AZAEP Board Members

Michael Dawson, President

Senior Environmental Planner

EcoPlan and Associates, Tucson


Mr. Dawson  has a degree from the University of Arizona in Natural Resources and Recreation Management. Having extensive experience in the environmental, community involvement, and transportation fields, his background encompasses 30 years in the federal, state, county, and private consulting sectors, preparing or directing land use plans, corridor studies, feasibility studies, and National Environmental Policy Act documentation. 

He is experienced in working with multiple jurisdictions and interest groups to help solve complicated local and regional issues in projects. His thorough knowledge of the environmental field, permitting issues, and regulatory requirements assists in the planning and engineering elements of a project.  His career has included working for the Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Department of Transportation, Maricopa County Department of Transportation, and several consulting firms. He has been with EcoPlan since 2006 and manages the Tucson office.

He served as an At-Large AZAEP Board member from 2005 to 2010, as Vice President 2012 – 2014 and most recently as President since 2014. 

Beth Defend, Vice President

Senior Environmental Planner & Project Manager

Jacobs, Phoenix


Ms. Defend has a Bachelor of Arts in Technical Journalism from Colorado State University. She has more than 30 years of experience in preparing environmental documentation to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. She has worked in the consulting industry in the Phoenix area since 1987. Beth has worked with the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air National Guard, Army National Guard, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Western Area Power Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and other state and local agencies as well as Native American tribes. Her experience has included the assessment of effects associated with military operations, renewable energy projects, transmission lines, resource management plans, highways, passenger rail, mining operations, and telecommunication infrastructure. 

Beth joined AZAEP in 2008, became an at-large Board member in 2013, and has served as Vice-President since 2014. She has made presentations at two NAEP conferences and chaired the AZAEP Scholarship Committee during the last two years that student scholarships and grants were offered. 

Dorothy Hallock, Treasurer

Ms. Hallock holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Stanford University, and a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Landscape Architecture, both from the University of Oregon 

Jeff Johnson, Secretary

Biologist & Environmental Planner

SWCA Environmental Consultants, Phoenix

Mr. Johnson has a Bachelor of Science in Plant Biology with an Environmental Science and Biology focus and a Master of Science in Plant Biology, both from Arizona State University. 

With over 12 years of professional experience as a biologist/environmental planner with several consulting firms, his expertise includes conducting impact analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act for complex projects across multiple jurisdictions. He has served as project manager, field manager and field technician for both regulatory biology and environmental compliance projects with multiple agencies including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, Arizona State Land Department, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Nevada Department of Wildlife, and multiple municipalities.

Jeff joined AZAEP in 2006.

Jennie Curé, At-Large Board Member

Wildlife Specialist III - Land Resource Program Manager

Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix


Ms. Curé has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Keene State College as well as a Master of Science in Technology-Environmental Technology Management from Arizona State University. Jennie also has a diverse background as a registered Landscape Architect in Arizona, and as an environmental scientist in project design, development and management of a wide variety of environmental projects. These projects include, Agricultural Field Reclamation Utilizing Native grass Crop Production-Lower San Pedro Watershed, Regional Transportation Vulnerability Assessment-Understanding the Impact of Climate Change on Critical Infrastructure and the FEMA Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan for the Greater Bridgeport Region.  

With her position at AZDEQ, Jennie currently works with partners and grantees to support the award and management of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s State Response Grant for the State of Arizona. She has been instrumental in awarding more than one million dollars of grant funding to local governments, non-profits, and hospital, school, police and fire districts within the past three years. She is also working with partners to develop solutions for communities facing illegal dumping and recycling challenges.

She joined AZAEP in 2009 and has been an At-Large Board Member since. 

Jill Heilman, At-Large Board Member

Historical Preservation Specialist

Arizona Department of Transportation, Phoenix


Ms. Heilman received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a Master of Science in Palaeopathology, Osteology, and Funerary Archaeology. She has held numerous staff positions, including project director, crew chief, field technician, lab director, and instructor with 15 years of cultural resource management experience in Arizona and additional work in New Mexico, Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Belize, and South Africa.

Ms. Heilman’s past experience includes work as an on-call archaeologist and laboratory director at EcoPlan Associates where she was hired as an archaeologist involved in report writing and archaeological surveys. Subsequently, she has worked extensively in a variety of areas, including historic preservation research, compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), excavating and analyzing human remains, and testing and data recovery. In 2012, Ms. Heilman became EcoPlan’s laboratory director. She has an extensive background in coordinating pre-fieldwork mobilization, post-fieldwork processing of artifacts, and inventory of archaeological collections and has assisted with the preparation of archaeological collections for curation. She also has experience with artifact analysis and the creation and maintenance of electronic databases. Her duties as laboratory director also included ensuring compliance with agency regulations and permitting.

Brianna Zurita, At-Large Board Member

Environmental Planner

SWCA Environmental Consultants, Tucson


Mrs. Zurita graduated from the University of Arizona in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and again in 2018 with a Master of Public Policy. Additionally, she is working towards two Post-Baccalaureate Certificates in Water Policy and Administration and Management of American Indian Natural Resources. With positions previously held at the University of Arizona Institute of the Environment, the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions, and the United States Department of Agriculture, her areas of interest include Colorado River issues, environmental and water resource economics and policy analysis, wildlife conservation, climate change adaptation, conservation planning, natural resources, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act. 

She has been an Environmental Planner with SWCA Environmental Consultants since May 2018. She joined AZAEP in July 2017 and has been an At-Large Board member since.