West Virginia Highlands Conservancy Officers and Directors

Cynthia D. Ellis

Cynthia D. Ellis [Cindy] is a retired teacher, environmental volunteer, and enthusiastic birder.  She’s a veteran contributor to state and federal bird population studies and enjoyed terms as president of Brooks Bird Club and of its Charleston [“Handlan”] Chapter.  She administers pages on social media for WVHC and for birders in the Mountain State.  Her supportive family includes husband David and big gray cat Ruby, and home is a ridge in Putnam County.

In 2002, Mary Moore Rieffenberger invited Cindy to succeed her as representative from Brooks Bird Club to the Highlands Conservancy.  Ellis has served as WVHC president since 2010.

Larry Thomas

Larry Thomas’ professional career started in 1962 where he worked his way up from a sta accountant to partner, responsible for a client base of seven banks, over one hundred not-for-pro t organizations, many of which were national in scope, over one hundred for-pro t organizations including printing, construction and construction related, medical and various other industries and during his career participated in or led at least 12 mergers or acquisitions for various of those clients.

He retired from his career in public accounting in the Washington, D. C. metropolitan area and because of his love for the mountains now lives high on North Mountain in Pendleton County, West Virginia. His interest in working with the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy is to advance public knowledge and understanding of the: cultural, biological, environmental diversity, uniqueness, and sensitivity of our major ridgelines and to advocate governmental policies for the conservation and wise management of energy and natural resources of the Allegheny Highlands, for present and future generations of West Virginians and Americans.

Frank Young

Frank Young was born and lived nearly three decades of his life near Charleston WV, in an area that had several small strip mining and bench mining (aka “punch mining”) coal operations. His farm family directly experienced the ravages of nearby virtually unregulated small but destructive mining for coal.
Frank spent his early working life in retail and wholesale food sales, and later was owner of automotive sales and service businesses at Ripley in Jackson County WV, where he has resided since 1974. In 1989, through his close friend the late Carroll Jett, Frank became associated with WV Highlands Conservancy. By about 1992 he had joined the board of directors of WVHC, and was its president from 1998 to 2004.

Today Frank is retired from gainful employment, but keeps himself busy as a WVHC board member, as an o cer of WV Environmental Council and of the WV Wilderness Coalition. His varied forays into West Virginia politics include candidacy for public o ce, Treasurer and later Chairman of the WV Mountain Party, and various volunteer committee roles with the Green Party of the United States. His wife, Becky, while not an “activist”, often travels to environmental meetings with Frank and always tolerates his near obsession with environmental, economic and overall social justice endeavors.

Beth Little

Beth Little never felt at home until she moved to West Virginia. In the meantime she was happiest on camping trips in the Appalachian Mountains. Now she is happily at home. Some study found that people feel safest on a high place surrounded by open ground, as in a savanna. Beth must not be normal. She feels safest in the woods with big trees around her.

Buff Rodmon

Buff Rodman grew up in Pennsylvania, but spent most weekends in West Virginia. My parents, Sayre and Jean Rodman, were members of the Pittsburgh Climbers organization, and that group was very involved in the formation of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. Both of my parents served on the board before me. The mountains, rivers, caves, and backroads of West Virginia, especially in the northern Mon Forest, seem as familiar to me as my own backyard. There’s no doubt that all that time spent in some of the wildest parts of West Virginia helped to spark my interest in geology, the environment, and natural science in general. I enjoyed my time working rst as a geologist, then as an environmental science teacher. And I still treasure every moment I get to spend in the mountains of West Virginia. I got to see the Conservancy in action as I watched my parents, along with many others, work to gain protected status for places like Otter Creek, Dolly Sods, and the Cranberry Backcountry. Of course, to me as a kid, these were just great places to hike, camp, poke around in the creek, and get head to toe muddy and soaked. I took them for granted and never questioned that they would always be there. It wasn’t until I had seen more of the world that I realized how unique and valuable all of these places are, and how much they need to be preserved for anyone and everyone.

William P. McNeel

William P. (Bill) McNeel has deep roots in the mountains of West Virginia with his father’s family living in what is now Pocahontas County since before the Revolutionary War and his mother’s family since the early 1800s. He was born in Charleston in 1939 and grew up there, but came to Pocahontas County after college graduation to teach high school. After several years of teaching (including two in Australia), he began working for The Pocahontas Times, which was purchased by his mother’s family in 1892. He was editor for 25 years before retiring in 2008; He has a BS degree from Marietta College and a MS degree from the University of Oregon.

His love of and concern for the protection of our mountains can be traced back to the many visits made to his parents’ home county of Pocahontas  while growing up. Also the in uence of his grandfather, Calvin W. Price – an early conservationist and for whom a state forest is named – must also have played a major role. He considers the WVHC to be one of the most important protectors of our state’s environment since its 1967 formation. I am proud to have been a member almost since the creation of the organization and am honored to have served on the group’s Board for many of the past fifty years.

