Wendy Schneider assumed Executive Director role at local nonprofit Friends of the Inyo in April
Wendy Schneider, the new Executive Director of Friends of the Inyo, wasn’t necessarily looking to make a permanent home in the Eastern Sierra with her husband and three children when they moved up from Los Angeles in July, 2014.
“We just wanted to get out of LA County and do something new,” says Schneider. “We were just coming for a year.”
Three years later, Schneider has landed her dream job protecting public lands and her husband, Rudy DeFelice, “is some kind of Executive-Vice-President, I’m not sure what his title is,” she says, laughing (Rudy’s the Senior Vice President of Business Development and Environmental Impact Review at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, for the record).
And just like that, Schneider’s family has followed in the footsteps of so many Eastern Sierra transplants who come for “just a year,” and end up putting down roots.
Neither of them had jobs when they decided to make the move. It was more of a case of “leap, and the net will appear,” says Schneider. She homeschooled her three kids (Alessandro, now 14, Manny, 12, and Kamal, 9) for the first year and volunteered her time with a Citizen Science Project at Devils Postpile, where Friends of the Inyo first came across her radar. Then, this winter, she was backcountry skiing with Ben Wickham, Membership and Communications Manager for FOI, and he mentioned that the previous Executive Director, Laura Beardsley, had decided to move on to a position with Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra. Schneider jumped at the job opportunity, and assumed her new role in April of this year.
Schneider, a native of East Tennessee, developed her love of the outdoors in the Appalachian mountains. She earned her B.A. in political science at the College of William and Mary and migrated to Washington, D.C. after graduation, “as so many William and Mary students do,” she says. She worked on Capitol Hill for Al Gore, “and at night I was a caller for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S.PIRG),” a non-profit formed by Ralph Nader which employs grassroots advocacy to effect liberal political change.