Our Team

Lea Knutson

Founder and Executive Director

As a native of New Mexico (born and raised in the north valley of Albuquerque) and a 25 year resident and owner of property that spans both the Gallinas and Sapello watersheds, Lea has roots in the local area.  With training in Wildlife Science (B.S. University of Washington) and 18 years of professional experience in wildlife ecology and wildlife habitat management in Washington State, she returned to New Mexico to raise her family in the amazing mountains near Las Vegas.  Lea has a deep love of the land and commitment to restoring and maintaining healthy landscapes for people and wildlife.  Because of that love, she founded the Citizens Ecological Monitoring Team in 2008 (a 501c3 nonprofit) which evolved into the Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance in 2010.  Lea also has experience in private business; she is part owner and operator of a 25 year old, family owned construction company.  Working with her husband, she does the bookkeeping and office management. 

To contact Lea, email


Jacob Erickson

PR Media Specialist

Jacob Erickson is native to the region, having been born and raised in Las Vegas, NM. He received his BFA in Audio/Video from NMHU, and his Masters in the Media Arts and Cultural Technology department at NMHU, in interactive multi-media exhibition design. He’s spent the majority of his academic career interviewing people and telling their stories; a WWII interview project, Los Alamos oral history interview project, Makerspace interview project, Segesser Hide Documentary, and an IRES cross-departmental research experience in the Czech Republic. Jacob Erickson uses his skills in media to inform people through educational videos, promos which highlight important work and solicit donations, and utilizes a vast array of multimedia production capabilities with which to better tell HPWA’s story.

To contact Jacob, e-mail at:


Conrad Greaves

GIS Analyst and Water Quality Monitoring Technician

Conrad is a New Mexico native with a background in conservation biology and herpetology. He enjoys working for nonprofits focused on environmental restoration, conservation and education. He is a current Masters Student at New Mexico Highlands University, finishing his thesis on the effects of climate change on garter snakes at the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge. Conrad’s background as a biologist and educator make him a great person to answer questions about HPWAs monitoring and restoration activities.  

Contact Conrad through e-mail:


Patrick Gutierrez

GIS Analyst and Water Quality Monitoring Technician

Patrick Gutierrez is a native New Mexican, with a background in conservation management ecological research and habitat restoration. His personal affinity with rangelands has influenced his deep commitment to a career in natural resources management. Growing up on a cattle ranch in Trujillo, NM, he has experienced first-hand land management challenges that are impacting the southwest, including the lasting legacy of overgrazing, extended drought, and loss of grassland productivity from, erosion problems, and juniper encroachment. His interest began early in high school, where he was a member of the Future Farmers of America, and participated in Wildlife Identification, and Landscape Design competitions at the local and state levels. Through his academic career, he has developed an interest in various restoration methods including forest restoration, watershed management, wildlife habitat management, and using fire as a restoration tool. Additionally, he has sought out opportunities to increase hands-on experiences in habitat restoration through several volunteer events with community organizations such as the Albuquerque Wildlife Federation and Impact Outdoors. He is excited for any future opportunities to collaborate with private and public land managers to sustainably manage grasslands, forests and watersheds to contribute towards more resilient ecosystems.

To contact Patrick, email 


Elizabeth Juarros, PhD.

Director of the Friends of the Gallinas River Park

Dr. Elizabeth Juarros has a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Connecticut and over 14 years teaching experience in a variety of institutions, from Aberdeen University in Scotland to Luna Community College in Las Vegas NM. She has extensive experience developing and implementing active learning strategies in the classroom. She has maintained various collaborations with other physics education researchers around the world in order to advance the variety of active learning based material available to physics instructors. Elizabeth was raised in Las Vegas NM, spent about a decade and a half living in other parts of the USA, as well as overseas, and has now relocated back to her home town with her husband and two young children. She has a deep desire to contribute positively to the community and environment of her home town. 

To contact Elizabeth, email 


Our Board of Directors

Current Board Members: Brian Miller, Deanna Einspahr, John Goodwin, Josh Miner, Julie Tsatsaros, Mark Gillingham, Sarah Corey-Rivas,
Shantini Ramakrishnan, Steve Reichart, Tomas Benavidez

Past Board Members: Ben Gillock, Dr. Edward Martinez