Leadership and Board

The NWF Action Fund board gathers for a group photo
The NWF Action Fund board and staff at the 2024 Board Retreat in January. Pictured from left to right - Top: Charles Hernick, Alexis Acevedo, Steve Allinger, Abigail Cawley, Gaspar Perricone, Cathy Novelli, Jamey French, Beth Viola, Bruce Wallace, Martha Darling, Don Hooper, Bri Jones Rich, Chuck Rocha. Bottom: Karla Raettig, Meg Schneider, Chris Misner
With their pivotal direction and support, the leaders of the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund pave the way for our action-takers to make their voices heard.

Karla Raettig

Karla Raettig

Vice President and Executive Director, National Wildlife Federation Action Fund

Karla Raettig joined the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund as Executive Director in May 2019. Before returning to NWF, Karla served as Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Maryland’s leading environmental political organization, for nearly 8 years. During that time Maryland LCV doubled its budget and passed landmark legislation including doubling Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.

From 2008-2011, Karla served as the Program Director for NWF’s Mississippi River Delta restoration program, where she led NWF’s efforts to pass the RESTORE Act. Prior to joining NWF, Karla practiced environmental law at the Environmental Integrity Project, the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, and at the Seattle office of Earthjustice, Karla has an LL.M in environmental and natural resources law from Tulane University Law School and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.

Board of Directors

(as of 2024)

Gaspar Perricone

Gaspar has extensive public affairs and government relations experience, with expertise in policy development and analysis, political strategy, strategic planning, and lobbying. He currently works as a consultant at Freestone Strategies, a public affairs and government relations consulting firm.

Prior to joining Freestone Strategies, Gaspar served as the Legislative Program Director for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. In this role, he oversaw legislative programs for the Department on issues relating to oil and gas development, mining and reclamation, state parks and wildlife, forestry, water, and state land board lands.  He was responsible for developing agency legislative agendas and directly lobbying members of the Colorado General Assembly.

Gaspar founded Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance (BMSA), a national non-profit hunting and angling advocacy organization, in 2010 and served as CEO and President until 2014. BMSA enjoyed nationwide membership and promoted state and federal policies benefiting sportsmen opportunities, agriculture conservation programs, public land access and wildlife habitat enhancement. BMSA was among the few national sportsmen conservation organizations which engaged in political advocacy and electoral activity.

Gaspar also served as Political Director for Mark Udall’s 2008 bid for U.S. Senate. He continued his service for Senator Udall as his Western Colorado Director where he focused on natural resource and agriculture policy, as well as issues pertinent to western Colorado. Throughout Senator Udall’s term, Gaspar helped advance Farm Bill conservation programs, energy policies, federal land management plans, and other programs benefiting outdoor recreation and western economies.

In 2010, Governor Hickenlooper appointed Gaspar to serve on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission. As a CPW Commissioner, he worked to ensure the unique outdoors opportunities we enjoy today will remain for future generations.  His leadership at CPW resulted in his fellow commissioners electing him to serve as the Parks and Wildlife Commission representative to the Great Outdoors Colorado Board.

Gaspar is a fourth-generation Coloradan who lives in rural northern Colorado with his wife, Cassidy.

Beth Viola
Vice Chair

Beth A. Viola is a senior policy advisor in Holland & Knight’s Washington, D.C., office and co-chairs the firm’s Energy Team. Ms. Viola’s practice areas include energy and environmental consulting, trade, appropriations, and public relations. The primary focus of her practice is working with clean energy technology companies to create sound public policy drivers for their businesses. She  works with business leaders and nonprofits to advance effective climate change strategies that result in economic and environmental benefits.

Previously, Ms. Viola served as a senior advisor to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. During the last year of her tenure, she was one of Vice President Gore’s chief environmental advisors and served as a senior policy advisor during his presidential campaign. She has also served as a senior advisor for energy and environmental policy with the John Kerry for President and the Kerry-Edwards campaigns, a former congressional staff member for U.S. Representatives John Edward Porter of Illinois and Claudine Schneider of Rhode Island, and a facilitator for climate change discussions at the Clinton Global Initiative from 2006-2008.

