About the Board
Aaron Watson is the Board Chair and Chapter Director of IDA Colorado. He works for Solar Energy International, and lives in Paonia, Colorado. He has been a member of IDA Colorado since 2018 and served as the Western Colorado Regional Coordinator until joining the Board as chair in 2022. To IDA Colorado he brings a background in engineering and environmental science, and experience working with nonprofits.
Aaron’s dark-sky advocacy includes work with “Dark Skies Paonia” toward getting a Dark Sky Community recognition for the town of Paonia. He’s also working toward dark-sky recognition for the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and other areas throughout western Colorado.
He enjoys stargazing, riding his electric bicycle year round, and playing music with his friends. He has a knack for finding special astronomical alignments, and is author and photographer of an annual lunar astronomical events calendar.
Aaron likes to remember his experience working with the town of Paonia and the local utility to choose a responsible, low-color-temperature option for replacing the town’s streetlights.
Deborah Price is the Natural History Program Specialist with Boulder County Parks & Open Space, and lives in Loveland, Colorado. She has been a member of the IDA Colorado Board since the beginning of 2022. To IDA Colorado she brings experience as an environmental educator, and a background in journalism and public relations.
Deborah’s dark-sky advocacy includes her series of dark-sky presentations to the general public, as a part of her work with Boulder County and through other various agencies.
She enjoys hiking, writing, photography, and astronomy.
Deborah fondly remembers being overwhelmed with the beauty of the night sky, when first hiking in the mountains.
F. Jack Eastman
F. Jack Eastman is a retired optical design specialist, and lives in Sheridan, Colorado. He has been on the IDA Colorado Board since 2019. To IDA Colorado he brings a wealth of experience giving presentations in a number of settings. He has been a leader in many organizations including the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, the Griffith Observatory planetarium (Los Angeles), and the the Denver Astronomical Society.
Jack’s dark-sky advocacy includes talks with city councils, planetarium audiences, star parties and other public events.
He enjoys cycling, outdoor activities, telescope design and making, collecting “oldies,” and astronomy.
Jack remembers advocating (as he says, “howling”) for better lighting standards in Sheridan, Colorado.
Kevin Bedard is a substance abuse counselor and lives in Pine, Colorado. He has been an IDA member since 2010, and a member of the IDA Colorado Board since 2019. To IDA Colorado he brings experience in the dark-sky advocacy effort.
Kevin’s dark-sky advocacy includes presentations at Jefferson County open space locations.
He enjoys photography, music listening, building with electronics, hiking, camping, and his cats.
Kevin especially remembers an experience camping at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and joining over 300 people to watch a lunar eclipse.
Linda Kahananui is a semi-retired math and science teacher, with experience in instructional design. She lives in Conifer, Colorado. She has been a member of the Board of IDA Colorado since 2020. To IDA Colorado she brings teaching and presentation skills, writing skill, experience as an indigenous storyteller, and experience as an amateur astronomer. She serves on several committees for IDA Colorado.
Linda’s dark-sky advocacy includes work as a guide for the Maunakea Visitors Station in Hawai’i, and many IDA Colorado events.
She enjoys hiking, backpacking, cycling, photography, snowshoeing, snowboarding, astronomy, sewing, art, and singing. Her social media posts of her outdoor adventures often include the hashtag, #brownpeoplecamping. Read more about Linda at the main IDA website: https://www.darksky.org/advocate-opens-the-door-to-awareness/
Linda fondly remembers looking through her uncle’s telescope in Hawai’i as a 12-year old, and has never stopped observing the night sky.
Martie Semmer is a retired educator and consultant, who specialized in “Kindergarten – Grade 12 Spanish Language.” She lives in Blue River, Colorado. Martie has been a member of the IDA Colorado Board since 2021. She serves on the IDA Colorado “Public Policy Task Force” and in the role as Western Colorado Regional Coordinator. To IDA Colorado she brings experience in networking and reaching out at local, state, and national levels.
Martie’s dark-sky advocacy includes leadership in the effort to get the Governor to proclaim June 2021 “Dark Sky Month” in Colorado. She represents IDA Colorado in the “Care for Colorado Coalition.” As a member of the “Public Policy Taskforce,” she works with many governmental organizations in Colorado.
