Directors and Officers

The Western Cave Conservancy is governed by a twelve Director Board, with day-to-day business conducted by the four officers and various committee chairs. The directors (along with the Advisory Board) bring scientific expertise in the disciplines of archaeology, biology, geology and hydrology, as well as professional cave resource management skills and cave rescue teaching credentials. All the directors and officers are longtime cavers, whose enjoyment of the underground has gone beyond recreational caving to become a major avocation and even a profession.


Bruce Rogers Bruce Rogers, President
Bruce Rogers began cave exploring in New England in the 1950's. Since then he has explored the basements of North and Mesoamerica in addition to many of the island nations of the Pacific Basin. His wide-ranging spelean interests encompass mineralogy, geology & geography, paleontology, cartography, and history. He is the author of numerous publications on caves and related subjects, usually illustrated with his own photographs and drawings. Bruce is a Fellow of several scientific societies and foundations. A member of the National Speleological Society (NSS) since 1962, Bruce has served as Chairman, Secretary, and Member at Large of several NSS groups as well as NSS Western Regional Secretary. Since the early 1970s, increasingly restricted access to caves prompted his interest in conservation. As long-time supporter of conservation efforts, he brings a nation-wide perspective to the Western Cave Conservancy board. His interest in caves led to a formal education in geology and a position as a field geologist, scientific illustrator, and web designer at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA, as well as cooperative earth science programs at the National Park Service and NASA. Now retired from Federal service, Bruce is currently President and Acquisitions Director for the WCC. 

Martin Haye Martin Haye, Vice President
Martin has been involved with WCC in various capacities since its inception. His roles have included co-incorporator, Director, President, Stewardship Director, and two stints as Treasurer (the last is his current role). He's one of those unusual people that actually enjoys filling out government forms -- go figure!

Note: Martin's legal name is Robert Charles Haye. When you've got a few minutes, you can ask him the story of his name.


Marianne Russo Marianne Russo, Secretary, Director of Stewardship, and Weller Preserve Manager
Marianne has been an active caver and NSS member since 1982. Now retired, she spent her profession career as an archeologist, managing the Sacramento office of the California Archeological and Historical Resources Inventory for 25 years. She has participated in numerous field surveys and excavations and has taught summer field schools. Marianne has also served as Chairman and Secretary of the Mother Lode Grotto and Vice-chair of the Western Region of the National Speleological Society. She has assisted in training many novice cavers and teaching vertical caving techniques through the years. Marianne also is a National Cave Rescue Commission Instructor who has helped conduct numerous cave rescue training seminars since 2004.


Neil Marchington Neil Marchington, Special Projects Director
When not exploring the depths of the Great Basin, Neil is a Deputy Sheriff in Deschutes County, Oregon.






Chuck Chavdarian Chuck Chavdarian, Land Research Director
Although a native of Michigan, Chuck has lived in California most of his life. He has been involved in caving for over 20 years. Chuck has served as Vice-Chairman and Chairman of Diablo Grotto, and is a member of the NSS, the CRF, the CCH, and the WCC. He has been a WCC Advisor, and is a member of the Windeler Committee. He has caved throughout the United States, including Hawaii, and internationally in Canada, England, Wales, the Czech Republic, and Armenia (his ancestral homeland). One of his passions has been his ongoing exploration and photo-documentation of the caves of Armenia. In 2007, he organized the first NSS expedition to Armenia, and has made subsequent trips in 2010, 2011, and 2013. A trained chemist, Chuck has worked in the pharmaceutical industry as a pharmaceutical scientist, where he managed chemistry laboratories, and earlier in the chemical industry as a research chemist. He currently owns his own pharmaceutical consulting company, which also allows him the opportunity and flexibility to pursue his other interests – caving, photography (including 3D), astronomy, and travel.

Mark Bowers Mark Bowers, Public Relations Director
Mark began his caving experience while at Georgia Tech through the Georgia Tech Outdoor Recreation organization. He caved for several years in the TAG caves gaining experience in vertical and horizontal caves. At that time he learned about landowner relations and the value of maintaining good relations with landowners. Mark moved to California after graduating and joined Diablo Grotto. In the early 1990s Mark became interested in cave rescue and was the regional coordinator for the Western Region of the National Cave Rescue Commission from 1999 through 2007. Mark has been active with the caving community for conservation and training for most of his time in California.



Mike Spiess Mike Spiess, Treasurer
Mike has been caving in California since the late 1960’s. He has a long interest in conservation and has served as founding Board member and treasurer of the Sierra Foothill Conservancy and as a Board member and treasurer of the Northern California Regional Land Trust. Mike is a member of the Cave Research Foundation and has worked for many years at Lilburn Cave in Kings Canyon National Park and Lava Beds National Monument, both in California. He is an avid backpacker and fly fisherman. Mike is currently a Professor of Agricultural Education at California State University, Chico where he teaches and also manages a number of water conservation projects.


Geo Graening, Science Director

Geo holds a Ph.D. in Biology and a Master of Science in Engineering, and is a California Registered Environmental Assessor and an ISA Certified Arborist. Geo has 15 years of experience in environmental assessment and research, and has authored / co-authored numerous Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, NEPA Environmental Impact Statements and Environmental Assessments, CEQA Environmental Impact Reports and Initial Studies, FESA Biological Assessments and 1 Safe Harbor Permit, CESA Biological Resource Assessments, and Delineations of Waters of the US.

Geo also serves as an adjunct professor at California State University Sacramento and is an active researcher in the area of conservation biology and groundwater ecology. When not working, he enjoys dancing (Tango & West Coast Swing), kayaking, painting, and fiction writing.


Steven Johnson Steven Johnson, Communications Director
Although Steven grew up in Alabama, he somehow didn't really discover caving until moving to Oakland, California in 1998. Since then, he's served as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Diablo Grotto chapter of the NSS multiple times, and enjoys introducing beginners to caving. He's currently a Senior Engineer at Google.