Board Members

Board Member Responsibilities

Determine the organization’s mission and purpose. It is the board’s responsibility to create and review a statement of mission and purpose that articulates the organization’s goals, means, and primary constituents served.

Provide proper financial oversight. The board must assist in developing the annual budget and ensuring that proper financial controls are in place.

Ensure legal and ethical integrity and maintain accountability. The board is ultimately responsible for ensuring adherence to legal standards and ethical norms.

Ensure effective organizational planning. Boards must actively participate in an overall planning process and assist in implementing and monitoring the plan’s goals.

Recruit and orient new board members and assess board performance. All boards have a responsibility to articulate prerequisites for candidates, orient new members, and periodically and comprehensively evaluate its own performance.

Enhance the organization’s public standing. The board should clearly articulate the organization’s mission, accomplishments, and goals to the public and garner support from the community.

Determine, monitor, and strengthen the organization’s programs and services. The board’s responsibility is to determine which programs are consistent with the organization’s mission and to monitor their effectiveness.


All Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Board meetings are open to the public. You can find the meeting schedule on the Board Meetings Page

Joan Antle

Joan Antle







Joan Antle is a former speech and hearing therapist and elementary teacher.

At present, Joan is an Adopt-A-Beach and Heritage Trail Ambassador and is a school presenter for the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department’s pedestrian/bicycle safety program. Joan has taken on the job of mail coordinator for Friends to collect the donated monies for Friends’ brochures which are available at various Park sites.

“Unspoiled area” is the key term to be highlighted in serving on Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Board. Joan feels it is extremely necessary to stay on top of what is going here at present and to be vigilant about the future of the area. As we want to preserve this special place for present and future generations to use and enjoy, keeping the area pristine, safe, but welcoming, are natural priorities. Joan enjoys sharing her respect and love of the area with others and wants to be a part of keeping the area “The most beautiful place in America.”

Joan received an associate degree from Delta College, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, and a master’s degree from Indiana University.

Lynn Aleksov

Lynn Aleksov retired as an executive of PNC bank in 2020 and relocated to northern Michigan. She and her husband purchased a flower farm a stones throw from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. Prior to retirement, Lynn enjoyed a 40 year career in financial services leading sales and risk management teams in wholesale banking and payments. Her experience includes client acquisition/relationship development, technology/cyber risk, business operations/resiliency programs and mergers/acquisitions. Lynn has an undergraduate degree from Colorado State University and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Business.

While working, Lynn held long-standing leadership roles with non-profit organizations. For 12 years Lynn served on the board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland. She co-chaired the Governance Committee and was a member of the Executive Committee. Lynn served six years with an industry payments association board and chaired the Risk Committee for four years.

Lynn has been involved with the Cuyahoga National Park (Cleveland Ohio) and has participated in their philanthropy programming. Lynn and her husband have deep roots in Michigan. They have a cabin in the UP of Michigan and had previously lived in Grand Rapids. Lynn is an exercise junkie and an avid hiker, kayaker, and general outdoor sports enthusiast. She walks the trails of Sleeping Bear Dunes several times a week and is committed to give back to help preserve this wonderful resource for all to enjoy.

Bonnie Bastian


Bonnie is thrilled to be the Communications Director for the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes! A native of Cincinnati, she has been visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes since childhood when her beloved aunt purchased a home in Glen Arbor. She is thrilled to be a volunteer with the Friends where she can use her communications experience to inspire others to learn more about and support the organization and the Lakeshore. For Bonnie, Sleeping Bear Dunes has been a place to cultivate a love of the outdoors and spend time with family. She hopes to help others discover the wonders of the area and find how they can become involved. Personally, she continues to find new places to explore, like the Treat Farm Trail, and achieve her goal of running the entire Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.

Since graduating from Xavier University, Bonnie has cultivated a 20-year career in public relations and marketing. She has developed successful communications and public relations programs for organizations including Walt Disney World, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Visit Myrtle Beach, Cabela’s and Midmark. 

A passionate advocate of wildlife and the environment, Bonnie volunteers at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and earned a Master’s in biology at Miami University specifically to teach others about conservation. She also loves to hike, run half marathons and is on a quest to visit as many National Parks as possible. 

Kayle DiCicco

Kayle currently resides in Denver, CO, but grew up in Glen Arbor, running through the woods, canoeing the Crystal, and splashing in the waves on the shore of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  It is her family’s home away from home!  
A project manager by trade, Kayle finds her foundational passion is for our natural environment. Strategic and process-oriented, Kayle looks to support the organization by applying these skills in communicating objectives and activities in the area. She also recently completed a Master’s in Sustainability Leadership from Arizona State University. As an avid runner, Kayle loves the sanctuary and safety of the SBHT.  Friends’ work accomplished to date is a manifestation of the tireless work to preserve and promote the park and the local community – and she looks forward to supporting and continuing these efforts actively.

