Board of Directors

Susan R. Gearhart, President

Susan Gearhart has been an original board member of Friends of the West Shore and stands as one of the group founders. She and her husband James W. Gearhart, MD, have lived in Homewood part time since James Gearhart built their cabin in 1960 off of Tahoe Ski Bowl in Homewood. Susan is a retired critical care nursing supervisor. Susan has worked with her local League of Women Voters as the Environment Director and President. Later she transferred regionally with the LWV of the Bay Areas as the Natural Resources Water Director. Susan helped lead the successful campaign of preserving 33,000 acres of rolling grasslands in the hills of East Bay. In 2002, the Hill Area Initiative became a wildlife corridor. When Susan and James W. Gearhart realized the threat that development posed to the West Shore of Lake Tahoe they united with the community and formed Friends of the West Shore.

Judith Tornese, Treasurer

Judith Tornese and her husband, Jerry Winters, have been part-time residents of Tahoma, on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, since 1968, the year that Jerry built their house. They currently live at Tahoe about 5 months of the year.  Judith is a founder and original Board member of Friends of the West Shore.

Judith is an independent risk management and insurance consultant to organizations, government and private entities.  Prior to that time, she was Vice President – Risk Management for Transamerica Corporation, a $10 billion company.  As Vice President, she managed Transamerica’s consolidated Risk Management and insurance programs, including risk financing, all insurance purchasing, claims handling, loss control, safety, and business recovery.  She managed three captive insurance companies and was President of ARC Reinsurance Corporation, a run-off operation for $400 million of reinsurance claims.  She also handled risk management issues involving company mergers and acquisitions and related contractual agreements.

Judi holds the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation.  She attended the University of Pittsburgh and Golden Gate University in San Francisco.  She is a member of the Development Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco.  She has also served on numerous other business and charitable Boards.

Bruce Carswell

Bruce Carswell was born in Wilmington, DE on October 22, 1927. He is married with four children and holds a BS from USMA at West Point, MS in Engineering from Texas A&M, and a MS from UC Davis. Bruce has a very interdisciplinary background as a Army Corps of Engineers Officer; research coordinator for the defense atomic support agency; tours in Vietnam; staff director for the Atlantic Pacific Interoceanic Sea Level Canal; and much more. Bruce has a very deep interest and love for Tahoe, specifically the West Shore. Bruce’s wife, Mary Alice (Nee Turner) spent summers at 4840 West Lake Blvd. from 1935, living in a tent until the house was completed in 1937. Since his marriage with Alice, Bruce has been enthralled with Tahoe and its West Shore. Bruce is highly concerned about the preservation of its character, environment, and integrity thus the reason for his active help with FOWS as a board member.

Steve Toschi

Steve Toschi and his wife, Robyn, have owned a home in Tahoe Hills since 2000.  He spends about 40 days a year at the Lake.  Steve was born in California and has been coming to the Lake every year since he was a child.  He’s an avid fisherman, both in the Lake, and a fly fisherman in the surrounding and back country streams (strictly practicing catch and release).  He enjoys skiing every year.  Steve’s an active swimmer, and participates in the Trans Tahoe and Trans Donner swims. He uses what the Lake and its surrounding communities have to offer, but is particularly fond of the peace and quiet found on the West Shore.

Steve is a trial attorney, with more than 70 civil jury trials to verdict, and is a founding member and managing shareholder of Toschi, Sidran, Collins & Doyle, APC. He received his undergraduate degree in Politics from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1983 and his law degree from McGeorge School of Law in 1986. Steve is a member of the California Bar, the Alameda County Bar Association, and the Northern California Fraud Investigator’s Association.  He was voted California “Super Lawyer” for general litigation in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. When Steve Toschi is not in the courtrooms of the Bay Area, he’s in Tahoe listening to 100.1 and 101.5.  He has been a member of Friends of the West Shore since 2009 and a long time member of the League to Save Lake Tahoe.

Paris Strachan

Paris Strachan was raised in the Bay Area and frequently visited Lake Tahoe throughout her youth. She joined the board of FOWS in July of 2015 shortly before marrying her now husband, Aaron Strachan, at the home his grandfather built in Tahoma, on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore, in 1950. The Strachan’s have been a staple of the West Shore community ever since, and care deeply about preserving the natural beauty and purity of the area. Although Paris lives full time in San Francisco, she maintains a strong connection to the West Shore, and spends most summers and winters there.

Paris is currently completing her Juris Doctorate at UC Hastings College of the Law, and plans to join the California State Bar in November of 2016. She also holds a BA in Music from Naropa University. Her aim is to specialize in transactional law, with a low or no fee practice that supports businesses driven by social or environmental justice missions. She has had ample experience under supervision from expert attorneys assisting business clients with issues ranging from formation, to equity issuances, tax matters, and unique contract needs.

As a board member of FOWS, Paris hopes to add energy and perspective from the next generation of Tahoe residents, as well as increase awareness, gain experience, and become a more engaged member of the Tahoe community. In her free time Paris enjoys singing, snowboarding, swimming, and sipping “docktails” in beautiful Lake Tahoe.

Jennifer Quashnick, Conservation Consultant

Jennifer has been a full time resident in the Lake Tahoe Basin for the most part since 2001. She obtained her M.S. degree in Environmental Science and Health from the University of Nevada, Reno, and her B.S. degree in Environmental Science & Ecology from Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, NV. Jennifer’s experience reflects a diverse array of experiences among the regulatory, private, and non-profit sectors. As an independent consultant for pro-environment interests, Jennifer has found that working for groups like Friends of West Shore (FOWS), the Tahoe Area Sierra Club (TASC), and the Sierra Forest Legacy, have been the most fulfilling of her career. Tahoe’s West Shore holds a special place in her heart. Jennifer appreciates the rural, quieter, and friendlier feel of West Shore communities, as well as the mountains and trails that boast so many features unique to the West Shore.

As a conservation consultant to Friends of the West Shore, Jennifer draws from her scientific background, coupled with over a decade of experience in environmental planning in the Basin, to help FOWS support its mission, including advocating for scientifically-supported policy-making to protect our environment and rural communities. Jennifer’s interest in protecting Lake Tahoe began as a child, when her family visited Tahoe year-round, enjoying hiking, camping, relaxing days on the beach in the summertime, and skiing in the winter. Jennifer loves all Tahoe has to offer, but is most fond of hiking, snowshoeing, and downhill skiing, and is typically accompanied by her Border collies. Jennifer also enjoys creative writing, and is the author of a new Tahoe area mystery series.