MIPN Staff and Board Leadership


Clair Ryan, MIPN Coordinator, Lisle, IL, (630) 719-5649,

Clair is the Midwest Invasive Plant Network’s full-time Coordinator and works out of an office generously provided by The Morton Arboretum, located about 25 miles southwest of Chicago. She began in this role in December of 2016. Prior to joining MIPN, Clair worked on interstate water quality programs in the Eastern U.S., including the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and the Long Island Sound Study. This experience allowed her to specialize in the engagement of diverse stakeholders on a regional scale to develop solutions to challenging environmental problems, and she puts these skills to further use with MIPN. Clair holds M.S.E.S. and M.P.A. degrees from Indiana University – Bloomington and a B.S. from Cornell University, all focused on environmental management.


Susan Franklin, MIPN Assistant, Lisle, IL, (630) 719-5649,

Susan is the Midwest Invasive Plant Network’s part-time Assistant, working closely with Clair to provide administrative and grant project support. Prior to joining MIPN in April 2018, Susan was involved with public and stakeholder outreach and education for stormwater and environmental projects. Her experience developing bioretention maintenance and soil erosion prevention manuals – and corresponding outreach materials – helped refine her audience-specific messaging capabilities and understanding of green infrastructure. She has completed water-related projects for several Midwestern communities, organizations, and government agencies, working closely with state regulatory officials and diverse stakeholders. Susan earned a B.A. in Communication from the University of Michigan, which included coursework in botany and geography. 


Mark Renz, MIPN Board President, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, (608) 263-7437,

Mark Renz (Ph.D.) is an Associate Professor and Extension Weed Specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mark researches and extends information about the biology and management of invasive plants. Research goals in his lab are centered on developing information that will improve management by improving the knowledge and understanding of invasive plant biology. Mark has over 15 years of experience with management of invasive plants throughout the United States in a wide range of habitats including riparian zones, roadsides, floodplains, prairies, wetlands, and forests. Education efforts focus on providing technical information and educational opportunities for agency staff, consultants, companies, and citizens concerned about invasive plants. Mark has served on MIPN’s Board of Directors for 10 years and is currently the board president.


Laura Van RiperMIPN Board Vice President, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, MN, Contact: (651) 259-5090,

Laura is the Terrestrial Invasive Species Coordinator for the Ecological and Water Resources Division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Previously, Laura earned a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Minnesota. Her position at the DNR focuses on terrestrial invasive species prevention, management, policy, and outreach. Laura joined MIPN’s Board of Directors in 2011 and currently serves as its board vice-president.


Kurt Dreisilker, MIPN Board Treasurer, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL, (630) 725-2093,

Kurt is the Head of Natural Resources for The Morton Arboretum located in Lisle, Illinois. Since 2004 he has been planning and implementing ecological restoration throughout the Arboretum's 900 acres of natural areas. The Arboretum’s status as a public garden and world-class tree museum gives Kurt a unique perspective on the management of invasive plant species. He has a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he studied plant biology and natural resources management. Kurt was a founding steering committee member of Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership and has served on MIPN’s Board of Directors since 2012. He currently serves as MIPN’s treasurer and helped to foster the new arrangement with the Arboretum as MIPN’s host and fiscal sponsor.


MIPN Board Members


Lauren Bell serves as Education and Community Outreach Coordinator, and project manager of the Early Detection & Rapid Response Network of Ontario. She works directly with citizens and closely with provincial government and federal partners, which gives her both an Ontarian and Canadian perspective. Working and educating on invasive plants has always been her primary area of interest and she previously worked at the Invasive Species Centre, and organization with a national mission. Lauren joins MIPN's board in January 2019.


Kim Bogenschutz has been the Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources since 2000. She has a BA in Biology from Gustavus Adolphus College and an MS in Fisheries Science from South Dakota State University. She has worked on aquatic habitats in Minnesota, Indiana, and Iowa for over 25 years. Kim is vice-chair of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Invasive Species Committee, served as chair of the Mississippi River Basin Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS), and is a member of the ANS Task Force and American Fisheries Society Introduced Fish Section. She has also served on MIPN’s board since February of 2016.


Emily Cook joined the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN) in June 2015 as their Outreach Specialist. Additionally, she spearheads ISN's Go Beyond Beauty program, working with garden professionals in an effort to prevent the sale of high-priority invasive ornamentals. Emily has held positions with The Nature Conservancy, the National Park Service, and several non-profit organizations before and after receiving a degree in Natural Resources Management in 2010 from Grand Valley State University. Emily will begin serving on MIPN's board in January 2019.


Theresa Culley (Ph.D.) is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Cincinnati University. In addition, she serves as the University’s Provost Fellow for its honors program and the interim director for its Nationally Competitive Awards program. Theresa’s research focuses on the evolution of plant breeding systems and the interplay between species’ reproductive biology and population genetics. One of her current projects explores the hybridization and spread of the invasive ornamental tree Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana). Theresa has been a member of MIPN’s board since January of 2016.


