range are very special to my wife and I. We spend as much time as possible deep in the back country. We just returned from a week in the Black Range and we’re already planning our next visit.

Tell us about yourself.
I’m a veterinarian. I enjoy both road and mountain biking. I love bird watching and native plant identification. I’m an avid backpacker and I’ve been almost everywhere in both the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness areas. I’m also a hunter and fisherman. I studied wildlife biology as an undergraduate before going to Veterinary School. Conservation and habitat protection are the keys to all my hobbies.


Peter&JeanOssoriow

Peter & Jean Ossorio, Las Cruces, CVNM Donors

Why do you support CVNM?
CVNM is literally unique; it is the only organization with the detailed knowledge of both conservation issues and the positions of the state’s representatives and senators. We believe in the politics of values rather than geography and contribute to candidates statewide who represent our values. We believe in protecting public lands and wildlife against the privatizers and deregulators who want the public to bear the costs while they pocket the profits. CVNM’s endorsement is the primary “litmus test” we use when deciding whether to support politicians outside Dona Ana County.

We have been members since at least 2007. One of its great attractions for us is that it is small and composed of an absolutely astute and dedicated staff. Values, political pragmatism, and hard-core lobbying all combine to make CVNM able to “punch above its weight” and obtain substantive results. We are constantly impressed with the willingness of CVNM staff to meet with us one-on-one for candid and always insightful briefings on the political scene and current policy issues. As a small, focused organization, CVNM needs and deserves unshakable, sustained support from the people it serves so well.

Why do you believe that conservation is important?
As much as we value conservation for its own benefits, we also see this struggle as part of the larger issue of whether people will destroy or restore the planet. Human beings are important, but they affect far more than other nations or peoples. If organizations like CVNM can promote necessary political and policy changes, there may be hope on a larger national and international scale.

What is your favorite natural place in New Mexico?
For about the first eight years after we moved to New Mexico (late 1995) we got out almost every week end, hiking and enjoying the outdoors. Greg Magee’s book on day hikes in Dona Ana County was our primary guide. Many of those hikes were to places identified to be included in any Organ Mountains National Monument. In our travels to try to see and hear wolves we became particularly fond of Double Cienega (wolves at least three different years) in Arizona and Cooney Prairie and the T-Bar grasslands in New Mexico. More recently we have concentrated on three to seven day trips tent camping and looking for signs in wolf country.

Tell us about yourselves.
Peter: I am a retired Field Artillery officer, retired Assistant United States Attorney, and an adjunct professor in the government department at NMSU. Jean: I am a retired elementary school teacher and citizen activist for Mexican gray wolf recovery. Peter: My hobbies include building a stabilized adobe house as a retirement project (nine years and counting) and teaching criminal law for DACC’s paralegal program and Civil Liberties, New Mexico Constitution, National Security Policy, and other occasional courses for NMSU. Jean: My “hobby” is scouring the official postings by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and Arizona Game and Fish Department, and the official stud book for the lobos, and compiling a regular Burke’s Peerage of the pedigree and genetic lineage of the wolves.


DNeeperw

Don Neeper, Los Alamos, CVNM Donor

Why do you support CVNM?
During the last twenty years, corporate power has grown to far exceed citizen influence in the politics that determine the actual function of government. This political manipulation deeply undermines the regulatory functions of both states and the federal government. For example, the petroleum industry has a blanket exemption from the federal rule that governs wastes from almost all other industries. Society itself is a system of written and unwritten regulations, in which the rights of all are protected by restrictions and responsibilities placed on almost all activities— from banking to where you drive your car and how we greet each other on the street. The environmental protection needed for economic sustainability can no longer be maintained by technical reasoning in the regulatory arena of government. Therefore, political action focused on environmental protection is now crucial to the survival of this free society. CVNM works in the political arena to defend a sustainable society.

Why do you believe that conservation is important?
As Jared Diamond demonstrated in his review of archeology and history (Collapse, Viking 2005), the society that consumes its resources and ruins its environment is doomed. Our American society developed as a unique and benevolent experiment in individual liberty. Conservation of our resources and environment is absolutely necessary if that society is to endure.

What is your favorite natural place in New Mexico?
My favorite natural place in New Mexico is Pecos Baldy Lake because the area has mountains, water, wildlife, and forest without roads.

Tell us about yourself.
I’m a retired physicist with professional experience in numerical modeling, solar buildings, and remediation of contaminated soils. Seeing power plant smog in the Rio Grande valley in 1970, I began volunteer work for environmental protection. Since the late 1990’s, my attention has been focused on wastes and contamination from oil and gas drilling and production. I have served as a technical witness in meetings and hearings of the New Mexico Environment Department and of the Oil Conservation Division. In recent years, I have turned to writing, both essay and fiction, in which I compare characteristics of our society with the scientific properties of complex systems. You can find my commentary in blogs and essays.

Before age took its toll, I loved backpacking, cross-country skiing, and living well while recycling everything, including old lumber and yard wastes. Now, my time is invested in reading, writing, and speaking. There isn’t, and there hasn’t been, a distinct division between my work, my living, and my hobbies. It’s all one mode of being.

Learn about becoming a CVNM Legacy Circle member.


