Key Personnel

Jaime Berman Matyas, President and Chief Executive Officer

Jaime Berman Matyas became SCA president and chief executive officer in September of 2014. Prior to that, Jaime rose through a variety of senior roles with the National Wildlife Federation, most recently as executive vice president and chief operating officer. With more than 25 years of experience in marketing, fundraising and management, Jaime creatively advanced NWF’s mission – and her own personal passion – of protecting wildlife by connecting young people with nature.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School’s Executive Education Program, Jaime is also a certified Black Belt in Innovation Engineering. She is currently on the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Board of Directors and is a member of Rachel’s Network, and earlier she served on the National Wildlife Productions’ Board of Directors and the Advisory Board of Nature’s Best Magazine.

An avid soccer fan, Jaime lives with her family in Bethesda, MD.

Karen Davis, Senior Vice President and Chief Advancement Ocer

Karen brings more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising, specializing in the development of national campaigns, public/private partnerships, major gift solicitation strategies, corporate relations, communications and marketing.

Most recently Karen served as the Senior Vice President of Development for the National Park Foundation, the Congressionally chartered non-profit partner of America’s national parks, providing oversight and direction of all fundraising and development activities including corporate partnerships, major gifts, direct mail/online appeals and foundation initiatives. Karen led the team that successfully developed partnerships with Adler Fels Winery, AirWick, ARAMARK, The Coca-Cola Company, Disney, GE Lighting and LL Bean. Previously she served as a member of the senior management team with Changing Our World Inc., an international fundraising consulting firm, where she directed the activities of the firm’s Washington DC office. She oversaw a diverse portfolio of client engagements that ranged from healthcare to social service to associations to international aid efforts. Her work included fundraising feasibility studies and capital/endowment campaigns, major gift programs, corporate partnership programs, strategic planning and the development of comprehensive fundraising plans.

Laura Herrin, Senior Vice President for Programs 

Laura oversees all of SCA’s national, regional and community programs. She joined SCA in 2002 and has served in a number of roles for the organization including National Director of High School Programs and Director of Innovation before moving into her current Role. Laura’s background includes youth and workforce development and has worked in the nonprofit arena for over twenty five years. Laura has presented and spoken at numerous national conferences, and was selected by former Secretary Salazar to serve as a primary member of the Federal advisory Committee for the 21st Century Conservation and Service Corps. A member of the Corps Network Board of Directors for the past four years, Laura was named Chair of the National Corps Council in 2012. Laura holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Management and Leadership and is also a graduate of Leadership New Hampshire.

Valerie Bailey, Vice President for New Hampshire Operations and Special Projects

Valerie has 35 years of experience with SCA and has been a member of the leadership group since 1989, including the role of Acting President in 1996 and 1997.  In 2000, Valerie left the organization to provide organizational development assistance to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.  She returned in December 2000 to establish SCA’s Three Rivers Office in Pittsburgh, PA, which provides services throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  In 2002, Valerie returned to the SCA National Conservation Center in New Hampshire and has since held a number of executive roles.

Valerie has served on several boards including the United Way of Sullivan County, the Fall Mountain Regional School District, the Meeting Waters YMCA and the Conservation Resources Committee of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Leslie Rimmer, Vice President for Programs

Leslie joined SCA in 2011 as the National Director for Conservation Teams and, soon thereafter, she was named National Director of Young Adult Programs, overseeing SCA’s interns, Corps and special initiatives.  Leslie received her BS in Biology from Penn State University and spent several years working as a wildlife biologist with various organizations including the Pennsylvania Fish Commission, the Peregrine Fund, the Canadian Wildlife Service and others. Shortly after moving to Vermont in 1986, she started working for a start-up consulting firm where she led the survey research and modeling practice, and evaluated the environmental impacts of renewable energy and transportation. She started working with young people as a volunteer guardian ad litem in the local family court system and now combines her three primary interests: the environment, young people and career readiness.

Chris Jackson, Eastern Regional Vice President

Chris has been with SCA since 2012, initially working in the Seattle office but now posted in SCA’s National Office in Arlington, VA.

Chris came to SCA after six years of work at Oregon State University, College of Forestry, where he served as the Recreation Manager for the Research Forests, overseeing all aspects of the recreation program as part of the forest management team and teaching faculty.

