Board Members

Dinah Bear, Chair

Dinah Bear, ChairDinah Bear began involvement in causes involving migrants, when, growing up in southern California, she began volunteering as a high school student to support the Delano grape strike and boycott and learned about the plight of migrants generally. She began volunteering for Humane Borders in 2003.

Professionally, Dinah works in the field of environmental law and policy. She served for many years as General Counsel for both Democratic and Republican administrations at the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, the environmental agency in the Executive Office of the President. Ms. Bear has chaired the Standing Committee on Environmental Law of the American Bar Association and the Environment Section of the District of Columbia Bar Association. She received the Chairman’s Award from the Natural Resources Council of America, the Distinguished Service Award from the Sierra Club, and the Distinguished Achievement Award in Environmental Law and Policy from the American Bar Association.

Ms. Bear now lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she remains professionally active in environmental law and policy with a special focus on the borderlands. She received a Bachelors of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1974, and graduated from McGeorge School of Law, Sacramento, California, in 1977.

Bob Feinman, Vice Chair

Bob Feinman, Vice ChairBorn and raised in the New York City area I was never far away from the Spanish language (remember West Side Story?). I arrived in Tucson in 1967, by then having become fluent in Spanish, to attend the University of Arizona. Quite by accident, I ended up in the radio business. First in the English language, and then in the Spanish language. My radio career lasted 40 years and took me to Phoenix for a while, and then back to Tucson where I live today.

I am the grandchild of Jewish immigrants. Each year we’d celebrate the Passover Seder at their homes. The story of the Exodus, of our being lost in the desert, and my grandparents flight from Europe had a profound effect on me. A few years ago, I read about a group called Humane Borders. Their mission is to prevent people lost in our deserts from suffering, as we did in the Sinai.

I am a Spanish speaking Jew that the Hispanic community of Arizona accepted with open arms. How could I not want to be a part of Humane Borders? Its mission is part of my heritage.

Stephen Lee Saltonstall, Secretary

Stephen Lee Saltonstall, DirectorStephen Lee Saltonstall is a volunteer truck driver for Humane Borders on the weekly water run leading south down the length of Arizona Route 286, through the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, and on into Sasabe, Mexico. He also drives what he calls the “wild west” water run through remote areas near Arivaca, Arizona, at least monthly.

Stephen grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was a foot-soldier in the civil rights movement (Cairo, Illinois 1962 and Selma, Alabama 1965).

Stephen practiced law in Massachusetts and Vermont for 40 years. In a case that he argued, the Massachusetts Supreme Court struck down the death penalty as racially discriminatory. Stephen received awards for his pro bono legal work from the American Civil Liberties Union (three times), Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, Green Mountain Forest Watch, and the Bennington County Bar Association.

Stephen retired in 2015 and moved from Vermont to Tucson. He is devoted to the humanitarian mission of Humane Borders, and thinks of it as his “last, best cause.”

Ildefonso "Poncho" Chavez, Treasurer

Ildefonso Poncho Chavez currently serves as the Managing Director of the Eller Economic Development Program at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. He grew up in Coahuila, Mexico, moved to Monterrey where he graduated from the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon with a degree in finance, accounting and auditing.

Poncho is especially noted for his service to Central American families seeking refuge in the United States.

He moved to the United States in 1990, first living in Minnesota, where he obtained degrees in both accounting and English. After moving to Tucson, he became involved with Humane Borders in 2006 and joined the Board in 2010, becoming Treasurer in 2016. Poncho is well known to many border groups in southern Arizona and is especially noted for his service to Central American families seeking refuge in the United States.

Dan Abbott, Phoenix Representative

Dan Abbott, Phoenix Representative Dan grew up as a “missionary kid” in India, where his parents taught at a Bible College. He became psychiatric social worker who was employed in public schools as a consultant and advisor to emotionally handicapped children.

Together with Catherine May, his wife, who is a historian at the Salt River Project, he has five children and ten grandchildren. He is a member of and Deacon at the University Presbyterian Church in Tempe where has also taught adult education and is on the board of Presbyterian Border Region Outreach.

"We ... walk together on a journey of peace to remember people, friends and family who have died." - Migrant Walk

He is on the organizing committee of the Migrant Trail Walk, a 75 mile walk from Sasabe to Tucson that occurs each year. Dan became involved with Humane Borders since 2004 and has driven dozens of water runs from Phoenix to areas of the west desert in southern Arizona. He also enjoys walking and has walked the Camino de Santiago.

Norm Baker, Phoenix Representative

Norm Baker, Phoenix RepresentativeNorm Baker has been a volunteer for Humane Borders since 2002. “I believe very strongly in this lifesaving work and hope for a day when good people in search of a better life can cross the border legally and safely,” he says.

“I ... hope for a day when good people in search of a better life can cross the border legally and safely.”

