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Some of DarkSky’s staff met in Tucson, Arizona, U.S., in 2024 for a staff retreat.

Ruskin Hartley

CEO & Executive Director

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Ruskin champions equitable access to dark skies and quality lighting for all through DarkSky’s award-winning programs. He works closely with volunteer leaders and donors to secure increased support for our priorities around the world. Ruskin believes that experiencing a dark sky, and appreciating quality lighting, are essential to DarkSky’s mission.

Before this position, Ruskin directed and managed conservation programs that protect land, water, and ocean resources. He served as executive director of Save the Redwoods League, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and restoring the redwood forest. He also served as the president and CEO of Heal the Bay in Los Angeles and as vice president of resource development at Fair Trade USA, an award-winning social enterprise seeking to alleviate poverty worldwide.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Ruskin holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cambridge and a master’s degree from The University of East Anglia. Ruskin loves to head out on the trail with his wife and kids or cook under the stars.

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James Brigagliano LC, LEED Green Assoc.

Lighting Program Manager

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Active in the lighting community for 20 years, James brings a unique blend of technical knowledge, real world experience and a passion for dark sky preservation. James champions the development of existing and new DarkSky Approved Lighting programs for luminaires and sports lighting applications.

James began his career in lighting working in the Planning, Design & Construction Dept. at Cornell University. In his time at Cornell James gained experience measuring and photographing built projects, collaborating with professionals on master planning, and creating site lighting standards for the campus. Dedicating himself to lighting, James continued his career at Selux Corporation in Highland, New York, where James wrote multiple continuing education articles, developed award winning dark sky luminaires, and gained a strong appreciation for environmentally friendly lighting.

Being able to utilize his expertise in lighting to support environmental stewardship is extremely exciting to James. Outside of work he loves adventuring with his family and pursuing his interests in nightscape / landscape photography, rock / ice climbing, mountain running, and ski / mountaineering.


Susan Ciarniello

Community Associate

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Susan began working with DarkSky in 2004, making her DarkSky’s longest-tenured employee. As Community Associate, Susan serves as the first point of contact with the DarkSky community and for those wishing to learn more about who we are and what we do. She is an active part of the development team and supports all fundraising appeals. In addition to these duties, she handles a myriad of administrative responsibilities and communications, supporting every part of the organization.

Susan grew up in New York and attended George Washington University, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in marketing. Prior to her time with DarkSky, she worked in sales, purchasing, and administration but found her true calling in the non-profit sector. In her spare time, Susan is an avid true crime follower and a die-hard New York Giants football fan. She enjoys hiking and spending time with her family and dog, Peanut.


Abigail Cox

Development Manager

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Abby received her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Indiana University (Go Hoosiers!) where she later went on to receive her Masters in Public Affairs. In her first two years post-college, she joined the Americorps VISTA program which developed her love for the nonprofit sector. After her tenure was completed, she moved to Tucson to work at the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona where she diversified their annual giving campaigns, generated new giving and community engagement mechanisms, and built solid and collaborative relationships with key stakeholders. 

Abby has a strong background in community engagement and development which she will utilize to integrate new members into the DarkSky community. When she is not thinking of new ways to connect with community members, she is working on her master’s in legal studies at the University of Arizona. In her free time, she is an avid F45-goer, kickball star, and cat lover. 

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Megan Eaves

Editor, Nightscape

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Megan is the editor of DarkSky’s quarterly magazine, Nightscape. She first got involved with DarkSky as a Delegate for London, U.K., and in addition to producing Nightscape, she now writes Monthly Star features spotlighting the work of DarkSky’s incredible network of advocates around the world.

Megan originally hails from New Mexico but has been a Londoner for more than a decade and founded Dark Sky London, a community group dedicated to restoring the night in the British capital.

By day, Megan is a freelance travel journalist for publications like the BBC, the Independent, CNN, Thrillist, and Lonely Planet, where she previously served as Destination Editor for North and Central Asia.

(Contractor)

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Bettymaya Foott

Engagement Associate

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An avid astrophotographer, you can usually find me out under the stars with one of my three cameras battling off mosquitos. My photography has been featured in Sky and Telescope, National Geographic, and the Los Angeles Times. My dark sky advocacy efforts have reached TedX Kansas City and the New York Times.

