2024 Conference Presenter Bios

The Maine Land Conservation Conference brings together talented speakers from across the country with those from right here in Maine. We are so grateful to be working with all of them to bring you this year’s Conference!

Our Keynote Speaker: Dr. Bonnie Newsom

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2017
M.S., Quarternary Studies, University of Maine, 1999
B.A., Anthropology, University of Maine, 1995

Bonnie Newsom (Penobscot) is an Indigenous archaeologist interested in the pre-contact lifeways of Maine’s Native peoples. She is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Maine, and she seeks to humanize past peoples by exploring concepts of identity, social boundaries, and human agency. Dr. Newsom’s professional history includes serving as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Penobscot Indian Nation and as Assistant Director for UMaine’s Wabanaki Center. She has a strong public service record which includes serving as Chair of the Repatriation Review Committee for the National Museum of Natural History and as a member of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission. Dr. Newsom holds a B.A. in Anthropology and an M.S. in Quaternary Studies from the University of Maine and she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She and her husband Les live in Eddington, Maine and they have four children and three grandsons. 

Our Other Esteemed Presenters

Gabriela Alcalde  
Gabriela is a public health leader with 20+ years of experience and commitment to equity and social justice. Gabriela joined the team of the Sewall Foundation as Executive Director in the summer of 2019 and in this capacity leads the integration of environmental, human and animal health and welfare as the foundation works to center equity and community voices in all of their work and strategies. 
Prior to joining the Sewall Foundation, Gabriela served as the first Managing Director for Equity and Health at Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (RMHF) and as Vice-President for Policy and Program at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. Gabriela has worked in the philanthropic, academic, government, nonprofit and grassroots sectors throughout her career and served in various volunteer capacities to promote equity. 
She earned a DrPH in health administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MPH in maternal and child health at Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Louisville. A native of Lima, Peru, she currently lives in Maine with her husband, children and pets.  

Erin Amadon 
Erin Amadon’s passion for creating access to the natural world through trail work ignited over more than a quarter of a century when she first served as a member of a youth conservation corps, and she has been devoted to trail projects ever since. With over 17 years of experience in the trail contracting business, Erin has contributed to the completion of numerous significant trail projects.

Whether immersed in detailed stonework, constructing machine-built trails, or undertaking backcountry projects, Erin remains steadfast in her dedication to creating high-quality, sustainable trails. She actively contributes to nurturing the next generation of trail builders through her focus on education and training. Through her venture, Town 4 Trail Services, LLC, she generously imparts her extensive knowledge and expertise to volunteer groups, clients, students, and fellow trail enthusiasts.

Jane Arbuckle
Jane is the Director of Stewardship at Maine Coast Heritage Trust. She has been with MCHT since 1996! Jane has a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Marine Zoology. After working on schooners, ski-bumming, practicing as a potter, working as a paramedic and doing water quality monitoring, she settled into a career of environmental work. She was the Director of Wildlife Programs at Maine Audubon for 8 years, was a co-founder of the Gulf of Maine Seabird Working Group and has been involved in seabird restoration and research for the past 35 years, co-founded the Maine Amphibian and Reptile Atlas, worked to get the Chickadee Check-off through the legislature and was one of the original members of the Non-Game Advisory Committee, the Baxter Park Scientific Advisory Committee, and others. She was a co-founder of the Royal River Conservation Trust and is currently on the Brunswick Planning Board. She has been with MCHT since the spring of 1996. She lives in Brunswick and spends as much time as she can at her camp in Penobscot Bay and/or with her three daughters.

Sam Belknap
Sam grew up in Midcoast Maine and is the third of four generations of his family to have held a commercial lobstering license. He has experience as a lobster harvester as well as running his family’s lobster wharf that, in addition to supporting commercial fishing operations, processed and sold lobster and crab value-added products. From 2016 – 2018, Sam was Executive Director of the Herring Gut Learning Center (now Herring Gut Center for Science), an experiential hands-on aquaculture education facility in the fishing village of Port Clyde. In 2018, Sam took a full-time position at the Island Institute. There Sam managed several project teams including the organizations Sea Level Rise, Lobster, and Aquaculture areas of work. In 2019 Sam became the strategy and program design lead for the Island Institute’s Marine Economy and Climate areas of work and continues in that capacity today. In May of 2023 Sam was named as director for the Island Institute’s new Center for Marine Economy, overseeing a team of 5 Institute staff members working on an array of projects intended to support Maine’s Marine economy and those people and communities that rely on it for their livelihoods and success. Among other roles, Sam serves on the Executive Committee of the National Working Waterfront Network (

