Maria Mircheva - Executive Director

Maria Mircheva has been the Executive Director of the Sugar Pine Foundation since July 2007. She first volunteered for the Sugar Pine Foundation during the 2006 field season, and took over the day to day operations of the organization after the Angora Fire in 2007.

Maria holds a Masters in Environmental Science and Management, with a focus on Conservation Policy, from UC Santa Barbara. Her undergraduate degree is in Business Economics, and she worked as a business consultant in the Silicon Valley before discovering her passion for environmental work. Maria currently juggles the demands of being a mom with those of the organization and her need to play outside as much as possible!


Frances McAninch - Project Manager

Frances has been working for the Sugar Pine Foundation since October 2015. She holds a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Sacramento and a BS in Home Economics/Interior Design from Southwest Texas State University.

In addition to education and design work, Frances has a broad range of non-profit experience. She has worked as a campaigner and fundraiser for the United Way of San Diego, San Diego, CA, Program Director for San Dieguito Boys and Girls Club, Encinitas, CA, grant writer and grant editor for Milagro Art Center, Prescott, AR and grant researcher and grant editor for Tahoe Prosperity Center, Incline Village, NV.

As a resident of Incline Village, NV, Frances is an active volunteer in her community and loves Tahoe and all the recreation it offers. She has skied Tahoe for twelve seasons and loves to climb, hike, snowshoe and kayak. “I was given the best advice for enjoying Tahoe “Get good gear and get out there”, my life has never been the same since.”


Martin Rubio - Social Media & Outreach Guru

Martin began as a volunteer for the Foundation in 2012, where he began by involving himself and friends, with tree plantings in his community. Being raised in South Lake Tahoe, and gaining a love for the environment, Martin realized the importance of doing work to help preserve the beauty of nature. He is the coordinator/translator for our new program "No Kid left Inside." A program which targets under privileged minorities and gets them out into nature. Martin was born in Mexico and immigrated to Lake Tahoe in 1995.

" If you pay close attention, nature is your finest teacher, " says Martin.

Martin has a background in making action sports films/online media, and graphic design all mainly based in the Tahoe Basin.


Tressa Gibbard Development Coordinator

Tressa Gibbard has been working for the Sugar Pine Foundation since January 2010 in the capacity of grant-writer, editor, design guru, outreach and fundraising organizer. Tressa holds a Bachelors degree from Penn State University, where she designed her own course of studies in Environmental Sustainability.

She has over six years' experience working as a field biologist throughout California and many other western states. She was introduced to the Sugar Pine Foundation as a participant in the 2006 Tahoe-Baikal Institute Summer Environmental Exchange program, and was previously a seasonal volunteer with SPF. When she's not saving the sugar pines, Tressa can generally be found climbing rocks and ice.




Hugh Denno - Naturalist Extraordinaire 

Hugh first interned with the Sugar Pine Foundation in 2009 as a tree climber and filmmaker; he produced "The Seedling."  He now assists during cone collection season as a tree climber and helps lead plantings in the spring and fall.  Hugh has worked in outdoor education since 2005 and is an expert naturalist; he has been known to fascinate adults and children alike on guided hikes and at plantings. Hugh holds B.A. degrees in Conservation Biology and Adventure Education from Prescott College.