CriagO'Harew

Craig O’Hare, Santa Fe, CVNM Volunteer & Monthly Sustaining Donor

Why do you support CVNM?
It comes down to one word: success. CVNM has demonstrated success, year after year, in both the electoral process and the legislative process. It’s really impressive. I have been an environmental activist my entire adult life. I have long admired the League of Conservation Voters at the national level and was glad to partner with New Mexico’s state equivalent. CVNM’s predecessor organization, NM Conservation Voters Alliance, brought me to New Mexico in 1995 to lobby at the New Mexico State Legislature.

In many ways, CVNM is my alma mater of environmental organizations because of my initial involvement with CVA. My continued support for CVNM runs deep because I recognize that we have to have the right people in office or we aren’t going to make any progress on protecting the environment.

Why do you believe that conservation is important?
Conservation is about protecting the only planet we have. There are a lot of daily assaults by our industrialized society on the planet. We’ve got to do what we can to protect the life-giving properties of the planet. It’s critical to elect public officials that are dedicated to protecting public health and the environment for those young and old alive today and for future generations.

What is your favorite natural place in New Mexico?
My favorite natural place in New Mexico is the Pecos Wilderness. It’s gorgeous and has a wonderful, wild feel to it. And it’s nearby so I don’t have to burn a lot of fossil fuels to get to it.

Tell us about yourself.
I am the Energy Programs Specialist for Santa Fe County and I serve on the board of the Partnership for Responsible Business, the education arm of the NM Green Chamber of Commerce. Prior to working for Santa Fe County, I worked for Governor Bill Richardson in renewable energy, green building and climate change. My hobbies include international travel—preferably to warm beaches—camping, hiking, sailing, reading action adventure novels, and going to activist events. I’ll go anywhere with my dog, Tica!

Learn more about becoming a volunteer for CVNM.


CaryNeeperw

Cary Neeper, Los Alamos, CVNM member

Why do you support CVNM?
There are many ways to influence public opinion and change old paradigms, like growth, which no longer work. I believe the power of story is important to inspire new ways of thinking. My husband, Don, has worked in the regulatory arena. Others carry placards and sign petitions. CVNM’s lobbying efforts are central to building care for our planet’s health and its longevity, and for awareness of the limits to its resources. Too often, CVNM is a lone voice of reason, caution and good information in the New Mexico Legislature.

Why do you believe that conservation is important?
Growth is still touted as a panacea for economic ills. In fact, it now costs more than it is worth, for the Earth is full by 1.5 times at the latest estimate. The necessity of economic growth is based on faulty premises in neoclassical economics invented in large part by Big Money and still taught in many universities. I find my inspiration and technical guide for my writing on the ultimate in conservation—no-growth economics—in the writings of Herman Daly (steadystate.org) and recently in two excellent books. Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Society in a World of Finite Resources by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill is a concise guide to the how and why of steady state economics. In Supply Shock, Brian Czech describes in easy storytelling style the fallacies of classical economics and how we can survive creatively and more comfortably in the long run without growth that uses up our resources.

What is your favorite natural place in New Mexico?
My backyard is a favorite of mine. Though now suffering the drought, it is my place of peace and connection with my birds and dogs. It is an example of New Mexico Ponderosa country’s resilience in surviving periods of drought to flourish with forty-year-old grass and lilacs when spring rains fall.

Tell us about yourself.
I am a Ph. D. microbiologist by training, mother of three daughters by choice and writer by profession. I have been a long-time, avid student of sustainability and steady state economics for over 40 years. My writings model in an entertaining setting what the steady state looks like, how we can get there for the sake of our great-grandchildren, and why.

My hobbies include Xeriscape gardening, tennis, music composition, playing string bass, domestic birds, fish, dogs, and acrylic painting (including the covers for my books). To read about Cary’s printed works and more, visit her website.


Steve&SandyFischmannw

Stephen Fischmann, Mesilla Park, CVNM member

Why do you support CVNM?
CVNM protects the environment from ill-conceived legislation and policies. They consistently read the political forces at play accurately and get the job done. I became interested in CVNM when running for the State Senate. CVNM visited Las Cruces and I had a chance to meet Leanne Leith and sample the energy and knowledge CVNM brings to protecting our health and our environment.

Why do you believe that conservation is important?
CVNM’s work is important because they are one of the few organizations in New Mexico that represent the needs of ordinary people rather than corporate or special interest groups. When government takes the easy path of serving moneyed interests at the expense of ordinary citizens, CVNM is one of the most effective groups at pushing back.

What is your favorite natural place in New Mexico?
It’s hard to pick a favorite place – there are too many great ones. I’ll stay loyal to our local Organ Mountains, but I also love Valle Vidal, Valles Caldera, the Gila Wilderness, White Sands, Rio Grande Box…

Tell us about yourself.
I am a former New Mexico Senator. I have long advocated for energy efficiency, renewable energy and lower fuel costs. I serve as chair of the Southwest Energy Alliance and on the boards of directors of the Southwest Environmental Center and the Coalition for Clean and Affordable Energy. My hobbies include guitar, hiking, gardening, my weekly public affairs radio show, and community activism.


Interested in telling us more about yourself and why you are a part of the CVNM Community? Email Liliana at Liliana@CVNM.org.