In 2016, Beth was named an Energy & Environmental Trailblazer by the National Law Journal. Beth also serves on the advisory boards of Planet Forward and Sundrop Fuels, Inc. She has been very engaged with the Washington Humane Society and co-chaired their largest annual fundraising event for the last six years.

Abigail Cawley

Abigail Cawley is a class of 2020 graduate from Georgetown University, where she studied Science, Technology, and International Affairs and built a passion for sustainability and business. From 2019-2020 she built and led The Wealth of Nature podcast, bringing a number of business and policy experts to the table to brainstorm and highlight solutions to today’s major environmental challenges. In her time at Georgetown, she also worked to develop a National Society of Black Engineers chapter first as Treasurer, then as co-President.

Being the first in her family to attend college, she has found strength in navigating unfamiliar and challenging environments, and has always been passionate about bringing all of her identities and experiences to the table. She is now a student at Columbia University pursuing a degree in Earth and Environmental Engineering through the dual-degree program between Georgetown and Columbia.

She is passionate about the environment, people and wildlife, and hopes to put her qualifications and skills to work in corporate sustainability settings, particularly in creating sustainable supply chains.

Chris Misner

Chris Misner is an Advisor and former President of Roblox International, a leading global platform for shared digital experiences and gaming. There, he led growth for the unique technology platform that now has over 100 million monthly users and over 10 million user-created experiences. Prior to Roblox, he spent twelve years as an internal entrepreneur at Apple Inc, where he launched the Apple Online Store in China and grew it to multiple billions in revenue while leading all of Apple’s e-commerce in Asia Pacific. Chris also led global teams for Apple’s business operations, payments, and partnerships. Earlier in his career, Chris held a number of operating roles at Netscape, Backflip, and Good Technology (acquired by Motorola). Prior to entering the tech industry, Chris was a consultant and a United Nations observer of South Africa’s first free and fair election.

Chris has had a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors and he grew up spending summers exploring the woods and coast of Maine. After college, he spent many weekends with the Appalachian Mountain Club hiking and ice climbing in New Hampshire. He and his wife even honeymooned in Yosemite National Park. Chris holds a degree in Architecture from Princeton, an MA in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He, his wife, and two sons now enjoy spending time at Point Reyes National Seashore, just one hour north of San Francisco.

Alexis Acevedo

Alexis Acevedo is the director of partnerships and program implementation at Equis Research, an organization helping to move past the idea of the Latino community as a monolith, and toward a more sophisticated understanding of the experiences, issue preferences, and political identities of Latino and Hispanic voters. Prior to joining Equis, he worked as the political and field director for America Votes in Nevada and Pennsylvania. Alexis is an Afro-Latino immigrant from the Dominican Republic who loves to travel, music, astronomy, and the outdoors. He is based in New Jersey, and is as passionate about life as he is about solving social justice issues and treasures every cross-cultural experience that confirms the common fabric of the human race.

Stephen K. Allinger

Steve Allinger has worked diligently to further the cause of conservation within the New York state government, including positions with the New York state legislature, the governor, and the New York City Board of Education, where he served as Executive Director of Intergovernmental Relations. Steve was formerly Director of Legislation with New York State United Teachers. In his previous position as Deputy Budget Director for the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Steve drafted and negotiated the legislation and budgets for a significant land acquisition and preservation program, a $2 billion Environmental Bond Act, the state’s water pollution revolving loan fund, a hazardous waste superfund, and hundreds of millions of dollars in federally mandated energy efficiency and conservation investments, as well as the establishment of New York’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). As part of the EPF, Steve set up the Adirondack Wildlife Program that, among other projects, reintroduced Canada lynx to the Adirondacks and studied the feasibility of reintroducing moose and other extirpated species to that region.

Steve is a former board member of the National Wildlife Federation and served as board chair from 2011-2013.