Adam Bishop 
Adam Bishop is the Vice President of Programs for Maine Farmland Trust, and coordinates the efforts of MFT’s land protection team in addition to working on conservation projects in the midcoast region. He has been with MFT since 2013. Adam has experience working with a number of local and regional land trusts in Maine, including Frenchman Bay Conservancy, Coastal Mountains Land Trust, and Blue Hill Heritage Trust. Adam holds a BA in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic, and currently resides in Lincolnville, Maine.  

Jerry Bley 
Jerry Bley founded Creative Conservation, LLC in 1990 after working 10 years as a land use specialist for the Natural Resources Council of Maine.  In the decades since, he has completed scores of land conservation and land planning projects throughout the state and beyond. He enjoys taking on challenging projects that require bringing people together and coming up with creative solutions.  In 2022, he received the Espy Land Heritage Award, an annual recognition of an individual or organization for exemplary conservation efforts in Maine. He has been appointed by several governors to help lead important conservation initiatives including the Northern Forest Lands Council and the Land Acquisition Priorities Advisory Committee.

Rachel Bouvier
Rachel Bouvier is an accomplished environmental and natural resource economist who specializes in assisting businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations in incorporating environmental considerations into their economic decision-making processes. Rachel also serves as Associate Professor and Chair of Economics at the University of Southern Maine. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she focused her research on the intersection of economics and the environment. She also earned a Master’s degree in Resource Economics and Community Development from the University of New Hampshire, further enhancing her expertise in sustainable economic practices.

Michelle Britsch 
Melissa received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Oregon State University in 2017 and a dual master’s degree in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine in 2021. She now works as Senior Planner with Maine Coastal Program at the Maine Department of Marine Resources managing their municipal planning grant program and contributing to statewide efforts to support Maine’s working waterfronts and increase commercial and public access to the coast. Melissa has supported the Land for Maine’s Future Working Waterfront Access Protection Program application process since 2022.

Lee Burnett  
Lee Burnett is a board member of Three Rivers Land Trust. He has been involved with trail development since college days when he worked on AMC Trail Crew in the White Mountains. 

Jess Burton 
Jess Burton (she/her) is a weaver, connecting people, ideas, and resources to build a better world  As the founding Executive Director of Momentum Conservation, she continues to learn and grow and seek ways to seed justice here. Jess grew up in New York City, ancestral land of the Lenape, and was born with an innate connection to nature and to being outside. She lives on Peaks Island with her husband Ponch Membreño, her daughters, and 2 dogs. Jess loves big ideas and is re-learning how to imagine that which has not existed yet.  

Hans Carlson 
Hans Carlson is Blue Hill Heritage Trust’s second Executive Director. A forest and environmental historian, he holds an MA from the University of Vermont, and a PhD from the University of Maine. He has taught at the University of Minnesota and the State University of New York and is the author of Home Is The Hunter: The James Bay Cree and Their Land, as well as other articles about the Cree. Hans has also recently published Walking Toward Moosalamoo: A Natural History of Terra Nullius. He has traveled extensively in northern Quebec and Labrador, since the early 1980s, and in addition to carrying out research on the north, he has led wilderness canoe trips and experiential-learning trips for undergrads and adults. While at the University of Maine, he helped author parts of the Historical Atlas of Maine, carrying out research on the environmental history and historical geography of this state. He was most recently the Director of Great Mountain Forest, a 6,300-acre working and research forest in northwestern Connecticut, which has been under conservation for over a century. In addition to his professional work, he is an avid outdoorsman, a woodworker, and boat-builder.

Brett Ciccotelli 
As one of First Light’s core team members, Brett works closely with the members of the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship and First Light organizations in their shared goal of growing land ownership and access for Wabanaki Communities. In his role supporting the return of Wabanaki land to Wabanaki people, he regularly works with teams of Indigenous leaders, non-native land trust staff, and private landowners. He lives with his partner near Frenchman Bay, where they look after an old barn, a few goats, and many trees.

