Coordinating Committee

The Coordinating Committee helps guide and facilitate the Network, and is comprised of landscape conservation experts and practitioners representative of the Network’s geographic, sectoral, and skills diversity. This Committee is collaboratively responsible for refining and advancing the Network’s goals and initiatives. A small executive committee operates as a sub-body of the Coordinating Committee, and meets more regularly to advance Network operations.

Katie Allen

Director of Landscape Conservation, Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Katie Allen serves as the Director of Landscape Conservation to support the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s efforts to fulfill its vision realize the Appalachian Trail and its surrounding landscape are protected forever for all to enjoy. At ATC, she oversees the coordination of the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership, a collaborative of over 100 partners working to connect the wild, scenic and cultural wonders of the Appalachian Trail and its surrounding landscape; the Wild East Action Fund, a grant program that promotes the protection of land and capacity building of partners in the Appalachian Trail Landscape; the Appalachian Trail Community Program(TM), a designation program for communities along the trail to promote their dedication to stewardship of the AT, outdoor recreation economic development, and conservation of natural and recreational resources. She holds a Master of City and Regional Planning degree in Environmental and Land Use Planning from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Boston University.

Brenda Barrett

Editor, Living Landscape Observer

For the past twenty years, Brenda has been involved in developing the field of landscape scale collaborations from heritage areas to conservation landscape initiatives. She served as the Director of Recreation and Conservation in the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the National Coordinator for Heritage Areas for the U.S. National Park Service, and the Director of Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Historic Preservation. She is a board member of US ICOMOS, a member ICOMOS Scientific Committee on Cultural Landscapes, and editor of the Living Landscape Observer.

Bruce Beard

Associate Director for Policy, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute

Bruce leads the institute’s Military Land Sustainability Program which supports test and training activities on U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) lands. He has over 30 years of federal land management and natural resource policy experience and is a nationally recognized advocate for Sentinel Landscapes. He served within the Executive Office of the President at the Office of Management and Budget in three Administrations. Bruce was the OMB Branch Chief for the Interior Branch responsible for coordination of budget, legislation and regulatory issues affecting the Department of the Interior. At the DoD, he was instrumental in establishing the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, and helped initiate the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership between Departments of Agriculture, Defense and the Interior.

Bray Beltrán

Conservation & Equity Director, Heart of the Rockies Initiative

Bray is an ecologist by training. He sees humans as an integral part of ecosystems, and firmly believes collaborative bottom-up conservation can help people find the balance between the long-term well-being of local communities (and us humans as a global agent of change), and the resources we use to maintain our quality of life. At Heart of the Rockies Initiative he supports the long-term sustainability of socio-ecological systems in the Intermountain West by developing a strong science program that informs private and public land protection and stewardship and that is inclusive of all people and cultures living in the region. Bray grew up in Colombia, moved to the U.S. in 2000, and has been living in the Intermountain West since 2013. He lives in Pocatello, Idaho, with his wife and daughters and gets out with them as often as they can to enjoy the outdoors and the amazing beauty of this region.

Bob Bendick

Director: Gulf of Mexico Program, The Nature Conservancy

Bob is Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico Program. He has been with the Conservancy since 1995, as Florida Chapter Director, Managing Director of the ten-state Southern U.S. Region, and as Director of U.S. Government Relations. Bob was previously Deputy Commissioner for Natural Resourcesof the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, served as Chair of the Northern Forest Lands Council, and was Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

Kass Hardy Bissmeyer

Program Specialist: Biological Resources Division, National Park Service

Kass works on connected conservation initiatives for the National Park Service out of the Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate. Her work engages a community of practice on connected conservation, in addition to specific projects on avifauna, pollinators, invasive species, wildlife corridors, cultural resource heritage, and more.

R. Patrick Bixler

Research Fellow, University of Texas at Austin

Patrick is a research fellow with the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He focuses on the interplay between society and environment, particularly collaborative governance and ways that cross-­‐sector networks influence policy and on-the‐ground outcomes. He has published in numerous social science and environmental science journals on topics of land and water management, biodiversity conservation, climate adaptation, and urban resilience.