Cristina Antelo

A fierce believer in Thomas Edison’s “Everything comes to h[er] who hustles while [she] waits,” Cristina is a senior Democratic strategist and serves as Ferox’s chief executive officer. Cristina has spent more than a decade representing multinational corporations with her trademark hustle at Washington’s best-known public affairs firms.

From Wall Street to K Street, Cristina has set herself apart as a trusted advisor, skilled advocate, and effective negotiator who isn’t afraid of long, hard work. She began her lobbying career in 2004, immediately representing Fortune 500 clients at top-ranked, bipartisan government and public affairs firms in Washington. Her past clients include major chain retailers, spirits companies, national theme and amusement parks, pharmaceutical firms, and nutrition and wellness companies. Her policy areas of expertise include financial services, tax, trade, border security, transportation and infrastructure, and crisis management.

Featured in Washingtonian magazine in “Success Stories of Washingtonians of Latino and Hispanic Descent” and identified as a “Power Player” and “Most Influential 40 and Under Leader” in other regional publications, Cristina provides insider advice on how public policy is created and communicated.  As a founding member and former president of the Hispanic Lobbyists Association and serving as the interim CEO of the nonprofit Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), Cristina has served as both a leader and an advocate, promoting communication, ethics, education, and bipartisanship.

Today, Cristina is active in charitable work, contributing her business acumen, political savvy, and trademark hustle as vice-chair of the CHCI, serving under Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and on the board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s National Capital Chapter. Cristina is also on the board of directors for her alma mater, the Brooks School, and volunteers with Common Threads, focusing on nutrition education for children.

Jessie Bradley

A Partner at Hilltop Public Solutions, Jessie Bradley has over twelve years of field and political campaign management experience at the local, state and national level. In her position at Hilltop, she specializes in managing federal grasstops campaigns on behalf of Fortune 100 companies, non-profits and trade associations. Jessie also manages the grassroots and field aspects of the firm’s political consulting practice.

In 2012, Jessie served as the Voter Protection Co-Director for Pennsylvania Organizing for America. In this capacity, she oversaw the recruitment, training and placement of over 1,500 in state and 1,000 out of state attorneys on Election Day. In 2008, Jessie ran the vote by mail program for the Florida Campaign for Change on behalf of Barack Obama, which helped ensure the largest early voter turnout in Florida history. In 2007, Jessie planned and managed the get-out-the–vote operation for Mayor Michael Nutter’s successful mayoral campaign in Philadelphia.

Jessie ran the field program for the Democratic Party of New Mexico on behalf of the Madrid for Congress campaign. Between 2004 and 2005, Jessie worked on campaigns in New Jersey and Alaska. In New Jersey, Jessie served as the campaign manager of the victorious Greenstein for Assembly campaign (Legislative District 14). As campaign manager, Jessie developed and implemented the scheduling, fundraising, press and paid media plans for this targeted race. In Alaska, Jessie ran the rural field program on behalf of former Governor Tony Knowles.

A graduate of the University of Missouri, Jessie currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Martha Darling

Martha Darling is a graduate of Reed College and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. Following her graduate work, she was a freelance consultant to OECD in Paris for four years before joining the Battelle Seattle Research Center as a research social scientist. She then served as a special assistant to the Governor of Washington. As a 1977-78 White House Fellow, she served as Executive Assistant to Secretary of Treasury Mike Blumenthal. Later she was Senior Legislative Aide to Senator Bill Bradley, covering the Finance Committee and the federal budget. On her return to Seattle, she was vice president for strategic planning for Seattle-First National Bank and then, on loan, headed the education study of the newly formed Washington Business Roundtable. Recruited to Boeing, she became 747 Commitments Manager and then staffed the CEO and other senior officers on public policy issues. She retired from Boeing in 1999.