She enjoys swimming, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, camper van trips, spending quiet time in nature during all seasons of the year, along with her newly discovered passion of experiencing the night sky and doing what she can to advocate on behalf of protecting and preserving the nighttime environment.
Martie’s connection with the night sky began in October 2019. She attended two memorable star parties at the Smokey Jack Observatory in Westcliffe and has been reaching for the stars ever since.
Richard OBrien is a computer network engineer, and works for the federal agency NOAA. He lives in Boulder, Colorado. He has been a member of IDA Colorado’s Board since 2019. To IDA Colorado he brings experience as a college professor, writing skills, and computer knowledge. He serves as IDA Colorado’s “Communications Coordinator,” editing the chapter newsletter and website.
Richard’s dark-sky advocacy includes dark-sky presentations and demonstrations throughout Colorado. He’s worked with many Dark Sky Place recognition proposal teams and advocated with a number of governmental bodies. He founded the “Lights Out Colorado” program to help migratory birds by reducing light pollution.
He enjoys hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, bicycling, and stargazing.
Richard remembers many exquisite stargazing experiences, including one at Dinosaur National Monument.
Rick Angell is a retired lawyer, and lives in Golden, Colorado. Rick has been a member of the IDA Colorado Board since 2021. To IDA Colorado he brings legal experience, and experience as an amateur astronomer and presenter. He serves as IDA Colorado’s Treasurer.
Rick’s dark-sky advocacy includes dark sky content in numerous astronomical presentations.
He enjoys his grandchildren, astronomy, biking, and fishing.
Rick remembers the dark skies of his childhood in New Mexico and Colorado.
Dr. Robert Stencel is a retired astronomy professor, and lives in Denver. He has been a leader of IDA in Colorado for over 28 years. He was formerly the Chair of the Colorado chapter. He currently serves on the IDA Colorado Policy committee, among others. To IDA Colorado he brings a wealth of experience as a college professor.
Dr. Bob’s dark-sky advocacy includes promoting a successful state-level dark-sky law (2000), and frequent talks and other dark-sky outreach (for nearly three decades). In his work as a college professor, he trained science majors to make, interpret, and report dark-sky measurements using various tools.
He enjoys stargazing, and working with telescopes and other instruments.
Dr. Bob remembers an experience working with a Denver hotel on responsible lighting, and the electrician’s epiphany of the negative impacts of poor lighting.
Robin DeGrassi James
Robin DeGrassi James is the Director of Development Operations for the Denver Scholarship Foundation. She lives in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. She has been a member of the IDA Colorado Board since 2021. To IDA Colorado she brings expertise and experience in nonprofit fundraising. She serves on IDA Colorado’s Fundraising Committee.
Robin’s dark-sky advocacy work is emerging, as she is new the the IDA effort.
She enjoys bird watching, photography, reading, and travelling.
Robin likes to remember stargazing on her 2019 trip to New Zealand, at Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.
Ryan Parker is a realtor, and works for RE/MAX Alliance Good Neighbor Living. He lives in Castle Pines, Colorado. He was formerly Chair of the Colorado chapter. He’s been on the Board since 2019, and an IDA member for eight years. To IDA Colorado he brings his ability to work with people, and his Christian beliefs.
Ryan’s dark-sky advocacy includes eight years as an IDA member, and many accomplishments as Chair of the Colorado chapter.
He enjoys the great outdoors, stargazing, dark sky outreach events, traveling, camping, riding horses, going to the family ranch, restoring old trucks, shooting, hunting, fishing and spending quality time with family and friends.
Val Szwarc is a retired scientist and engineer from the atmospheric and space domain. He lives in Ridgway, in Ouray County, Colorado. He has been a member of the IDA Colorado Board since 2019. To IDA Colorado he brings his scientific, technological, and corporate governance expertise, and experience as an amateur astronomer and astrophotographer.
Val’s dark-sky advocacy includes research papers presented to IDA Annual General Meetings. Val has led the efforts to certify the Town of Ridgway and Top of the Pines recreation area in Ouray County as IDA Dark Sky Places. He has also assisted several small towns and parks in Western Colorado obtain their IDA Dark Sky certification.
He enjoys skiing, hiking, and exploring the outdoor spaces of western Colorado. He enjoys astrophotography through the lens of his camera and telescopes.
Val remembers his unique experiences of seeing the southern dark sky, including the Magellanic clouds, and numerous auroras below the Antarctic circle.