Rosemary holds a MA in educational administration, and a Doctor of Ministry degree. She recently retired as a hospice chaplain and continues a private practice as a spiritual director and retreat leader. Rosemary was also executive director of the Father Fred Foundation, in Traverse City, and was a board member for a number of years. Prior to this, she worked in educational support at a local Intermediate School District, providing professional development, program development, and management and budget oversight for local, state and federal programs and grants. She continues with not-for- profit board membership in the Traverse City area. Along with reading and hiking, she enjoys her time volunteering for beach clean-up with her husband, Greg, who is also a volunteer with Friends of Sleeping Bear.

She and her husband have a saying, “We’ll never say we wish we hadn’t gone to the Lakeshore today.” This sentiment has proven true over 37 years of living and raising our family in Leelanau County. Now with six grandchildren to share it with, along with their parents, they are drawn back to the area for the summers. Whatever the weather, month of the year, or time of day, spending time in Sleeping Bear National Lake shore will always be good for mind, body, and soul.

William Ichord

Bill Ichord is an international business advisor with over 40 years of business, association, and government experience. Mr. Ichord’s business experience includes 25 years in senior and executive level positions with three energy companies – ConocoPhillips Company, Sempra Energy, and Unocal Corporation. In each of these positions he had global responsibilities, yet with particular emphasis on energy project development in the U.S. and in East, Southeast, and South Asia. He also held senior positions with the American Chemistry Council and Burson-Marsteller. His nearly 10 years of government experience included legal counsel positions at the United States Senate and as an Environmental Specialist at the U.S. Department of Energy. Mr. Ichord is available to perform consulting work for clients through his independent firm, International Business Advisory. Mr. Ichord holds a BA in Political Science and Environmental Studies from Denison University in Ohio where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and a JD from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He also completed Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business Executive Management Program. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. He has served on numerous non-profit association boards including the Asia Society- Washington Center, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, and USINDO. Mr. Ichord is also an accomplished amateur classical musician, playing trumpet and flugelhorn in numerous musical organizations in the Washington, DC area and in Northern Michigan, as well as performing solo work. Bill and Judy, his wife of 42 years, have two adult children.

Laura Ann Johnson


Laura Ann is excited to be a member of the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Board to help visitors and locals alike have positive experiences in the national park in hopes they will want to protect it for the future. Laura Ann grew up outside of Chicago and spent 20 summers on the shores of Lake Michigan attending Camp Kohahna at Pyramid Point. Camp is where she gained a true love of nature and the outdoors.

After graduating from DePauw University in Indiana, Laura Ann pursued her Educational Studies degree by interning at Yellowstone National Park and then became the Director of the Leelanau Outdoor Center for a little over 5 years. There she continued to teach kids and adults of all ages the magic of Leelanau County and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore through character education and hands-on science. Laura Ann the Training Specialist at Cherry Republic. She loves to garden and do anything outside with her family Tom, Abner, Florence, and Pepper the dog.

Kerry Kelly, Chairman

Kerry grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, which fuels his interest in the agricultural history of the Sleeping Bear Dunes area. That may be why he enjoys mowing the fields in Port Oneida. It also motivates him to volunteer as a blacksmith in the Park’s blacksmith shop in Glen Haven.

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BS in Chemistry in 1974 and worked as a chemist, nuclear reactor operator, and research manager at Dow Chemical. He finished his career there as a new business development director after 30 years of service.

After retirement in 2004, Kerry moved to the Traverse City area and began volunteering for the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes. His projects ranged from helping develop the park’s website to Adopt-A-Beach and developing new hiking and biking trails. He prefers having a hammer in his hands to a computer at his fingertips, but he’s willing to do both.

He is the Past Chairman of the Board, Manager of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, Manager of the Echo Valley Trail project, Manager of the Kettles Trail project.

Steve Klein, Treasurer


Steve and his wife have been SLOCAL’s (Summer Locals) in Glen Arbor for the past ten years. They started visiting Glen Arbor over 20 years ago. They split their time between Ann Arbor, Glen Arbor, and Tucson, Arizona. 

Steve’s business career is quite diverse. With degrees in Architecture and an MBA from The University Michigan, Steve has worked for both large and small companies, in Marketing, Strategic Planning, and Finance. He spent the last 15 years of his career as a turn-around and re-structuring consultant helping to grow and transform several Michigan based companies. During this time, he and his wife owned Huron River Press, which published Michigan based books and several about Leelanau County. He currently serves on the board of a mid-sized Ann Arbor based company. 

Steve is a long-time board member of Recycle Ann Arbor, the non-profit responsible for recycling services in the city of Ann Arbor. He has been the past Chairman and is currently serving his 4th term as Treasurer. 