Martha serves on a variety of boards, including the Salzburg Global Seminar, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (former chair), PSI’s Maverick Collective, Reed College Trustees, National Wildlife Federation President’s Advisory Council, the National Committee for the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and the Ann Arbor Symphony (former chair). She is also the former board chair of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and served on the Council on Foundation’s Community Foundations Leadership Team. She is founding co-chair of Washtenaw County’s early childhood initiative, Success by Six.

In 2016 Martha was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation as its Conservationist of the Year. Martha’s grandfather was first cousin to National Wildlife Federation founder Jay Norwood (“Ding”) Darling and she is proud to extend his legacy of conserving our nation’s wildlife and natural resources into the 21st century.

Jameson S. French

Jamey French is CEO of Northland Forest Products, Inc., a hardwood processor, distributor, and exporter based in New Hampshire and Virginia, and also a partner of Meadowsend Timberlands, LLP. He is currently the chair of the Land Trust Alliance, a trustee of the America n Forest Foundation, vice chair of Friends Forever International, a trustee of the Davis Conservation Foundation, and a director of the New Mexico-based Union Land and Grazing Company. He is a former chair and current policy chair of the Washington, D.C.-based Hardwood Federation.

He is past chair of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC-US), the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the Quebe-Labrador Foundation, New Mexico-based Cottonwood Gulch Foundation, the Hardwood Manufacturers Association, the American Hardwood Export Council, the Portsmouth Music Hall, and Strawbery Banke Museum. He also served as a director and policy chair of the New Hampshire Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and was treasurer and vice chair of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Charles Hernick

Charles Hernick is the head of sustainability disclosures policy at Amazon, with more than a decade of experience at the intersection of energy, policy advocacy, and environmental stewardship. Formerly the vice president of policy and advocacy at Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, he effectively bridged political divides, driving bipartisan engagement on clean energy and climate matters. Charles holds an M.A. in International Relations and Environmental Policy from Boston University, complemented by a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from the University of Minnesota. He was also the Republican nominee for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District during the 2016 election.

Don Hooper

After teaching three years in Botswana as a Peace Corps volunteer, Don Hooper hired instructors for the Community College of Vermont. He became membership director o f the National Wildlife Federation’s affiliate, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, in 1979 and was VNRC’s acting executive director in 1983 and 1984, just prior to representing Randolph, Brookfield, and Braintree in the Vermont legislature for 8 years. Don served as secretary of state for Vermont before working as New England regional representative for the National Wildlife Federation. In his National Wildlife Federation conservation job he served as an ex officio member of the VNRC board, on which he now serves as an elected member.

Don and Allison Hooper live on a hill farm in Brookfield, Vermont, where their three 20-something sons Miles, Sam, and Jay learned to hay, chainsaw, milk goats, and play horseshoes. For more than three decades, Allison’s business, Vermont Creamery, has sold specialty goat cheese and premium butter from coast to coast. Recently “retired,” Don subscribes to Chief Seattle’s admonition that, “We haven’t inherited this land from our parents so much as borrowed it from our children.”

Brianna “Bri” Jones Rich

Brianna “Bri” Jones Rich grew up in Wyoming’s wide open spaces and currently calls the New York Catskills home. She currently serves on the National Wildlife Federation (501c3) board of directors and previously served on the boards of the National Wildlife Federation’s Florida and Wyoming affiliates. Bri received a BA in International Studies and Political Science from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. She works as an attorney in New York City. In her spare time, Bri enjoys hiking, skiing, kayaking, fishing, photography, and travel.

Catherine A. Novelli

Catherine A. Novelli is the President of Listening for America, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to forging a new vision of U.S. international trade engagement. She is also a Centennial Fellow at Georgetown University. She served as Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment (2014-2017), where she championed economic reform; internet inclusion; conservation of natural resources and increased international collaboration on science and technology.

Novelli spent seven years as Vice President, Worldwide Government Affairs at Apple Inc. Prior to her position at Apple, she was a partner in the law firm of Mayer Brown International. She had a long career at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, rising to Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Europe & the Mediterranean, where she coordinated U.S. trade and investment policy for Europe, Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Novelli currently serves on the Board of the National Wildlife Federation and the Advisory Board of the Pristine Seas Initiative of the National Geographic Society as well as the Wildlife Conservation Society. She also serves on the Policy and Global Affairs Oversight Committee of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. She was named an Ocean Elder.

