Michele James, Executive Director


Michele James has lived and worked in Flagstaff for over twenty years and brings her knowledge of Flagstaff and love of the community to this leadership position.

With a background in both science and art, including a master’s degree in Sustainable Communities (NAU) and a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology & Technical Journalism (Colorado State University), Michele has spent two decades doing advocacy work on northern Arizona ecosystems.

Over the course of her career, Michele has been a wildlife biologist with Grand Canyon National Park and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service, a research coordinator for NAU’s Fossil Creek restoration, a species conservation program manager with the Grand Canyon Trust, and a stakeholder with the Flagstaff Forest Partnership. Most recently, she has been on the NAU faculty, teaching interdisciplinary first-year courses related to sustainability, climate change, art as an advocacy tool, and civic engagement.

Because of her work, Michele has a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of complex issues, the ability to communicate well with diverse groups, and an expertise in designing effective community outreach.

With her high-school son and husband, Michele enjoys hiking, photography, and mountain biking. She is also an accomplished graphic designer and writer.

Board of Directors


Susie Garretson, Board Vice President


Susie was born and raised in Blythe, California to community minded and active parents who loved to roam the desert searching for archaeological sites and water ski on the Colorado River.  College consisted of majoring in Chinese at the University of Southern California and then graduating from University of Northern Colorado with a BA in Elementary Education.  After teaching in southwest Colorado for several years, in 1978 she moved to Flagstaff to found the Flagstaff Athletic Club with her then husband.  She is proud to have served as Owner/General Manager of Operations for 23 years.  After a few years of retirement she went to work at Coconino County as the Executive Assistant for County Supervisor Mandy Metzger, serving for eight years.  Currently she works at the County part time as the Coordinator for the three Diversity Councils.

Following in her parent’s footsteps, Susie has been active in the community serving on various boards and committees:  Soroptimist International of Flagstaff; Shepherd of the Hills Youth Committee; Coconino County Juvenile Detention Community Advisory Board; Flagstaff Leadership Founding Board; Coconino Community College Foundation Scholarship Committee; Flagstaff Arboretum Board; Friends of Flagstaff’s Future Board (served two full terms in it’s early years and re-upped in 2019); Museum of Northern Arizona Board of Directors; Flagstaff Arts Council.  She currently volunteers with the Flagstaff Literacy Program.  She also has worked on campaigns for County Supervisors Carl Taylor and Mandy Metzger, as well as propositions for the County Jail, Mountain Line, and Coconino Community College.

In her personal life, Susie is proud of her two grown sons, Patrick and Jesse.  Susie is doing her best to be semi-retired but keeps finding good causes to participate in.  However, she does manage to find time to travel, hike, explore, go for long walks with her two dogs, read, movies, and have fun with friends.

Susie believes that we are all so lucky to live in this beautiful area on the Colorado Plateau, and that we all have a responsibility to make it a little better in the best way we can.  She believes Friend’s of Flagstaff’s Future is crucial to this effort and hopes that more citizens will decide to join and participate.  She is honored to serve on the current board with its energetic, caring and knowledgeable members.  Keep Flagstaff Funky!

rachels photo

Rachel Ellis, Secretary


Originally from Santa Fe, NM, Rachel found her way to Arizona through her undergraduate education at Prescott College. She studied social justice education and political science while also getting her Arizona teaching certificate. She’s taught high school, led countless outdoor education trips throughout the west, worked for a sustainability non-profit, and was the Education Director at Flagstaff Climbing. She’s now in graduate school at NAU in the Master of Arts in Sustainable Communities program. She’s passionate about people and landscapes in the southwest and committed to furthering a variety of justice issues in the region

Sadie & Mary

Mary Poore, Treasurer


Mary was raised in western Montana and grew to love all that Montana’s mountains, rivers and lakes had to offer. She graduated from the University of Montana with a BS in pharmacy and later completed her doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from National University in Portland, Oregon.
She and her husband, Mark James, moved to Flagstaff in 1986 and opened the Flagstaff Clinic of Naturopathic Medicine. Flagstaff provided a welcoming and nurturing environment to raise their three daughters and grow their medical practice.
In 2013 Mary retired and now enjoys having more time to hike, run and ski, often with their dog, Sadie, in the lovely pines in and around Flagstaff. She volunteers for the Literacy Center, AFS International Student Exchange program and sings with the Flagstaff Threshold choir. She also volunteered for five years at the Grand Canyon as a preventive search and rescue ranger.
Mary has been a longtime supporter of Friend of Flagstaff’s Future, and has appreciated the work they have done over the years in the community. As a new board member, she is honored to be part of this organization that advocates for creating and maintaining a beautiful, prosperous, sustainable, and just Flagstaff.

