Born in Rochester, New York, Barb moved to Alaska when she was 23 years old to work as a cook for a high-end wilderness lodge. Soon thereafter, she worked in the Bering Sea on a crab fishing vessel, and later as a cook on fishing tenders in herring and salmon fisheries. After she married, she worked in partnership with her then-husband building wooden boats and raising their two children. She first became involved with Kachemak Heritage Land Trust in 1990 while she lived relatively remotely across Kachemak Bay with her family. Soon after becoming a member of the KHLT board, she became president and moved to Homer to put her children in public school. She was president through 1994 and eventually was appointed executive director, her current position.