Zack Bowen

National Program Coordinator, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Land Management Research Program

Zack is the National Program Coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Land Management Research Program.  The Program focuses on science to improve the effectiveness of land management and inform the restoration of ecosystems on millions of acres including public lands such as U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) refuges, and other critical landscapes.  He previously served as Chief of the Ecosystem Dynamics Branch at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center and began his career as a biologist for the USFWS.  He has 30 years of experience working collaboratively with scientists and management agency partners to develop useful scientific and technical products.  He holds a B.S. in biology and psychology from the University of North Alabama and a M.S. and Ph.D. in fisheries biology from Auburn University.

Jimmy Bullock

Senior Vice President: Forest Sustainability, Resource Management Service

Jimmy is responsable for sustainable forestry policy and programs, forest certification, environmental and wildlife policy development and implementation, and outdoor recreation programs for all RMS-managed timberlands in the United States. Jimmy received his B.S. Degree in Forestry/Wildlife and a M.S. in Wildlife Ecology both from Mississippi State University. Prior to joining RMS, he was Manager of Wildlife Policy and Programs for International Paper. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist, a Mississippi Registered Forester and a Society of American Foresters Certified Forester. He holds a life appointment to the Board of Directors for the Catch-A-Dream Foundation, is a founding and current member of the Board of Directors for the National Conservation Leadership Institute, and is a Professional Member of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Greg Costello

Conservation Director, Wildlands Network

Greg oversees Wildlands Network’s conservation programs and advises program staff on strategic project design.

Sharon Farrell

Senior Advisor, The Stewardship Fund

Sharon has worked for more than 25 years as an ecologist, park planner and project manager. She holds a MS in Park Management, and a BS in Chemistry. Until 2022, Sharon served as Executive Vice President of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, where she managed the Conservancy’s stewardship, community science, conservation and landscape-scale stewardship collaborative efforts. She also serves as the facilitator for the California Landscape Stewardship Network. Previously, Sharon was the Executive Director of the Watershed Project.  Her work included capacity building for “Friend” groups, with a focus on partnership with local governments.  Sharon also worked as an ecologist with the National Park Service.

Lauren Fety

Forest & Climate Project Manager, The Conservation Fund

Lauren Fety is The Conservation Fund’s Forest and Climate Project Manager. In northern California, she manages The Conservation Fund’s Improved Forest Management carbon offset projects and works with the local team to implement sustainable forest management. She also supports land and water conservation efforts across the country. Prior to joining the Fund in 2015, Lauren worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and California and for the American River Conservancy in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Lauren holds a Masters of Forestry and a Masters of Environmental Management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, and Bachelor of Arts from Swarthmore College.

Elsa Haubold

National Landscape Conservation Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Elsa is the national Landscape Conservation Cooperative coordinator. Previously she worked on wildlife diversity and endangered species issues in Florida and coordinated the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network. At Texas A&M she earned a Wildlife and Fisheries BS and Veterinary Anatomy MS, a Ph.D. in Pathology from University of Texas Medical Branch, and a MBA from University of Houston Clear Lake. She is a National Conservation Leadership Institute Fellow and certified Project Management Professional.

Erin Heskett

Vice President of Conservation Initiatives, Land Trust Alliance

Erin is the Land Trust Alliance’s director of national and regional services and oversees its regional offices in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and West. The Alliance’s regional programs develop and implement training and capacity building programs to strengthen its 1,000 member land trusts. He joined the Alliance in 2006 after serving as senior program officer at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, where he developed and led policy campaigns to address threats to terrestrial and marine wildlife habitat. He has also held positions with the U.S. EPA-New England in the Superfund Program and Urban Environmental Initiative. Erin served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal from 1991-1993 and earned a master’s degree in urban and environmental policy from Tufts University.

