Meet The Advocacy Board
All members of the Wild Horse Fire Brigade, LLC volunteer their time and resources.
Founder & Executive Director
William E. Simpson II
Founder & Chief Executive Officer - Capt. William E. Simpson II: Ethologist - Author, ‘Capt. Bill’ is a retired U.S. Merchant Marine Officer; commercial airplane and helicopter pilot; Master SCUBA Diver; gemologist and university instructor (Univ. of Hawaii - Maui Campus).
Bill spent his formative years on the family working-ranch raising livestock. He also worked in forestry-logging industry in Southern Oregon. After graduating high school, he attended Oregon State University as a pre-med science major, but ultimately earned his degree in Flight Technology.
He currently lives at his wilderness ranch among a herd of free-roaming wild horses in the Soda Mountain wilderness area on the Oregon-California border where he studies the behavioral ecology of wild horses on wilderness landscapes and wildfire. Bill is a published author with two books in print and has also authored over 150 articles on subjects related to natural resources management, with a focus on wildfire and wild horses. Over the last seven years he has been a been a guest on several radio and TV News shows relating to Wild Horse Fire Brigade. In 2019, William was nominated to the Bureau Of Land Management's Wild Horse Advisory Board by numerous elected officials.
On October 30th 2022 NPR featured William and the Wild Horse Fire Brigade plan on the radio and in print to their audience of 46-million,
Deb Ferns, MBA, has spent the last four decades as an event planner for both corporations and associations. Since 2004 she has operated her own firearms company, Babes with Bullets LLC, and in 2009 founded a charitable program under the Women's Outdoor Media Association. Ferns is a shooting sports champion, author, public speaker, and co-host of Gunstuff TV. She is also a long-time equine enthusiast, passionate about saving America's endangered wild horses. Deb resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband (Gary) and they have two daughters.
Kelsey Stangebye J.D.
Kelsey's equine passion began at an early age at her grandparent’s boarding horse farm. The American Quarter Horse (AQHA) became her focus which she parlayed into a recruitment with University of South Carolina’s NCAA equestrian team as a horsemanship rider. Ms. Stangebye received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Carolina. She graduated cum laude from Northern Illinois University College of Law, where she was the Research Editor for their Law Review. During law school, she also worked as the AQHA International Intern managing a clinic process throughout nine countries to support its introduction into the world of horses and AQHA.
Ms. Stangbye has extensively researched the secondary law materials and statutes on wild horse and burro management. Her article “Cowboys Gone Rogue: The Bureau of Land Management’s Mismanagement of Wild Horses in Light of its Removal Procedures of ‘Excess’ Wild Horses,” examined the use of public land in the western states. Ms. Stangebye is elated to join the efforts of Wild Horse Fire Brigade to collaborate efforts to improve the ethical management of the wild horses and burros and while doing so, generate a management plan that is environmentally sustainable and economically profitable. Ms. Stangebye is still involved with AQHA as a state director and amateur exhibitor, spending the majority of her free time competing and taking care of her horses. Kelsey has a new personal journey of learning and caring for two BLM burros that are a mother and daughter pair. The burros offer life lessons every day!
Treasurer - Ethologist/Photographer
Michelle Gough is a lifelong horse lover and animal advocate with a family history of Native American influence. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology with an emphasis on animal behavior. Michelle obtained a Master's degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner has worked in plastic surgery, wound care, cardiac surgery, and dermatology. Michelle is now living among and studying free-roaming wild horses.
Shannon has loved horses her whole life. She started riding at 10 years old and never looked back. But everything changed when she started documenting wild horses out on the range and met her first family band of Carter Reservoir mustangs in 2017. A whole new understanding opened for her, and genuine concern about the fate of wild horses was born. Shannon has resolved to bring awareness about the plight of wild horses to as many as possible and to help make real solutions a reality. She is certain that the mission of Wild Horse Fire Brigade is that solution.