Isobel Curtis 
Isobel Curtis is the Stewardship Manager at Midcoast Conservancy, a regional land trust conserving 15,000 acres based in Edgecomb ME. She coordinates management activities on easement and fee lands including annual monitoring, invasive species, and trail maintenance. Prior to her time at Midcoast Conservancy, she worked in environmental education and is passionate about connecting communities to their local ecology to create healthy, vibrant, and sustainable futures for all. She currently lives in Bremen with her partner and two dogs.

Dr. John Daigle 
John Daigle is a tribal member of the Penobscot Indian Nation and a program leader for the Parks, Recreation and Tourism program at the University of Maine. Daigle has been involved with the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) project since its origins in the early 2000s. His research team seeks to study and facilitate the ways that Wabanaki basket makers, tribes, state and federal foresters, university researchers, landowners, and others can come together to prevent, detect, and respond to the potential threat of the EAB in Maine.  

Jeff Davis 
Jeff is Vice President of the Coastal Mountains Land Trust. He moved to Maine full-time in 2014 after spending many summers here. The choice to move to Maine was driven by easy access to nature. He enjoys hiking and biking on local trails as well as kayaking and fly fishing on nearby lakes and streams. In 2015 Jeff became a volunteer at CMLT on its Wednesday morning trail work crew. He enjoyed getting out onto the trails in all kinds of weather and to dig deeper into a variety of preserves. He became a board member in 2021.
Jeff attended Changing Legacies, the First Light relearning, recentering, and returning course for board members. He is grateful to all who shared their concerns, challenges, and experiences along the way. The process challenged him and gave him the room to gain a new perspective. 

Prior to retirement, Jeff spent his career in marketing and adverting. He was a partner in a marketing research firm that conducted syndicated research for chain restaurants.

Keith Davis  
Keith Davis is chair of Three Rivers Land Trust. He has been walking since his early years and prefers most of his walks to be in the woods.  

Thomasina DiBiase 
Thomasina is a graduate of Clark University and spent more than a decade working in sales and operations management in Boston, Massachusetts. She returned to her home state of Maine in 2011 to take on the role of Vice President of an independent, eco-conscious haircare line. In that role she focused on the development of operations procedures, sales and marketing strategies, and created a management training program for small business owners. She joined FBC in 2018, and as the land trust’s the first Director of Development Thomasina is responsible for planning, organizing, and directing FBC’s fundraising efforts including the major gifts program, annual fund, planned giving, and capital campaigns. Thomasina is passionate about protecting the land we all love in Maine and supporting programs that help us all get outside – for work, learning and play. 

Aaron Dority 
Aaron Dority is the Executive Director of Frenchman Bay Conservancy, a 37 year old land trust with a mission to conserve distinctive ecosystems, lands, and waters for the benefit of all, in the Union River and Frenchman Bay watersheds east to the Hancock County line. FBC has conserved 16,000 acres of land through fee ownership and conservation easements. During Aaron’s tenure over the past ten years, FBC increased its pace of conservation, more than doubled the acres of conserved lands, and has overseen programmatic expansion, including Ellsworth Community Conservation, and FBC’s nature-based education partnership with Maine Outdoor School. Prior to working for FBC, Aaron was the Federal Policy Director for Penobscot East Resource Center, now Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries in Stonington. He serves on the Blue Hill Food Coop board of directors.

Bryan Emerson 
Bryan Emerson is the Mitigation Program Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Maine (TNC) where he primarily oversees TNC’s administration of the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program (MNRCP). Bryan works closely with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the US Army Corps of Engineers to run an annual grant funding round for wetland restoration and conservation projects. He works closely with applicants during the proposal process as well as assisting with implementation of projects and reviewing project work plans and monitoring reports. Bryan is a Professional Wetland Scientist whose previous experience includes working as an environmental consultation doing natural resource permitting, wetland delineations, and wetland mitigation design and monitoring.

Stephen Engle  
Stephen Engle, Executive Director and Founder of Community Geographics, has 26 years experience in the geospatial industry. He is a Geographer by training and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Middlebury College and Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), respectively. In addition to overseeing project development and business operations, Stephen specializes in project conceptualization, cartography, interface design, trails planning, training, and geospatial strategy. Implemented in 2009 under Stephen’s leadership, the award-winning Maine Trail Finder website has supported over five million users since launching and has served as a model for similar applications that Community Geographics has built for project partners across ten other states.  

Tyler Everett 
Tyler is a citizen of Mi’kmaq Nation. His research prioritizes methodologies that result in Tribal led science. He is a PhD student in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine and his current research focuses on the impacts of emerald ash borer (EAB) on Tribal ash resources and identifying innovative management and mitigation strategies for this forest health issue that Tribal Nation partners support and have interest in better understanding.  