darrens photo

Darren Bingham, Board Member

Looking to better himself, his surroundings, and his planet, Darren Bingham chose to attend graduate school in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) at NAU. Here he is a master’s candidate in the Sustainable Communities program. In the second year of his program, Darren is diligently working to create and complete his thesis. His field of study centers around environmental mediation in the areas of solid waste management & recycling, marketing and social engineering, and City planning. This allows him to create unique solutions that challenge inequality and alter our collective direction. Fascinated by the intersection of disciplines, values, and people, Darren looks to facilitate collaborative teams to solve societal issues.

Eric Nolan, Board Member


Eric Nolan is originally from Los Angeles, CA and moved to Flagstaff in 2010 to pursue a better quality of life. Having found this, Eric works on community and ecological initiatives to improve and strengthen a better quality of life for everyone through social and environmental justice endeavors.

Eric came to Flagstaff to pursue, and complete, an undergraduate degree in the Environmental Sciences at Northern Arizona University (NAU). He has also received a masters degree in Sustainable Communities and is currently completing a doctoral degree in the Curriculum & Instruction program at NAU’s College of Education. His doctoral work explores teaching and learning methods of college-level Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (or STEM) education by critically evaluating STEM’s socio-political dimensions.

Eric’s work in the community, and classroom, stems from a belief that knowledge is power and that power is best handled with an informed and educated society built on the premise that social and environmental justice is not only possible but essential for an integral democracy to function. He also believes that diversity is one of humanity’s greatest strengths as life itself is exceptionally diverse. He recognizes that a person’s cultural background (e.g., socioeconomic, tradition, language, religion, morals/ethics, ideologies and philosophies, and values), cognitive ability (e.g., intellectual, emotional, relational, spiritual, humor, and creativity), gender expression (e.g., gender identification and sexual expression), physical form (e.g., physical ability and talent), and age (e.g., intergenerational understanding and communication) play an integral role in how we come together in a social construction of our shared reality. Through this lens, he strives to work with community members to uphold the values and mission statement of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future.


Marcus Ford, Board Member

Marcus has lived and worked in Flagstaff for nearly thirty years and is committed to making Flagstaff a great place to live and raise a family. He came to Flagstaff in 1990, from Central Illinois, to teach at Northern Arizona University, and has never really left.  (At least not for very long.)
Marcus’s thinking about “growth and development,” sustainability, and justice is informed by his reading of such great thinkers as Alfred North Whitehead, Wendell Berry, John Cobb, Jr., and Wes Jackson.  As biological and cultural beings, our most basic needs are not economic.  Our economy must function as a means to meeting our more basic needs.
Marcus is also a big fan of recumbent bicycles and tricycles and is giving serious thought to getting an e-bike.
Sandra with Lily

Sandra Lubarsky, Board Member

Sandra Lubarsky spent most of her years as a university professor and administrator bringing sustainability into the curriculum and into campus activities. She founded one of the first graduate programs in sustainability, the M.A. in Sustainable Communities, at Northern Arizona University and chaired the Department of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University.
She previously served on the F3 board, including a stint as co-president in 2007-2008.
She is actively involved in immigrant rights issues, the Kehillah of Flagstaff, and serves as on the city’s Beautification and Public Arts Commission. She is especially passionate about the importance of beauty as a public value and writes often on the intersection of beauty and sustainability.

Marilyn Weissman, Board Member


Marilyn moved to Flagstaff in 1992 with the desire to live full time where she would normally, as a big city dweller, take a vacation. She recently retired from her small land surveying business, which she had here in Flagstaff for 16 years.

When she first moved here she found a community on the verge of growing and potentially losing a lot of what the residents here cherish: access to open space, affordability, local small business and sustainable growth. Not long after she arrived, Friends of Flagstaff’s Future was established to work on preserving what locals love about Flagstaff. She joined the organization and volunteered in the many campaigns F3 took on: funding open space preservation, limiting the size of big box stores, having a Regional Plan and City Zoning Code that balanced the needs of the community with the demands of business and development. Eventually she became a board member and served as President. After a few years off the board she is glad to be back and participating in the revitalization of the organization.

Advisory Board Members

Nat White

Jim Babbitt

Ethan Aumack

Bill Towler

Becky Daggett