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 and Directors
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Ken Demarest has a passion for caving. Since January of 2016, Mr. Demarest has worked hard to become proficient in vertical and sketching, taken NCRC to level 2, joined the NSS and CRF, taken the position of TSA Safety Chair and spoken on Safety and Rescue. His trips include Coahuila, Muzquiz, Fisher Ridge and his most memorable trip a CM Shovel tank haul.
Mr. Demarest won the 2016 Chuck Stuehm award for Outstanding New Caver. He tries to emulate Chuck’s open, welcoming approach with new cavers, hosting ropes nights, and teaching new cavers vertical techniques. Mr. Demarest helped renovate the Deep and Punkin cabin, and recently hosted the DFW Grotto for Austin caving trips.
In a prior life, Mr. Demarest gained experience with real estate, management, budgeting and investment. His hope is to serve Texas cavers and give back a little to the great community that has given him so much.
Andy Edwards started caving in 2011 after visiting Airman’s repeatedly with friends. He got involved in Fisher Ridge later year and has gone on dozens of survey trips ever since, as well as various long-term dig projects in Austin, Kentucky, and elsewhere. In 2014, he became the treasurer for Detroit Urban Grotto (the Fisher Ridge Grotto) and has served as treasurer ever since.
Being a programmer, he made a Google Sheet for keeping track of DUG’s members and finances, and shared it with other members of the project so that cash flows would be as transparent as possible. He’s also the author of Breakout, a 3D cave survey visualizer, has contributed features like Walls import to Cavewhere, and at some point hopes to decipher enough of Walls’ source code to contribute some improvements to it.
Jay Jorden has been a caver since 1971, starting with the University of Texas Grotto. He is a Fellow and Life Member of the National Speleological Society. He joined the Texas Cave Management Association in the 1980s and has previously held a number of leadership positions with the conservation organization, including President and board member. Several years ago, he rotated out of the TCMA board to help enable others to participate and provide their perspectives on organizational priorities and strategic goals. He is now eager to return to the board, helping accelerate the conservancy’s growth and driving new acquisitions of cave properties.
For the TCMA, Mr. Jorden founded the organization’s first membership publication, the TCMA Activities Newsletter, and helped research and implement the acquisition of Whirlpool Cave in Travis County as one of the organization’s first preserves. With the NSS, he has served as an officer of the Cave Conservation and Management Section and founded that organization’s newsletter, the Cave Conservationist. He has also served as Director of the Cave Vandalism Deterrence Reward Commission and Chairman of the NSS Public Relations Committee.
Jan. 2018–Dec. 2022
I was first introduced into caving by my parents at the young age of 8 with an adventure through the Lewis and Clark Caverns in Montana. Throughout my childhood and adolescences family vacations often had caving on the agenda; commercial caves, but nonetheless caves. Shortly after meeting my wife Courtney in 2004 I was fortunate to introduce her to caving at Carlsbad Caverns. After a couple adventure tours at the park, she was hooked to caving like a bat to mosquitos. Our combined appetite for caving resulted in spending our first anniversary at Carlsbad Caverns where we completed every adventure tour offered at the park. Over the next decade many vacations we took revolved around caving – caving in multiple states around the USA, Puerto Rico, Belize, and Western Australia.
We joined the Greater Houston Grotto in 2014 where we were introduced to Texas caves and the larger Texas caving community. I have been very active in the GHG since joining, doing what I can to create a welcoming environment for new cavers and building a positive representation of GHG at caver gatherings; in Texas, other states, and foreign countries.
My caving experiences have given me a tremendous appreciation for caves, their ruggedness and their incredible fragility. My passion for caving has never ceased and I hope to instill that same passion in my children as they begin their caving lives. I have been interested in expanding my involvement with the caving community and an appointment to the TCMA would be a great avenue. If elected, I will do my part to make a positive impact on caving through reinforcing cave conservation, caving education, and introducing the non-caving public to the amazement and wonderment of the world below, all while generating a positive light on caving and cavers in general.
Amy Morton’s first wild cave was September 20th, 2014. She has since visited nearly 100 different caves in eleven states and three countries. She is voracious and obsessed. In 2015, she won the Chuck Stuehm award for exuberant activity as a new caver for her grotto, the Greater Houston Grotto. She has been on expedition exploring, hauling tanks and surveying to a depth of 400 meters. Ms. Morton admits openly to having fear before every cave, but she walks through the fear every time. Because she has had so many great opportunities that have enriched her life greatly, she loves to give back to the activity.
As a TCMA member, Ms. Morton has contributed to survey projects in both Deep and Punkin Cave. She has helped with the Robber Baron Open House and shower building at the Deep and Punkin Nature Preserve. As a board member, she is the Archives Committee Chair.
Ms. Morton enjoys planning big events that involve coordinating a lot of people. In addition to being on the TCMA Board, she is the Co-Chair of the Texas Speleological Association. This job requires the organization of the TSA Spring Convention. She has volunteered for Texas Cavers Reunion and has planned several caving trips including to O-9 Well and CM Cave. She is also an active member of the NSS and Bexar Grotto. She was selected and named an Extraordinary Woman Leader in Speleology for 2017.
When she isn’t underground, Ms. Morton is a dance and elementary school teacher. She is the Color Guard Director at the University of Incarnate Word and a teaching assistant at Fair Oaks Ranch Elementary. She also enjoys hiking, backpacking, and being around animals.
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 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.
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.
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.
You can help.
The conservation work done by the TCMA is only possible with the support of people like you. Please consider volunteering your time, making a donation, or becoming a member.