Nearby Nature Board


Dan Buckler

Steering Committee Chair, Urban Forester

A transplant from Ohio, Dan is an urban forester with the Department of Natural Resources and a longtime Nearby Nature advocate. After finishing his undergraduate education, he spent a summer working in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with the Student Conservation Association and the U.S. Forest Service.  He then did his master’s thesis on post-fire forest regeneration and worked for the Nature Conservancy in western Virginia.  He enjoys backpacking, canoeing, baseball, comic books, and cinema. He also sits on the Friends of Havenwoods board.

Dennis Grzezinski

Environmental Lawyer, UEC Board Member

 For over 35 years, Dennis has practiced law in Wisconsin as a civil litigator and environmental lawyer. He has been instrumental in countless environmental legal actions that have transformed lives and landscapes.  He previously served as senior counsel with Midwest Environmental Advocates, served as a Commissioner of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, and currently serves on the boards of the Urban Ecology Center and the Blue Heron Wildlife Sanctuary.

Karen Samelson

 Freelance Copy Editor/ Grant Writer

Karen went on her first Sierra Club outing when she was 6.  She now serves as Communications Chair for the Sierra Club’s Great Waters Group.  After working for many years as a newspaper copy editor, she now does freelance copy editing, as well as grant writing for local nonprofits, including Nearby Nature. When she is not busy working and volunteering, she enjoys exploring special places by hiking, bicycling, kayaking, camping, and cross-country skiing. 

Demetria Smith

 Non-Profit Management Executive

Demetria Smith is a nonprofit executive and entrepreneur focused on activating great ideas for the people and the planet. She has extensive experience leading new initiatives and serves on a number of boards. Ms. Smith believes the environmental commons is a critical social justice issue and invests tremendous energy both in her professional and personal life in helping to build our collective will & skill to create a healthy planet where everyone has the chance to thrive.

Sierra Taliaferro

Naturalist, Birder, Outdoor Adventurer

Sierra is an outdoor educator and bird enthusiast who works to promote diversity in urban conservation and encourage local community involvement and inclusion in decision-making processes  around our natural resources and urban environments. She has worked tirelessly in many outdoor endeavors, including shoreline restoration, bird monitoring and outdoor education.

David Thomas


David Thomas is a retired, award winning visual communications professional and outdoorsperson.  He has led countless group outings to Quetico and around Wisconsin, including the Apostle Islands.  While on the board of Friends of Lincoln Park, David became an advocate for Lincoln Creek. This led him to take on the role of project coordinator for Nearby Nature Milwaukee which he left in 2024.  David was honored with the Sierra Club Great Waters Group’s “Environmental Hero” award for 2019,  and in 2021 shared the Sierra Club Wisconsin “Wildflower” Award with Karen Samelson.

Wyman Winston

Retired Executive

Wyman  was Executive Director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) from January 2011 to January 2019. Winston worked in city planning in Chicago, and later as the Deputy Director of the Atlanta Development Authority and Deputy Director and COO of the Portland Development Commission. Winston moved to Wisconsin and spent 14 years at WHEDA as a Senior Manager.  He serves on many boards and committees aimed at revitalizing Milwaukee’s urban areas