Emily Farr
As the Senior Fisheries Program Manager at Manomet, Emily focuses on building resilience in fishing communities and ecosystems in the Gulf of Maine. Her work is grounded in partnership with coastal communities, and she works across multiple fisheries and aquaculture sectors to advance co-management and collaborative research. She has an interdisciplinary background in fisheries management, coastal governance, climate science, and facilitation.

Ryan Fecteau 
Ryan serves as Senior Officer of Policy and Planning at Avesta Housing. Prior to joining Avesta Housing, he served as an advisor to Governor Janet Mills in 2023 and Speaker of the Maine House Representatives from 2020 to 2022. He also served as the Maine House Assistant Majority Leader and as Chair of the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development during his terms in the Maine Legislature from 2014 to 2022. 

Gary Fish 
Gary Fish has been Maine State Horticulturist since 2015. He earned his B.S. in Forest and Wildlife Management from the University of Maine, College of Forest Resources in 1982, and a Master of Policy, Planning, and Management in 2023. Gary has also been Manager of Pesticide Programs for the Board of Pesticides Control for 28 years. Off and on, he has been a practicing Licensed Professional Forester since 1985, through Kents Hill Forestry Services. He is also the former chair of the Arborist Board and was a horticulturist for ChemLawn Services Corporation for 5 years, 1983 – 1988. 

Gary grew up in Farmington, Maine. An entomologist from birth, he was inspired to love plants by his Mother, who always grew beautiful roses and rock gardens. Gary is also a landscape and nature photographer.  

Emily Francis 
Emily (she/her) PhD candidate with a research focus on human dimensions of natural resources, specifically related to prioritizing Tribal Nations involvement in planning and decision making to solutions of “wicked problems.” Her research with Ash Protection Collaboration Across Wabanakik started with ash seed collection and the need to develop a document for non-researchers to take part in the effort to save seeds. Francis also spearheaded a survey on private landowners’ knowledge and involvement in saving ash on their properties against emerald ash borer (EAB).  

Enock Glidden 
An avid and accomplished outdoorsman who was born with a disability, Enock (he/him) is a passionate advocate for making trails more accessible for all. He hikes extensively, assessing and writing about his experiences through the Maine Trail Finder website. Enock works directly with trail managers to assess both physical and communications barriers that can be minimized or eliminated to make those experiences more accessible and welcoming. Named by Maine Magazine as a Mainer of the Year in 2022, Enock’s work has challenged, broadened, and transformed land managers’ understanding about who uses their trails.

Laura Graham 
A native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Laura earned her undergraduate degree in Art at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, and her J.D. at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Before joining the Land for Maine’s Future Program, she was a lawyer and a mediator. As a Senior Planner, and now Director, at LMF, Laura has learned the inside workings of the program and looks forward to building on the program’s many strengths. She lives in Alna with her husband, their shaggy dog, and two cats. 

Suzanne Greenlaw, Ph.D 
Suzanne Greenlaw, Ph.D, is a citizen of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and a Postdoctoral fellow at Schoodic Institute.  Her work focuses on mobilizing Indigenous Knowledge to address Wabanaki cultural resource issues such as reduced access, invasive species planning, and climate change adaptation.   

Laura Hatmaker 
Laura Hatmaker is an environmental scientist at SWCA Environmental Consultants. Since joining SWCA, she has worked on projects across New England from ecological restoration to climate resilience to natural resources.  She is a graduate of the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist Program and completed her Masters’ project with Maine Coast Heritage Trust analyzing a coastal plateau bog Downeast. Laura’s favorite native species in Maine are the alewife floater, crowberry blue, and ghost pipe – representatives of the three taxa in which she specializes.

Elizabeth Hertz 
Elizabeth Hertz has a wealth of experience in natural resource planning, policy development, and program implementation. Her 22-year career in state service, culminating as the director of the municipal planning assistance program, was preceded by work on natural resource issues for the forestry industry and federal government. Liz’s ability to identify opportunities and challenges, successfully facilitate unlikely partners sharing a common cause, creatively problem solve, and effectively navigate as part of diverse teams are hallmarks of her approach to complex topics. Using these skills, Liz has been instrumental in delivering many multi-faceted, innovative projects that remain in use by state, federal, municipal and non-government enitities, including the State Planning Wetlands Characterization, Maine Vernal Pool Special Area Management Plan, Maine Coastal Risk Explorer and the Southern Mid-Coast Social Resilience Project. On retiring from state government, Liz established Blue Sky Planning Solutions, through which she continues to apply her extensive knowledge of policy and practice at the intersection of emerging social and environmental issues.

