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It’s Time to Vote for Our Chapter Excom, Statements from Excom Candidates
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Six candidates seek your vote in our annual election for Maryland Chapter Excom.

This issue of Chesapeake contains the ballot for electing members of the executive committee of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club. 

The Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental organization that elects its own leadership. Every member is entitled to vote and to run for leadership positions in the club.  The executive committee (excom) runs the Chapter and determines  the Chapter’s policies and responses to the many environmental challenges we face in Maryland. In addition to working our legislative agenda, setting priorities for conservation campaigns, and facilitating communication between the Chapter and the groups, the excom faces the challenge of achieving fiscal stability despite rising operational costs and a reduction in funds from the national club.

The excom comprises six at-large members elected by the Maryland membership, and one delegate from each of our nine groups. At-large members are elected for two-year terms. Three of the six at-large positions are up for election each year. The executive committee elects the Chapter chair and other officers from its own ranks. 

Maryland Sierra Club members are encouraged to read the candidates’ statements, fill out the ballot and mail it to the Chapter office at this address:

Elections Committee

Maryland Chapter/Sierra Club

Suite 101A

7338 Baltimore Ave.

College Park, Maryland 20740-3211. 


The excom meets six times a year on the third Saturday of every odd month. Those elected will take their position at the January 19, 2008 meeting.  Ballots are due in the office by January 12. Please read the candidates’ statements carefully and vote in this election for members-at-large for the Executive Committee of your Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club.


Nomination statements submitted by the candidates follow, in random order.


David O’Leary

Sierra Club Experience:

Member of the Sierra Club since 1989, in California, Michigan, New Jersey, and Maryland. Life Member.

Chair of Chapter Cool Cities and Smart Energy Solutions Campaigns, spring 2006_present. Led two annual Chapter Cool Cities workshops, and supported establishing Cool Cities efforts across the state. Active participant in local, state and federal energy legislative efforts.

Currently representing Chapter on the Alliance for Global Warming Solutions, coordinating efforts with other statewide organizations.

Participated in Healthy Air Act and Clean Cars campaigns, including several trips to Annapolis for Environmental Lobby days, rallies, hearings, and other lobbying visits.

Currently serving on staff oversight committee, coordinating closely on campaign planning and supervision of our two Green Corps organizers, and participating in hiring process for new Chapter campaign organizer.

Trained as an Outings leader. Attended Maryland Chapter Jamboree in 2005 and 2007, including participating in planning committee and presenting a workshop in 2007. Participated Chapter Executive Committee planning retreat in January, 2007. Attended Sierra Club Northeast and Southern Appalachian regional workshops on energy and global topics in the fall of 2006.

Group Outings Chair and Group Conservation Chair, Raritan Valley Group, New Jersey Chapter 2004-05

Participation in various Club campaigns (anti-Sprawl, recycling, land protection, etc.) and Club outings (hiking and canoeing) while a member in various chapters - 1989_present.

Other non-profit experience:

- board level experience at local and national level with other non-profits, including roles involving managing relationships

- member of several other outdoor and environmental organizations

- Leave No Trace Master Educator

Professional experience includes more than twenty years in the data communications, Internet service provider, and telecommunications equipment businesses. Currently Director of Technology for Better World Telecom, and advisor or board member for other socially responsible business startups.

My vision for the Maryland Chapter includes:

- Strengthening Groups through involving new and existing members and providing tools for success to activists and leaders

- Development of an integrated campaign regarding Smart Energy Solutions and many other conservation campaigns
- Further integration of conservation efforts with local outings

 - Improving the Chapter’s strategic planning process, so we are more proactive and solutions-oriented

I appreciate your consideration and support. 


  Mike Martin

I have been an active Sierra Club member since I was 17 years old. I have held a variety of positions ranging from Sierra Student Coalition regional coordinator to Maryland Chapter Chair. I have been on the Maryland Chapter Executive committee for three years and have been the Maryland Chapter chair for the last year.

I want to push for increased capacity for our chapter, with better fundraising, more events, and a stronger presence in Annapolis. This will be accomplished, in part, by an improved professionalism in how we run things in the chapter, coupled with broader recruitment and training of new leaders. Another element will be building stronger social ties among leaders, which will build motivation and a stronger sense of responsibility among activists and leaders.

