Staff & Board

Mojave Desert Land Trust Headquarters

60124 29 Palms Hwy
PO Box 1544
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
Phone: (760) 366-5440
Fax: (888) 869-4981

Map & Directions

MDLT Staff

Leadership Team

Geary Hund
Executive Director

Geary has worked as a conservation professional for more than 40 years.  He began his career with California State Parks where he served with distinction, first as a ranger and then as an ecologist, receiving two awards from the Director of State Parks and one from the Lieutenant Governor for his work on wildlife corridors and obtaining statewide funding for State Parks’ natural resource management program.  After retiring from State Parks, Geary worked first as a refuge and then endangered species biologist (his current position) for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Geary also worked as Associate Director of the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy, and for The Wilderness Society where he focused on National Landscape Conservation System projects and was a conservation representative on the BLM California Desert District Advisory Council.  While with The Wilderness Society, Geary played a lead role in facilitating the introduction and passage of the Riverside County Wilderness Bill, which added to existing wilderness and monuments, designated new wilderness areas and created the first Wild and Scenic Rivers in Southern California.  He received a Wilderness Hero’s award in 2011 from The Wilderness Society in recognition of his efforts.  Geary was elected to the Joshua Basin Water District board in 2016 and joined the Mojave Desert Land Trust board in early 2017 where he has been actively involved and served as treasurer until he was elected to be the Executive Director.

Madena Asbell
Director of Plant Conservation Programs

Madena moved to the Mojave Desert from Los Angeles in 2016 for her dream job; managing MDLT’s Native Plant Restoration Nursery, Mojave Desert Seed Bank, herbarium, and living collections. She has over fifteen years of experience working with California native plants and has always had a fondness for desert plants. Prior to joining MDLT, she was director of horticulture at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants, where she oversaw their nursery, seed program, bulb program, and living collections. As MDLT’s director of plant conservation programs, her focus is on restoring desert habitats, educating others about the importance of our diverse desert flora, and preserving this diversity for generations to come.

Jessica Dacey
Director of Communications

Armed with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, Jessica’s first job out of university was to manage an English newspaper in Mongolia. It was a deep-dive into the art of storytelling and kick-started a career that would include reporting and editing for the BBC, The Guardian and the Swiss public broadcaster. Along the way, she specialized in climate change and podcasts. She joined MDLT’s communications team in 2017 and is passionate about the role the organization plays in safeguarding the desert for future generations.

Michael Mora
Director of Outreach & Volunteer Services

Michael Mora started his career in the theatre for over twenty years, wearing many hats behind-the-scenes including technical production and design. In more recent years, Michael has consulted for a number of local and national organizations not-for-profits by inaugurating large annual fundraising events. Michael lives for experiencing the bucolic and learning about natural surroundings. That’s what brought him and his partner to the desert. He looks forward to solving unique challenges in new and creative ways, especially through interaction with the people involved. He greatly enjoys working closely with MDLT’s volunteers and staff, finding that every association brings continued personal growth.

Allyson Lavender
Director of Lands

Allyson Lavender has worked in land conservation for over twenty years. Her career in conservation began in 1998 at The Wildlands Conservancy where she helped process the Catellus acquisition, containing over 587,000 acres. Allyson began working on land acquisition with MDLT in 2006 as part of Shelton Douthit Consulting. In 2014 she joined the MDLT team as an employee. Her favorite part of the job is working with the dedicated, inspiring people that make up the staff of MDLT.

Ernesto Frias
Administrative Director

As the Administrative Director, Ernesto coordinates with all departments to help maintain the organization’s financial health and support its growth. Ernesto has had the opportunity to work with MDLT for over four years. After spending nearly seven years working with non-profit accounting and grants management, Ernesto knows that what truly drives the success of an organization is the ability to connect with organizational leaders to plan for the future. After living in the desert for over a decade, Ernesto has a special connection with the desert. He understands the importance of protecting it for today’s and future generations as well as the importance of conservation in protecting the desert ecosystem.