Ruth Indrick 
Ruth Indrick is the Project Director at the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) in Bath and is in her 13th year at KELT.  Ruth coordinates KELT’s community science programs, which engage more than 150 volunteers each year.  She also leads KELT’s projects focused on increasing climate resilience and habitat restoration in tidal marshes, collaborating with a wide variety of local, state, and federal partners to carry out work that supports people and habitats in the Kennebec Estuary region.

Stefan Jackson 
Stefan is the founder of NATURAL DIFFERENCE, LLC, a consultancy specializing in diversity and inclusion for natural resource conservation organizations, while advising on all aspects of non-profit management. A lawyer by training and former Diversity Program Director for The Nature Conservancy in Maine, he is now a mediator, privately and for the Judicial Branch of the Maine State Courts. 

Over the last 20 years Stefan has served on non-profit boards and as advisor to the Outdoor Industry Association (formerly ORCA), Continental Divide Trail Alliance, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, Maine Masters of Leave No Trace, Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, Loon Echo Land Trust, Maine Land Trust Network, Maine Youth Camp Association, Wyonegonic Camp for Girls, Maine Outdoor Coalition (co-founder), Maine Environmental Education Association, and the People of Color Fund through the Maine Community Foundation.  

Steve  Kasecek 
Steve Kasacek brings over 10 years of professional consulting experience to the Outdoor Sport Institute team as assistant director of trails and education. With an education and foundation in civil engineering focusing on stormwater management and restoration, Steve brings years of low impact design and natural resource protection to OSI’s Trail Development initiatives, as well as nine years of professional trail planning, design, construction, and education experience. 

Steve has worked in over 20 states helping communities navigate complex trail development projects from vision to management. He has assisted with more than 1000 miles of high-quality trails planning and design and has directly managed over 50 miles of trail construction, helping land managers, government agencies, organizations, and communities secure more than ten million dollars in funding for natural surface trail projects.

Steve brings his passion for local capacity building to the variety of workshops and trainings he leads for volunteers, land managers, and professionals. He is dedicated to growing local pipelines of leadership to support trail projects big and small.

Peter Jones  
Peter Jones is a life-long mission driven fundraising professional who has worked for such organizations as The Wilderness Society, The Trust for Public Land and National Audubon Society. With a passion for conservation and the outdoors, he launched PHILANTHROPY Squared in 2016 to assist a grassroots group launch a fundraising program. The company aims to bring a depth of experience and a deep understanding of all aspects of the fundraising cycle through a hands-on collaborative approach. 

Jonathan Labaree 
Jonathan oversees GMRI’s Community Department, which supports fishing and aquaculture communities around the Gulf of Maine as they adapt to changes in the environment, economy, and regulations. The department runs training and convening programs that bring together the fishing industry, managers, and scientists. Jonathan came to GMRI in March of 2009 after 11 years at Maine Coast Heritage Trust, where he held several positions conserving land and raising funds. 

Melissa Law 
Melissa Law is a co-owner of Bumbleroot Organic Farm, a diversified vegetable and flower farm in Windham, Maine. Melissa is currently serving her second term on the Maine Climate Council and its Natural and Working Lands Working Group, and is passionate about the intersection of agriculture, climate change and increasing resilience in Maine’s local food system and communities. 

Muhidin Libah

Janet McMahon 
Janet McMahon is an ecologist who works with land trusts, conservation organizations, state agencies, and private landowners to identify, understand and design landscape-scale conservation areas. She has developed regional conservation plans for the Medomak, Sheepscot, and St. George River watersheds, the Blue Hill peninsula, and the Great Pond Mountain regions, prepared an ecological assessment of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, and has prepared natural resource inventories and management plans for dozens of important natural areas in Maine. 

Janet’s masters thesis and map, The Biophysical Regions of Maine, is used as a framework for many landscape-scale conservation efforts in Maine and her report An Ecological Reserves System for Maine:  Benchmarks in a Changing Landscape, provided a blueprint for a statewide ecological reserve system and led to ecological reserves legislation in 2000.  