Michael Daab serves as the Director of Natural Resources for the Champaign County (IL) Forest Preserve District. As part of its mission, his team deals with the management and prevention of spread of invasive plants within Champaign County’s forest preserve system. He has been a member of MIPN’s board since October of 2013.


David Gorden is a Partner with Mark M. Holeman, Inc., an Indianapolis design-build firm he joined over 25 years ago.  He is a Trustee of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and a past president of both the Indiana Chapter of ASLA and the Horticultural Society of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. David has been involved in invasive plant issues and their role in the designed landscape since 2001. Hi is a graduate of the landscape architecture program of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He has been a member of MIPN’s board since 2014.


Bob Hartzler (Ph.D.) is an Extension Weed Specialist and Professor of Agronomy at Iowa State University. As such, his work combines extension education to farmers, research, and higher education teaching. Much of his work focuses on an integrated weed management approach for corn and soybean crops and the influence on weed biology on the effectiveness of various control techniques. He holds a Ph.D. in crop physiology from Iowa State, an M.S. in weed physiology from Virginia Tech, and a B.S. in Plant Protection from Purdue University. Bob has been on MIPN’s board since 2010.


Chris Henze is the Roadside Vegetation Manager and County Weed Commissioner for the Johnson County Secondary Road Department in Eastern Iowa. Chris has been managing noxious weeds and invasive species in roadsides for nearly 20 years while being in charge of the Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program (IRVM). While on the job you may find Chris conducting prescribed burns, planting native grasses and wildflowers in roadsides, installing erosion controls, in a tractor or running a chainsaw. Chris is also chairperson of the Hawkeye Cooperative Weed Management Area and is active in grant activities as well as invasive species management and educational efforts. Chris has served on MIPN’s board since 2010.


David Listerman is the co-owner of the horticultural brokerage firm, Listerman & Associates, based in Xenia, Ohio. He also serves on the Ohio Invasive Plant Council, which conducts plant risk assessments and educates about landscape invasives and their alternatives. David joined the board in June of 2017. His perspective and knowledge of the green industry will be very valuable.


Krista Lutzke is a Conservationist for the Door County Soil & Water Conservation Department (SWCD) where she serves as the county’s Invasive Species Program Manager. She obtains funding from various grantors for education and outreach and to implement invasive species control projects. She has been successful at reaching out to local municipalities, media, and stakeholder groups to increase support for invasive species programs and currently sits on the PlayCleanGo Eastern US Advisory Committee. The MIPN board welcomes Krista as a new director in January 2019. 


Chris May is the Director of Restoration for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan. He directs statewide natural resource management and restoration efforts, including invasive species management. Chris has been involved in research and management of natural resources for over 28 years. He received his B.S. in Biology from Baylor University in Waco, Texas and his M.S. in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. His past work experience includes restoration of aquatic, wetland, and upland habitats; invasive species management; prescribed fire and wildland firefighting; and use of GIS for natural resource management. He has been a member of MIPN’s board since 2013.


Tim Power recently retired from his position as the Legislative Affairs Manager for the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA). He had previously served as a Government Affairs Director and a regulatory consultant to the Association. Prior to working for the MNLA, Tim served as the Association’s board president while also co-owning Law’s Nursery, based in Hastings, MN, for over 30 years. Tim has served on MIPN’s board since 2012.


Reid Smeda  (PhD) is a professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri. His areas of research include agricultural weed management, weed herbicide resistance, and control of invasive species outside of an agricultural context. He is particularly interested in Industrial Vegetation Management, the management of problem vegetation along transportation corridors, utility lines, and in other developed settings. As the education coordinator for the National Railroad Contractors Association, Dr. Smeda arranges annual training for a pesticide certification exams. Dr. Smeda joined MIPN's board in October of 2017.


Jason Stevens is a Regional Rangeland Management Specialist, Rangeland Ecologist, and Invasive Species Program Coordinator for Region 9 of the U.S. Forest Service, and is based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Forest Service Region 9 spans the Eastern U.S. from Minnesota to Maine. Its mission is to manage 16 National Forests and associated grasslands for multiple beneficial uses and to advise state, local and private land managers on the integrated natural area management. Jason is particularly interested in the impacts of invasive plants on the health of our region’s forests and grasslands. He has served as the MIPN board’s Forest Service liaison since April of 2016. In this role, he participates in board discussions but is not a voting member.


Ryan Wheeler is the Terrestrial Invasive Species Biologist for Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, Forest Resources and Wildlife Divisions. Ryan works on many aspects of comprehensive invasive species management, with an emphasis on building and strengthening collaborative partnerships. Some of Ryan’s key responsibilities include serving as a technical contact for projects funded by Michigan’s invasive species grant program and acting as the chair of a multi-agency committee working on decontamination policy and recommendations for preventing the spread of invasive species in Michigan. Ryan began his first term on MIPN’s board in July of 2016.