I have been a contractor here in Arizona for 30 years building custom homes, and have recently retired. Originally from Nebraska, I studied at the University in Lincoln, and earned a Masters degree in microbiology. I worked a few years for a major pharmaceutical company, but realized I didn’t enjoy that somewhat confining lab work for a big corporation. I went back to hands on work building things for people and have found much more satisfaction. I still do some small remodel projects, woodworking in my shop, and volunteering for my church.

My wife Pat and I enjoy traveling to interesting new places.

Dr. John Chamblee, Research Director

Dr. John Chamblee, Research Director Dr. John F. Chamblee has an A.B. degree in Political Science and Anthropology from the University of Georgia and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Anthropology from the University of Arizona. His academic specializations are computer-enabled regional science and the relationships between geophysical landscape structures and human social boundaries.

Dr. Chamblee has been using databases and computerized mapping to enable research and project management goals since 1994, when he began working for the Georgia Archaeological Site File Office. While still a graduate student, he received a Presidential Recognition Award for Distinguished Service from the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) for his work developing a database for managing the intellectual program of the SAA Annual Meetings. John is an eclectic scholarly collaborator, having authored or co-authored, or contributed to books and book chapters, as well as scholarly articles in Bioscience, Ecology and Society, Early Georgia, The Journal of Field Archaeology, Land Economics, The Journal of Real Estate and Finance Economics, Regional Science and Urban Economics, and River Research and Applications.

John is committed to servant leadership and has served on management and advisory boards for churches, Scouting organizations, large-scale scientific projects, and a National Science Foundation Funded national environmental informatics coordinating committee. He became involved with Humane Borders in 2003 when his wife, Ruby, then a volunteer, recognized that the organization needed a geographic information system (a type of electronic mapping software) database to manage their migrant death maps and encouraged him to develop one for the organization. He has managed the migrant death mapping program ever since.

Dr. Gary Christopherson, Director

Dr. Gary Christopherson, DirectorGary L. Christopherson has B.S. in Sociology from the University of Oregon, and M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Arizona. He is currently Faculty in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona where he is a specialist in geographic information science (GIS). He is primarily involved with development and delivery of both traditional and online courses focused on GIS in the natural and social sciences.

In 2007 Gary was invited to participate in Humane Borders research involving the use of GIS to model patterns of migrant deaths in southern Arizona. Since then he has continued to collaborate on Humane Borders research projects and continues to work with the spatial data created and managed by Humane Borders. He became a board member in 2013.

Gary says, “Humane Borders is a great fit for me. It’s a good mix of academic and physical work, within the context of a strong faith tradition.”

Rev. John Hoelter, Director

John Hoelter, Secretary John Hoelter, and his wife Diane Hoelter, moved to Tucson in the summer of 1994, when John began employment at the Carondelet Hospice as a chaplain.

John retired in 2008, and both he and Diane started volunteering for Humane Borders. John drives for Humane Borders virtually every week and sometimes takes turns as a passenger. Diane often goes out on water runs and helps in many other ways.

"I am enriched by my association with the people at Humane Borders."

John says, “The work I do is a small part of a larger effort by good people I am pleased to know who work to keep prominent basic humanitarian concerns for those who, at great danger, cross the desert. I am enriched by my association with the people at Humane Borders.”


Juanita Molina, Executive Director

Juanita Molina, Executive DirectorJuanita Molina has extensive experience in social justice work in both Arizona and California. For the past twenty years, she has worked for a variety of nonprofits. She has focused on promoting program development for diverse communities, such as the HIV-positive community, immigrants and people of color. Previously, she directed a court diversion program at Circles of Peace, an organization based on restorative justice values in Nogales, Arizona. There she secured a behavioral health license and managed a successful study with the Andrus Foundation which involved analyzing over 600 restorative justice circles to explore their efficacy.

In California, at Community Violence Solutions, she oversaw the crisis intervention services provided to survivors of sexual violence in Contra Costa County and provided the demographic and case management information on clients used to analyze service outcomes. In 2001, Juanita was elected as the representative for the Woman of Color North Caucus at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She served in that position for two terms. Juanita was also a program director in charge of organizing a faith-based community at Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network.

Juanita became Executive Director of Humane Borders in 2011. She also serves as Executive Director for Border Action Network.

Joel Smith, Operations Manager

Joel Smith, Operations Manager Joel Smith was born in Tucson but as a result of his father’s Air Force career, grew up all over the United States and Europe. After a stint with the U.S. Marine Corps, Joel moved back to Tucson. He began working with Humane Borders in 2009.

A strong believer in the humanity of every person and of Humane Border’s mission.

Joel is a strong believer in the humanity of every person and of Humane Border’s mission. In July, 2016, he was the subject of the cover story in the Tucson Weekly, discussing both his personal values and Humane Border’s work. He was quoted saying, “I am an Air Force brat and a Marine Corps veteran. I love my country. If you want to call me unpatriotic, it is like barking at a tree.”