Shannon has been an Executive Board Member of the Carter Reservoir Mustangs Inc. since 2016, and was blessed to give two stunning Carter Reservoir mustangs their freedom back in 2019. She now also volunteers on the Wild Horse Fire Brigade Executive Board as Secretary. Eastern Oregon became her home in 2021 where she can be closer to the wild ones. Her great love for photography has been a career and hobby for many years. Working hard to make her ranch a home, she is now a Certified Pharmacy Technician in the small town of Baker City, Oregon and continues to look forward to the next trip out on the range.
Professor Michael Harris
Michael R. Harris is the director of the Environmental Advocacy Clinic and an Associate Professor of Law. He has litigated environmental cases and supervised law students for more than two decades. Before joining Vermont Law and Graduate School in 2022 he was General Counsel and Director of the Wildlife Law Program for Friends of Animals, an international non-profit animal organization. From 2008 through 2014, Professor Harris was an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law where he also directed the environmental law clinic. He has also worked for EarthJustice, the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Los Angeles, and several private law firms.
Professor Harris received his Juris Doctor from the University of California—Berkeley School of Law. He earned a Masters in the Study of Law from Vermont Law School, and a Bachelor of Arts from Pitzer College. He has published papers that examine the intersection of environmental and administrative law in the Ecology Law Quarterly, St. Louis University Law Journal, Tulane Law Review, Hofstra Law Review, Quinnipiac Law Review, the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, and Hastings Journal of Environmental Law.
Professor Harris lives in New Hampshire with his wife (Charlotte), son (Raymond), a border collie (Pan), an Aussie shepherd (Bradley), and two lively guinea pigs named Coffee and Tea.
Equine Science Advisor
Professor Julie Murphree
Julie Jo Murphree has been teaching wildlife conservation, animal nutrition, equine science, ethical issues in biology and animal behavior courses at Arizona State University since 2009. Her principal areas of research focus on issues embedded within compassionate conservation, behavioral ecology, rewilding initiatives, and the ethical concerns surrounding human/non-human relationships. Murphree’s analysis on foraging behavior and nutrition in ungulates utilized controlled feeding trials in pygmy goats in order to evaluate the efficacy of DNA sequencing and microhistological analysis for diet determination in wild ruminants. Her most recent doctoral research lies at the intersection of the social, political, economic and scientific factors surrounding the management of free-roaming horses on public lands in the American West. Her primary investigations focus on the ecological role of wild equids on biodiversity and functioning of novel ecosystems. Murphree’s fieldwork is mainly conducted on the Salt River Wild Horses within the Tonto National Forest in Arizona and the Heber Wild Horses along the Mogollon Rim and White Mountains of Arizona. Her aim is to bridge the gap between wildlife management that focuses on individual animal concerns (animal welfare and animal rights) and ecosystem concerns (conservation biology).
Professor Murphree's 2022 doctoral dissertation titled 'The Mustang Dilemma: Facts, Values, and Decision Making in Arizona’s Heber Wild Horse Territory' can be read online at: https://hdl.handle.net/2286/R.2.N.171488
Livestock Advisor - Member at Large
Founder of the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association, serving as the Executive Director/CEO until 2007.
Original first year member of R-CALF USA and now serving as Country-of-Origin Labeling Committee Chair.
Board Member of Our Saviors Lutheran Church, High Plains Shrine Club and the Kansas Upper Republican River Basin Advisory Chairman.
Recently elected to the board on the Organization for Competitive Markets.
Mike is very independent and proud of working with those who started R-CALF USA. It has been a great challenge and rewarding while representing real independent USA (cattle) producers. He and his wife (Dawn) stay actively involved in the community, agriculture, cattle and farming in NW Kansas They work at diversification to survive and make life better for those in their community and especially their family with includes two daughters and three granddaughters.
Equine Science Advisor
Trained first in zoology and botany, Wayne completed two graduate degrees during the 1990s: a Masters in freshwater ecology and a Ph.D. in the behavior, ecology and management of wild horses. After a Millennium Research Fellowship for rhinoceroses’ conservation in Southern Africa with the San Diego Zoo (2001-2005), he took a permanent academic position in the School of Biology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, to teach and investigate a diversity of topics in wildlife biology and management, and develop an interest in the human dimensions of environmental science.