Growing up in picturesque Moab, Utah, and spending summer nights sleeping on the trampoline under the stars, I fostered an early appreciation for the night sky. My childhood was filled with hiking, camping, boating, and wandering in the desert, both below the hot sun and under clear, dark skies.

I graduated from the University of Utah Honors Program with an H.B.S. in Environmental and Sustainability Studies and a Minor in Spanish Language and wrote a thesis entitled “Light pollution hazards within ecosystems and mitigation strategies for the future.”

My dark sky career began working for Utah State Parks, starting 12 International Dark Sky Park applications across the state. I then worked as a Coordinator for the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative and the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies at the University of Utah before making my way to DarkSky International. Preserving dark skies is my life goal, and I find that astrophotography is an incredibly effective way to connect people with the beauty and value of a dark sky.

Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | bettymayafoott.com


Amber Harrison

Dark Sky Places Program Associate

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+1 520-347-6363

Amber grew up in Wichita, Kansas, where she spent most of her time riding and caring for horses. She received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Anthropology with a focus on bioarchaeology at Wichita State University.

Amber worked in the field of cultural resource management for several years before becoming a Park Ranger and Interpreter at Big Bend Ranch State Park — the largest, most remote, and darkest park in Texas. Being a Ranger allowed Amber to share her knowledge and experience with the public through outreach and education programming focused on the natural and cultural resources of the park and the greater Big Bend region. Her focus on dark sky conservation developed during her time as a Ranger, where she incorporated dark sky education in her programming and community engagement to raise awareness about the importance of natural dark skies on the natural world and the human experience.

Amber has completed successful applications to the International Dark Sky Places program for public lands in the Big Bend of West Texas and is active in dark sky advocacy throughout the region. In her free time, Amber enjoys photography, hiking, mountain biking, and spending time with friends and dogs (one and the same).


Gretchen Hayes

Accounting Manager

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As DarkSky’s Accounting Manager, Gretchen is responsible for day-to-day financial services. Gretchen has provided consultant bookkeeper services to both nonprofit and for-profit companies for 21 years and joined DarkSky in early 2022.

She previously served as the Administrative Services and Grants Manager for the Santa Clara County (California) FireSafe Council for five years. Before the birth of her twins, Gretchen worked for the County of Santa Clara Green Business Program for six years. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a B.A. in Environmental Studies.

Gretchen moved to north Idaho three years ago and loves enjoying all the outdoor activities and nature that are now in her backyard. Gretchen enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, kayaking, and gardening. She recently started a new homesteading business where she grows and sells microgreens and enjoys learning and sharing her knowledge with others.

(Contractor)

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Heather Kantor

Contract CFO

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Heather is a nonprofit finance consultant and fractional CFO focusing primarily on conservation-focused organizations. She previously served as the CFO at Peninsula Open Space Trust in Palo Alto, CA, for eight years. Prior to that, she was the CFO/VP of Finance for several organizations, including Business for Social Responsibility and a sustainable seafood startup called CleanFish. Heather spent many years at Gap Inc., including running the global Supply Chain Finance organization as well as leading Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting for the corporation. She was an auditor at Coopers & Lybrand in Boston, where she got her CPA, and holds an MBA from Simmons and a BA from Hampshire College.

Early in her career, Heather was a park naturalist and environmental educator and, as a result, developed a passion for environmental protection. One of her favorite naturalist activities was leading night hikes and doing astronomy and planetarium programs for the public.

Heather splits her time between Tucson, where she moved from the Bay Area in 2019 to help care for her mother, and Flagstaff, with its beautiful dark skies, exceptional hiking, and live music scene. Heather is the contract Chief Financial Officer for DarkSky and is responsible for the overall financial management of the organization. She also serves as the Treasurer and Executive Committee member at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

(Contractor)


Image of Ruoyu Li, DarkSky employee.

Ruoyu Li

Information Technology Manager
Regional Engagement Associate

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Ruoyu was born and raised in China and later graduated from the University of Arizona with majors in mathematics and information science & technology, minors in statistics and data science, computer science, and finance, and a certificate in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Development. He also received an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Business from Columbia University.