Shawn Johnson

Managing Director, Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy: University of Montana (Network Co-Chair)

Shawn is Managing Director of the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the University of Montana. He has helped advance a joint effort between the Center and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy on regional collaboration and landscape conservation. Shawn is co‐author of “Working Across Boundaries: People, Nature, and Regions” (Lincoln Institute, 2009), and he contributed to “Large Landscape Conservation, A Strategic Framework for Policy and Action”(Lincoln Institute, 2010).

Leslie Jones

Vice President of External Affairs, American Forests

Leslie joined American Forests in 2020. She has over 25 years of experience in shaping conservation policy. As Deputy Undersecretary and Chief of Staff for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture her work included overseeing the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service on a variety of natural resource issues, including management of the 193-million-acre National Forest and Grassland System, and implementation of Farm Bill conservation programs on America’s farms, ranches and forests. Leslie was also Chief of Staff at the global ocean conservation organization, Oceana, and General Counsel for The Wilderness Society. Leslie grew up in California and Maine and now lives in Virginia where you will find her playing with her retriever dog in the nearest water body.

Jennifer Kovecses, Program Director, The Salazar Center for North American Conservation, Colorado State University, April 25, 2022

Jen Kovecses

Assistant Director for Programs, Salazar Center for North American Conservation, Colorado State University

Jen grew up playing in lakes and streams in Canada, building a life-long interest in aquatic ecosystems and conservation. She pursued this interest in university, completing a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Master of Science in aquatic ecology at McGill University. After completing her graduate degree, she continued to work on a variety of watershed conservation projects on the shores of Lake Ontario and the coast of British Columbia. While living in California, Jen had the opportunity to work for local non-profits, offering science and policy analysis to help protect water quality and habitat in California’s beautiful coastal watersheds. Most recently, she was the executive director for Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed for over seven years. She is currently the Assistant Director for Programs with Colorado State University’s Salazar Center for North American Conservation.

Bill Labich

Senior Conservationist, Highstead Foundation

Bill is a Senior Conservationist with Highstead Foundation and coordinator of the Regional Conservation Partnership (RCP) Network. With a background in forestry and land use planning, Bill organizes, writes about, and assists others in advancing collaborative approaches to regional conservation. He coordinates the New England Forest Policy Group and co‐coordinates the Hudson to Housatonic RCP. Bill is also the author of “The Regional Conservation Partnership Handbook” (Highstead 2015).

Jessica Levine

Northern Appalachians Program Director, The Nature Conservancy and Nature United (Network Co-Chair)

Jessie is the Northern Appalachians Program Director for The Nature Conservancy and Nature United.  In this role, she leads a cross-border conservation program across a large bi-national region comprising 8 US states and 3 Canadian provinces and co-leads The Nature Conservancy’s work at the scale of the full Appalachian landscape. Jessie previously coordinated the Staying Connected Initiative, a public-private partnership focused on sustaining a connected landscape in the northern Appalachians of the US and Canada. Her additional prior work includes managing local and international environmental partnerships in the US and Canada, coordinating biodiversity research at a university, leading youth environmental education, and directing volunteer programs in Latin America.

James Levitt

Manager: Conservation Programs, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy; Director: Program on Conservation Innovation, Harvard Forest, Harvard University

Jim is the Associate Director of  Land Conservation Programs in the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and director of the program on conservation innovation at the Harvard Forest, Harvard University, in Petersham, Massachusetts. In addition, he holds ongoing fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School and at Highstead, a non-profit organization advancing land conservation in New England. Levitt focuses on landmark innovations in the field of land and biodiversity conservation (both present-day and historic) that are characterized by five traits: novelty and creativity in conception; strategic significance; measurable effectiveness; international transferability; and the ability to endure. Levitt has written and edited dozens of articles and four books on land and biodiversity conservation. He has lectured widely on the topic in venues ranging from Santiago, Chile, to Beijing, China, and Stockholm, Sweden. Among his current efforts, Levitt plays an instrumental role in the effort to organize the International Land Conservation Network (ILCN), whose mission is to connect organizations around the world that are accelerating voluntary private and civic sector action to protect and steward land and water resources. Levitt is a graduate of Yale College and the Yale School of Management (Yale SOM). He was recently named a Donaldson Fellow by Yale SOM for career achievements that “exemplify the mission of the School.”