John McFerrin

John McFerrin has been a member of WVHC since 1982 shortly after he moved to West Virginia from Eastern Kentucky. He was a lawyer for his working career. He served as President from 1994 through 1998. Since 2002 he has been the Editor of The Highlands Voice. He lives in Morgantown.

Adam Casseday

Adam Casseday is a native of Randolph County and a graduate of Elkins High School. His pursuits in higher education led him to a degree in Exercise Physiology in 2001 from West Virginia University. He then continued his education at Pennsylvania College of Optometry where he received his Doctor of Optometry in 2005. He has served the citizens of southern Randolph County and surrounding communities for over 11-years through his employment at Valley Health Care, Inc. – where he is the head of Optometry and Medical Director.

Dr. Casseday resides in Elkins with his wife and two sons. His interests outside of work include trail running, trail maintenance and improvement, and advocating health and wellness through outdoor adventures. He also enjoys race directing and is the co- director for the Highlands Sky 40-Mile Trail Run and the WV Trilogy. In 2011, Adam completed a supported thru-running of the entire Appalachian Trail; 2,181 miles from Georgia to Maine. Dr. Casseday is also the Vice President of the WV Mountain Trail Runners, a member of the WV Highlands Conservancy Board of Directors, and is a member of Tygart Valley Lions Club.

Jim Van Gundy

Jim Van Gundy (Dr. James J. Van Gundy) is a retired professor of Biology and Environmental Science who spent the bulk of his professional career at Davis & Elkins College. He has also been involved with the West Virginia Master Naturalist Program since its inception as an instructor and also as author of several sections of the program’s Student Training Manual. Originally from western Pennsylvania, Jim has lived in West Virginia since 1975.

George Hack

My name is George Hack and I have been a WVHC Board Member since 2016 and a WHVC Member since 2010. I am a full-time State of Maryland resi- dent who is fortunate enough to have a va- cation home in lovely Harman, WV since 2010 where I am also President of the High Mountain Owners Association and also in- volved in Trout Unlimited’s Stream Moni- toring Program. I became involved with WVHC when we were researching the pur- chase of our vacation home and the topic of Corridor H came up and when I researched the internet for information about Corridor H that is when I found the WVHC which pro- vided us information that was very helpful in making the decision. I became a WVHC member after that and when I saw in 2016 that WVHC was looking for a new Board Member I made contact with Cindy Ellis and the rest is history. Being a Board Mem- ber of WVHC has given me the opportunity to give back and help protect an area that has become very special to my family and I in the 20+ years we have been vacation- ing here and where we now own a home. The WVHC is a great group of people and I look forward to being part of the WVHC for many years to come.

Hugh Rogers

Hugh Rogers came on the board in 1994 and has been chair of the Highways Committee since then. He served as president from 2004 to 2011. He is currently editing a new edition of the Highlands Conservancy’s Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide. Hugh has practiced law in North Carolina and West Virginia, and he has taught legal subjects in Korea, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and at Davis and Elkins College, as an adjunct professor. Hugh and Ruth have lived in Randolph County for forty years. They help run Saranam Retreat Center in Montrose, which they established in 2006.

LeJay Graffious

LeJay Gra ous had a thirty-six year career as a teacher (12 yr) and principal (24 yr) in Preston and Monongalia Counties, WV. He has had a lifelong interest in the natural world. His special interest in bird watching has led him to many unique locations and introduced him to many like-minded friends. He has completed his Master Naturalist certi cation. After a thirty-three year friendship with authors, George Bird and Kay Evans, he is currently a director and administrator of the Old Hemlock Foundation managing their physical and intellectual property to promote and preserve their legacy. He explores his interest in bird watching through bird banding, doing population monitoring and educating people through programs, classes and guided walks.

George E. Beetham Jr.

George E. Beetham Jr. has been a board member since around 2001. He is a formr jour- nalist, working as a re- porter in Waynesoro, Va., and a weekly news- paper editor in Philadelphia, Pa. He has written exren- sively about environmental issues, includ- ing wilderness issues and a weekly earth science column. He was an active backpacker until his knees went bad. he is a self taught baby geologist.

He values the wilderness, both designated and not designated, of West Virginia. It is this value that West Virginia needs to embrace. Eco-tourism will help the economy of the Mountain State.

Randy Kesling

Randy Kesling has a biology degree from West Virginia University and worked most recently for the Department of Energy in Morgantown. He retired eight years ago. He is active in the Mountaineer Chapter of Trout Unlimited. He lives in Bridgeport.

Dr. Wayne Spiggle

Dr. Wayne Spiggle, a retired physician, has two driving passions. He is ghting for a “Medicare for All” program in the US and believes this is necessary if the American people are to experience the health care they have a right to expect. And his dander gets up when big business imposes their costs on the people and the environment. Issues that have his attention include strip and long wall mining, fracking, pipelines, long haul garbage and inappropriate siting of wind turbines.