Janet helped found the Medomak Valley Land Trust, served on the Maine Council on Sustainable Forest Management, Maine Forest Biodiversity Project, Allagash Wilderness Waterway Advisory Council, the 2018-19 Maine Conservation Task Force, and currently serves on the Maine Ecological Reserves Scientific Advisory Board. 

estephanie martinez-alfonso 
estephanie is a queer, Brown, multi-racial, primarily spanish-speaking, educator and consultant.  They are the oldest of five siblings, and descended of the Cumanagoto people, she lives in Penobscot territory, also called midcoast maine, with their husband and three dogs. estephanie is dedicated to re-membering their cultural traditions through the earth, food, dance, and story.  

for nearly a decade now, estephanie martinez-alfonzo (they/she) has been tracking language down a set of winding trails exploring the relationships between linguistics, cultural mythologies, integrities, systems, and healing. Through Mycorrising, they work with individuals, local, and national organizations, including the Nature Connection Network. they help to illuminate developmental relational strategies and practices. these often include reflective organizational awareness, conflict transformation, accountability, natural organizational models, and other mechanisms which are rooted in more supportive and mutual paradigms that make room for everyone’s gifts to thrive.  

with nature, community, and heart at the center of their work- they share embodied practices for decolonizing and cultivating deeper knowing to the natural within ourselves as pathways to re-membering our lifeways relationally. 

Ella McDonald 
Ella (she/they) is a non-native Master’s student in Ecology and Environmental Science. With a background in organizing partnerships between conservation groups and Tribal Nations to facilitate land returns, Ella’s interests lie in how to facilitate respectful and effective cross cultural collaborations for the future of land, forests, and water. Their research questions explore how APCAW can develop effective communication tools to enhance our efforts. They helped facilitate the co-creation of the APCAW website and are supporting organizing the APCAW training series of 2023-2024. 

Betsy McGean  
Betsy McGean has worked for The Trust for Public Land (TPL), The Nature Conservancy in Asia-Pacific, the Ford Foundation in India, and the World Bank in the former Soviet Union. During her tenure with TPL, she led multiple land acquisition campaigns and helped create the organization’s campaign blueprint. Betsy joined PHILANTHROPY Squared in 2022, and she enjoys working with clients as partners to advance best practices and to ensure that organizations learn how to create a culture of philanthropy. 

Shelley Megquier 
Shelley Megquier manages Maine Farmland Trust’s federal, state, and municipal policy work and oversees the design, completion, and dissemination of its research work. She brings to her role a deep commitment to using solid evidence and compelling storytelling to inspire lasting political change. As a native of Hampden, Maine and a lover of all things dirt, farm, and food, she is committed to advancing climate-friendly policies that protect Maine farmland, support the state’s diverse farming communities, and advance the future of Maine farming and local food systems.  

Nancy Moore 
Nancy Moore is Managing Partner of the Conservation Consulting Group (CCG), a collective of highly experienced professionals who are passionate about land conservation and dedicated to building the capacity and advancing the mission of land trusts throughout the United States. Nancy has been a consultant in the nonprofit sector for over twenty years, guiding hundreds of organizations through strategic planning, needs assessments, organizational assessments, Board development, and more. Nancy brings more than 35 years of experience in nonprofit leadership and management to her work as a consultant, including 11 years as an Executive Director. She also applies her passion for the natural environment, talents as a group leader and facilitator, and interest in other cultures as an international adventure travel expedition leader for Natural Habitat Adventures, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund.  And for the past seven years, she’s added “elected official” to her plate, serving on the City Council of her home town of Monona, Wisconsin. But the truth… she’d rather be in Maine!  Nancy grew up in Portland and Yarmouth and is thrilled to have a family home in Deer Isle.   

Katelin Nickerson 
Katelin Nickerson (PWS, CWS) is a Professional Wetland Scientist with 15 years of experience working as an environmental consultant. She is currently serving the second year of a two-year term as the President of the Maine Association of Wetland Scientists; she has served in various positions on the MAWS executive committee since 2012. Katelin has completed natural resource surveys and permitting for many projects throughout her career and, more recently as a Project Director for Flycatcher, she is putting these skills to use for wetland restoration, conservation, and enhancement projects. Flycatcher is a Maine based land use consulting firm, supporting clients in energy, transportation, and development projects as well as wetland restoration, habitat creation, and conservation projects throughout the State and New England. Katelin has been with the firm since 2021.

