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

Restoration and Monitoring Coordinator

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 received his master’s degree at New Mexico Highlands University in spring 2022, with 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 makes him a great person to answer questions about HPWAs monitoring and restoration activities.  

Contact Conrad through e-mail


Patrick Gutierrez

GIS Analyst and Hydrologic Tech

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 hometown with her husband and two young children. She has a deep desire to contribute positively to the community and environment of her hometown. 

To contact Elizabeth, email 


Meagen Larson

Watershed Restoration Assistant/Education Materials Developer

Since 2018, Meagen Larson has been assisting landowners and managers in Northeastern New Mexico to develop creative solutions to land health questions on both private and public lands. These collaborative efforts have focused on the restoration and enhancement of riparian, aquatic, and semi- arid grassland ecosystems through community and landowner engagement and volunteer-based restoration. Meagen’s approach to restoration aims to amplify traditional ecological knowledge, employ adaptive management principles and plan for a changing climate, while supporting sound science and working landscapes. Her background in Art and Design, Environmental Science and Management, and Geographic Information Systems allows her to engage both sides of her brain in understanding and solving complex land health issues. Meagen joined the HPWA team in June 2021 and hopes to continue assisting HPWA in engaging diverse community groups in restoration, environmental education, as well as researching and developing watershed-based restoration plans to ensure the vibrancy and health of Northeastern New Mexico watersheds for generations. Meagen currently resides in Western Montana with her husband where she works remotely from their home in Missoula. When she’s not working, you’ll find her volunteering with local restoration groups or exploring the incredible landscapes of Western Montana with her dog, Reba.

To contact Meagen, 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

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