Rebecca Stanfield McCown

Director, National Park Service Stewardship Institute

Rebecca works on projects focused on engagement, evaluation, and collaboration. Her evaluation work has focused on youth programming and employee engagement. Rebecca is part of the team facilitating and supporting the roll out of the Urban Agenda community of practice and the Urban Fellows program. She also works with park and partner staff to develop cultural competency and diversity training.

Nora Mitchell

Adjunct Professor, University of Vermont

Nora is the founding director emerita of the Conservation Study Institute established by the NPS to enhance leadership and innovation in the field of collaborative conservation, and is also adjunct faculty at the University of Vermont. Nora has worked in collaboration with many national parks and national heritage areas, and has been engaged in international conservation of landscapes with IUCN, ICOMOS and UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre. Nora is the author of numerous publications including, “The Protected Landscape Approach: Linking Nature, Culture, and Community.”

Sarah Palmer

Director of Conservation Programs, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Prior to joining Y2Y Sarah was a consultant in environmental law and policy. Over the course of her legal career, Sarah provided advice to clients on a wide variety of matters including: land use planning; remediation of contaminated lands; conservation and reclamation; the environmental assessment process, corporate environmental systems; environmental compliance and management of environmental risks and liabilities; climate change; and new environmental legislation and policy. Sarah enjoys hiking, cycling and skiing in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.

David Patton

Vice President of Pacific Region & Northwest Director, The Trust for Public Land

David is responsible for leading a team that protects the places people care about and creates parks close-to-home in Hawaii, Washington and Oregon.  In addition, David leads TPL’s national strategic lands initiative that aims to deliver public land for public good using community driven land protection practices.  Prior to TPL, he worked for the National Parks Conservation Association advocating for the protection and improvement of our national parks, and for Forterra, a NW regional land trust, improving the quality of life for communities in both urban and rural areas to ensure a sustainable future.  Additional volunteer and professional experiences include a focus on social justice, youth development, sports and education, and health equity issues.

Aaron Poe

Network Program Officer, Alaska Conservation Foundation

Aaron has worked in Alaska for 23 years. He builds partnerships between agency managers, Tribes, researchers, industry, and communities to address large scale issues like climate change, vessel traffic, contaminants, and invasive species. He is the Coordinator for the Aleutian Bering Sea Initiative (ABSI) and works for the Alaska Conservation Foundation as their Network Program Officer. He has B.S. degrees in Fisheries and Wildlife Management and Geography, from Utah State University and a Masters in Natural Resource Management from the University of Arizona.  He is grateful to be able to live and work on the lands of the Dena’ina people in Anchorage with his wife and two children. 

Karen Prentice

National Healthy Landscapes Coordinator, Bureau of Land Management

As the BLM’s National Healthy Landscapes Coordinator, Karen provides leadership for several aspects of the BLM’s landscape approach including coordinating landscape resiliency activities with internal and external partners and stakeholders, developing national policy on landscape restoration, and supporting development of the BLM’s Rapid Ecoregional Assessments. She represents BLM to the America’s Great Outdoors Demonstration Landscapes, the Land and Water Conservation Fund-Collaborative Technical Review Team, the Office of Wildland Fire’s Resilient Land Program Working Group, and the Joint Fire Science Governing Board. She is a Fellow of the National Conservation Leadership Institute.

