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Maryland Chapter Excom Elections: Every Candidate Is an Environmentalist
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This issue of Chesapeake includes the ballot for electing at-large members of the executive committee of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club

Maryland Chapter Excom Elections: Every Candidate Is an Environmentalist


This issue of Chesapeake includes the ballot for electing at-large 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 developing and supporting 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. This year, one candidate, Amanda Ruthven, is running to complete the term  of an excom member whose term expires in 2011.

The excom meets six times a year on the third Saturday of every odd month. Those elected will take their position at the January 15, 2011 meeting. Ballots are due in the office by January 7, 2011.

This is your opportunity to choose the people who will lead the chapter through the next year. Please read the candidates’ statements, complete the ballot, and mail it to the chapter office at the address shown below. Ballot appears on inside back cover.


Elections Committee

Maryland Chapter/Sierra Club

Suite 111

7338 Baltimore Ave.

College Park, Maryland 20740           n


Amanda Ruthven

I am a Russian language analyst for the Navy and have been on active duty for five years.  I am officially from Michigan but have also lived in MA, IN, and CA.  I’ve been stationed here in Maryland for the last three years. My husband and I intend on becoming full-time college students in about a year in order to finish up our degrees.

Since joining the Sierra Club last year, I’ve been involved with the Energy Team. Specifically I led one Coal Country screening, contacted Cool Cities representatives, helped create the flyer that was distributed at the hearing about PATH, and presented the Energy Team’s position on MAPP and PATH at the annual Cool Cities workshop.

 I have learned more about the likes of John Muir, Rachel Carson and Theodore Roosevelt over the past year.  I want to be one of those people that affects their world, like they did, even if it is just in one state that is only a temporary home for me.  I hope that by fulfilling the duties of a member of the executive committee I can help MD be a bit greener for the next person who visits or is stationed here.  I hope that what we accomplish will influence other states or even national policy.                          



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).  At bottom, the Sierra Club is made up of its leaders, and Maryland has 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.  I created and managed programs in volunteer management, fundraising, nonprofit management, board development, and … my special passion … advocacy campaigns.

Since 2008 I’ve been involved again, as fundraising chair on the chapter excom.  We’ve been reaching out more to members and donors and also receiving more donations. 

I’ve also helped to lead the campaign to protect Mattawoman Creek.  So far we’ve introduced over 300 people to this beautiful, historic river, and many have expressed interest in becoming leaders themselves.  If I’m elected, in the next two years my first goal will be to recruit and train more activist leaders, so that our chapter grows in its effectiveness, and the club’s mission of citizen-based environmentalism thrives.  If I’m successful, you should see new names running for the executive committee in 2011.


Richard Reis

Accomplishements 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’s articles on energy and the environment appeared in issues of Chesapeake; he currently serves on the Chesapeake editorial committee. Rich has attended many meetings of the conservation and executive committees of the Maryland Sierra Club chapter and helped with chapter energy issues.

Rich formed Sierran Bicyclists to support the 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 led the Verizon Rides bicycling team, which raised thousands of dollars for the Lung Association’s Kid with Asthma Program.

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. Recently, 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 practices personal environmental stewardship by using solar water 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 dingy), swimming, and, of course, bicycling.


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

uuuuAlternative transportation, including walking, bicycling, and transit

uuuuLow-impact recreation

uuuuLowering emissions of global warming gases and local pollutants

uuuuEnergy conservation and alternative energy

uuuuProtection of wild areas


Please contact me to let me know your priorities at or 301-325-8001.       


Erin Barnes

Although ensuring a clean and healthy environment has long been a focus of my personal activism and professional aspirations, I first became actively involved with the Sierra Club at the chapter level in 2007. Shortly after moving to Maryland following law school, I met Laurel Imlay, who was 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. Although work conflicts currently prevent me from being involved with the committee, I’m proud of the work I did getting it started.

I have also greatly enjoyed my work on the legislative committee. I’ve researched bills, written testimony, and lobbied legislators. We’ve had some great successes, some near misses, and some unfortunate losses, and I look forward to doing it all again this year!

Since joining the executive committee in 2008, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to learn about and work on a wide variety of environmental issues as part of a fantastic group of activists. With your vote, I hope to continue working toward solutions for the serious environmental problems we face. Thank you.   

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