About Us

Our Vision
The Muddy Branch Alliance’s vision is for the surrounding streams, lakes, forests and parks to be teeming with life, safe for families, pets and wildlife to enjoy and to have a community connected to preserving the area’s intrinsic beauty.

Our Mission
Our goal is to protect the vulnerable natural environment that surrounds this stream, the Muddy Branch. From Gaithersburg, through North Potomac and eventually to the Potomac River, we want to ensure that the natural spaces in our area flourish into the future. As stewards of the Muddy Branch Watershed, we are committed to maintaining its’ water quality, natural habitat and ecological well-being. We do this by bringing neighbors together to build awareness, improve its natural habitat, and enhance the community’s enjoyment of the many creeks and streams within the watershed.

Our Neighbors 
The Muddy Branch watershed is bordered on the north by Seneca Creek, and on the south By Watts Branch. We work closely with our sister organizations in both watersheds, Seneca Creek Watershed Partners and Watts Branch Watershed Alliance.

The Board
The Muddy Branch Alliance started in 2011 as an all volunteer group of concerned citizens. The Muddy Branch Alliance counts on the participation of citizens who share our vision. Please support us by volunteering at an activity, by attending a meeting or through financial donation. We don’t have a budget for any staffing and count on our volunteer members and board to achieve results.

Janette Rosenbaum

Janette Rosenbaum arrived in the Muddy Branch watershed in 2019, but has been working on sustainable gardening issues since 2011. She has a Master's degree in environmental studies, with a focus in communications, and works in the communications department of the Izaak Walton League. She can almost see the Muddy Branch from her office. Outside of the office, Janette watches birds, practices identifying plants, and creates yarn crafts. [Board member since 5/1/2020]

Karl Van Neste
Vice President

Karl was born and raised in the Washington Metropolitan Area; his family has lived around the Chesapeake Bay for hundreds of years.  He has a Master’s in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s from the University of Virginia.  Karl, his wife, and two children love the trails, streams, history, and wildlife along the Potomac.  He has been an active participant and supportive voice for the Muddy Branch Alliance.  Karl is proud of his watershed cleanup work, student mentoring, tree planting, and Muddy Branch web site and mapping work.  He is humbled to be selected as a Board member and is pleased to work with such an engaged and passionate team. [Board member since 5/1/2018]

Mary Hlavinka

Mary Hlavinka has been involved in picking up trash, working with the weed warriors, testing water quality and enjoying the beauty of the local streams and parks. She was awarded Volunteer of they Year in 2019.  Performing the role of Treasurer allows her to use her financial skills and provide valuable support to the Alliance. [Board member since 5/1/2019]

Pete Darmody

Pete Darmody grew up along the banks of the Northwest Branch (Stream Valley Park/Rachel Carson Park) in Silver Spring MD—hiked and played there extensively. He loves water in all forms! He has worked as summer and temporary intern at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton MD (MNCPPC park). Currently (since 1978) Project management (specifically CPM scheduling) for a construction program. He has lived in the Muddy Branch watershed/ Seneca Creek divide (Kentlands) since 1993. He majored in Ornamental Horticulture, minored in Geography with coursework: Meteorology, Soil Science, Landscape Architecture and received his BS from UMD College Park. His interests include gardening, running, railroad transportation, bicycling, moderate kayaking, history and hiking - especially streams and the Potomac. [Board member since 5/1/2016]

