MIPN Staff and Board Leadership


Michelle Beloskur, MIPN Coordinator, 630-719-5649 ext 5649,

Michelle is the Midwest Invasive Plant Network’s full-time Coordinator. She began in this role in March 2022. Michelle is as a co-Director of the Public Gardens as Sentinels against Invasive Plants Initiative, and served as the Administrator of the 2022 Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference. Prior to joining MIPN, Michelle served as the Executive Director of the Ingham Conservation District in Michigan. As part of this position, she spearheaded and supervised the Mid-Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (2015-2021). Her background also includes experience in environmental research and regulation. Michelle holds a B.S in Biology from the University of Michigan and an M.S. in Environmental Geoscience from Michigan State University. 


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

Mark Renz (Ph.D.) is a Professor and Extension Weed Specialist at 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 Collections Horticulture and Natural Resources at 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 relationship between MIPN and The Arboretum as MIPN’s host and fiscal sponsor.


MIPN Board Members


Lauren Bell serves as the Education and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Invasive Species Centre, 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 with citizens and volunteers and educating on invasive plants are her primary areas of interest. Lauren joined 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 Agency's 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.


Tom Buechel is a green industry consultant and team coach through Buechel Horticulture Solutions, LLC and Compliance Officer for Nature Hills Nursery/Plant Sentry™. He also serves as Chair for the Governor’s Council for Invasive Species in Wisconsin. He has spent more than twenty-five years learning, planning, certifying, and executing advanced growing practices. He is committed to enabling green industry operations and their teams to adapt to a changing marketplace, advance sustainable growing practices, and provide the landscape and consumer with healthy, high-quality non-invasive plants. Tom holds a horticulture degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and joined MIPN’s board in January 2020.


Theresa Culley, Ph.D., is a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati. In addition, she serves as the University’s Head of the Department of Biological Sciences. 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). She is currently collaborating with Kurt Dreisilker from Morton Arboretum on a communication platform for gardens and arboreta across North America to share information on introduced plants now escaping cultivation. Theresa has been a member of MIPN’s board since January of 2016.


Chris Evans is an Extension Forestry and Research Specialist with the University of Illinois, where he focuses on forest management, forest health, and terrestrial invasive plant species. He also serves as the technical advisory committee chair of the Illinois Forestry Association and is a board member of the North American Invasive Species Management Association. He formerly served as the Vice President of MIPN, Vice President of the National Association of Invasive Plant Councils, and the chair of the Illinois Invasive Plant Species Council. His previous roles include coordinating the Illinois Invasive Species Campaign and the River to River CWMA. Chris holds an M.S. in Forest Biology from Iowa State University and a B.S. Wildlife Biology from Murray State University. Chris re-joined MIPN’s board in 2020.


Emily Finch is the Invasive Species Specialist for the Dubois, Daviess, and Martin County Soil and Water Conservation Districts in southern Indiana. She spent several years managing invasive species in Wisconsin state parks, and then served as the Coordinator for the Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition, a five-county CISMA along the Wisconsin-Michigan border. After moving to Indiana in 2016, she started working with the nonprofit group Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasives Management (SICIM), as a part time website manager, steering committee member, and finally as a full time Regional Specialist in their Indiana Invasives Initiative project. In her current position she coordinates two CISMAs, provides technical assistance to landowners, and continues to collaborate with neighboring CISMAs and with SICIM. Emily holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Northland College. The MIPN board welcomed Emily in January 2020.


David Gorden, FASLA, is a landscape architect with Mark M. Holeman, Inc., an Indianapolis design-build firm he joined over 30 years ago.  He is a past 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 Newfields (Indianapolis Museum of Art). David has been involved in invasive plant issues and their role in the designed landscape since 2001. A graduate of the landscape architecture program of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, he was in 2018 named a Fellow of ASLA.  He has been a member of MIPN’s board since 2014.


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.


Shaun Howard is the Project Manager for Protected Lands at The Nature Conservancy in Michigan. He started with The Nature Conservancy in 2010 as a crew leader for dune restoration work, and within a couple years was managing all of TNC’s dune work in west Michigan.  He is a core team member of the Michigan Invasive Species Coalition. Since December 2018 Shaun has been leading a new program at TNC-Michigan focused on supporting the capacity of partner organizations – providing science products, engaging partners in key geographies of the state, and working to align priorities among TNC and partners. Shaun began serving on MIPN’s board in January 2020.


Marcus Key is the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Assistant Coordinator with the National Park Service (NPS). The NPS/GLRI portfolio includes 1.5 million dollars in invasive species prevention, early detection, and control projects.  Marcus manages two NPS/GLRI projects that treat 2,500 acres of invasive plants and educate 50,000 people annually with prevention methods.  Marcus participates in the GLRI multi-agency Focus Area 2 invasive species work group that makes decisions on GLRI invasive species projects and proposals. Marcus re-joined MIPN’s board in 2020.     


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.


Kristopher Stone is the Director of Boone County Arboretum a position he has held since 2002. Kris is highly active in various community organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area and Ohio Valley region, building community awareness and networking for the Arboretum.  He serves as immediate past President of the Northern Kentucky Urban and Community Forestry Council, Advisory member of Boone County Urban Forest Commission, past President and Board member of the Kentucky Invasive Plant Council, Immediate Past President of Taking Root, and is an ex-officio board member of Friends of Boone County Arboretum. Kris serves on the steering committee of the Theodore Klein Plant Award Selection Committee, and the Kentucky Urban Forestry Council, ensuring the Arboretum provides full support of these efforts.  He also serves on various other ad hoc committees for community and state organizations when time allows. Kris is a former writer for Kentucky Gardener Magazine where he contributed monthly as the Ask the Expert columnist.


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.