Board of Directors

img_0060Jerry Blackwill


Jerry joined the board and became president in 2013.  He is also Vice President of Strategic Planning for the Truckee Donner Railroad Society.  He served on the advisory committee that helped the California Department of Parks and Recreation set up the SnoPark program.  He was chair of the Sierra Club’s Angeles Chapter Nordic Ski Section and led nordic ski trips and backpacks to Yosemite, Yellowstone and throughout the Sierras. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA from UCLA. Jerry serves as chairperson of the SSPF  Finance Committee.

Lolly Kupec

Vice President

Lolly Kupec is the principal of Wild West Communications Group and has designed award-winning marketing materials for local, regional, and national clients, as well as Tahoe City’s sidewalk lights and gateway signage. She completed the North Lake Tahoe Community Wayfinding Signage Design Standards Manual and the Wayfinding Sign Site Master Plan.  She is the chairperson of the SSPF Fund Development committee and is the mastermind behind our signature fundraising events and marketing materials.

“Rosie” Rosalee Smith


Rosalee (Rosie) Smith has been visiting Tahoe since 1945 when she camped with her family at D.L. Bliss State Park. This began her love for the CA Parks.  She has had a cabin on Tahoe’s West Shore since 1968 and makes it her summer home now.  She volunteered to help in the parks in 2000 and has been involved ever since with Living History Day at Sugar Pine Point State Park. She is a docent at the Vikingsholm and Ehrman mansions and also volunteers at the Sierra State Park Visitor Centers. Her passion for the parks led her to a position on the SSPF Board in 2010. Rosie serves as the chairperson of our Events Committee.

Barbara Hawn

Board Member

Barb is honored os join the Sierra State Parks Foundation board and to work with such committed and dedicated patrons of state parks.  She says, “I look forward to sharing the mission of state parks and SSPF to the Northern Nevada community.”  Barb was introduced to SSPF by attending an event at Vikingsholm.  Her family has many treasured memories and celebrations spent at our Sierra State Parks.  Barb brings a depth of fund-raising and community organizing experience.  She serves on our Fund Development Committee.


Susan Grove

Board Member

Susan Grove retired after a 28 year career as a California State Park Ranger and Superintendent. She is dedicated to the Sierra State Parks and the increased quality in life they bring to park visitors, school children, and local business people.  She loves to spend time in nature and is an avid hiker and camper.  Susan is a native Californian and has personally visited over 200 California State Parks.

Norma Santiago

Board Member

Originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, Norma came to California in the early ’70s and holds a bachelors of science degree from UC Berkeley in business administration with an emphasis is in organizational behavior and marketing. Norma served as El Dorado county supervisor from 2005 to 2010 representing District 5. During her tenure as County Supervisor she focused on many issues including economic and workforce development, sustainable communities, forest management, transportation and environmental redevelopment to name a few. Norma uses this experience in her consulting business, Catalytic Connections which focuses on bringing together key partners towards building solutions and implementing projects that provide and economic, environmental, and social benefit. She is the chairperson of our Washoe Meadows Advisory Committee.


Rob Weston

Board Member

Rob Weston, owner of West Shore Sports, is known and respected throughout the Tahoe community for his  passionate support of the Sierra State Parks. For many years, Rob has donated proceeds from his famous Full Moon Snowshoe Hikes and Kayak tours conducted at Sugar Pine Point State Park.  Rob’s longstanding involvement with environmental and preservation efforts in the Tahoe Basin have been a great service to our community. Rob is currently serving as the Olympic Snow Trails Grooming Program Volunteer Coordinator and is chairperson of our Marketing Committee.

 Greg Palmer

Board Member

Greg has lived in the Tahoe/Truckee region for 28 years.  He volunteers with the annual Donner Party Hikes and is a docent at both the Thunderbird Lodge and the Donner Memorial State Park Visitor Center.  He is a well known historian and enthusiastic supporter of our State Parks.  He is the chairperson of the Donner Advisory Committee.

Dr. Larry Bienati – Past President

Larry Bienati joined the Board in 2008 and became its president in 2010. He has been a resident of Homewood for 20 years. Larry has served as a corporate management consultant for many leading organizations in the private, public, and non-profit sectors. He has held faculty positions at Saint Mary’s College and California State University at Sacramento at the graduate level. He is a passionate supporter of the Sierra State Parks and refers to them as the “oasis of the spirit”.

Dr. Helen Smith – Honorary Member

It is a great pleasure to have Dr. Helen Smith participating as an honorary board member of the Sierra State Parks Foundation.  Dr. Smith has devoted a lifetime of tireless advocacy for the preservation of the Vikingsholm mansion. She spent 14 summers of her youth as a guest of the original owner, Lora Knight.  She spent many years conducting tours of the mansion for park visitors and continues to work closely with the State Parks to maintain the mansion as well as perserve the legacy of this fabulous site.  She is the foremost historian on all things Vikingsholm, and has published an excellent guide that is now sold throughout the Tahoe region.


Dick Read – Friend of the Board

Dick has been a resident of Homewood for 45 years. During his Real Estate career, he became involved with many supportive community organizations including the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Sierra State Parks Foundation where he was on the Board of Directors for 45 years serving as a member and treasurer.  Dick’s special interest is supporting the preservation and legacy of the Sierra State Parks historic buildings. His experience and knowledge about the Sierra State Parks continue to be an important benefit to this foundation.