Martha Jaffe
Martha Jaffe is proud and happy to be a new member of this inspiring group of people. As an Adopt-A-Road volunteer, her interests lie largely in keeping litter off of our roads, trails, and waterways. She does this by "plalking", which is picking up litter while walking, preferably with a friend or two. Another strong interest is stopping litter before it begins by encouraging everyone to secure household trash in tied bags, and shuttered securely in bins. Martha would like to raise awareness of these simple habits, believing that most people do not litter purposefully. (Windy trash collection days are often the culprit!) Another passion (yes, passion) is kitchen composting, for the benefit of keeping kitchen waste out of our water sanitation systems, as well as having nutrient-rich "black gold" for our gardens. She would like to raise awareness for this simple,and easily adoptable habit as well. Martha is an avid gardener interested in maintaining a pond, native plants, pollinator-friendly gardens, and the avoidance of insecticides. Truthfully, she is also just happy to grow anything that the deer do not eat. Martha and her husband Jed have walked, plalked, and cherished The Muddy Branch Woods behind their home for 27 years. Jed is an avid beekeeper and they are the proud parents of two fine sons. When she isn't plalking she is a Substitute Teacher for Montgomery County Public Schools. [Board member since 5/1/2021]
Julia Rasnake, LCSW-C
Communications Chairperson

Julia Rasnake grew up wandering the Muddy Branch trails, and has worked and volunteered in outdoor and arts education in several countries. Julia is a psychotherapist with a masters in clinical social work, who focuses on trauma recovery in young adults and adolescents and offers nature-based/eco-therapy at her practice, Inner Wellbeing Therapy. Julia sees a strong link between our connection to nature and our mental health, and volunteers to promote community engagement and getting kids and families outside, and to support re-wilding and native ecosystems as a Maryland Master Naturalist. Julia loves making art, going on long runs, reading books, and long walks in the woods with her dog. [Board member since 5/1/2021]

Inner Wellbeing Therapy
Lauren Hubbard
Lands Green Waters Clean Program Manager

Lauren Hubbard manages our Lands Green Waters Clean Initiative with a focus on community engagement around storm water management. She moved to the area from New York where she served as the Executive Director of the Long Island Explorium and served as a board member and chair of the Education and Outreach committee for the Long Island Native Plant Initiative. Lauren’s works in Maryland focuses on sustainable landscape design and program management, she works with several not-for-profits in the region to support sustainable landscaping and restoration efforts. Lauren holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and is a certified Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional and Master Gardener.

Guillermo Irahola
Technology Advisor

Guillermo Irahola serves as our Technology Advisor and Webmaster, bringing a deep passion for promoting the public use of parks within the watershed. Born and raised in Bolivia, his dedication to conservation began during his formative years when his family spent most of their childhood vacations exploring the natural wonders of the Los Yungas province in La Paz, Bolivia.
As he progressed in his career, Guillermo worked with the Bolivian Forest Action Planning Commission, where he actively contributed to the implementation of technology solutions. After completing his studies, he continued his commitment to conservation by collaborating with organizations like Conservation International.
Currently, Guillermo holds the role of Chief Technology Officer at a technology provider serving the federal government. In addition to his extensive practical experience, he has earned a Project Management degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Roger Rasnake

After a career in anthropology and in program evaluation in international development, Roger Rasnake has a growing interest in understanding the complex interactions of habitat and species in the Eastern forests. Living next to Muddy Branch Park and hiking through its woods almost daily, he feels that it is critical that we continue to educate our neighbors and advocate for our green spaces to foster a rich natural environment and preserve and enhance what we have. In 2021, he became a Maryland Master Naturalist and recently led the work to renew a park pollinator garden and to establish a new native plant sale for the fall. His hobbies include gardening with native plants and learning how these plants interact to create an environment for insects, birds and animal life. Other interests are hiking, “Nordic walking,” and cooking.

Toni Bailey
Landscape Designer

We are fortunate to work with Toni Bailey as a consultant for most of our Demonstration Projects. She is a graduate of the Landscape Design program at George Washington University and in 2008 completed a Master’s degree in Landscape Design at GW, with a concentration on sustainable landscape design.

John Stokke
Honorary Board Member (deceased)

For 20 years, John Stokke quietly picked up the Muddy Branch watershed in and around Malcolm King Park.  That included an average of 10,000 cans and bottles per year, and in one year over 17,000.  The multitudes of other trash items included diapers, furniture, bikes, clothing.  We formally accepted him as Honorary Board member in 2018.

