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

Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership Manager, Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Katie Allen serves as the Manager 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.  Prior to joining the ATC, Katie was the Director of The Conservation Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network (CLN), leading a range of services related to rural economic development, strategic conservation planning, and market-based conservation finance. She looks to build collaborative solutions to meet shared goals that build connections between communities, recreation, and conservation. 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.

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.

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.

Gary Burnett

Executive Director, Heart of the Rockies Initiative

Gary, a long-time leader in the conservation field, is the Executive Director for the Heart of the Rockies Initiative. Gary has 30 years of experience in natural resource management and nonprofit development.  He has worked with and for public and private landowners/managers on land protection and stewardship; prescribed fire; and natural areas, wildlife and habitat management.  Gary has developed and directed annual fund, major gift and planned giving programs for local, regional and national organizations.  He holds a Masters Degree in Wildlife Biology from University of Montana, and has served as the Blackfoot Challenge’s Executive Director since May of 2007.

Beth Conover

Director of the Salazar Center for North American Conservation, Colorado State University

Beth is the first Director of the Salazar Center for North American Conservation at Colorado State University. From 2011-2018, she led investments in natural resource protection and community development for the Denver-based Gates Family Foundation. She also supported the Foundation’s work on impact investing. Past work has been social entrepreneurial. She was Sustainability Director for former Denver Mayor (now Colorado Governor) John Hickenlooper. Beth has more than 20 years of experience building and implementing successful strategies, programs and financing for sustainable development; working locally, regionally and nationally with public, private and non-profit sectors.

Ernest Cook

Principal, Land and Water Associates (Network Interim Director)

Ernest is on leave from the Coordinating Committee as he currently serves as Interim Network Director.

Ernest Cook is the principal of Land and Water Associates in Boston, MA. He was formerly Senior Vice President and Director of Conservation Strategies at The Trust for Public Land (TPL), providing conservation services, including Conservation Transactions, Conservation Vision/GIS, Conservation Finance and Federal Affairs. Ernest built the Conservation Finance program by establishing a nationwide team of staff and political consultants who have helped state and local governments create over $40 billion in new sources of public funds for parks and land conservation. Ernest also formed a TPL Conservation Economics unit and led the creation of large-scale national databases that allow for greater accountability and effectiveness of park and conservation programs for both public and private conservation partners.

Greg Costello

Conservation Director, Wildlands Network

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

Ali Duvall

Director of Strategic Partnerships, Intermountain West Joint Venture

Ali joined the Intermountain West Joint Venture in 2010, and has played a prominent role in supporting the mission and growth of this highly diverse and innovative public-private partnership. In her position as Director of Strategic Partnerships, she performs a variety of functions including the development of strategic partnerships and initiatives, increasing funding, bridging science and delivery, and organizational management and development. She earned a M.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana where she studied community forests, terrestrial/aquatic systems ecology, and the social implications of conservation delivery. Ali has spent decades working in the field of collaborative conservation with a focus on transferring innovations, building capacity, and encouraging diversity and inclusion across multiple scales to deliver strategic habitat conservation for wildlife and communities. She is a graduate of the National Conservation Leadership Institute and has helped catalyze forums focused on leadership development using the principles of adaptive leadership. Ali lives in the big sky country of Montana and enjoys time with her daughter, family and friends, mindfulness and body practice, walks and hikes, fishing, art, travel, and anything that connects her to nature.

Sharon Farrell

Executive Vice President, Projects, Stewardship & Science, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

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. She manages the Conservancy’s stewardship, community science, conservation and landscape-scale stewardship collaboratives. She also serves as the facilitator for the recently launched California Collaborative 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.

Michael Giammusso

Director of Institutional Giving & National Lands Initiative Lead, The Trust for Public Land

Michael joined The Trust for Public Land in 2003 and currently fills two roles in support of the organization’s land-for-people mission. As Director of Institutional Giving, he works with major foundations, securing support for land transactions and various national program priorities, including Conservation Finance, Natural Climate Solutions, and Creative Placemaking. As National Lands Initiative Lead, he is point person for the development and implementation of the organization’s Lands Initiative strategies, which focus on large landscapes, national parks, community forests, and historic & cultural sites. Michael previously worked as program staff with the Northern Forest Alliance and he holds an MS in Natural Resources Planning from the University of Vermont.

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.

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

Conserve Land & Water Strategy Lead, Northeast Division, Nature United/The Nature Conservancy (Network Co-Chair)

Jessie is the Conserve Land  & Water Strategy Lead, Northeast Division for Nature United/The Nature Conservancy.  She works on developing and implementing tools to sustain connected forest and freshwater habitats and addressing challenges posed by climate change. 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.

Jennifer Melville

Vice President, Conservation Grants and Loans, New England/Southern Canada Field Coordinator, Open Space Institute

Jennifer is the Vice President of Conservation Grants and Loans and the New England/Southern Canada Field Coordinator for the Open Space Institute.

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.

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.

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.

Peter Williams

Principle and Founder, PBW Consulting and Process Matters Group

Dr. Peter B. Williams is the Principle and Founder of PBW Consulting and the Process Matters Group. He is an independent management consultant, educator, and speaker with three decades of experience in community collaboration beginning with field projects in places as diverse as New England, the Mid-Atlantic States, south Florida, Texas, Utah, Colorado, the northern Rocky Mountains, and, now, the southwest. Peter’s twenty-year tenure in the federal workforce at executive level and line officer positions includes serving as Director of the US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution and as Forest Supervisor for the Wayne National Forest. He is a Senior Fellow with the Partnership for Public Service and a Visiting Fellow with the University of Montana. He holds a BA from Kenyon College, an MS from Virginia Tech, and a PhD from Utah State University. PBW Consulting and the Process Matters Group focus on supporting collaborative conservation efforts through facilitation and mediation, program management and strategic planning, teaching and coaching.