Our Board

Janet Alderton President

Janet encourages our talented and hard-working staff and board members as we work to Protect What We Love. She studies the intersection of science, economics, education, and law with environmental protection. Janet says, “To thrive, our community must be deeply rooted in its care of our natural world.”

Janet loves the connections that the Friends of the San Juans have with people and with nature. Our staff identifies and works to protect forage fish spawning beaches that are essential for the survival of salmon and orca whales. Our work in policy and law helps protect orca and salmon. We work to educate young people about environmental challenges and inspire them to act.

Janet is especially passionate about how the Friends’ work ripples outwards to positively affect other parts of the Salish Sea. Our work with diverse environmental groups and tribal nations helps protect what we love in the San Juan Islands.

Janet loves learning and transforming knowledge into action. For example, encouraging people to use less energy will help protect salmon and orcas by decreasing oil shipping. This will reduce the risk of oil spills, underwater noise, and ships directly injuring whales.

Janet spent 27 years as a research biologist at the University of California, Berkeley before retiring to Orcas Island in 2005. She has a Bachelor of Science in Zoology, from the University of California, Berkeley and a Masters of Science in Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Janet lives on Orcas with a wonderful house cat named Marina. She enjoys long walks with pauses to notice our ever-changing natural world, especially the tiny plants and creatures, such as mosses, wildflowers, and bumble bees.

She loves searching the internet for rays of hope – such as advances in renewable energy production and storage.

“The mission of the Friends of the San Juans, To Protect What You Love, deeply resonates with me,” says Janet.

Toby Cooper Vice President

In 2015, Toby joined the Friends’ Finance Advisory Committee to create a green and sustainable investment policy for the organization’s growing pool of endowment funds. It was a natural alignment of like-minded individuals. Soon thereafter, Toby joined the Board and two years later was elected Vice President. Of all his accomplishments on behalf of Friends, the carefully structured, state-of-the-art, diversified investment policy and resulting balanced portfolio remains his favorite.

Toby’s family first set foot on Orcas Island well over a century ago. Much has changed in the San Juan Islands since then, but the island magic remains. If Toby’s passion is to protect and restore the tranquility, the pristine shorelines, the quiet forested glens, and the emerald vistas that his great grandfather knew, then he will always want to be a part of Friends. And what he loves most about Friends is how they are first to see forests, lakes, shorelines, whales and wildlife as interlocking parts of Nature’s marvelous design.

With MS degrees in Wildlife and Zoology (University of Michigan), and an MBA (University of California), Toby brings energy, versatility and a can-do spirit to the Board. His decade of prior staff experience with two leading national Washington, DC-based wildlife and wildland conservation organization, plus two decades in innovative green investments, led the board to entrust him with the role of Interim Executive Director when a personnel change created that important need.

Toby and Sarah Cooper live on Orcas surrounded by whispering stands of fir, a grove of festive red Madronas, countless wild birds, and a family of hyperactive Douglas squirrels. “I would not trade this life for any place or any price that anyone could name,” he says. Sarah could not agree more.

Bruce Rylander Treasurer

Bruce joined the Friends board in 2015 because it was an opportunity to apply his skill set to an organization, with a mission that resonated with Bruce’s commitment to preserving the environment and the character of the San Juan Islands.

Bruce provides crucial expert insight into the decision process as it pertains to the financial and organizational health of Friends.  His dedication to financial forecasts and logical decisions based upon process design and operations analysis, provide the board with valuable guidance in planning and prioritization.

Bruce’s highly intelligent and analytical professional skills help Friends tackle difficult business challenges and forecast change initiatives to retain strong financial organizational stability.

Bruce is especially motivated by his firm belief in the importance of the FSJ’s mission and in the strength of the staff and board to ensure the organization’s ability to deliver on that mission. Bruce holds a high degree of respect and awe, for the continued capacity of Friends, through staff and members, to be passionately engaged.

Bruce holds a BA in English, MBA in Finance and operations and a Masters Certificate in Program Management.  He has served as a business consulting Director with Teradata, Executive Director, Business Analysis at T-Mobile and Principal at Peak Consulting.

Bruce has lived full time on Orcas Island since 2013 with two, highly energetic rat Terriers, Dexter and Bandit. They make him laugh every day.

“I am engaged with the Friends, because I love the work of the organization. The mission itself is so important to preserving the beauty, character, and the health of the San Juan Islands and all its inhabitants.”

Ken Carrasco Secretary

Ken is a retired biologist and resides on Orcas Island where he lives with his wife Mariann, a retired wildlife biologist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology with an emphasis on marine invertebrates and also has a master’s degree in Dungeness crab ecology from the University of Washington, although during his career he also worked with salmon.

He worked for various organizations including the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (Cordova and Kodiak) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and participated in research on the Exxon Valdez disaster for two years.

Ken served in the US Coast Guard before college; he was stationed aboard a polar icebreaker for three deployments including two to the South Pole and one to the North. He is convinced of climate change because of the rapid, dramatic changes to the Arctic since his service there. Ken now enjoys boating in the Salish Sea and is a proponent of electric transportation technology, both for cars on land and to provide propulsion for boats on the water.