Initially motivated by his enthusiasm for astronomy, he joined DarkSky Beijing as a volunteer in 2015. Since then, he has become a Dark Sky Delegate, a core member of the DarkSky Beijing chapter, and a founding member of the “Dark Sky Defender” team that advocates the dark sky movement in China. He also volunteered for the China Dark & Starry Sky Committee under the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation.

Since he participated in China’s dark sky protection work, he has been in charge of international networking and communication; presented in, helped plan, and hosted DarkSky global conferences; promoting the idea of dark sky in China; and is helping multiple sites build and apply to become an International Dark Sky Places and successfully made Shenzhen Xichong Community the first International Dark Sky Community in China.

(Part-time)

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Brian Liebel, PE

Chief Program Officer

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Brian Liebel develops long-term educational, technical, and advocacy programming and implementation planning for DarkSky. His objectives are to elevate the Five Principles of Responsible Outdoor Lighting to be a central tenet for outdoor lighting design and to develop further collaborations with the lighting community to promote DarkSky’s objectives of reducing light pollution. Brian first started collaborating with DarkSky through his previous position as the Director of Standards and Research at the Illuminating Engineering Society, working closely with DarkSky to achieve the first DarkSky/IES MOU and the successful passage of the joint Five Principles. This partnership led to successfully integrating DarkSky as an organizational member in IES technical committees, ensuring that DarkSky’s perspectives are represented in the IES standards development process.

Throughout his 35-year career, Brian has dedicated his efforts to balancing the human need for light with environmental concerns, and always with a reliance on solid science. His career in lighting started with the University of Kansas Architectural Engineering program, after which he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and became an established lighting designer, electrical engineer, lighting educator, and energy conservation advocate. Brian’s private consultation practice has kept him independent while receiving significant appointments such as the Lighting Program Director at the Pacific Energy Center and the Principal Investigator for the U.S. Department of Energy in assessing the effects of light spectrum on vision. In his last position at the IES prior to joining DarkSky, Brian was the chief architect in modernizing the IES’s standards development process and in expanding collaborations with international organizations.

Brian comes from a small town in the mountains of California, where he grew up gazing at the stars, unfettered by light pollution. To this day, he makes an annual trip from his home in Florida to backpack in the backcountry of the Sierra Nevada mountains to get his “fix.”

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Chris Peterson

Engagement Manager

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Chris brings a wealth of expertise in marketing, project management, and program development to his role as Engagement Associate at DarkSky International. With a passion for building systems and programs that make a tangible difference, Chris is dedicated to supporting DarkSky’s mission of preserving our planet’s natural nightscapes. Based in Minnesota, his love for the night sky and vision of a world where future generations can gaze upon the Milky Way fuels his commitment to environmental conservation.

With a background in digital marketing and as a global marketing manager, Chris has honed his skills in strategizing and implementing marketing campaigns that resonate with diverse audiences worldwide. His experience in leveraging digital platforms to amplify messages and engage communities aligns seamlessly with DarkSky’s mission of fostering global advocacy for dark skies. Chris’s proficiency in navigating digital landscapes and his strategic mindset are instrumental in enhancing DarkSky’s online presence and expanding its reach to new audiences.

In his role, Chris will manage DarkSky’s events, ensuring they are meticulously planned, seamlessly executed, and leave a lasting impact on participants. His strategic approach to project management ensures that initiatives will be executed efficiently and effectively, achieving desired outcomes with precision. Chris’s commitment to bringing people together and his expertise in program management makes him a valuable asset in driving forward DarkSky’s impactful initiatives.

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Drew Reagan

Communications Manager

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Drew has a passion for understanding and sharing our shared connections to the cosmos. He served as an Interpretive Ranger for the National Park Service for over ten years at a number of parks, but he is mostly deeply connected to Mesa Verde, where he worked on the park’s certification as the 100th International Dark Sky Park, designed a mobile visitor center and dark sky laboratory, and helped to establish Mesa Verde’s first Indigenous Ranger Internship Program — a program designed to create new pathways into cultural stewardship and land management careers for Indigenous community members.

