Sustainable Tourism Community of Learning and Practice Staff

Man with aspen trees


Ryan Finchum is Director of the Center for Protected Area Management.  His B.S. in Environmental Science (from LSU) and an M.S. focused on Protected Area Management (from CSU).  Between 2008-2014 he led an initiative to design and launch a new master’s program in Conservation Leadership which uses a trans-disciplinary, problem-based curriculum.  Ryan’s areas of interest include public use & ecotourism, interpretation & environmental communication, protected area management, capacity development, and conservation leadership.  He has over a decade of experience as an ecotourism guide and business owner.  He has worked in over a dozen countries and has participated in the training of over 16,000 conservation professionals from 95 countries.

Bonnie Lippett

BONNIE LIPPITT – Retired US Forest Service Tourism Specialist and Center for Protected Area Management Associate and Executive Committee Member

Bonnie Lippitt recently retired after 37 years of federal service in the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service.  With assignments spanning California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, Bonnie focused her entire career on planning and managing public use, visitor services, and interpretation in US protected areas.   Since 2003, through the US Forest Service International Programs and the US DOI International Technical Assistance Program, she has also completed more than 25 technical assistance trips to countries including Gabon,Tanzania, Malawi, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and Chile and has been a member of the team providing long-term capacity development in Brazil since 2012.

Steve McCool, Man standing next to tree

Dr. STEVE McCOOL – Center for Protected Area Management Associate

Steve is Professor Emeritus of Wildland Recreation Management in the Department of Society and Conservation of the College of Forestry and Conservation in the University of Montana. He focuses on complex issues associated with protected area planning, including the conflicts between recreation opportunities, integrated resource management, and application of frameworks to resolve competing demands. Recent publications include those focusing on reframing the notion of sustainable tourism, approaches to enhance the performance of protected area managers, frameworks for thinking about protected area management, an assessment of various visitor planning frameworks, and discussions about the relationships between tourism and protected areas. He has authored over 200 publications dealing with protected area management and provided advice and service to a number of park and protected area agencies in the U.S. and abroad including Canada, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Belize, Brazil, Iceland, Croatia, China, and New Zealand.

Aspens headshot

AUDREY RAMSEY – Training Coordinator

Audrey Ramsey is the Training Coordinator at the Center for Protected Area Management.  She has an undergraduate degree in Recreation and Ecotourism with a minor in Environmental Science from Ferrum College, and a master’s degree in Global Conservation Leadership from Colorado State University.  Her additional areas of interest are environmental/cultural interpretation, ecotourism, the link between tourism and conservation, and marine protected areas.  She has focused her professional work on interpretation conducting projects in Latin America, focused on interpretation in Latin American protected areas and creating environmental interpretation plans with the Center and the Galápagos National Park.


JIM BARBORAK – Senior Advisor

Jim Barborak is Senior Advisor of the Colorado State University Center for Protected Area Management. Previously he worked for Conservation International for 4 years as Coordinator of the Protected Areas and Corridors Unit in Mexico and Central America, and previously for 15 years as a specialist in protected areas for the Wildlife Conservation Society. He has his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Natural Resources and studied at Ohio State University and Yale. His areas of interest include staff training, planning and management of protected areas, corridors and buffer zones, development of financial strategies, public use and institutional strengthening for parks and reserves, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and conservation and management of wildlife.


ERIN HICKS – Training Specialist

Erin Hicks has a Bachelor’s Degree in Illustration from California State University of Fullerton and a MSc degree in Conservation Leadership from Colorado State University.  She conducted her thesis in Belize, looking at perceptions of ecotourism amongst Maya communities. She is passionate about art (illustration and photography), conservation, and working with Latin American communities. Her professional interests include community based conservation, sustainable community development, and social science.

Advisory Committee


Our external advisory committee helps hold us accountable to our program values, asks questions about our approaches, and serves as an external sounding board for new program approaches. We thank them for their guidance as we grow this program.


National Program Manager for Travel, Tourism, and Interpretation,
U.S. Forest Service


Deputy Director of Recreation, Region 2, U.S. Forest Service


Director of Diversity,
Warner College of Natural Resources