Our Team

Andrew Torgove

Board Chair and Treasurer

“I was drawn to Earthfire because of the respect they gave their animals.”

Andrew Torgove is a managing director and head of the restructuring group at Lazard Middle Market. He has more than 25 years of experience in executing restructuring transactions, as well as M&A transactions and refinancing for both distressed and healthy companies. Recent engagements include representing Standard Register, Allen’s, American Safety Razor, Chem Rx Corporation, and the Unsecured Creditors Committee of Global Geophysical Services. Prior to joining Lazard Middle Market, Mr. Torgove was a managing director at Stairway Capital, a $330 million fund focused on buying distressed middle market companies, with a focus on purchasing senior debt positions. From 1996 to 2004, Mr. Torgove worked at Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin and was co-head of their distressed M&A practice in New York from 2001-2004. Mr. Torgove received a Ph.D. in economics from the New School for Social Research, a Master’s Degree in economics from Boston College, and a Bachelor’s Degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi Honors Societies.

Allan Blitz, Ed.D.

Vice Chair

“Earthfire’s goal is to connect with Life. That, is nourishing. Connecting with animals is a grounding for us into Life. The modern world has strained relations with what Life is; all species, all Life including our environment – the earth, the sky. a good foundation Earthfire is on a path to relate us in a good way, enhancing our connection to the foundation of life so we can work in harmony with Life, not separate from it. We use animals and trees as a resource without regard to who they are and we have lost all connection with and respect for who they are… a potentially fatal arrogance on our part.”

Allan Blitz, Ed.D., has worked as a psychologist in universities, in private practice, and for 20 years in the NYC school system as a school psychologist. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in clinical school psychology. Additionally, he has an EDD in educational psychology. Allan has spent many summers travelling around North America on his motorcycle and particularly enjoys working with children. He now has a therapy dog who is working with both adults and children. His relationship with Earthfire allows him to explore his joy for the outdoors and wildlife and he has a profound respect for life and believes life needs to be nourished and dealt with positively.

Elizabeth M. Kutter, Ph.D.

Secretary

“Susan and her wolf-hybrid Tatanka lived with me for a year while she was team-teaching a course with me at Evergreen State College. He played a major role in drawing me into Susan’s vision and dream. Later I met her whole young wolf pack. Holding one of the cubs, Stardance, feeling her immense vitality, drew me even more deeply into the pack and into strongly supporting Earthfire in its early struggles.”

Elizabeth Kutter, Ph.D. is a professor emerita at the highly innovative, collaborative, nature-oriented Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where she began teaching in 1972, a year after the college opened. She became drawn into the vision and promise of Earthfire when Susan Eirich, Ph.D. spent a year teaching with her in 1992-1993 in the full-time “Human Health and Behavior” program she had developed there, integrating psychology, sociology, health, nutrition, developmental biology, psychoneuroimmunology and related fields, and she has been a dedicated part of Earthfire since its founding. She still heads a Laboratory of Bacteriophage Biology there that she opened in 1973, working with the molecular biology, ecology and therapeutic applications of bacteriophages — viruses that very specifically kill bacteria and have been used as very effective antimicrobials in some parts of the world, from France to the Republic of Georgia, since the 1930’s. She put on her 22nd biennial Evergreen International Phage Meeting there last summer, drawing over 200 people from 48 countries, and has given invited talks about phage on all 6 inhabited continents, working toward their implementation in both human and animal health. She also heads a nonprofit, Phagebiotics Research Foundation, working both internationally and locally to support phage therapy research and implementation. They have just published a case-series article in the Journal of Wound Care on their successful use of phage to treat diabetic toe ulcers which had not responded to conventional treatment, including antibiotics, and where amputation had become the major other option.

Susan with Earthfire the Wolf

Susan B. Eirich, PhD

Executive Director

“The more mindful we are about how we live, the more effective we will be. We must let increasing urgency energize us but not lull us into quick, easy fixes or waste time waiting for others to lead. Each of us, in our way, must lead the way.”

With degrees in biology and psychology, as well as having lived with rescued wild animals for a quarter century, Dr. Eirich is uniquely qualified to offer creative and essential perspectives to help solve the problems of our time, combining insights from science, human development, introspection and nature into an integrated whole for living sustainably, harmoniously, and joyously on our Earth. Ever since she can remember, Susan has had an instinctive understanding of the value of all living beings and how important it is to treat all with respect, for our sake as well as theirs. Over twenty years ago, she founded Earthfire Institute, a wildlife sanctuary, rehabilitation center, and retreat destination located on 120 acres just west of Grand Teton National Park. Living with bears and wolves, cougars and coyotes, badgers and buffalo over their lifetimes, Susan has seen astounding events which have opened windows into the beautifully entangled nature of Life. Those experiences have helped her develop Reconnection Ecology®, a framework created to reawaken our deep relationship to wildlife and nature, expanding our sense of community to include all living beings and moving us to protect thriving habitats for all Life.