Novelli has received numerous honors and awards. She is a graduate of Tufts University, holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Master of Laws from University of London.

Chuck Rocha

Chuck began his political career in the woods of East Texas at United Rubber Workers Local 746. By 22, he had become the youngest officer of the 1,200-person local. At 29, he was hired to be the youngest, first person of color and last rank-and-file National Political Director of the United Steelworkers of America. He is credited with building out one of the top national labor political departments in the country.

In 2010, Chuck left the USW to create Solidarity Strategies. The firm was built on the idea of diversity, inclusion and mentorship opportunities for the next generation of minority professionals. In 10 years, Solidarity has employed over 100 young people of color and has become one of the most successful minority-owned political consulting firms in the nation.

Chuck has worked on several presidential, Congressional and gubernatorial races through the years, including both of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns. He is the first Latino to run a presidential campaign and accomplished all of this despite never attending college, having a criminal record and being a single father at 20 years old. Chuck often says his biggest accomplishments are his twin grandsons, Wyatt and Rowan.

Michael Staebler

Michael B. Staebler is a commercial practice partner with Pepper Hamilton LLP. He leads Pepper’s SBIC practice and is co-chair of the firm’s Funds Services Group.  Mike has served on numerous federal and state advisory committees concerning venture capital and economic development.

Mike is an active participant in community affairs. He has served on numerous advisory boards of a number of academic units and institutes of the University of Michigan (including technology transfer, entrepreneurship, life sciences, public policy and law). He has served as a director for such civic organizations as the City of Detroit Building Authority, the Michigan Strategic Fund, United Community Services of Metropolitan Detroit, the American Heart Association of Michigan, and the Legal Aid and Defender’s Association of Metropolitan Detroit.

Mike earned his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 1969, following his graduation from Harvard College in 1966 with a B.A., magna cum laude, in American history.

Rob Vernon

Rob Vernon is responsible for overseeing all communications and marketing functions of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), including media, internal communications, and public opinion polling. He also serves as the main spokesperson for the Association, and is the AZA staff liaison to the Diversity Committee, Public Relations Committee, and Trends Committee. Rob also leads the Public Engagement & Action efforts for AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction.

Prior to joining AZA, Rob worked at two international public relations firms, developing public affairs communications and public policy strategies for a variety of corporate, government, and nonprofit clients. Before joining the private sector, he held senior positions with several state- and federally-elected officials on political campaigns, and at a trade association and a political youth-focused nonprofit.

Rob earned his MBA from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Bruce Wallace

Bruce Wallace served as chair of the National Wildlife Federation Board of Directors from 2015-2017.

As a lawyer Bruce has specialized in environmental matters for the past 25 years, with a focus on natural resource protection on behalf of such organizations and coalitions as MUCC (FERC Relicensing Coalition), Michigan Environmental Trust, the Great Lakes Commission, National Wildlife Federation (e.g., Great Lakes Compact, Sulfide Mining Litigation, Pipeline Litigation) and numerous organizations, local governments, and homeowner groups litigating groundwater, air pollution, and wildlife protection issues.

As a member of the National Wildlife Federation Board of Directors, Bruce has served on the Audit, Finance, Credentials & Affiliate Standards, and Ad Hoc Governance Committees as well as the Annual Meeting Task Force. He has chaired the Conservation Programs Planning Committee, the State Power Building Task Force, and co-chaired the Presidential Search Committee. He currently serves as past chair of the National Wildlife Federation Board, co-chair of the DEIJ Committee, and Board Member of the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund.

Bruce is a long-time board member of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. He is author of a book for practitioners entitled Environmental Litigation and is an active member of the National Wildlife Federation’s Wolfpack, serving on its Executive Committee, Energy Committee, and Pipeline Committee.

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