Meet the Board

Bill Balassi Secretary Board of Directors

Bill Balassi – President

Bill Balassi has been a volunteer at the Rio Grande Nature Center since 1994. Over the years, he has led interpretive walks and twilight hikes, volunteered in the Nature Shop, shared his spotting scope with visitors in the Observation Room, served on the Friends’ board, and lined up bands to provide music (for free) at the Friends’ annual Herbfest. He holds a Ph.D in English from UNM and taught English for more than 20 years, followed by a second career as a technical writer and project management professional, retiring in 2014. Bill enjoys cooking, hiking, making music with friends, and spending time with his family, especially his three grandchildren.

Lindsey Evans – Vice President

Growing up in Albuquerque just up the street from what is now the Rio Grande Nature Center, the Rio Grande and the Bosque played a big part in Lindsey’s childhood. Taking no particular direction after high school, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and trained and worked as a Petroleum Laboratory Technician. Receiving a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, he opted to work at a boarding school in the Pecos Mountains until he landed a job as a field technician involved in studying the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He accepted a job as a process engineer at a uranium mill, while pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Engineering. The next 20 years he worked in the areas of groundwater and hazardous waste remediation. He ended his engineering career working for Sandia National Laboratory’s Advanced Materials Department and retired in 2018. As a volunteer at the RGNC he has worked at the front desk, assisted with educational outreach activities and helped out where ever needed. His hobbies are varied but they are all connected with the outdoors. He considers himself a Jack of all trades.

Patti Plagge President Board of Directors

Patti Plagge – Secretary

Patti Plagge has been an active volunteer in the RGNC native plant garden for over since 2012 and thoroughly enjoys the garden. Retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as budget chief for the refuge program, Patti worked for the Department of the Interior for over 30 years in various programs, including the refuge system, fisheries, and administration. She loves birdwatching and gardening in her yard and at the Nature Center. “I am honored to be part of the Friends’ board,” she says.

Jo Fairbanks Treasured Board of Directors

Jo Fairbanks-Treasurer

Now retired, Jo was on the faculty of the UNM Masters in Public Health degree program and director of the Public Health Outreach Education Program. A New Mexico resident since 1965, she has intensive experience in academia and as a public health practitioner throughout the state. She has co-authored two public health textbooks and conducted research in health disparities. Jo has previous board and supervisory experience and has been a Nature Center enthusiast and volunteer for many years.

Yolanda Hoeman Board member.

Yolanda Homann -Board Member

A computer operator employed at GTECH, Yolanda has been with the Friends of the Rio Grande Nature Center since its inception in 1984. She volunteers “behind the scenes.” Yolanda is a self-proclaimed neighborhood activist who provides balance to the Board of Directors by voicing neighborhood concerns.

Dave Hutton Member Board of Directors

Dave Hutton-Board Member

A physicist with extensive experience in nuclear physics and high speed electronics development, Dave Hutton is a retired science and engineering manager from Honeywell in Albuquerque. Dave is a former president of the Friends and a member of the Friends’ research committee.

Patty Phillips -Board Member

Upon completion of degrees in Wildlife Biology and Plant Ecology, Patty moved to Albuquerque in 1998, and became a volunteer at the Nature Center to familiarize myself with the local ecology. She has worked on numerous water resource projects in New Mexico and West Texas as a biologist and Project Manager for the Albuquerque District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Wanting to get back to her roots and give back to her community, she became a member and volunteer of the FRGNC in early 2023. Her goals are to help educate the public, bring ideas to preserve the State Park and learn from fellow volunteers, Park staff and the public. Her current volunteer efforts include: the front desk and a team member on the wetland/Candelaria
Nature Preserve bird surveys and bosque restoration effort.

Craig Marshall Member Board of Directors

Craig Marshall – Board Member

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Craig has a master’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue University. After graduation, he worked in heavy and highway construction where he held positions of design engineer, project engineer, estimator, project manager, and area manager for firms in Illinois, Texas, and New Mexico. He also worked overseas on projects in Australia and Estonia. He is a hiker, backpacker, and, in another life, was president of the El Paso Climbers Club. Since volunteering at the Nature center, he has worked in the Nature Shop, fed hummingbirds, helped at festivals and the macro count, and spent a lot of time at the front desk.

Ruth Salvaggio – Board Member

Ruth has spent her entire career in academics as a professor of literature, including a decade in the American Studies department at UNM in the late 1990’s.  A native of New Orleans, her scholarly work took a sharp turn after hurricane Katrina, toward the regenerative energies of poetry in restoring severely damaged ecosystems.  After retiring from the University of North Carolina in 2018, she returned to Albuquerque where she volunteers at the Nature Center in the Mariposa Pollinator Garden and in the Restoration area.  She also serves as liaison between the Friends of the Rio Grande Nature Center and the Friends of our new neighbor, the Candelaria Nature Preserve.

Terry LeVois – Board Member

Terry has been a Nature Center volunteer since 2018 after retiring from her job as a benefits administrator in Human Resources with PNM Resources.  She is  also a Board Member with the New Mexico Cancer Center Foundation.  At the Nature Center fills the feeders for hummingbirds and the seed-eating birds.  She  also enjoys helping with special events like Herbfest, Nature Discovery and Summer Wings and is looking forward to serving on the Friends of the Rio Grande Nature Center board.    


Greta Roskom – Board Member

Greta Roskom retired in 2017 from a long career in education- as a special education teacher, public school principal, and in the second half of her career, as a charter school founder, director, consultant and advocate. She earned her Master’s degree and Educational Specialist Certificates from the University of New Mexico.

Greta grew up in Connecticut but has lived and worked in New Mexico since the mid 70’s. She has been a life-long environmentalist and lover of nature.  Now in retirement, she enjoys volunteering at the RGNC, camping/traveling, drawing, painting, fiber arts and helping to manage the lives of her 2


Christine Small – Board Member

Chris was born and raised in western Massachusetts and originally lived in Albuquerque from 1978 to 1986. During this time, she earned a MA degree at UNM in Community and Regional Planning. where she toured the Rio Grande Nature Center’s beautiful new building which is, of course, our visitor’s center today. After moving back to Massachusetts and then to Florida, she returned to New Mexico in 2005 and has lived here ever since. She started volunteering at the Nature Center in 2019 in the native plants garden and as a member of the restoration team. She has also helped at special events. She has held other volunteer positions over the years, including costume design for Albuquerque Civic Light Opera, as a board member of her condominium association in Massachusetts and later, her homeowner’s association in Florida. Before retirement she worked in various accounting positions and in the travel industry. She enjoys reading, traveling, horseback riding, hiking, photography, and gardening.