Meet the Staff
Outreach Program Manager
Sarah grew up in Nebraska and received her BA in English and International Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her MFA in Fiction at the University of South Carolina before moving to Kansas City. She has worked extensively in after school programs, continuing education, and day camps and youth clubs.
Sarah believes that everyone is a lifetime learner and encourages people to be excited about the things they love. At HCA she organizes the Green Guard Stewardship Training Program where Kansas Citians learn environmental skills and connections to protect what they love most: their communities.
In her free time Sarah loves to read and is always looking for a new book suggestion.
Conservation Program Manager
(816) 945-8505 Ext. 103
Jess grew up on a small family farm in the Kansas City Northland, which is where her love of nature and animals began. From an early age, Jess was fascinated with chimpanzees and their similarities to humans. In later years, she studied their behavior in both captive and wild settings while actively working to conserve them, their habitat, and other species. Jess is interested in applying her wildlife conservation toolkit to urban settings to help preserve and protect biodiverse habitats that provide environmental, social, cultural, and economic benefits to surrounding human populations. If people can see and experience the value of natural habitats in metro areas, this can fundamentally transform the way humans view and interact with nature both locally and globally.
In addition to her work with HCA, Jess also serves as the Director of Conservation and board member for the Kibale Chimpanzee Project (non-profit) in Kibale National Park Uganda. She directs conservation programs and educational outreach campaigns that mitigate anthropogenic threats to chimpanzees and other wildlife in the area. Jess is also a part-time instructor of Biology and Anthropology at the Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City and remotely at the University of North Georgia.
Jess received her Ph.D. in Integrative and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Southern California for her research on aggression and conciliatory behavior in wild chimpanzees. Jess then completed a post-doc at Aarhus University in Denmark that focused on how long-term field sites provide conservation benefits to biodiversity and habitats while also creating a primatology curriculum for school children for the Danish Royal Academy of Sciences. Jess also has her M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Central Washington University where she studied captive chimpanzees who use sign language at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute and her B.S. degrees in both Biology and Anthropology from Missouri State University.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” ~ Jane Goodall
(816) 945-8505 Ext. 102
Logan became HCA's second Executive Director in February 2022. A Kansas City native, he first cut his chops in climate action spending half his days as a kindergartener at his dad's solar business. Logan has been involved locally as an active member of Climate Action KC and former board member of Metropolitan Energy Center. He is also a current city councilmember for Overland Park, KS after being elected in 2017 and re-elected in 2021.
In his five years prior to joining HCA, Logan was a community engagement manager for Harvesters—The Community Food Network. He was also a former press intern at the Obama White House and worked in constituent services as an intern for Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. To help pay for his education, Logan worked as a package handler for UPS and was a member of the Teamsters union.
A graduate of Shawnee Mission schools, Logan graduated Cum Laude from the University of Southern California with dual degrees in Broadcast Journalism and History. He is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas.
Outdoor Education Coordinator &
Blue River Nature Guide
(816) 945-8505 Ext. 104
Jalen grew up in the bustling city of Los Angeles, California. He became interested in environmental topics during college and graduated from Humboldt State University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Management. Afterwards, he attained a graduate degree in Biology from the University of Mississippi where he studied a carnivorous plant. He has spent significant time as an environmental educator and field scientist.
At HCA, he is grateful for the opportunity to build and deepen community relationships, get folks excited about learning in natural spaces, and help support events!
In his free time, he enjoys hiking, archery, writing, and video games.
Nature Action Crew Leader
Laura grew up on a small farm outside of Lawrence KS, but spent many childhood summers either camping in different national parks or helping her grandparents on their ranch in South Dakota. The agricultural background tied with a love for exploring the outdoors quickly led her down a career path in conservation. While in undergrad, Laura spent summers building trails and working on forestry rehabilitation in the Rocky Mountains, spurring her research on soil ecology in Dr. Wagner's lab. After she earned her BS in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology from the University of Kansas, she spent two summers as a post-bachelor researcher for the Land Institute in the Legume Lab.
Among her conservation work, Laura found a passion for ancient literature, and earned a BA and MA in Classical Languages from KU. She combined her love of botany with classics to write a thesis on the use of botanicals in ancient Greek magic (check out Smells and Spells: Plants, Olfaction, and Evolution in the Greek Magical Papyri).
In her current role with HCA, Laura is ready to utilize her scientific background with her passion for conservation to help the Nature Action Crew in their restoration projects around the Kansas City area.
Environmental Justice Program Manager
Magali was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and raised in Kansas City. She earned her education in both KCMO and KCK. She believes that both states would benefit from unifying efforts to support our depleting natural resources.
