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The Core Team


Ray Rasker, Ph.D., Executive Director

Ray has written widely on rural development and the role of environmental quality in economic prosperity, and is well known in policy circles in the U.S. and Canada. He has a Ph.D. from the College of Forestry, Oregon State University, M.Ag. from Colorado State University, and B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Washington.


Ben Alexander, Associate Director

Ben has extensive experience working with land management agencies, county commissioners, rural development specialists, and ranchers in the West. He has published in the areas of ranch economics, collaborative land management, and community development. Ben holds a B.A. from Tufts University, and an M.A. and M.Phil. from Yale University.

Patricia Gude photo

Patricia Gude

Patty specializes in research on land use, land management, and ecosystems. She works with Geographic Information Systems and is the principal programmer of software for mapping and exploring socioeconomic and geographic relationships. Patty holds a M.S. in Ecology from Montana State University and a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Florida.


Mark Haggerty

Mark applies economic and fiscal data to real-world land-use and development challenges. He has experience as a researcher, trainer, and facilitator in western communities with an emphasis on land use and community planning. Mark holds a B.A. in Economics and M.A. in Geography from the University of Colorado.


Megan Lawson, Ph.D.

Megan is an economist specializing in land use, non-market valuation, and statistical models for policy analysis. She has worked on a wide range of natural resource topics, including recreation, restoration, climate, and water policy. Megan holds a Ph.D. and Masters in Economics from the University of Colorado, and has a B.A. in Biology from Williams College.


Josh McCord

Josh has worked on a variety of research projects involving public lands in the western United States. He has experience in systems administration, database management, and research. Josh holds a B.S. in Economics from Montana State University.

Deb Grebenc

Deb Grebenc

Deb develops interactive web pages to convey key research findings and inform policy discussions.  She also provides programming support for the Excel-based EPS-HDT reporting tool.  Deb has been developing software solutions for more than 20 years.  She holds a B.A. from St. Olaf College.


Chris Mehl

Chris has extensive experience working in communications and on public policy issues across the West. He serves as a Bozeman City Commissioner and previously worked as Press Secretary for several Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and for the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Chris holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College.