WLP Board of Directors

Whitefish Legacy Partners’ all-volunteer board is the backbone of our community-minded vision.

Mike Jopek, Chair

I have been actively working to permanently conserve thousands of acres of forestlands and watersheds surrounding town since 2002. I am past chairperson of the Whitefish City County Planning Board, past chairperson of the Whitefish Housing Authority, and a past state lawmaker representing the Whitefish area in Helena. I co-own Purple Frog Gardens, a small family farm on the eastern edge of Blanchard Lake, which has produced food in the Whitefish-area for the past 30 years. Most of my days are spent working or recreating outside. My favorite places include the kid’s learning pavilion at Lion Mountain and the quiet seclusion that Smith Lake offers local families. Off the farm, I am also a columnist for the Flathead Beacon.

Reid Sabin, Vice Chair

Originally from from Gig Harbor Washington, I attended the University of Montana where I received a degree in Recreation Management. My soon to be wife and I moved to Whitefish in 1995 and knew immediately that it was home. Skiing, biking, abundant open space and friendly people made Whitefish the obvious place to live and raise a family. I am a landscaping and excavation contractor and owner of Greenscapes LLC. My wife Kirsten and kids Elise and Chase are so thankful for access to open spaces and trails surrounding Whitefish.

Julie Baldridge, Treasurer

I have served on the WLP Board of Directors since 2015. As a fourth generation Montanan and outdoor enthusiast, I have long been passionate about access to public land and all of the outdoor recreational opportunities that makes Whitefish a wonderful place to live and raise a family. I have been volunteering and supporting non-profits in the Flathead Valley for many years and currently serve as a board member on the North Valley Hospital Foundation and the University of Montana Foundation. I am a proud alumni of the University of Montana and the co-owner, along with her husband Summerfield, of Kootenai Resource Corporation. We have lived in Whitefish for 30 years, raising three daughters here.  When I’m not working or volunteering, I can usually be found hiking on the Whitefish Trail with my two dogs.

Fred Jones, Secretary

I grew up in rural Vermont and have always had a great appreciation and love for the natural outdoors. Since my childhood, I have been an active participant in a wide variety of related activities. The outdoors has been an essential and very positive part of my life. In 2004, I came to Whitefish to manage the Whitefish Mountain Resort during a period of transition. A couple of years after retiring, I accepted an invitation to join the board of Whitefish Legacy Partners. I accepted the challenge to ensure that outdoor recreation and learning experiences on natural lands surrounding Whitefish would be available to our community in perpetuity.  It has been a rewarding experience for me to be a small part of the huge community effort that has and continues to support the original vision of creating a public connection around Whitefish Lake of trails, open spaces and important places that will remain forever.

Diane Conradi, Ex Officio

I am an attorney focusing on real estate, business, water, and environmental law, but my specialty and my passion is creating, protecting and enhancing front-country outdoor recreation opportunities on public and private land. As a co-founder of Whitefish Legacy Partners, my vision and persistence has helped protect thousands of acres of important wildlife habitat and working forests all the while ensuring permanent public access on the Whitefish Trail.

Leslie Hunt

I moved to Whitefish in 1993 after graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a Bachelors of Science in Natural Resources. I have worked in the coffee industry for 30 years and currently enjoy working for Montana Coffee Traders. I have been a devoted volunteer of the Whitefish Trail project since inception and served on the initial ‘Trail Runs Through It’ Planning Committee in 2006. I have been on the WLP Board of Directors since 2014 and served as Board Chair from 2015-2018. My husband Will and I have enjoyed raising our two daughters in Whitefish where access to the outdoors is so close. We enjoy skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, and walking our dogs, especially on the Whitefish Trail!

Ed Lieser

After a 30 year career with the U.S. Forest Service, working in timber, silviculture and fire management, in north Idaho and the Flathead National Forest, I continued working as a consulting forester in private practice. In addition to forestry consulting, I became involved in nonprofit organizations in Whitefish and Flathead county as a volunteer and board member. In 2012 I was elected to the Montana House of Representatives, serving two terms representing Whitefish. My interest in natural resource management, ecological systems and environmental protection put me on legislative committees responsible for oversight of Montana’s fish, wildlife and parks, natural resources and the Environmental Quality Council. My wife Sue and I enjoy a growing family, outdoor adventures anywhere, and traveling to get there.

Henry Ricklefs

I am a retired forest industry executive who has lived in Whitefish for 25 years. I volunteer and give back to many community non-profits and also serve on the boards of Kalispell Regional Healthcare and the Whitefish Lake Institute. My wife Sue, and I moved to Montana from the Seattle area where we resided since graduating from Dartmouth College and the Amos Tuck School in the early ‘70s. We can often be found on the Whitefish Trail walking with our black lab, Milo, and chatting-it-up with other trail users.

Becky Smith-Powell

After completing a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Montana in Missoula, I did survey work for the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) and became a certified alpine ski instructor. I then migrated to the Flathead Valley and worked as a seasonal recreation specialist for Flathead National Forest. During the summer seasons, I maintained campgrounds and constructed trails. After a few years, I became Recreation Program Manager of Lone Pine State Park. During my time working for the State, I returned to college and completed my Master’s Degree in Recreation Management from the School of Forestry at the U of M. I was then hired by the Flathead National Forest, and throughout my 29 year career, I specialized in campground management, trails, special use permits, winter sports administration, wilderness management, wildland fire assignments, cattle allotments, mines and lands special uses. Currently retried, I spend my time enjoying forest trails, skiing, golfing, water activities, biking and volunteering for PEO, a women’s educational organization, and Friends of the Flathead Avalanche Center.