Susan has taught at universities around the world; worked as a psychologist in maximum security prisons; developed a university counseling center; directed a Nature Conservancy Preserve; and spent time with peoples in remote corners of Nepal, the Northwest Territories, and the Amazon rainforest, always seeking to see through other’s eyes. Susan works closely with her staff to maintain a professional organization that contributes to a new world view and story through global outreach and educational programs. She continues to oversee animal welfare at the Institute as she travels and speaks around the world, finding time to personally research the latest developments in holistic medical care for her beloved animals.

Michelle Lund

Member at Large

“It is really important to know the animals in their entirety. When you see an animal you want to be able to look into its eyes and feel them, and Earthfire gives you that. The whole crux is to make sure that animals and humans live together in unity because we all live together on this planet and it is important for us to know each other.” Michelle Lund has been a member of the Sharon D. Lund Foundation since 1993. She is a great lover of animals, nature and people. “I know the significance of the three coming together and complementing the world we live in.” Being the Board’s newest member, Michelle looks forward to making an impact and thanks Earthfire for including her on this adventure.

Ann Loyola

Member at Large

“Any time that I go into the woods, I have the opportunity to come out as a better person. I’ve believed in that power ever since I was a little girl, and my belief has only grown stronger over the years.”

Ann’s history with Earthfire began 20 years ago when she signed on as a part-time fundraising consultant. She was on-hand for the birth and official IRS nonprofit designation of Earthfire Institute. After 18 years serving as Marketing and Development Director at a rural hospital, she’s come back to Earthfire as Assistant Director.

Additional professional experience includes co-owner and sole apparel designer for a nationally distributed casual wear brand, public relations account manager supporting Pebble Beach Resort, California Teachers’ Association (including television segment production), land conservation groups, and providing consultant work for small rural nonprofits. 

Ann is proud of her Mexican Indian and Basque heritage, and enjoys skiing, bicycling, fly fishing, and horseback riding. 

Philbin de Got

Member at Large

“In my heart, I truly believe that we all need to learn to respect all people and to do that we have to learn about them. Lack of knowledge breeds lack of understanding. Our lack of respect and fear of many animals stems from that same lack of knowledge. I also realize that we all need to be responsible in our actions and use good sense when in the homes of wild animals. To have a learning institution that promotes and shares information to help humans and animals coexist, is a gift to Teton Valley as well as far reaching locations. Personally, I love to sit and watch these animals move, sleep, and watch me right back. They are a joy..”

Philbin holds a Bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute in Chicago. She has worked professionally in illustration, graphic design, jewelry design, portraits, still life, landscape painting and murals. She and business partner, Joe Rayman, opened the nationally recognized mural and trompe l’oeil studio, Rayman• de Got Studios, in 1985. Their work decorates public buildings and homes throughout the U.S. Philbin and her husband, Jim, moved to the Teton Valley in 2003 to be closer to their sons and their families. Philbin has always been inspired by the beauty and uniqueness of nature and its surroundings. Philbin’s art has graced two books by Earthfire, Swatworth, Josie and the Buffalo Girls, and Into the Space and Silence. She has also provided numerous illustrations for Earthfire’s website and presentations.

Kristine Ciesinski with Earthfire the Wolf

Kristine Ciesinski

In Memoriam

“My spirit has always needed and LOVED connection with Animals. To be able to connect to our wild brothers and sisters at Earthfire is enriching, uplifting and unforgettable! Something not to be missed…!”

Kris first came to the Teton Valley in 1978 when she performed with the Grand Teton Music Festival. She is an internationally renowned opera and concert singer who has over the last 28 years performed leading roles as dramatic soprano at many of the world’s greatest opera houses. Her love and appreciation for the Teton Mountains (she has climbed the Grand twice!) and Teton Valley and its community led her to join the Advisory Circle for Earthfire Institute. Kristine is married to Norman Bailey, world renowned Wagnerian bass-baritone and they are very well trained by their six wonderful adopted dogs.

Kris passed away in June 2018. She lived with enough passion for several lives, along the way inspiriting and inspiring others and bringing joy, beauty, kindness and clarity wherever she went. Safe travels, our friend. We will feel you soaring over this beloved valley of yours, and hear your song on the wind.