A grassroots member of the Conservancy since its early days, he grew up in Davis, WV and attended Berea College, a school oriented to teaching young people about their Appalachian heritage in the hope they will return to their native region and become activists for social justice.

While Cindy Rank and friends were leading the charge in WV, Wayne organized the strip mine battle in Maryland. Maryland continues to prohibit strip mining in state-owned land and on slopes exceeding twenty degrees.

He promoted the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge much to the chagrin of his family and friends at home. He supports the e orts of Save the Blackwater to establish a national park in the highlands.

Peter and Marilyn Shoenfeld

Peter and Marilyn Shoenfeld have been involved in the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy for over 30 years. Peter was on the Board from 1988 until 2016 when he became an Emeritus Board member. He designed and managed the rst web page for the Conservancy and later became involved in the wind energy issue. He was active in the Mon 2000 hiking campaign as well as many other WVHC initiatives. Peter is motivated by his love of West Virginia and particularly the Highlands.

Marilyn has been on the Board since the mid-90’s and shares Peter’s love of West Virginia and the Highlands. They moved to Canaan Valley in 2004 and have been living happily there since. Marilyn has been involved in Public Lands and many other issues with the WVHC.

Cindy Rank

Cindy Rank grew up in Pittsburgh PA, attended college in Wheeling, WV and graduate school in Milwaukee, WI before returning to Pittsburgh to marry Paul and teach and work in campus ministry at Duquesne University. In 1971 a chance visit to West Virginia led to the purchase of a bit of hillside property in southern Upshur County and building a cabin which grew like Topsy into becoming their home for the last 45 years. She helped establish, then worked as nance o cer at a primary health care center in Rock Cave. In 1977 together with a couple dozen neighbors she helped organize Friends of the Little Kanawha to protect their communities and streams from strip mining and acid mine drainage. When the group appealed to the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy for assistance she agreed to sign on as an active member of the Conservancy. She has been a member since 1979, served as President from 1988-1994 and continues to serve on the Board as Chair of the Mining & Extractive Industries Committee.

Jackie Burns

Jackie Burns has a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology from West Virginia University. She worked for thirty years for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. For most of that time she worked in visitor services, teaching people about nature. Though retired, she still enjoys sharing nature with others. Each year she helps with Master Naturalist programs, WV Wild ower Pilgrimage, Canaan Valley Birding Festival and bird banding on Dolly Sods with the Allegheny Front Migration Observatory. She also enjoys various crafts and teaching yoga. She joined the board of the WV Highlands Conservancy in 2012.

Randall Rumer

Randall Rumer lives and farms in Greenbrier County, WV having raised fresh herbs, sheep and cattle since 1984. He has explored, mapped and studied caves and karst landscapes in North America for over 40 years. He is currently working with USDA and partner organizations involved in natural stream restoration projects, protecting riparian areas and enhancing native sheries and wildlife habitat. He has been involved with the National Ski Patrol and the ski industry in WV for 20 years. He never misses a chance to take a good long walk through any of the many wilderness and backcountry areas of the eastern National Forests.

Rick Webb

Rick Webb has been a member of the Highlands Con- servancy since the 1970s when he worked in op- position to the coal industry’s environmental abuses. He has degrees from Davis and Elkins College and the Univer- sity of Virginia. He is now retired after thirty years at the University of Virginia, where he was a Senior Scientist in the Department of Environmental Sciences and where he conducted research on the biogeochem- istry and ecosystem integrity of forested mountain watersheds in the central Appa- lachian region. During his career he man- aged regional stream research and moni- toring programs, he participated in a num- ber of regional assessments concerning the impacts of acid precipitation, he con- tributed to the development of conservation agency protocols for stream and watershed monitoring, and he served as an expert wit- ness in multiple U.S. Department of Justice cases concerning the e ects of power-plant emissions on mountain streams. He cur- rently works as Program Coordinator for the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition. He and his wife, Susan, live in the mountains of Highland County in Virginia.

Bob Marshall

Bob Marshall has served as treasurer for WVHC for the past 20 years. He is a practicing veterinarian living in Kenna WV with his wife Beth 3 dogs, 2 cats, 8 horses ,and 12 chickens on a 127 acre farm. His primary interests are public lands conservation, renewable energy, and extractive industries issues.

Dan Radmacher

Dan Radmacher is a freelance writer, editor and web designer. He is the founding writer and editor of WritingLeft, which helps progressive advocacy groups with communications. He was editorial page editor of The Roanoke Times for ve years and editorial page editor of The Charleston Gazette for 10 years. He has worked at newspapers in Virginia, Florida, West Virginia, Illinois and Missouri. His writing and advocacy work have long focused on the environment, especially the environmental impacts of coal mining.