Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors donate their time to the Texas Cave Management Association because they believe strongly in our mission and understand the importance of protecting caves and karst resources. They are well-established in the caving community and have numerous ties to other conservation agencies and nonprofits. Some have decades of experience serving on the boards of these conservancies. Our board members also come from a wide range of backgrounds, ensuring that we have a diverse culture and wide knowledge base to achieve our goals.

Interested in becoming a TCMA board member?

The TCMA Board of Directors is open to anyone who has a passion for conservation. At times, we may have a need for specific qualifications, such as land trust experience or nonprofit fundraising. However, as long as you have an interest in caving and cave conservation, you are welcome to apply.

Nominees are selected each summer, and elections are held in the fall. Directors are elected for three-year terms, and can serve for two terms in a row. After the second term, directors must take a mandatory break before running again. Officers must be board members and are elected by the board at the beginning of each year.

Some of the responsibilities of TCMA directors include:

  • attending at least 50% of board and member meetings,
  • representing TCMA in the community, such as presenting programs to civic or business groups,
  • participating in fundraising through events, presentations, grant writing, mailings, etc., and
  • participating in TCMA’s annual evaluation and planning efforts.

If you want to become part of the group that actively protects our Texas cave resources, and help to direct and shape our conservation efforts, please contact any of the directors below for more information about becoming a TCMA board member.

Officers

President

Joe Ranzau

Jan 2016 – Dec 2021
president@tcmacaves.org

In addition to serving previous terms as a director and an officer of TCMA, Joe Ranzau has also been an officer of the Texas Speleological Association and the Bexar Grotto.

Mr. Ranzau’s caving life started 19 years ago as a tour guide at Cave Without a Name. Some cavers from the Bexar Grotto would come out to go play in the stream passage. Mr. Ranzau wanted to know what was around the corner, so he joined in! From there, he quickly joined in the fun around the state at various projects like Kickapoo Caverns and Colorado Bend. Pat Copeland and other cavers lit a passion in him for cave conservation and restoration. This passion has taken him caving in many special places around the US, Mexico, and Belize.

Vice President

Jim Kennedy

Jan. 2021Dec. 2023
vicepresident@tcmacaves.org

Jim “Crash” Kennedy began caving in 1973 as a Boy Scout, and soon learned about vertical caving, cave conservation, cave rescue, and cave mapping as a member of the Nittany Grotto.  After graduating with degrees in Biology and Environmental Education, he moved to Texas in 1995 to take a position with Bat Conservation International.  There, he worked for 18 years as Cave Resources Specialist, studying and protecting caves across the US and other countries.  In 2013 he left to found his own small consulting firm, Kennedy Above/Under Ground, LLC.  He currently specializes in the design and construction of particularly large and difficult cave and mine gating projects across the United States. His background and experience in cave microclimates and the restoration of cave ecosystems altered by human actions makes him one of the top cave conservationists in the country.

In Texas, Jim was quickly appointed to a position on the Texas Speleological Survey Board, and has since served as Editor (Vice President), Secretary, and Office Manager.  He has also served as both Chair, Vice-Chair, and Editor of the Texas Speleological Association at various times, and has organized three TSA Spring Conventions.  He is currently the Chief Organizer and Head Cat Herder for the Texas Cavers Reunion.  He also served two terms previously as a TCMA Board Member, and was Preserves Committee Chair during his entire tenure.  And he is on the Advisory Board of the Association for Mexican Cave Studies.

Nationally, Jim is a Fellow and Life Member of the National Speleological Society, and is the former Bat Conservation Liaison for the NSS.  Currently, he is the NSS representative and Chair of the steering Committee for the National Cave and Karst Management Symposium.  He is also chairing the organizing committee for the 2021 NCKMS Symposium which will be taking place in San Marcos, TX on 15 December.  Jim has contributed a chapter to the excellent NSS book, Cave Conservation and Restoration, and has written numerous other articles throughout the years.  He is the former project coordinator for the TSA’s Colorado Bend State Park Karst Research Project, is coordinating the ongoing survey of TCMA’s Punkin Cave, and has run 17 mapping expeditions (so far) to the Laguna de Sánchez area in northern Mexico.  

Jim’s caving philosophy is that identification and protection of the cave resources require good data and careful planning.  You can’t protect what you don’t know.  And people don’t care about things they don’t understand.  It was hard to find a photo to include with this bio because he is usually the one on the other side of the camera, doing all the background organizing for trips.  He enjoys surveying and is more than happy to take new cavers along to teach them the tricks.  Jim eats, sleeps, and breathes caves, much to the chagrin of his wife.  But if elected, you can be assured that he will do the best job possible in managing TCMA’s caves.

Secretary

Ron Ralph

Jan. 2020–Dec. 2022
secretary@tcmacaves.org

Ron Ralph began studying caves and archeology in California in 1963 and worked extensively throughout the southwestern United States and Mexico before joining the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department where he worked for 21 years.  He is the Immediate Past President of the Texas Speleological Survey and has served previously on the board of the Texas Cave Management Association.  He served as the President of the Texas Archeological Society and is serving on several archeological boards.  Ron is married to Diane and lives in Manchaca where he can often be found tickling grandchildren when not hiding from Covid 19.