After working for the US Forest Service in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon for two years, Chris  then moved to Arizona and spent the next eight working for the City of Phoenix, where he oversaw the afterschool and summer youth programming, before managing the city’s outdoor adventure programs in northern Arizona, along with the “Daring Adventures” adaptive recreation program for youth and adults with physical and mental disabilities. Chris is a member of the National Recreation and Parks Association. he holds degrees in Rural Resource Management from Writtle College, England, and also Recreation Management from Arizona State University.

Rafael Rosa, Central Regional Vice President

Rafael Rosa directs SCA’s programs and partnerships in a 12-state area ranging from Ohio to Missouri and North Dakota. He brings to SCA more than 20 years of experience at the Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, most recently as Vice President of Education. In 2012, a program Rafael developed with community partners, Using Cultural Symbols to Introduce Monarch Conservation and Nature-Based Activities in Chicago, received the Urban Communities in Conservation Award from the US Department of Agriculture.

A strong believer in the value of partnership and collaboration, he chairs the Museums in the Park Education Committee and co-chairs the Chicago Wilderness Education Organizing Committee. He also serves on the Arts and Environment Xchange Advisory Council and his local Board of Education, He is a member of the North American Association of Environmental Educators, the Environmental Education Association of Illinois and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Rosa holds a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.

Jay Watson, Western Regional Vice President

Jay joined SCA in November 2004.  His responsibilities duties include program and partnership development, major donor, foundation, and corporate advancement in the West, government relations, media outreach, and staff management.  Prior to joining the staff of SCA, Jay spent nineteen years with The Wilderness Society, fourteen of which were in California, where he was regional director.  His past positions include five years as a wilderness ranger with the U.S. Forest Service in the Trinity Alps Wilderness in northern California and three years as executive director of the Camp Unalayee Association, a non profit wilderness youth camp, also in the Trinity Alps. Jay serves on the Board of Directors of the California Fire Safe Council and graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.S. in Wildlife Management. Jay and his wife Kathleen live in the Town of Sonoma, and have two sons, Thomas (18) and Charlie (16).

Steve Smith, Vice President for Program Quality

Steve’s career path began with undergraduate and a master’s degree in education followed by six years of university-level teaching and program administration. He brings over twenty years of outdoor program experience working in the field with students and staff in remote wilderness areas and privately consulting organizations in risk management and training.  He is also a two-time NOLS alum. Prior to SCA, Steve was at Outward Bound for 15 years, where he wrote handbooks and training manuals, hired and trained hundreds of staff, and served a wide range of field-based and administrative leadership roles. He is currently the Chair of the Wilderness Risk Management Conference and has attended and presented at the conference annually since 2009.

Kevin Hamilton, Vice President for Communications

Kevin directs organizational branding, strategic communications, marketing, public relations and media relations.  He oversees collateral creation including annual reports and The GreenWay newsletter as well as video production and SCA’s online and social presence.  Kevin also served as editor of Our Land, Our Youth, Our Future: Commemorating 50 years of the Student Conservation Association.  He has presented on a range of communications topics at national forums conducted by the Association of Partners for Public Lands, the Wilderness Risk Managers Conference and others.  Prior to joining SCA in 1999, Kevin managed communications campaigns for leading financial institutions, health care facilities, architectural practices, museums, insurance companies, retail clients and more.  He also has 12 years of award-winning journalism experience. 

Lauren Kass Harnishfeger, Vice President for Individual Giving and Foundation Relations

A career fundraising officer, Ms. Harnishfeger joined SCA in January, 2015, having previously served as Vice President for Development with the National Building Museum. Prior to that, she held leadership positions with the National Park Foundation, Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, and the Smithsonian Institution.  Harnishfeger holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Trinity College, a postgraduate diploma in the Fine and Decorative Arts awarded by the Royal Society of Arts in London, and a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from George Washington University. She and her family reside in Arlington, VA.

Jay Satz, Senior Director for Agency Initiatives

Jay is responsible for advancing SCA initiatives with resource management agencies at all levels.  He led the 2011 launch and subsequent growth of SCA’s National Park Service Academy, a workforce diversity/development initiative, as well as SCA’s Mount Rainier Recovery initiative in response to massive flood damage in western Washington national parks and forests in 2006, which was honored with the Secretary of Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award in 2008.  Jay is a senior consultant for SCA’s risk management program. As a standing member of the National Wilderness Risk Managers Committee since 1995, he is an often-published expert in this field and presents annually at the Wilderness Risk Managers Symposium. He also directed SCA’s development of the written curriculum for teaching traditional conservation work skills, which was published by The Mountaineers as the premier trails and conservation restoration manual, Lightly on the Land.