Lani Brown
Director of Human Resources

Lani has had a varied career working in human resources for over 20 years. She began her career working with two different insurance companies in Fort Worth, Texas. Then worked in a consulting capacity assisting small businesses with their human resource management needs. Prior to joining MDLT, Lani served as the human resource manager for a local water district. Her background in human resources includes; employment policy development and administration, benefits administration, staff training and development, recruiting, payroll management, and other employment law and employee relations issues. Lani is highly effective at incorporating creative leadership skills to achieve business objectives. She holds the highly regarded professional designation of Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

Andria Sanchez
Operations Director

Andria moved to the desert from San Diego in May 2019 with her husband, Mario, and their dog, Brody.  Prior to working for MDLT, she worked with The Salvation Army in San Diego as a member of the Regional Development Department where she assisted donors and supported the department with day to day responsibilities. Andria has a passion for working with nonprofits and organizations that are proactive and drive positive change in their communities. She is excited about working with MDLT to protect and preserve the desert ecosystem that she now calls home.

Acquisition Team

Chatel McKettrick
Acquisitions Coordinator Lead

Chatel McKettrick is the Acquisitions Coordinator Lead at MDLT where she is responsible for processing the majority of the escrow and title documents for MDLT’s land transactions. She has lived in Joshua Tree for over twenty-one years; she moved to Joshua Tree as an adolescent from Los Angeles County, but now considers herself a high-spirited desert-loving local. Chatel holds several business degrees from Copper Mountain College. She joined MDLT as a fulltime employee after her graduation in 2015. Chatel plans to continue her education at the University of Redlands – School of Business. She loves the outdoors; she loves to hike with her energetic dogs and kindergartner; she plays local community sports and coaches her son’s athletic teams.

Dustin Scott
Acquisitions Coordinator

Dustin Scott is the Acquisitions Coordinator, responsible for facilitating land transactions for MDLT. After spending time throughout all of Southern California, he and his family settled in the Morongo Basin five years ago. Dustin began to volunteer with MDLT in September 2018 and after over 250 hours, he was brought on as a full-time member of the Acquisitions team. Dustin was inspired by the MDLT Team and their passion for preserving the natural environment and beautiful views surrounding the area they live.

Communications Team

Susy Boyd
Public Policy Coordinator

Susy started her career with an MA in Rhetoric and Communications from UC Davis where she also taught undergraduate courses in Communications Theory and Public Speaking.  But her love for the outdoors shifted her path towards work as a Forestry Technician in the Pacific Northwest where she collected field data for the USFS and BLM.  When she returned to the Bay Area, she was working towards a degree in Park Management when she was hired on as a Park Ranger and worked for parks throughout the Bay Area for most of her career.  Seeking the opportunity to direct her work towards conservation and science, she earned her Master of Natural Resources degree from Oregon State University with research focusing on climate change impacts in Mexico’s Yucatan community forests.  Last summer was spent with the Forest Stewards Guild in Santa Fe, NM engaging in community forest projects and report writing.  She is passionate about climate change research and ecosystem adaptation and has become enamored with the desert’s wonders after moving to the Mojave this year.  Her new work opportunity encompasses what she has always loved to do: analysis, research and writing to protect our precious natural resources. 

Development Team

Lesley Nuno Hughes
Lead Development Coordinator

Lesley has been with MDLT since 2014 and began in the lands department as a Stewardship Coordinator. Over the years she has held positions on the outreach and communications teams and is now happy to be on the development team. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with a business minor. She has experience working in environmental education and interpretation with the National Park Service and California State Parks. Lesley developed a passion for conserving the California desert when she moved to southern California from Atlanta for an internship with the Student Conservation Association in 2005 and has been dedicated ever since.

Brandy Dyess
Development Coordinator

With over twenty years of professional experience in academia, grantmaking, financial forecasting, and fund management, Brandy Dyess joined MDLT as the development coordinator in 2017. Before coming to MDLT, Brandy worked as the administrative director at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Department of Photography & Imaging, as the budget and operations manager at the College of Arts and Science, New York University, as a grants analyst for The California Endowment, in development at Otis College of Art and Design, and in the ABC Entertainment finance division of The Walt Disney Company. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University and a certificate in fundraising from UCLA.

Finance Team

Dayanna Watts
Accounts Payable Clerk

Dayanna joined the team in 2018 and provides support as the accounts payable clerk for all the organization while also supporting the design and execution of the company’s overall mission. Prior to coming to MDLT, she worked in non-profit accounting and grants management for over five years. She thoroughly enjoys contributing to the ongoing success of the organization. As a veteran of the United States Navy during a time of war, Dayanna continues to bring the same commitment, loyalty, and leadership to the organization as she had once provided during her active time of duty.