We also need to put effort toward identity building, internally among our members and activists, and externally among our allies, our public constituencies, and our opponents. People need to know who the Maryland Sierra Club is, what we stand for, and what we are capable of.

Internal identity will come through the social fabric mentioned above, improved cultural definition within the organization, and greater attention to our organizational stories. We have many stories to tell; stories about Pfred the Pfiesteria Pfish fighting for environmental candidates, stories about protecting Maryland’s wildlands such as Belt Woods, and countless more. But they don’t get told enough. We need to build in places for story telling and use online resources, such as YouTube and blogging tools to record and disseminate our stories.

External identity starts with achievements, but those achievements have to be celebrated and branded. The Sierra Club name has to be associated with our victories, whether achieved on our own or in coalition, and our members need to know about them. We must also work to express our values in public settings so that the public understands why we fight for things. Simply saying “Stop the ICC” gives no sense of why we oppose the highway. The public needs to know that the ICC will put soot and smog into the air we breathe and pollute our drinking water.

If we can successfully build our identity, we will build our organization and bring in members and funding. If we increase the professionalism inherent in that identity, we will be able to leverage new members and increased funding to make real changes for Maryland’s environment.      


Betsy Johnson


The Sierra Club’s conservation mission has always been of critical importance to me, and from the start I’ve been involved in leadership. Among my accomplishments over the years, I have:

u   Served as Chapter Chair for three years and am now serving as Fundraising Chair and Political Chair. During that time I have improved the Chapter’s fundraising efforts. Bequests that the Chapter received during my tenure are enabling us to hire a conservation organizer for our Cool Cities Campaign. I am committed to raising more political funds to help state and local candidates in the 2010 election.

u   Served as Montgomery County Group Chair for three years, while also serving as Chapter Vice-Chair.

u   Worked on transportation and land-use issues since becoming active in 1997—specifically against the Inter-County Connector and for balanced land use and transit. In support of the effort, I represent the Chapter on the Challenge to Sprawl Campaign, a nationally funded regional program that focuses on these issues in the metro DC area.


If elected, I promise time-tested reliability: if I say I will do something, I will do it. I am committed to the Sierra Club conservation mission and have enjoyed working with members at all levels over the years, from co-chairs and committee members to volunteers during lobby days. I am a team player, and I hope to continue serving the Maryland Chapter Executive Committee and improving our outreach to the community on our important conservation activities.  


Charles “Chris” Yoder


I have been a life member of the Sierra Club for almost thirty years.

I first experienced the challenges and responsibilities of Club leadership in 1980 after asking a Club staffer why there was no local group where I lived (Boise, Idaho). She replied that I should start one and so I did. There were about 80 members when I started and over 500 members when I left Idaho to pursue a career change. In addition to serving as the group’s founding chair, I had served as group conservation chair, chapter EXCOM member and vice-chair and chapter representative on the national Sierra Club Council. I led chapter campaigns for BLM wilderness and the group’s National Forest planning participation as well as coordinating the group’s political efforts.

There was a hiatus in my club activities after I left Idaho for Washington, D.C. where I served 12 years on the staff of a Senate Committee rising to the level of Deputy Staff Director. In addition, I served four years as Counselor to a Cabinet Secretary (Veterans Affairs) and two years as policy advisor and speechwriter for a Deputy Secretary. I also served as a staff supervisor for a Congressionally chartered Commission. While not directly related to the Club’s conservation agenda, my Washington experience gives me a deep understanding of the development and implementation of public policy.

Retirement from my federal career enables me to once again focus my energy on the goals I share with the Sierra Club. For ourselves and our children: stewardship of the environment entrusted to us by our forebears. For our planet: Protection of the natural values upon which all living beings depend and that inspire humankind to better understand ourselves and our universe. I serve now as membership chair of the Greater Baltimore Group. I hope to meld my Sierra Club and Washington experience with the energy and commitment our Chapter’s leaders and members to build on the Club’s unequaled record of effective advocacy and environmental leadership.

My commitment to Club activism is not contingent on the outcome of the Executive Committee election. I am running for the EXCOM because I believe I have something to offer to the Chapter and its members.   