Moon Nguany

Marla O’Byrne 
Marla O’Byrne is the Executive Director of Island Housing Trust, which promotes viable, year-round communities by advancing permanent workforce housing on Mount Desert Island. Marla is a founding board member of Island Housing Trust. She has been active in community engagement projects and strategies through her work with nonprofits in Maine over the past four decades. Marla has served as the president & CEO of Friends of Acadia, senior vice president at Maine Farmland Trust, and served on the MDI Tomorrow Steering Committee from 2001-2004. She holds degrees from George Washington University and the University of Maine. Marla has lived on MDI and enjoyed sailing and canoeing its waters, spending peaceful hours at its many community libraries, and exploring Acadia National Park for nearly 40 years.

Ellie Oldach

Ellie has been a core staff member with First Light for 2 years. As core staff, she supports all of First Light’s work, and focuses in particular on supporting First Light organizations in relearning the history of these lands and reimagining ways for non-native organizations to work in solidarity with Wabanaki people towards more livable futures. Born in Maryland, Ellie first came to Wabanaki homelands to study at College of the Atlantic, then studied environmental policy at University of California, Davis. Her work at First Light was sparked by a year in Aotearoa/New Zealand, where she got to know intertidal snails and seaweeds and experienced a world where Indigenous-led land care was protected in policy. This year dramatically reshaped her view of what’s possible, and she’s committed to working collectively to keep expanding our shared sense of what’s possible and working towards change. Ellie lives in Bar Harbor and walks Moneskatik/the sand bar in all seasons.

Kathryn Palano PT, DPT, MPH, NCS 
Katie is a local physical therapist and advocate for inclusive and accessible recreation. She works in southern Maine for Rehab Without Walls, an intensive home and community neurorehabilitation program as well as for Saco Bay Physical Therapy’s multidisciplinary neurorehabilitation clinic in Portland, where she leads their prosthetic training program. Motivated by her clinical experience, she graduated in 2022 with a Master of Public Health in Parks and Recreation from Indiana University Bloomington with a specific focus on the health benefits of nature and accessible and inclusive recreation. She has worked as a research associate with the National Center for Accessibility, an intern with the National Park Service as the accessibility coordinator for their Healthy Parks Healthy People program, and a volunteer for The UniDescription Project’s Descriptathon 9 and 10.  She teaches in the School of Public Health at Indiana University Bloomington and has presented at several conferences on cross sector collaboration, inclusive recreation, and the health benefits of nature. She also performs independent consulting, education, and advocacy work to improve inclusive, accessible outdoor recreation in Maine.

Darren Ranco 
Darren Ranco is a faculty member with the University of Maine’s Department of Anthropology, as well as the Chair of Native American Programs and Coordinator of Native American Research. His research focuses on the ways in which indigenous communities in the United States resist environmental destruction by using indigenous diplomacies and critiques of liberalism to protect cultural resources, and how state knowledge systems continue to expose indigenous peoples to an inordinate amount of environmental risk. Ranco is a member of the Penobscot Nation, and is particularly interested in how better research relationships can be made between universities, Native and non-Native researchers, and indigenous communities. 

Alex Redfield

Jeff Romano 
Jeff Romano has been directing public policy at Maine Coast Heritage Trust since 2004. His work at MCHT includes advocating in support of beneficial land conservation policies in Augusta and Washington D.C. Over the past two decades, he has focused on numerous policy priorities including leading multiple campaigns that together have directed more than $85 million in funding to the Land for Maine’s Future Program. Jeff is also an outdoor writer who has written five hiking guidebooks, most recently Day Hiking New England (2015), Hike the parks Acadia (2021), and 100 Classic Hikes in New England (2023). 

Hope Rowan 
Hope Rowan, GIS & Interactive Mapping Specialist, joined Community Geographics in 2019. She has worked in the field of GIS for 20 years, and in the field of land conservation for nearly as long. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Colby College and a Master’s degree from College of the Atlantic. Her mapping skills include cartography, spatial data analysis, and creating spatial models for decision support, primarily for conservation organizations, the fishing industry, and Maine municipalities. At Community Geographics, Hope supports multiple trails projects and websites—especially with GIS data management and posting development—and plays a pivotal role keeping Maine Trail Finder updated through her direct and regular work with trail managers, outdoor events sponsors, and trailside services. Hope has also authored two guidebooks for hiking with children in Maine.  