Drew received his B.A. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and has a strong background in community outreach and engagement, environmental education, and graphic and information design. When not behind his DarkSky laptop, you can find Drew out and about in the desert with his husband and dog, identifying and illustrating birds, bugs, and cacti.


Michael Rymer

Program Associate, Advocacy

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Michael Rymer was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, where he seldom saw the night sky in its natural state. Later in his life, though, he came to discover a love for astronomy and astrophotography, searching for dark skies and how he can help protect them.

Michael enjoys hiking in the mountains and deserts of the Western U.S., and he loves to spend time with his camera and telescopes taking pictures of the beauty of the cosmos. He is the Vice President of the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas and has been a member of the club since 2020. He joined the DarkSky Advocates Network in 2021 and has continued to learn how he can talk with others about the dangers of light pollution to us and our world.

Michael has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and is an online graduate student at the University of Northern Alabama pursuing a Master of Science in Recreation Management.

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Susan Serven

Director of Development and Communications

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Susan grew up in New York State and currently lives in Connecticut, about an hour north of NYC, so understands the critical importance of mitigating light pollution and its negative impacts on wildlife, biodiversity, and human health.

Susan brings her corporate and nonprofit experience in marketing, development, and finance to her current role at DarkSky and is a longtime, avid volunteer for conservation and justice initiatives. She enjoys biking, hiking, and gardening and has a BBA from Pace University and an MBA in Finance and MBA in International Business from Fairfield University.

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Interns & Advocacy Volunteers

Natasha Chortos

Communications Consultant

Natasha is a seasoned traveler, astrophotography enthusiast, and a passionate advocate for the natural world. Her love for stargazing began during a childhood road trip to Nova Scotia, where she first saw the Milky Way.

Natasha holds a Combined B.A. in Fine Art and Art History from McMaster University, a Diploma in Advertising and Graphic Design from Humber College, and a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Visual Communication (EVC) from Fleming College. This eclectic educational background has equipped her with a unique blend of artistic talent, design skills, and a profound appreciation for environmental storytelling.

Today, Natasha is excited about the opportunity to develop innovative campaigns that resonate with DarkSky’s mission—She aims to both protect and celebrate the night sky through environmental storytelling and conservation photography. She currently lives at the very bottom of Ontario in Essex County, with her husband and dog.

(Contractor)

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MJ

Advocacy Intern

MJ is a dedicated admirer of the night sky, with a lifelong passion for stargazing that began under Utah’s starriest skies. Her journey, from a deep connection with constellations and eventual advocacy, underscores a commitment to personal growth and transformation. She firmly believes in the power of community and inclusivity, having led their high school choir program as president and becoming the Co-President of Latinx Student Union at her university, emphasizing the importance of diversity and belonging.

As a passionate intern of DarkSky International, MJ continues to deepen her commitment through formal education in Parks, Recreation, and tourism with a minor in Dark Sky Studies and Urban Ecology. She continuously developed her skills, particularly in graphic design, and lives by the philosophy that empowerment knows no boundaries. MJ encourages all, especially the youth, to seize leadership opportunities early and break down any barriers based on age, income, or race.

Outside of work, MJ loves to go on hikes and bake.


Savannah Pobre

Advocacy Volunteer

Savannah works as a DarkSky Advocacy Fellow with the goal of becoming an asset to the scientific research community both as a researcher in the field and as a voice to policy makers in areas such as space debris mitigation, space sustainability efforts, and dark sky awareness.

Savannah is a senior at Princeton University majoring in Astrophysics and minoring in the History and Practice of Diplomacy, with an expected graduation date in May of 2023. During her undergraduate career, she‘s engaged in a range of independent research projects in topics such as Brightest Cluster Galaxies and protoplanetary disks, at Princeton, the European Space Observatory, and Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). Additionally she has partnered with the Princeton Sociology Department and the School of Public and International Affairs to conduct research on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts for planetary and space scientists, and space policy and space law for cislunar space and space debris mitigation efforts.

Off campus she’s a member of the Committee to Protect Astronomy and the Space Environment (COMPASSE) AAS committee and is looking forward to starting her Master’s Degree in Space Studies from the International Space University (ISU) program in the fall of 2023.