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Statements from excom nominees Erin Barnes, Baird Straughan, Bonnie Bick, Ron Henry, and Brigitte Fortin

Erin Barnes

Although ensuring a clean and healthy environment has long been a focus of my personal activism and professional aspirations, I am fairly new to active involvement with the Sierra Club at the group level. It was just about a year ago that I met Laurel Imlay, on a mission to find someone to start a legal committee. As a newly minted lawyer and dedicated environmentalist, this sounded like the perfect challenge—plus, who could resist Laurel’s energy and enthusiasm? I certainly couldn’t. One year later, we have a small but strengthening legal committee ready to assist our Maryland chapter.

While continuing to expand the size, scope, and effectiveness of the legal committee will remain a priority, I would appreciate the opportunity to expand my focus and serve the Sierra Club as a member of the executive committee. I am interested in a wide variety of policy matters—such as protecting our watersheds and wilderness areas, transit, smart growth and green building, and global warming—and would be willing and eager to work on any or all of them.

One particular project I would like to take on is increasing the number of active members, tapping into the tremendous increase in activist energy we’ve seen during this election season. Now that the election season has ended, we can harness that energy and redirect it so that more are involved in solving the serious problems we face. And, of course, my foremost goal for this legislative session is passing the Global Warming Solutions Act!

Baird Straughan

I’ve been a Sierra Club member since 1990, active first overseas with grassroots campaigns in Bolivia and Honduras while connected with the Sierra Club International Committee. Since 1996 I was active with the Montgomery County Group, and served as newsletter editor and later as chair. We did much good work in those years, in the battle against the ICC, for smart growth, sound watershed policy, and political campaigning at the county level. My biggest accomplishment was recruiting a new set of leaders (among them Betsy Johnson and Ed Merrifield), who went on to lead the group and the chapter. At bottom, the Sierra Club is made up of its leaders, and Maryland has provided some of the best.

Leadership development (and child development!) drew me away from club activities for eight years, while I was an active father and also Associate Director of the Institute for Conservation Leadership. During that time I created and managed programs in volunteer management, fundraising, nonprofit management, board development, and … my special passion … advocacy campaigns. The skills I learned with the Club were put to good use.

I’m now eager to reengage with the other executive committee members. In particular, I’d like to focus on making sure that we work well as a board, with vigorous debate but without vitriol. I’d like to help ensure that we manage the chapter’s limited resources well, and I’d like to offer Maryland groups workshops and opportunities to develop their own leaders, so that our chapter grows in its effectiveness, and the club’s mission of citizen-based environmentalism continues.  

Bonnie Bick

Bonnie Bick is a citizen activist working to protect and preserve forests which in turn protect the water quality that humans, and in fact all life, depend. She believes that all citizens have a responsibility to help save their local watersheds, and that this responsibility is an essential part of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement. She is an advocate of the use of ecological economics, conservation biology and water quality monitoring as guides for environmental activists. She is an activist for land preservation in sensitive watersheds and has spent many years working to preserve Chapman Forest, which she continues to work to protect. She is deeply involved in Sierra Club’s effort to protect Mattawoman Creek, which has been deemed by state fisheries scientists to have “close to ideal conditions…in the northern Bay, perhaps unattainable in other systems.” Mattawoman Creek is threatened by the proposal of Charles County’s extension of its Cross County Connector highway that would urbanize the watershed, and so much of her efforts have been focused on stopping that highway construction. She advocates Smarter Growth – especially looking to a wiser public transportation approach as the key to protecting the watershed. 

Ron Henry

Candidate for excom (at large), accomplishments and goals:

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

I have served in Sierra Club as the Harford County representative on the Greater Baltimore Group Executive Committee. Commensurately, I continue to be active in a local Harford County conservation group known as Friends of Harford (FOH) as a board member and liaison with Sierra Club.

 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 engendered an anti-dredging lawsuit and an environmental justice class action lawsuit to redress extreme long-term health issues to the economically disadvantaged populace of the Greater Sparrows Point Peninsula.

I have also worked actively with environmental groups such as CCAN, CBF, LCV, Environment Maryland and others. I fully believe that all environmental groups must work together where we have common issues in order to better achieve those common objectives. Together we will win – separately we will fail! We don’t have the numbers, resources or available time otherwise! But, I also believe that we must pursue our own Sierra Club issues separately, regardless, if a common agreement cannot be met.

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 that have contributed to our environmental dilemmas. They all must be addressed if we are going to pass this planet over to our future 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.

As a practicing Native American I believe in the principle of “Walking In Balance” which means keeping a balance among the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives. In particular, I believe that the spiritual aspect is the one that has been missing in our environmental endeavors; it must be brought back into balance so that we can achieve the environmental corrections needed.

In summary, I have served as Harford County representative on the Greater Baltimore Excom for seven years, GB Group Excom Chair for four years, Chapter Conscom member four years, Chapter Vice-Chair one year and Chapter Chair for one year. I look forward to serving the chapter as an at-large delegate.  


Brigitte Fortin

I am running for the position of at-large member of the executive committee of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club.

I have been an active member for the last three years, and my sense of commitment has only increased over that time. I am an organizer at heart, and believe that bottom-up, grassroots change, while sometimes slow, is the surest way to effect lasting change.

I have been a membership and program chair with the Howard County Group over the last two years, and this has given me a better sense of how the Club operates and its preferred approach to working on environmental issues. I would like to expand this approach a bit by re-introducing the concept of nature as sacred into our work.

I am currently enrolled in a graduate program in Environmental Studies, with an emphasis in Writing and Communications through Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont. I think that some of our best work as environmentalists remains either unknown or ill-perceived by the general public, so there is much that good writing and communications can do to advance our cause. My thesis will focus on spirit and nature since I believe the time has come for all strands of the green movement to acknowledge that we love the land for more than the resources extracted from it - whether they be food, water, air or coal. Work that upholds the sacred aspects of nature magnifies and honors the worthy legacy of John Muir, our founder.

 Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to learning, growth and change!





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