Julie Regan

External Affairs Chief & Deputy Director, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

Julie is Chief of External Affairs and Deputy Director for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Her expertise includes strategic planning, media relations, writing, government relations, public speaking, community outreach, and environmental issues management. Her previous experience includes publishing Treasures by the Sea magazine, running the marketing and real estate arm of ResortQuest International in Bethany Beach, Delaware, and working in the water, electric, and natural gas utility industries. Julie is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Breece Robertson

Director of Partnerships and Strategy, Center for Geospatial Solutions, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Breece combines geospatial technology and storytelling to inspire, activate, educate, and engage people to protect our planet. She is a noteworthy leader in the conservation and parks field with over two decades of experience. Breece currently holds the position of Director of Partnerships and Strategy at the Center for Geospatial Solutions at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. In this role, she engages in geospatial initiatives to connect partner ecosystems and guides game-changing geospatial innovations to fill critical gaps and improve upon legacy methodologies to meet ambitious land, water, climate and equity goals. She created and led the GIS, research and planning unit at The Trust for Public Land and built strategic initiatives like ParkScore, ParkServe and Greenprinting. In 2006, she was awarded the Esri Special Achievement in GIS award and, in 2012, the “Making a Difference” award. She authored a book called “Protecting the Places We Love” published in April 2021 by Esri Press. When she’s not protecting places, she’s exploring and enjoying them.

Lynn Scarlett

Lynn retired in December 2021 from The Nature Conservancy, where she served as Global Chief External Affairs Officer. Prior to her role at the Conservancy, Lynn served was the Deputy Secretary/Chief Operating Officer at the U.S. Department of the Interior, and served as Acting Secretary of the Interior in 2006. Lynn is author or co-author of publications on climate change adaptation; ecosystem services; large landscape conservation; and science and decision making. She was a co-convening lead author of the 2014 (US) National Climate Assessment. She chaired the Science Advisory Board of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 2014-2019 and served on the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Sustainability Roundtable. In addition to work with the Network, Lynn serves on the advisory board of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Dean’s Advisory Council of the UC Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. She also serves on the boards of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative, and is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. Lynn received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and political economy from UC Santa Barbara, where she also completed her Ph.D. coursework and exams.

Gary Tabor

Executive Director, Center for Large Landscape Conservation

Gary is the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation. A conservation scientist and wildlife veterinarian, Gary’s conservation achievements include the establishment of Kibale National Park in Uganda and pioneering the field of Conservation Medicine and Eco‐Health. In the West, he co-designed the Western Governors’ Association Wildlife Corridors Initiative, and co‐founded the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, the Roundtable of the Crown of the Continent, and the Network for Landscape Conservation.

Julie Turrini

Director/Attorney, Lands, Rivers, and Communities, Resources Legacy Fund

Julie focuses on conservation financing, real estate transactions, and conservation philanthropy. Previously, Julie served as senior attorney for The Nature Conservancy’s California Program where she provided legal support for real estate acquisitions and dispositions, government and private grant and loan financings, and stewardship matters for the Cosumnes River, Delta, and Northern Sierra projects. Previously, Julie was a partner with various Sacramento law firms, focusing on commercial real estate, land conservation, low-income housing, and general corporate matters.

Greg Wathen

retired, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Greg has recently retired from his position as Special Assistant to the Director and Chief of Wildlife with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. Greg was previously the Coordinator of the Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC, a conservation collaborative comprised of 20 federal, state, and non-governmental organizations covering 180 million acres of the Mid-South region. He has also worked as a research biologist with National Park Service. He earned his B.S. in Natural Resources Management from the University of Tennessee at Martin, and a M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Management from University of Tennessee.

Leslie Weldon

Senior Executive for Work Environment, USDA Forest Service

Leslie is the Senior Executive for the newly established Work Environment and Performance Office.  She is responsible for identifying and establishing best practices aimed at improving and sustaining a workplace culture in which all employees feel safe, valued, respected, and supported for delivering priority work on forests and for communities. During Leslie’s 38-year career, she has held multiple leadership positions managing Forest Service lands and serving people with a vision and transformational initiatives for an agency with multiple missions.  Formally, as Deputy Chief for National Forest Systems, Leslie was responsible for National policy, oversight and direction for the natural resource and public service programs for 193 million acres of National Forests and Grasslands. She has participated on national, and international technical and policy review activities including in Congo Basin, Brazil, Peru, China, Argentina and Germany. Her work has involved identifying shared solutions and working closely with various partners.