Steve is an active cyclist and has been a supporter of the Heritage Trail since its inception. He has served on the Friends Finance Committee for the past several years. 

Steve is looking forward to his continued involvement with the Finance Committee. He is particularly interested in helping with Corporate Governance issues as well as participating in any strategic planning and visioning sessions the board may undertake in the near future.

Gerald (Jerry) Peterson, Past Chair






Jerry Peterson and his family began visiting the Sleeping Bear area in the early 1980’s. As their appreciation of its natural beauty and recreational opportunities grew, they decided to make it their second home, and in 1986 they purchased a cottage on Big Glen Lake. Now retired, Jerry and wife Mary spend full time there from June through September, with frequent trips throughout the year, and their children visit as often as possible.

Jerry was born and raised in Michigan. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan, he became an officer in the U. S. Air Force. Following a four-year tour of duty, he returned to graduate school, earning a Master’s degree at Stanford University. He then joined Ford Motor Company, pursuing a career in information technology, from which he retired as Director, Information Technology Services at the end of 2000. In 2001, he became a member of the faculty at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, where he taught information technology as an adjunct professor until retiring from that role in April 2014.

Jerry enjoys bicycling, which is a near-daily activity for him in the summer, frequently on the Heritage Trail. He also loves sailing on Big Glen Lake and kayaking on the local lakes and rivers. Among the varied projects undertaken by the Friends, he is, of course, interested in the extension and completion of the Heritage Trail.

Laurie Pope






Laurie’s love for the outdoors began at a young age, foraging for mushrooms with her father and exploring the woods.  Her passion for outdoor activities has grown over the years, and is what brought her and her family to this beautiful area.  In 1995, Laurie, her husband Tom, and their two children moved to Empire, after her acceptance of a job offer through Traverse Bay Intermediate Schools.  Laurie has worked in special education for over 30 years and recently retired.

Shortly after retirement, Laurie became involved with the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes as a volunteer for the trail crew. She is an avid user of the trail, enjoying both biking and skiing. She has enjoyed working with the other volunteers keeping the trial clean and safe.  It is through these experiences that have strengthened her interest in the Park and its importance for everyone to enjoy. It is her hope to have a voice in the continued partnership between the Park and the organization to help facilitate new initiatives and ideas including co-chaired the accessibility program and continues to be involved with new initiatives to increase accessibility throughout the Park.

She has served on several committees including, the merchandise committee, grant writing committee, and logo wear committee. Laurie has also filled in as Co-Chairperson for the organization and has learned about the Board process. Her passion continues to be hands-on volunteering for programs such as the Track Chair and Trail Crew, as she enjoys being outside working with Park visitors and other volunteers.

Brennan Sang

Brennan grew up in Southwest Michigan and spent most of his time outside. After marrying his wife, Rachel, they moved to Montana and fell in love with Public Land. While in Montana, Brennan began working for Trout Unlimited. He currently serves as Senior Director of Brand Strategy and Services. After having two children, they moved back to Michigan. They chose the Sleeping Bear area to be close to family and public lands. Brennan is a fly angler, a musician an avid conservationist and a dedicated father.

Natalia Szymczak

Natalia Szymczak is half data nerd and half budding naturalist, which makes perfect sense as she is an avid birder. She hikes, runs, bikes, x-country skis, and SCUBA dives. In addition, she is a certified yoga teacher.
Her father introduced the family to the Sleeping Bear Dunes in the early ‘90’s. He started visiting Leelanau and Benzie Counties before the national park even existed. She started visiting multiple times a year with her husband about 25 years ago and is very happy to make her home in Empire. The crystal-clear water of the protected lakeshore, the changing landscape every season, the trails, flora and fauna rival even the most exotic places she’s visited. She is grateful for this amazing park and for the Friends that help support it. She strongly believes in the Friends’ mission. Her copy of the Friends’ Wildflowers Guide is proudly very wrinkled from frequent use. 
Natalia is a former Chicago Public Schools art teacher and spent a little more than the last half of her 20+ year career leading data analysis and strategic planning in various administrative roles. She earned a BFA from The Art Institute of Chicago concentrating on figure drawing and illustration. She wants to use some of her extra time illustrating in the SBD.

She is currently a staff member of the Friends assisting with the platform that manages member and volunteer data.

Suzanne Thelen


Suzanne moved to Empire in 2019 where she enjoys rowing, kayaking, hiking and volunteering with the Friends of Sleeping Bear and the national park supporting Piping Plover conservation efforts and co-chairing the Friend’s Dark Sky initiative. During her career, Suzanne worked in politics supporting state legislators, a reporter, PR Director, Vice President of Marketing and Communication, and the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. She retired from the State at the end of 2022 as Communication Director and Senior Policy Advisor for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and is happy to have the time to dedicate to serving the Friends as a member of the Board.

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