Wayne became the Director of their Centre for Biodiversity & Restoration Ecology at Victoria University (2012-2018). He received the Peter Nelson Memorial Trophy for leadership of research and teaching on vertebrate pest management (2018), and the Ecological Society of New Zealand’s annual Science Communication Award (2015). He is the author of over 100 scientific publications and reports, principle investigator on over $3M in research grants, and holds a US patent for novel chemical lures for rats (2021).
Seeking new challenges and adventures, professionally and personally for himself and family, Wayne accepted the position as Chair (Head) of the Environmental Studies Department at California State University – Sacramento in 2019. There he is part of a $2M initiative to better measure air quality pollutants in underserved neighborhoods in Sacramento City. He is also currently writing a book about New Zealand’s wild horses with the working title ‘Wild Horses of the Last Land – a scientific, personal and political journey to reimagine our future relationship with horses’.
Wayne was attracted to the work of the Wild Horse Fire Brigade because it demands a deeper understanding of wild horse ecology to meet the challenges of managing landscapes and their wildlife. He is convinced that those challenges require new frameworks and approaches, not just more information. “We already have a lot of the information needed to solve the problem. What is required is new questions. The Wild Horse Fire Brigade is asking new, more interesting questions. It is a great privilege to be able to help find the answers”, he said.
On a personal note: Wayne lives in Folsom, CA, with his wife; Edith MacDonald (Ph.D.), an environmental psychologist, and his two girls; AJ and Zoerita; one a devoted rower and the other an enthusiastic acrobat. Most family activities are inevitably outdoors in nature with wildlife.
CPA & Tax Advisor
Jean-Pierre “JP” Deplois is owner of JPD Accounting a partner in Bell Deplois Accounting which operates Jackson County Accounting and Tax Service in Medford, Oregon. Jean-Pierre became a Certified Public Accountant in Oregon in November 2017. He has been preparing business, individual, estate and fiduciary tax returns for the last 4 years. During that same time, he has also reviewed financial information for non-profits and prepared the necessary tax returns as well as informational reports for internal use.
Prior to being self-employed he worked for the Internal Revenue Service in the Medford field office as a Revenue Agent for 9 years auditing individual and business returns. His other previous experiences include teaching post secondary business and accounting classes at Warner Pacific College and Pioneer Pacific College. He also worked for over 5 years as a paralegal for law firms in the Salem and Portland area primarily in Trust and Estate tax administration as well as business planning and non-profit tax preparation.
Jean-Pierre is a veteran of the United States Army serving in the regular army as a Cavalry Scout in Germany and Fort Stewart Georgia. He also served as a non-commissioned officer in the 116th and 82nd Cavalry with Oregon National Guard retiring in 2017.
Jean-Pierre received his Master’s in Accounting and Finance from Keller Graduate School of Management, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Portland State University.
Jean-Pierre lives in beautiful Southern Oregon with his son (Edmond). He enjoys hiking camping and horseback riding. He served in his son’s Boy Scout troop as an Assistant Scout Master and Leave No Trace Trainer for over 4 years. He served the District as a Merit Badge Counselor, District fund raiser coordinator and as an adult volunteer trainer. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Medford Water Polo team and volunteer as a Medford School District chaperone for the North Medford High School sports and Orchestra.
Insurance Industry Advisor
National Practice Leader
MMA ADL, a division of Marsh McLennan
Greg Norton has 30+ years’ experience in the group insurance industry and serves as Practice Leader for a division of Marsh McLennan Agency, LLC. Greg works closely with consulting teams in New York, San Francisco and Chicago on the organization’s national accounts business. When not advising these clients, Greg manages and directs the team’s consulting strategy; ensures best practices are shared throughout the Practice; and manages MMA’s senior level relationships within the insurance carrier community.