Ron Henry


Although I have been an environmental advocate for many years I did not formally join the Sierra Club until 2001 and became a Life Member in 2006.

I have served in the Sierra Club as the Harford County representative on the Greater Baltimore Group Executive Committee. Commensurately, I have been active in a local Harford County conservation group known as Friends of Harford (FOH) as a board member. During the timeframe of 2004-2006, GBSC partnered with FOH and made major inputs into the 2004 Harford County Land Use Master Plan.  Subsequently we were proactive with the 2006 Comprehensive Re-Zoning Process (CRZP) and authored a separate, independent report based on physical evaluation of a nominal 350 rezoning properties requests. That report was provided to all Council members, the County Executive and the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) department that agreed with our recommendations.

In July of 2004 I accepted the Chair of GBSC and have been active with many issues in the GBSC purview. Those include supporting the Greater Dundalk Alliance (a coalition of community groups) in their opposition to a proposed LNG terminal on the Sparrows Point Peninsula that is contraindicated since the proposed site is in a populous area, an Earth Justice Class Action lawsuit  to redress extreme long-term health issues to the economically disadvantaged populace of the Greater Sparrows Point Peninsula that are directly attributable to local, long-term heavy industry pollutants, and an anti-dredging suit against further contraindicated dredging in the Patapsco River to prevent further damages to an already fragile Upper Chesapeake Bay ecosystem that has only enjoyed a minimal improvement since the massive SuperFund Cleanup of the 1980’s that recommended no further deeper dredging ever.

I have also worked actively with environmental groups such as CCAN, CBF, LCV, Environment Maryland and others during the MD legislative sessions, political endorsements for city, state and county offices, and campaigns such as our recent MD Chapter Climate Action Campaign to achieve common environmental objectives. I fully believe that all environmental groups must work together in order to achieve those common objectives. Together we will win—separately we will fail! We don’t have the numbers, resources or available time otherwise!

I am a practicing Native American that believes in conservation because this environment that we call Mother Earth has been too long abused. There are many factors involved that have contributed to our environmental dilemmas. They all must be addressed if we are going to pass this planet over to the next seven generations in a corrected condition that will sustain them. It is an onerous but not impossible task. One of our main purposes is to be good stewards of this Mother Earth and it is we  adults who must show the way so that our children will have the example to follow.

I have worked actively at chapter level by attending chapter meetings as GBSC Chair/Delegate/Alternate Delegate, involvement as Conservation Committee member, Retreat and Jamboree Committees and GBSC Political Committee liaison and Vice Chair. I look forward to serving in a chapter at-large capacity.  


Richard Reis


Accomplishments and Goals:

Richard (Rich) Reis joined the Sierra Club in 1968 and is now a life member. As a licensed professional engineer, he uses his skill to support advocacy on air quality, transportation, and the urban environment. Rich formed Sierran Bicyclists to support a most efficient and environmentally sensible form of travel. SB held several meetings; its advocacy led to the hiring of a full time bicycle planner for the MCPPC, the plan of bikeways for Montgomery County, and bikes on Metrobuses. Rich has worked with the American Lung Association in improving both indoor and outdoor air quality. He has lead the Verizon Rides bicycling team, which raises thousands of dollars for the Association’s Kid with Asthma Program each year. Rich as co-leader of the Earth Ethics Committee of the Washington Ethical Society (WES) instituted 40% energy-savings, helped introduce Integrated Pest Management, recruits speakers on the environment, and produced an Earthkeeping pamphlet. This year Rich spoke at WES and at the Northern Virginia Ethical Society on what we must do to meet the environmental challenges of our times. Rich’s article, “Lighting and Mercury”, appeared in this past summer’s issue of Chesapeake. Rich practices personal environmental stewardship by using solar heating, using transit as well as his bicycle and feet for transportation, avoiding meat, and helping small businesses to conserve energy. Rich savors back country hikes, sailing his yacht (actually dinghy), swimming, and of course, bicycling.


As member of the executive committee, Rich will work for:

u     Alternative transportation, including walking, bicycling, and transit

u     Low impact recreation

u     Lowering emissions of global warming gases and local pollutants

u     Energy conservation and alternative energy

u     Protection of wild areas       


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