2018 Texas Land Conservation Conference

Austin, Texas
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Brad Bayliff
Attorney, Public Utility Commission of Texas
Brad Bayliff represents and advises clients on federal and state regulatory issues including administrative agency, legislative, and litigation matters. Besides regulatory, contested cases, and arbitration work before state utility commissions, Brad represents clients in rulemakings and lobbying efforts. His administrative law practice areas include: Transmission Line Routing; Telecommunications Law; Cable Law; and Electric Utility Law. His experience in telecommunications law includes representing clients in Texas and throughout the country. He is Board Certified in Administrative Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, designated as an Advocate by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, holds an AV Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™, and is a member of the State Bar College of Texas. Prior to his legal career, Brad was a real estate broker and developer and served as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 1986 to 1994.Brad received his B.S. and J.D. degrees from Indiana University.  

Dr. Matthew Berg

CEO & Principal Scientist, Simfero Consultants

Dr. Matthew Berg is the CEO and Principal Scientist of Simfero Consultants and explores all the Texas lands he can. With over 15 years of water resources experience, he loves to tell stories that weave together science with human experience. He authored the first watershed protection plan from Texas approved by the U.S. EPA and helped launch the award-winning Texas Watershed Steward Program. Dr. Berg earned his PhD in Ecosystem Science and Management from Texas A&M University and currently serves on the Bayou Land Conservancy Board of Directors. He has received multiple awards for his leadership in science advocacy, policy work, communication, and teaching. He briefed the Texas Congressional delegation about the impact of climate on Texas water resources in 2017. One week before Hurricane Harvey hit land (just before the storm formed), Dr. Berg was in Houston City Hall explaining the current 100-year rainfall estimates were far too low.   

Pam Mabry Bergman

3 Mile Creek Ranch, Gillespie County
Pam (University of Texas at Austin B.A. 1972, J.D. 1975) and her husband Kim (Texas Tech 1977, B.S. Petroleum Engineering) are from Port Arthur. Following a legal career in public and private sectors, Pam is now a volunteer for several organizations, including the Hill Country Land Trust as a Board member. After 1993 and 1996 purchases of raw land in Blanco and Gillespie Counties, Pam and Kim began a journey of learning about and implementing land stewardship practices: selective removal of Ashe Juniper, reestablishment of native grasses, water enhancement, and protection of at-risk flora and fauna. In 2013, they donated a Conservation Easement on 685 acres to the Hill Country Land Trust. In 2017, Pam and Kim received the Lone Star Land Steward Award for the Edwards Plateau from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In addition to ongoing work on their ranches, they regularly host educational events.  

Jill Boullion

Executive Director, Bayou Land Conservancy
Jill Boullion, PCED became Executive Director at Bayou Land Conservancy (BLC) in September 2016. Prior to that she served for almost six years as ED of a Houston-area watershed organization, Greens Bayou Coalition, following two decades experience as owner of a marketing communications firm. Ms. Boullion is a Professional Community & Economic Developer, certified through the national Community Development Council, and is passionate about working with diverse groups of stakeholders to advance community goals. She especially enjoys working with volunteers and helping them connect their skills and enthusiasm to protecting land. BLC is an accredited land trust, formed in 1996, that preserves nearly 12,500 acres in the greater Houston region at 59 preserves. BLC focuses on preserving land along streams in the 13 waterways that feed Lake Houston, the primary source of drinking water for millions of people in the region.  

Dr. Purnima Chawla

Principal, Center for Nonprofit Stategies – In Partnershp with the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the U.S. Forest Service
Dr. Purnima Chawla is the Founder and Principal of the Center for Nonprofit Strategies, a firm that specializes in helping mission-based organizations grow stronger and more impactful. She has provided organizational, programmatic and marketing counsel to a wide variety of nonprofits, foundations, social businesses and government agencies, especially in the areas of health, environment and international development. She has been part of the Sustaining Family Forests Team since 2008.  Purnima is a recognized expert in developing and implementing strategies that help organizations advance their missions and accomplish their goals. Her deep understanding of individual motivation and group dynamics, and her experience in social marketing, enable her to translate visionary goals into practical strategies for changing people’s behavior. Through the Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively (TELE) program, she applies this expertise to helping natural resource professionals persuade woodland owners to be better stewards. Purnima has a PhD in Psychology from Columbia University, and enjoys hiking, biking and yoga.  

Kiah Collier
Energy & Environment Reporter, Texas Tribune

Kiah Collier reports on energy and the environment for the Tribune. Since graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in philosophy and multimedia journalism, Kiah has reported on state and local government and politics for publications across the state, including the Austin-American Statesman and the Houston Chronicle. Kiah began her career at the San Angelo Standard-Times in West Texas, where she chronicled a burgeoning oil-and-gas boom and broke news about energy companies' voluminous water use during a prolific drought. The high point of Kiah's Tribune tenure so far came in early 2017 when she won a Peabody Award for her work on a project that examined research into a specific type of hurricane scientists say will eventually devastate the city of Houston.  

Jeff Crosby

Executive Director, Colorado River Land Trust

Jeff Crosby joined the Colorado River Land Trust in June 2015 as its first full-time executive director. Previously, he served as executive director of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust in Seguin. Jeff also worked for Land Legacy, a land conservation group in Oklahoma. While with Land Legacy, he developed and implemented drinking water protection programs, administered the Fort Sill Army Compatible Use Buffer Program and the Tinker Air Force Base Readiness and Environmental Protection Program. Jeff has worked with private landowners to protect more than 19,000 acres of farm and ranch land, wildlife habitat, and other critical open space. Jeff serves on the Board of Directors of the Compatible Lands Foundation and the Executive Committee of the Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor's degree in environmental design.  