In addition to directing the team’s core consulting work, Greg works closely with other divisions of Marsh McLennan on global insurance arrangements; captive; voluntary; digital optimization for benefits; and cloud based software opportunities for his clients.
Greg’s background includes 15 years working for various insurance carriers in product development; account management; sales and management positions. Greg has worked in a consulting capacity since 2001 focusing exclusively on large Fortune 500 sized employers working and living in San Francisco, New York and currently in Carbondale, Colorado.
Greg and his partner Shiva have recently adopted seven mustangs – four from Idaho’s Saylor Creek herd and three from Colorado’s Sand Wash Basin herd. He is pleased to report that all seven are happy, healthy and relieved to be free from our Federal Government’s holding facilities!
• B.A., Williams College, Williamstown, MA
Marilyn has been a valuable part of the Wild Horse Fire Brigade for many months; producing a wide variety of videos and social media pieces on our Wild Ones living in northern California. Originally from Minnesota Marilyn is a long-time resident of Tucson, Arizona and a “horse lover” for most of her life. She far prefers to be behind a camera or creating magic for WHFB from her in home computer studio. Spending many years with her brother taping and editing video gave Marilyn the opportunity to step up her skill set. Marilyn and Deb Ferns (WHFB President) have been friends for almost 30 years so when Deb asked Marilyn for help she stepped up with a great attitude!
Advisory Board Member
Peggy Coleman Taylor
My life has always been centered around horses, from teaching children with intellectual disabilities to ride to galloping Racehorses.
A graduate of New College, FL, with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater. For my thesis, I adapted the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, a civil rights story, and won the highest award for Dramatic film in the Florida Independent Film Festival. Thus began my career in motion pictures as a Location Manager (IMDb).
I met my husband, a career US Coast Guard rescue helicopter pilot, during the filming of Cocoon.
I am also a pilot: single engine, land/sea commercial/instrument.
While based in Sitka, AK, we had a fishing and ECO charter operation that supported studies on humpback whales and sea birds. Additionally, I was a certified Raptor handler/volunteer with the Sitka Raptor Rehabilitation Center, where I created the storyline for their in-house film.
Fast forward…the attached picture shows my thoroughbred racehorse, Time Ahead, who is now 27 years old. Time Ahead. has spiritually directed me to advocate for the wild horses and burros. One of the most important things we can learn from horses is the power and potential of connection in our daily lives. I am incredibly excited to be a part of Wild Horse Fire Brigade, using my out-of-the-box thinking to restore the essential balance of nature that's crucial to our survival. I am committed to preserving the American wild horse, which will ultimately benefit all wildlife and wilderness.
Chris has lived in Marin and Sonoma counties for 58 yrs. She has been an animal, nature & tree-hugger since she was 10. She’s been a horse person for most of her life but didn’t “get” them until the early ‘90s when she met Horizon. He was a 11 yr old BLM Mustang raised by a farrier, in Placerville, CA. Horizon had won the Virginia City 100-mile Endurance race the prior year. She rode, conditioned every weekend, competed in 50 - 100 mile rides for the next 4 years. When Horizon was 15 the farrier retired him and gave him to her. She rode him into his 30s. He taught her how to listen, communicate, bond, and negotiate control. He died at 39 yrs old.
Chris has 40 years of accounting experience for various business types. She was controller for a landscape habitat restoration corp., treasurer for Friends of San Pablo Bay NWR, an employed accounting manager and volunteer for wildlife and environmental non-profits. She has experience in contracts, grant proposals and funding, Fed & State reporting of finance and project performance.
She wants to volunteer her skills for the Wild Horse Fire Brigade because she values the wild horses, wants a natural life for them and believes we all owe this species a huge debt. WHFB makes perfect sense to her as a means to right some wrongs while mitigating wild fire fuels.
Currently, Chris is enjoying retirement by traveling, creating art from trees logged from the past 5 years’ fires, and weekly horseback riding on the coast.
If you would like to join the mission to help preserve the Wild Horse Fire Brigade, please send us a message and we'll be back in touch as soon as possible.