Board & Staff

Tom Hannagan, President, Marana

Tom is a graduate of the University of Illinois with degrees in finance and economics. He spent most of his career in and around the banking industry. After working at a large Chicago bank for twelve years, he formed his own consulting group and later founded a banking software company. His speciality involved financial risk management practices and software to assist banks with profitability strategies for their various lines of business. Tom has written juried articles for financial journals, posted a blog for several years and has spoken at major finance industry conferences. In his Illinois home, he was involved in reforestation and served on his village planning committee and as village tree Commissioner. Along with organizing tree planting efforts, he also battled an invasive Buckthorn shrub that can devastate a native forest. Tom has retired to Tucson and has been an active volunteer in hiking trail maintenance, buffelgrass removal, wilderness clean-up efforts and desert restoration in the IFNM and the Tortolita Preserve.

Bill Thornton, Vice President, Tucson

Bill is a second-generation native Arizonan and life long desert plant lover.  He joined the “Friends” after participating in several workdays removing invasive buffelgrass from habitat of the endangered Nichols Turks Head cactus in Ironwood Forest National Monument.  He is an active member of the Tucson Cactus and Succulent society and frequent participant in cactus rescues that have saved nearly 60,000 plants from sites scheduled for development.  He also serves on the board of the Arizona Heritage Alliance.

Dave Barker, Secretary, Tucson

Dave Barker is a new addition to the Tucson area. He spent the last 40 years in Utah, enjoying both the canyon country and mountainous areas in that state. After college, he worked in the ski industry and at a small destination resort. He followed that up with a decade of teaching fifth graders. The Tucson area attracted Dave and his wife Carol for its abundance of hiking, biking, and trail-running opportunities, as well as a chance to leave winter snow shoveling behind. They are year-around residents of Marana. Dave looks forward to working with the Friends to protect and enhance the unique natural resources of Ironwood Forest. 

Gaile James, Treasurer, Marana

Gaile James, President, Friends of Ironwood Forest Board of Directors with her new friend on the Monument Tour for scientists during the 2012 Bio Blitz.

Gaile James, Treasurer, Friends of Ironwood Forest Board of Directors with her new friend on the Monument Tour for scientists during the 2012 Bio Blitz.

Gaile, a Marana resident, is retired from a 30-year career with Baltimore County Government in Maryland.  She annually developed and managed a multi-million dollar capital budget for the Baltimore County Police Department, a metropolitan force of 2,100 uniformed officers.  Prior to her decade-plus of service with the police department, Gaile was a manager in the Baltimore County Office of Employment and Training.  She is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Baltimore with a degree in Inter-Disciplinary Studies (Management/Sociology/Political Science).  She is an experienced birder and travels extensively in pursuit of that interest.

Jim Avramis, Marana

Jim is a third generation Arizonan and was raised in Tucson. He left Tucson to serve in the US Air Force and after four years of service Jim joined industry. For the next 39 years Jim supported multiple Department of the Navy programs, initially as a field engineer and later as a program manager. Jim’s career took him to Mississippi; Newport, Rhode Island; Washington DC; and San Diego, CA; working for Litton Industries, Sperry Univac and Lockheed Martin. Jim is very proud of the part he played in providing safe and effective equipment and systems for our service men and women as they go into harms way. Jim’s family continued to live in Tucson throughout his career and he maintained his ties to Southern Arizona and the desert. When Jim and his wife retired in 2012 he returned to the Tucson area full time and now lives in Marana Arizona. Jim’s love of the Sonoran Desert has drawn him into hiking and volunteering in support of conservation efforts and he is excited to join the Friends of Ironwood Forest Board of Directors to assist with the preservation of our desert heritage for future generations.

Kelsey Yule, Tucson

Kelsey is a PhD student at the University of Arizona, since the fall of 2012,  in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She is passionate about the complexities of interactions between species, especially those native to the Sonoran desert. Her dissertation research focuses on the ecological and evolutionary implications of an important set of relationships commonly occurring in the monument and throughout the region. Her primary research subject is desert mistletoe, which parasitizes a variety of native tree species and provides food for its seed disperser (the Phainopepla), its insect pollinators, and many other local birds and mammals. While you’ll often find her working in the field during the winter and spring, when mistletoe is producing copious flowers and fruits, she also uses mathematical modeling and genetic tools to better understand these interactions. Kelsey lives in Tucson with an archaeologist and a cat.

Gene McCormick, Tucson

Gene became a member of the Friends of Ironwood Forest in 2006 and served on the Board from 2013 to 2014.  Gene immediately fell in love with the Sonoran Desert after moving to it 1962.  His education was in Physics, with a BA from Rice and a PhD from Duke.  Most of his career was in systems engineering in the electronics industry.  He has assisted the Friends of Ironwood Forest in restoration projects, communications, and events such as Meet the Monument.  He also volunteers with other conservation and social organizations and has provided input to government agencies on a number of  environmental issues.