Simon Rucker

Catherine Schmitt 
Catherine Schmitt is a science communication specialist with Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park. She writes about research in Acadia and across the National Park System, and also provides communication training for conservation scientists and educators. She is the author of The President’s Salmon and other nonfiction books, editor of the Maine’s Climate Future series of reports (2009-2020), and contributing writer for Northern Woodlands and The Working Waterfront. Schmitt’s writing has been published in numerous other magazines, newspapers, and literary journals. She previously directed communications for the Maine Sea Grant College Program at the University of Maine, where she also was an adjunct instructor in the English Department. Her writing is informed by her scientific background, which includes a master’s in ecology and environmental science and experience studying lakes, streams, wetlands, and beaches throughout the Northeast.  

Anna Sommo 
Anna Sommo (she/her) grew up in Appleton, Maine. Over the past 20+ years she has found that she enjoys working with others to build systems towards a more just world. She believes strongly in the power of environmental education to help people connect with each other and nature and has held positions in residential outdoor education and garden- based education both in Maine and on the west coast. She loves to learn and work with schools and community partners to support opportunities for environmental education (EE) for all Maine youth. As part of the team at Maine Environmental Education Association, in the role of Director of Schools and Community Partnerships, she aims to create a more just, equitable and inclusive EE sector in Maine. Anna enjoys riding her bicycle, working in her garden and cooking up meals from what she grows for her family and friends. 

Ian Stewart

Ian Stewart is the Executive Director of Coastal Mountains Land Trust, based in Camden, Maine. He joined the organization in 2002 and led its stewardship program through mid-2015, when he became the organization’s third Executive Director. Prior to joining the Land Trust, Ian received a BA from Bowdoin College and then earned a master’s degree in Forestry at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. A native of Seattle, Ian first came to Maine to study Biology and Latin American Studies at Bowdoin College. He lives in Appleton with his wife, two daughters and mischievous rescue dog, Fern. 

Rex Turner 
Rex Turner is the Director of Planning and Acquisitions at the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) within the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. Before his new role, Rex worked at BPL for 15 years as an Outdoor Recreation Planner working at multiple levels on resource planning, policy, recreation research, and the development and management of outdoor recreation resources. In addition to his work for the State of Maine, Rex is a board member of the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals. Rex has a B.S. in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism as well as an M.S. in Forestry – both from the University of Maine.

Ciona Ulbrich 
Following some years working in international relations, Ciona joined Maine Coast Heritage Trust in 1998 to work in land protection. She primarily works with landowners, land trusts and different levels of government on land protection and restoration projects within a region in the midcoast. Ciona is also the Co-Chair of MCHT’s Working Group on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice, and in 2017 she worked with Peter Forbes of Vermont to begin an effort called First Light, an effort to build a bridge between conservation organizations and Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac Communities who seek to expand Wabanaki stewardship of land.  Ciona currently serves a Member of the First Light Conservation Community Delegation and a non-native, non-voting Member of the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship Nil yut ktahkomiq nik (the whole earth is our home). 

Sandy Walczyk 
Sandy Walczyk joined BHHT in 2018. Sandy has had a life-long passion for wildlife, plants, and all things outdoors, which she has translated into a career in natural resources management.  After studying wildlife biology and conservation policy at College of the Atlantic, she worked as a wildlife research technician at a variety of positions around the country.  She also tried her hand at carpentry, landscaping, and arboriculture before returning to school at the University of Maine for a Master’s degree in Forestry.  Since graduating she has worked in a variety of positions in the Maine forest industry and most recently spent four years as a District Forester with the Maine Forest Service.  Sandy has spent most of her adult life learning to understand, protect and manage the forest of eastern Maine and she was very happy to join the dedicated team at the Blue Hill Heritage Trust and to begin management of the Trust’s newly acquired forestland.

Kara Wooldrik
Kara (she/her) creates experiences that inspire and equip people to create communities that are more healthy, equitable, just and sustainable, for people and nature alike. Across twenty years of leadership in US conservation organizations, she has supported trustees, staff and volunteers to co-create healthier and more connected and inclusive communities. Kara utilizes placemaking, active transportation, conservation and trails as tools to intentionally design organizations, infrastructure, policies, events and communications. She is also the Community Catalyst for First Light and chairs an international team of colleagues who are using trails in towns and cities as instruments to address climate, equity, health, and transportation challenges.