Magali believes in the power of community engagement. People are stronger when they are educated, united, and have access to resources. She does not think it was a mere coincidence meeting the previous founder and Executive Director of Heartland Conservation Alliance (HCA), Jill Erikson at a voter engagement event. She remembers Jill stating, “Nature does not need us to survive, on the contrary we need nature for a healthier way of life.” Those words rang true with Magali’s experience with nature. Afterall, being emerged in the outdoors and walking for hours is what helped heal her mental headspace. Magali created a passage for the next chapter of her life when she connected with HCA. She started volunteering with them in 2019 and with other environmental non-profits such as Clean Air Now.
HCA introduced her to various resources. One of them being The SHIFTJH Summit, where she attended virtually as an emerging leader in 2020, and learned the power of storytelling and vulnerability. This was possible by creating a sense of community, which was amazing to witness with people around the country, who then became close friends. Meeting like-minded people with a shared mission inspired her to pursue an Environmental Justice certificate, which she earned in Spring of 2022. She is now earning a Professional Science Masters with a focus in Environmental Assessment from KU Edwards Campus and expects to graduate in Spring of 2023.
As the Environmental Justice Program Manager, Magali hopes to identify and connect with communities that are facing disproportionate health impacts due to environmental threats along the Blue River. Her hope is that she can connect with people who have been left out of the conservation conversation and provide them with the tools needed to support their neighborhoods.
Finance & Operations Director
(816) 945-8505 Ext. 101
Kristina is a Missouri native and has enjoyed spending time outdoors from a young age. She recalls spending many childhood hours riding bikes, exploring, hunting for rocks, camping, and canoeing. Her enjoyment of nature as a child fueled her desire to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Geology from Northwest Missouri State University. Kristina’s professional career spans between the public and private environmental sectors and provided her with the opportunity to work in Jefferson City, Missouri, Seattle, Washington, and Denver, Colorado before returning to her roots in Kansas City, Missouri in 2021.
Since returning to Kansas City, Kristina has enjoyed exploring the abundant outdoor opportunities the Midwest has to offer. She is eager to become more involved with local efforts to provide solutions to the environmental and conservation challenges that the Kanas City area faces. In her role as Program Manager for HCA, Kristina is most excited about developing strong relationships with our partners and local communities to protect the places we love.
The Nature Action Crew
Senior Nature Action Crew Member,
MO Hives Site Coordinator
Armondo was born and raised in Kansas City. He is proud of the role he is beginning to play for our City's environment! He is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science, and plans to create his own environmental remediation organization in the future.
His earliest memories that made him fall in love and appreciate the natural environment were the times he spent as a child, playing outside in an undeveloped neighborhood with large wooded, open green spaces. When he explored the area, everything he found was so interesting to him. He witnessed gophers bobbing in and out of their hill, deer roaming in daylight, snake sheds in the steep earth grooves found around his home, a huge assortment of insects, and a large array of wildlife. But he saw a lot of pollution: his street hosted a dumping site crowded with trash and plastics. He knew it wasn't right. That memory has stuck with him. He has made it a life mission to restore local green spaces, so that others after him will get to enjoy the same connection with nature that he had.
Nature Action Crew Member
Blake was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado and raised in North Dakota by her grandmother. As a kid she would spend a lot of time in nature. She would climb trees, dig for bugs, make mud pies, and do a lot of outdoor activities. Blake also loved being around animals and grew up with six cats.
At 15 Blake and her grandmother moved to Kansas. It was the first time she ever lived in a warmer environment and adjusting to the heat was difficult. When Blake turned 19 she met her current partner and moved to Missouri to live with them.
Living in Missouri has made Blake realize a lot about herself. She loves learning about nature and all the different things possible. Nature puts Blake at peace and she chose the Nature Action Crew so she could grow with that peace.
Nature Action Crew Member
Sebastian Osburn was raised in Grain Valley, Missouri. Sebastian graduated from Blue Springs South in 2020. After taking environmental science in high school he took an interest in the environment and wanted to be more involved.
Sebastian got into the Landscaping apprenticeship with Build Trybe which is a program of Cornerstones of Care. Through that apprenticeship Sebastian learned many things, including how to identify plants and trees and how to properly take care of them and the surrounding land. He completed his apprenticeship with Build Trybe and wanted to further his career with Heartland Conservation Alliance.
Nature Action Crew Member
Dylan Stephens is a Missouri native and resides in Kanasas City, Missouri. Dylan graduated early with a G.E.D (general education diploma). Dylan grew up on 12th street and, as a little boy, he liked playing with plants and animals. Today, Dylan does the same thing but as a job
Dylan originally wanted be be come a welder and go to trade school, but he got in to a program that taught him how to manage and take care of plants. Dylan loves his job.