Treasurer

Christi Burrell

Jan. 2017–Dec. 2022
treasurer@tcmacaves.org

Christi Burrell started caving in 1987. Her first cave was Robber Barron followed by Logan’s and then Benders Water Cave (now Twinkie’s Cave). She visited all three of these caves in a two week period. She was hooked. Since then, she has explored caves all over Texas, New Mexico, and other states. Mrs. Burrell has held office in the TSA in the past. She truly appreciates all of the conservation work that has been done by the TCMA.

In addition to caving, she also enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, rock hounding, and canoeing. She is married to Mike Burrell, who is also a caver. They live on the property of Cave Without a Name in Boerne, Texas where her husband has been working for several years. Mrs. Burrell works at First Presbyterian Church San Antonio located 2 blocks from the Alamo in downtown San Antonio. Her work for the church is in the finance department, and she has been working in nonprofit finance for almost 20 years.

Directors

John Brooks

Jan. 2018–Dec. 2021
john.brooks@tcmacaves.org

I started caving as a college student at Texas A&M University in 1976 and was active in the student grotto until I graduated in 1981. I relocated to Dallas and became an active member of the DFW Grotto. Over the past few years, I have been an active member of the Arbuckle Mountains Grotto.

In my “real” life, I am an architect and specialize in the design of complex institutional facilities through a collaborative and integrated process. That’s means I lead my clients through an engaged collaborative design process to create their vision for their project. I feel that my problem solving, and collaborative leadership skills provide benefit the organizations that I work with on a volunteer and professional basis.

I believe the TCMA has an important role in the Texas Caving Community. The organization has several missions ranging from preservation and stewardship of cave and karst resources to education and research about caves and the importance of conserving caves, aquifers and karst. I think the Board should reflect the geographic diversity of Texas cavers and the organization should look to create or acquire preserves within each of the unique karst regions of Texas.

In the future, I would like to see the TCMA grow its fiscal assets, acquire additional preserves and secure management agreements of resources owned by others. I believe that the TCMA should look to acquiring preserves in the 5 surrounding states. I believe the TCMA should consider becoming a regional or international entity and acquire a preserve in Mexico. I believe the TCMA needs to avoid the fiscal trap of buying and owning buildings – as an architect, I see too many organizations spend too much money maintaining facilities. 

The TCMA should remain true and faithful to its Mission, Vision and Values. The organizations focus remain focused on the long-term mission of the protection and preservation of caves, karst, aquifers, research and education.

Michael Cicherski

Jan. 2020-Dec. 2022
michael.cicherski@tcmacaves.org

Michael Cicherski has been caving regularly since the late 80’s. He is a Fellow of the National Speleological Society and a recipient of the National Speleological Society Certificate of Merit.

Michael has participated in the Honey Creek Cave, Powell’s Cave, and other projects here in Texas, as well as projects in Montana, Kentucky and in Mexico. Michael continues to be an active caver, and is the Co-Project Director in two on-going efforts in the Texas Hill Country. 

Michael has previously held positions of leadership in the TSA, TCMA and in The 15th International Congress of Speleology. As Treasurer, he brought a high level of professional bookkeeping standards to each of the organizations, and was instrumental in helping the Congress turn a profit in 2009. 

In addition to the role of Treasurer, Michael has served on various TCMA Committees, assisted on various projects in each of the organizations, and briefly served as a Preserve Manager for Ezells Cave.

Ben Dau

Jan. 2021Dec. 2023
ben.dau@tcmacaves.org

Ben Dau has been an avid outdoors enthusiast since his parents put him on cross country skis before he was two. Ever since then, he’s been hooked and spends most of his free time enjoying the outdoors. He is an avid rock climber, canyoneer, and mountaineer. Ben eventually got his caving toes wet ridgewalking while living in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness. Since moving to the Houston area four years ago, Ben has been active in the Texas caving community. He has volunteered at various TCMA properties, and participated in various tank haul projects. Ben has also been active in the national and international caving communities by participating in exploration projects in Montana and Mexico. Ben is a strong advocate for managing both cave recreation and nature conservation. While not traveling for caving, Ben volunteers with the Houston-Galveston Area Council, cleaning trash from local beaches and bayous.

Andy Edwards

Jan. 2018–Dec. 2023
webmaster@tcmacaves.org

Andy Edwards is the current webmaster and database manager for TCMA, as well as being tied up in too many other caving and non-caving IT projects.  Being active in Fisher Ridge Cave System exploration, he is treasurer of the Detroit Urban Grotto (the Fisher Ridge Grotto) and also contributes to their data management.  Inspired by its myriad passages, he wrote Breakout, a 3D cave survey visualizer.  He has also contributed features like Walls import to Cavewhere, and people are hoping he will find the time to make various improvements and bugfixes to Walls.

