OUR TEAM

OUR TEAM

Francesca Santos

Francesca Santos

Program Officer

A Mojave High Desert native, Francesca’s passion for sustainability stems from her witnessing the damaging effects of extreme heat, drought, and flooding in her rural desert community. With roots in Northern Mexico, where her family owns a small ranch, Francesca understands the importance of protecting both the environment and livelihoods of rural workers, families and their communities.

Francesca is a dedicated advocate for rural communities, with a rich and varied background in economic justice and community development. Prior to joining RCP, Francesca served as a Program Officer on the Rural Economic Development team at LISC, where she implemented workforce initiatives that championed quality jobs, worker voice, and accessible benefits. Francesca’s unique perspective as a Chicana, formerly homeless youth, and daughter of a single-parent and immigrant household informs her work in building diverse, equitable, and inclusive rural economies.

In addition to her professional work, Francesca is a PhD student studying solidarity economies and a National Park enthusiast with a deep appreciation for disco music.

State Portfolio: AZ, CO, GA, IA, IL, IN, NC, NM, VA

Josh Ewing

Josh Ewing

RCP Director

Born and raised in western Nebraska, Josh has lived and worked in rural America most of his life. The Ewing family runs a cattle ranch that was severely damaged in a drought-induced wildfire in the summer of 2022, so Josh knows firsthand the impacts a changing climate has on rural folks. Josh and his wife Kirsten live in the tiny town of Bluff, Utah, where he serves as a volunteer firefighter and EMT.

Prior to helping launch the Rural Climate Partnership, Josh dedicated the previous decade to working with Indigenous Tribes to protect Bears Ears National Monument, a culturally rich landscape at threat from oil drilling and uranium mining. In addition to conservation leadership, Josh has a background in public-interest communications and has developed a reputation as a strategic coalition builder able to work across party lines and cultural divides.

A climber, landscape photographer, and archaeology geek, Josh spends most of his free time exploring the canyons and mesas of southeast Utah.

Maria Doerr

Maria Doerr

Program Officer

Maria is a sixth-generation Missourian grateful to continue her long family legacy of land stewardship as a Program Officer at RCP. Her family home is on the same hillside where her great-great-grandfather drove his dairy cattle across the frozen Missouri River many years ago. Growing up low-income, asthmatic, and downwind from a coal-fired power plant informs the equity- and health-centered approach Maria brings to rural-led climate solutions at RCP.

Previously, Maria advanced conservation, water, and energy projects with nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies as an independent consultant and with Redstone Strategy Group. Before that, she worked with Conservation International Mexico on watershed conservation and sustainable agriculture. Maria has a technical background in civil and environmental engineering from Stanford University. 

Maria also serves as a City Councilmember and is passionate about expanding civic engagement. Outside of work, Maria can be found rock climbing, salsa dancing, and pie-baking.

State Portfolio: AK, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, PA, WI, WV

Scott Laeser

Scott Laeser

Senior Working Lands Advisor

Scott grew up a block from Lake Michigan in Southeast Wisconsin and spent countless hours on the beach or in the water.  With the Chiwaukee Prairie out his back door, a garden in the backyard, and hunting and fishing taking him outside throughout the year, Scott developed an appreciation of and passion for Wisconsin’s land and water resources. 

Scott and his wife run a certified organic vegetable farm in Southwest Wisconsin, putting an array of regenerative agriculture practices to work on their farm.  Canoeing across the flooded stream on his farm to harvest crops and experiencing first hand the complex disease and pest challenges farmers face have driven home the urgency of addressing climate change. 

Previously, Scott worked as Water Program Director for Clean Wisconsin, with an emphasis on agriculture, water quality and drinking water protection.  He worked closely with agricultural and environmental groups, state agency officials, and lawmakers from both parties to confront Wisconsin’s water quality challenges. Scott has worked on water, climate change, and natural resources science, policy, and advocacy for 20 years.  He spends his “free time” teaching his two young children about the birds, plants, and animals that call their farm home and occasionally playing in the rivers, lakes, and streams that make Wisconsin special.

 

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