Paul Anderson

Born and raised in Seattle, Paul Anderson is certified as a Professional Wetland Scientist and has been working in natural resource management since 1990 as a wetland and wildlife biologist. His interest and focus as a wildlife biologist is in habitat management and he has worked on projects throughout the western U.S., including Alaska.

Prior to retiring in July 2017, Paul worked as a wetland specialist at Ecology’s Northwest Regional Office from July 2006 to March 2014, when he became the Wetlands Unit Supervisor. He has been teaching wetland delineation, hydric soils and determining the ordinary high water mark for Shoreline Management Act compliance since 2010 and is currently teaching Wetland Law and Policy at the University of Washington’s Wetland Science and Management Certificate Program.

Paul holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in wildlife science from the University of Washington.

Ken Burtness

Ken Burtness has a long history in the San Juan Islands – his family moved to Shaw in 1890 and he has lived on Lopez for 35 years. He was born and raised in Anacortes and attended the University of Washington.

Ken started working for the Washington State Ferries as a summer job during college. He ended up making it a permanent job as a captain. Ken retired in 2008. His biggest interest these days is gardening. Because of his long family history in the islands, he feels very connected to this place and the people who live here. Ken views his board membership as a way to contribute to keeping the islands a special place. With his deep island roots and in-depth knowledge of our local waterways, it is an honor to have Ken on the Friends board.

Carol Kibble

Carol states that a central guiding principle in her life has been a love of nature. The Friends of San Juans mission: “Protect what you love” is a good fit for her. She has been active in various environmental organizations most of her life – the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Cener for Biological Diversity, NRDC, Washington Environmental Council, 350.org and others, and helped found Sustainable NE Seattle, a successful non-profit that provides educational and activist opportunities for the local community. She was a teacher for 30 years in the Seattle School District, as well as a wife to Jim, a now retired attorney, and mother of their two daughters, Robin and Emily. In 2010 she found her island home on San Juan Island where she got serious about gardening. She is glad to be a board member for the Friends of San Juans because she firmly believes in the notion “You have to be more careful with an island.”

San Olson

San’s interest is in maintaining both the quality of rural life in the San Juans and protecting our magnificent maritime environment. San has been a dairy farmer, a naval officer, and practiced small animal medicine in Boston and Seattle for 33 years. He was actively involved in the Friends of Barlow Bay’s efforts to oppose a large marina. He is the Chairperson of the South Lopez Public Water District and past president of the Catherine Washburn Memorial Association (owner of the Lopez Medical Clinic).

Michael Riordan

Michael Riordan, a physicist and author, writes about science, technology and public policy from Orcas Island, where he lives and often kayaks. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT and has taught courses about the history of physics and technology at Stanford University and UC Santa Cruz. He is author of The Hunting of the Quark as well as coauthor of The Solar Home Book, The Shadows of Creation, Crystal Fire, and — most recently — Tunnel Visions.

Riordan has published many articles, essays and reviews in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Scientific American and the Seattle Times. He has written extensively about fossil-fuel transport through the Salish Sea, including in the Seattle Times, Crosscut, Sightline Daily, Northwest Citizen, Whatcom Watch and Islands Sounder. Having worked at Stanford in media and government relations, he brings this particular expertise to his service on the Friends Board of Directors.

To take a break from his office and computer, Michael kayaks in the waters in and around Orcas Island and hikes its many trails, particularly in Moran State Park, admiring the physical beauty and the precious wildlife that the Friends seeks to preserve. In his Board work, he focuses on fossil-fuel transport and facilities in the Salish Sea area, which pose an ominous threat to its vulnerable ecosystem.

Chris Wolfe

Chris joined the Friends’ Board in 2019 because of the work that FSJ was doing to protect the Salish Sea from shipping impacts. Her previous work with Environmental Defense Fund had focused on improving air quality at ports and in the shipping sector, and she brings that experience to support the Friends’ efforts to protect the Salish Sea. A lifelong environmental advocate, Chris has long recognized the special nature of the San Juans and surrounding areas. In addition to previous work with ship emissions and transportation, Chris has a strong science background, having worked in the field with birds, reptiles, and amphibians. She and her husband currently own and manage a local solar installation business to help provide county residents with an alternative for energy produced from hydropower.

Chris holds a master’s degree in Ecology/Evolution from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, as well as bachelor degrees in both Biology and Business Administration from the University of Washington. Her professional career has included working at a natural history museum at a major public university, with a large environmental non-profit organization, and in the private sector where she consulted in a variety of environmental areas.

Chris lives on Orcas Island with her husband and dogs. She is an avid sailor, loves to watch wildlife, and spends many hours wandering with her dogs and looking for mushrooms on her wooded property.

“The mission of Friends—protecting and restoring the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea for people and nature—is what inspires and motivates me to support and work with Friends. The work includes on-the-ground science, as well as the nuances of policy, to help ensure the Salish Sea remains intact for future generations,” says Chris.

friendsOur Board