Katie Lucas
Board Member
Katie Lucas enjoys walking the Muddy Branch with her son and husband, and organizing activities to raise awareness of the local watershed with her neighbors. Born and raised in Chesterfield, Virginia, Katie grew up exploring the woods and parklands behind her house as a child and was thrilled to find the same experience for her son upon moving to the Lakelands in 2016. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Katie is a Federal consultant specializing in data analytics and project management since 2006. [Board Member since 5/1/2017]
Lisa Cline
Board Member
Lisa Cline is a writer, parent, and quality-of-life advocate for Montgomery County families. She is passionate about many causes, including preserving green spaces like the Muddy Branch Watershed. Her home backs up to the beautiful Muddy Branch Woods, which her family uses for recreation, exploration, escape, Volksmarching and boy scout projects. "As the County booms with development, our dwindling number of green spaces need advocates now more than ever." [Board member since 5/1/2020]
Laurie-Anne Sayles
Board Member
Born and raised in Maryland, Laurie-Anne Sayles lives in Gaithersburg, MD with her daughter Mikaylah, a rising senior at the University of MD, College Park. Laurie-Anne earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland School of Public Health and went on to earn a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Baltimore School of Public Affairs. She previously worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the National Institutes of Health. Before she came to the NIH, she spent three years as a Public Policy Fellow with the Schaefer Center for Public Policy working on a wide range of state and local policy issues ranging from preventing health disparities to tax policy reform. Sayles has sought opportunities to work with residents and stakeholders to improve community input and to ensure residents play an integral role in decision-making that affects the community. Laurie-Anne works with the Muddy Branch Alliance to raise awareness among residents about environmental issues. [Board Member since 5/1/2017]

Wall of Honor
Paul Hlavinka (Founder), Sandy Doveikis (FM), Becky Curtis (FM), Larry Speicher (FM), Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin, Mike Honig (FM), Rhoda Shulman, Cynthia Pansing, Julie Gilson (FM), Michelle Cooper, Eileen Conley, Leah Miller (FM), Meredith Strider, Jennie Howland (FM), Bragi Valgeirsson – Past Directors and Founding Member(FM).

We do provide opportunities for interns to gain experience in the environmental sciences.

Justin Culotta (2020) – Stream Monitoring
Joey Ferguson (2020-2021) – Salt Monitoring
Pierre Zeineddin (2020-2021) – Salt Monitoring
Michaela Belkin (2020) – Communications & Social Media
Frankie Willard (2019) – Stream monitoring
Tarun Senthil (2019) – Youth Exploration of Gaithersburg Parks
Chris Barron (2018) – Trail Monitoring
Jenna Haley (2018-2019) – Media and Publicity Intern
Kenza Tahri (2018) – Using video to Engage the Community
Quintin Nguyen (2016-2018) – Mapping the trail
Sajan Mistry and Jack Beautz (2015) – Trail awareness
Courtney Watson (2015) – Invasive awareness through Art
Chantal Agnew (2014) – Water Quality Monitoring
Tamara Heiselmeyer (2012/2013) – Volunteer Engagement
Alice Wu (2013) – Engagement of Youth
Amanda Tritinger (Summer Intern 2012) – Tree Initiative
Cally Deppen (Summer Intern 2012) – Tree Initiative
Mark Adams (Intern 2012/2013) – Stream Monitoring
Nicole Conden (Intern 2012) – Tree Initiative and Storm Drain Marking

Recognition Awards
City of Gaithersburg Environmental Award Winner 2012-2023
Received Community Volunteer Award (Outstanding Service Award) from the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA) in 2017.
Received Stream & Park Cleanup Volunteer Proclamation from County Councilmember Riemer in 2016
Received the City of Gaithersburg “Organization of the Year” in 2015
Received Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection’s 2013 Community Leadership Award.
2012 Received Izaak Walton League Nation Save Our Streams Award for leadership during our first year in 2011. Chesapeake Bay Trust Organization of the Month, October 2011

Contact Us

Mailing address: 19 Turnham Lane, Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (240) 424-5392