Andy recently began a resurvey of Airman’s Cave in Austin, Texas, which is where it all started for him in 2011.

Linda Palit

Jan. 2018–Dec. 2023
linda.palit@tcmacaves.org

Linda Palit started caving in the 1980s, and gradually it turned from an interest to a passion. As with most passions, caving has led to her participation in different caving groups, and her functioning in different roles. She has held grotto offices, held state offices, helped organize national and international conventions. Just as importantly, she have done some wonderful caving.

One of the biggest changes in caving since she began has been the relentless restriction of access to caves. She believes TCMA can impact this, and that contributes to her interest and work with TCMA.  Protecting caves and providing access to caves is one reason TCMA exists; she believes in that mission.

Several things she would like to work on with TCMA are the acquisition of more caves, the improvement of communication with members, and the incorporation of more people into the day-to-day activities of the organization.

Greg Mosier

Jan. 2018–Dec. 2023
greg.mosier@tcmacaves.org

Greg Mosier has been an avid lover of the outdoors and nature as far back as he has memories. His interest in caves begin at about the age of 12 when he entered his first wild cave which happened to be Wurzbach Bat Cave. That began a never ending love of the adventure of exploring underground which ultimately led to a Degree in Geology and then to joining the Bexar Grotto in the early 90s. Subsequently the responsibilities of life caused Greg to drift away from the caving scene.

Greg reconnect with the caving community by rejoining the Bexar Grotto in 2013, and more recently the TCMA and the TSA, participating in many volunteer efforts such as taking new people into caves such as Robber Baron Cave, and several project and survey trips to Deep Cave. Greg was elected the Chairman of Trips and Quarter Master for the Bexar Grotto in 2017 and has organized and led trips for Bexar Grotto members to Cave Without a Name, Snookie’s Cave, and Deep and Punkin Preserve. Greg also has led the effort to organize a project with Comal County to allow for cave exploration at Kleck County Park and is the trip leader for this endeavor.

Greg’s principle desire is to continue to expand upon his project oriented caving efforts to gain knowledge to use as a tool for raising the awareness of the general public about the importance of caves, their sensitivity, and to eventually tie this into a wider conservation effort.

Denise Prendergast

Jan. 2016–Dec. 2021
denise.prendergast@tcmacaves.org

Denise Prendergast has been a caver for nearly 20 years. With a bachelor degree in Geology, she has a keen interest in resource conservation and the outdoors.

Ms. Prendergast currently serves on numerous TCMA committees and is chair of the Bylaws Revision Committee. She is excited to be part of the TCMA Board and enjoys assisting the organization in acquiring and protecting caves and karst.

Ms. Prendergast is currently an officer of the UT Grotto and a past Secretary of the Texas Speleological Association.

Cruz St. Peter

Jan. 2019–Dec. 2021
cruz.stpeter@tcmacaves.org

Cruz St. Peter has been an active caver and diligent member of the caving community for nearly a decade. Cruz first began caving in 2010 as a member of the Aggie Speleological Society at Texas A&M University. He quickly fell in love with the underground world and the wonderful people he befriended in the caving community. Cruz joined the Greater Houston Grotto in 2015, where he currently serves as Vice-Chair. He is an active caver who has participated in several expedition projects, including Sistema Chevé in Oaxaca, Proyecto Espeleológico Purificación in Nuevo León, and the Silvertip System in Montana. Additionally, he has volunteered a significant amount of his free time toward cave wildlife conservation; assisting with several White-nose syndrome research projects in Texas and Northern Mexico. His most recent conservation effort involved building a cave gate in Tennessee, to protect a maternal colony of endangered bats.

Cruz’s track record of leadership and commitment to cave conservation make him a qualified candidate to join the TCMA board. Mr. St. Peter currently serves on the Board of Directors for a bio-pharmaceutical company, Blood and Plasma Research, Inc. His background in environmental science and his professional life in industry research have honed his skills in networking, technical writing, and navigating funding opportunities. This skill set will be of huge benefit to TCMA when searching for external funding and drafting grant proposals.

TCMA has a large presence in San Antonio and Austin, but not much in areas of eastern Texas. As a member of the TCMA board, Cruz would work hard to educate the Houston community on cave conservation and safe caving practices, expanding TCMA’s visibility beyond the Texas Hill Country.

Drew Thompson

Jan. 2016–Dec. 2021
drew.thompson@tcmacaves.org

Drew Thompson has been an active member in the TCMA since 2005 and a board member since 2016.

He currently is employed by the City of Austin’s Wildlands Conservation Division as a Biologist specializing in cave sciences. Through this work, he monitors and manages Balcones Canyonland Preserve caves and other City of Austin properties.

Mr. Thompson has been a part of numerous caving projects in the US and Mexico, was president of the UT Grotto of Austin 2016-2017, holds level one certification from NCRC, and is property manager for the Lost Oasis Cave Preserve.

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