Land Stewardship Team

Peter Satin
Lands Program Manager

Peter joined MDLT in June 2017 after completing his master’s degree in environmental management at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment, where he specialized in ecosystem science and conservation. At MDLT, he is responsible for implementing resource management plans across the organization’s diverse holdings, balancing environmental protections with recreational access and other uses. Having worked for a variety of federal land management agencies in the past, Peter is especially passionate about MDLT’s mission to ensure that the Mojave Desert remains a public resource and he is committed to ensuring that its particular beauty is sustained long into the future.

Emmalyn Snead
Land Stewardship Coordinator

Emmalyn grew up on an agriculture farm in Virginia where her love of the natural world and conservation took root and has continued to thrive since. She graduated from Randolph College with a Bachelor of Science in biology before moving out West. She worked as a horseback trail guide in Medicine Bow National Forest and as an Invasive Plant Technician in Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest before joining MDLT in January 2018 as a Land Steward. Emmalyn is happy to hone her passion for conservation by assisting MDLT in mitigating environmental degradation and preserving pristine desert habitat.

Stream Tuss
Land Steward

Stream comes to the Land Trust from the hot Sacramento Valley of Northern California. She is a graduate of Sonoma State University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies. She claims to have her dream job that supports her passion to establish and maintain ecological diversity and land health. She interned with the BLM in Oregon where the wild flowers are the size of dinner plates, the NPS in Kentucky where she gave bat cave tours, the California Conservation Corp on the Central Coast maintaining trails and the Student Conservation Association in Six Rivers National Forest packing mules and mustangs to clear public land trails. Her favorite day of the year is National Public Land Day where you will find her planning a special volunteer event to help conserve public lands.  

Lucas Basulto
Land Steward

Luke is a native to the Mojave Desert and has worked for multiple government agencies in the Mojave, from the Bureau of Land Management to the National Park Service in Mojave National Preserve. Luke has a passion for the wildlife of this desert and has worked with threatened and endangered species including the Mojave Tui Chub and Mojave Desert Tortoise and also spent a large amount of time in the field doing things like habitat restoration and vertical mulching of illegal trails. Luke is excited to be able to work at MDLT and help to preserve more beautiful desert for future generations to enjoy.

Nursery & Seed Bank Team

Ashley Coon
Plant Conservation Programs Supervisor

Ashley assists with the myriad day-to-day operations of the MDLT nursery and seed bank. Tasks range from seed cleaning and cataloging, to growing, monitoring, and maintaining the nursery stock and environs. With a background in architecture and fine art, it was his creative interests that initially led him out here to the high desert where he fell in love with the brilliant night skies and inspiring dramatic vistas. This appreciation for the innate beauty of the Mojave Desert coupled with an interest in sustainable design served as a catalyst for learning how to grow native plants, an exploration that eventually brought him here to MDLT.

Outreach & Volunteer Team

Cindy Holland
Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator

Cindy is the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator and is part of MDLT’s Outreach & Volunteer services department. She assists the department and engages volunteers for various programs throughout the organization. Cindy and her husband recently moved out to the hi-desert as her husband, Austin, is a marine now stationed at 29 Palms. Cindy’s background includes five years as an administrative assistant, coordinating various aspects of available resources. Cindy loves the outdoors and, before she and her husband moved here, she never dreamt that she would live in the desert. She has become intrigued by it and has enjoyed exploring the beautiful desert and its hiking spots with her husband and three dogs: Duke, Delilah and Odin.

Mary Cook-Rhyne
Education Coordinator

Mary is a native to the Mojave Desert (Lancaster, CA). In 2005, she graduated from CSU, Chico with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology having a focus on Archaeology. Following graduation, she married and moved to Reno, Nevada. She became an archeologist, working mostly in California and Nevada. In 2011, she graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Master’s in Education. She became an elementary and middle school teacher, working in that capacity until her move to Yucca Valley. Mary enjoys being back in the desert, exploring the area with her husband, children, and animals.

Please see below for our open positions or internship opportunties:

Career Page


Board of Directors

John Simpson
Founding member of MDLT, real estate executive

Peter Brooks
Former marine, water industry executive, and defense writer

Gwen Barker
Rimrock Ranch Owner and marketing extraordinaire

Robyn Helmlinger
Partner with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Kelly Herbinson
Desert tortoise conservation researcher and author

Ron Radziner
Architect and Design Partner at Marmol Radziner

Brad Wilson
President and Co-Partner of Ace Hotel Group and the brand’s in-house creative agency Atelier Ace