Frank Davis
Director of Land Conservation, Hill Country Conservancy

Frank Davis is the Director of Land Conservation at Hill Country Conservancy (HCC).  Since 2005, Frank has managed conservation easement acquisition and stewardship at HCC, including several acquisitions using funding from the NRCS conservation easement programs, including the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP) and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), to conserve over 7,600 acres of critical Hill Country properties.  Frank’s responsibilities at HCC include grant writing and administration, board engagement and education, landowner relations, conservation easement drafting and negotiation, and oversight of baseline reports, land project management and easement stewardship.  Frank has a Bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s in wildlife ecology from Texas State University, where his thesis work analyzed the effects of growing season fire on the exotic invasive grass, King Ranch Bluestem.  He and his wife Jenny and their two children care for the water and wildlife at their family place in Mason County.  

Allison Elder
Director of Legal Services, San Antonio River Authority

Allison Elder is the Director of Legal Services for the San Antonio River Authority.  In this capacity she manages the legal needs of SARA and serves on the executive team.  Her career has focused on private land conservation and historic preservation.  Prior to joining SARA, Allison was the Vice-President and General Counsel of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust, a statewide private land conservation organization.  She has also served as a Senior Attorney at the law firm of Braun & Gresham, and as Executive Director of Green Spaces Alliance.  She currently serves as the Chair Elect of the Texas Land Trust Council and the Vice Chair of Mission Heritage Partners, the friends group for the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.   Allison also has been a long-time member of the San Antonio Conservation Society.  Allison has a finance degree and a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin.  Allison and her husband Steve have been married for 28 years and have four children.   

Joseph Fitzsimons

San Pedro Ranch, Dimmit and Maverick Counties
 Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons is a natural resources, oil and gas and water law attorney and third-generation South Texas rancher. He and his sister, Pamela Fitzsimons Howard, operate the San Pedro Ranch in Dimmit and Maverick Counties, Texas, raising registered Beefmaster cattle. He and his wife, Blair, have three children, Fay, Jonny and Kate.  He has served as Vice-President of the Texas Wildlife Association and is a Director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He is a former Chairman of the Parks and Wildlife Department’s Private Lands Advisory Board and, in 1999, was named by then Governor George W. Bush to serve on the Governor’s Task Force on Conservation. In May of 2001, Governor Rick Perry appointed Mr. Fitzsimons to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission for a six year term, and Mr. Fitzsimons is now a Past Chairman of that agency. In January of 2002, he was named to represent the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on the Texas Water Advisory Council, which has the statutory responsibility to advise the Office of the Governor, Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor on issues affecting Texas water policy.  In October 2003, Governor Perry appointed him as Chairman.  Recently, Governor Perry appointed Mr. Fitzsimons to represent the interest of fish and wildlife on the Environmental Flows Advisory Committee. Chairman Fitzsimons identified environmental flow as a priority for his term on the Committee, and continues to work to ensure water for wildlife.

Dr. John Neilson Gammon

State Climatologist, Texas A&M University

Dr. Nielson-Gammon is a Regents Professor at Texas A&M University and is the Texas State Climatologist.  Dr. Nielsen-Gammon received an S.B. in Earth and Planetary Sciences (1984), an S.M. in Meteorology (1987), and a Ph.D. in Meteorology (1990), all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon joined the faculty of Texas A&M University in 1991 and was appointed Texas State Climatologist by then-Governor George W. Bush in 2000.  Dr. Nielsen-Gammon conducts research on large-scale and local-scale weather, climate, and air pollution.  Specific ongoing research projects include techniques for measuring changes in El Niño, improvements in high-resolution drought monitoring, causes and societal implications of extreme rainfall events such as Hurricane Harvey, and measured and modeled long-term changes in temperature and precipitation.  He teaches courses in weather analysis and forecasting, climate, climate change, and computer modeling.  He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.   

Merrill Gregg

Conservation Finance Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Merrill Chester Gregg joined Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation in March 2016 where she holds a dual role of Legacy Giving Director and Conservation Finance Director. Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s mission is to provide private support to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to ensure that all Texans, today and in the future, can enjoy the wild things and wild places of Texas. In her role as Conservation Finance Manager, Merrill works with private partners, nonprofit organizations and public agency stakeholders to maximize financing opportunities for conservation. Prior to joining the Foundation, Ms. Gregg was a Vice President of Marketing for Texas and the Southeast at Brigade Capital Management, a $16-billion-dollar credit asset manager based in New York City. Ms. Gregg started her career at Goldman Sachs, where she worked in New York City and Hong Kong consulting hedge funds on capital raising.  

Reggie Hall

Director of Land Conservation Loan Program, The Conservation Fund
Reggie Hall grew up and was educated in New England attending Williams College and Vermont Law School where he received his JD and MSEL degrees. For 3 years, he served as the Director of Land Protection at the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy in Hendersonville, NC. He currently is the Director of TCF’s $50 million dollar Land Conservation Loan Program which provides financing and technical assistance to conservation groups across the United States and Canada.  

Dr. Wesley Highfield

Associate Professor – Department of Marine Sciences, Texas A&M University at Galveston
Wesley Highfield, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at Texas A&M University at Galveston in the Department of Marine Sciences and Associate Director for Research at the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores. Dr. Highfield’s research is focused on natural hazards, examining the intersection of the built environment, flood risk and environmental planning and policy. Most recently, his research has addressed the effectiveness of local hazard mitigation activities in reducing flood losses and community impacts. Dr. Highfield also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in GIS and spatial analysis, and is the Program Coordinator for the Master’s in Marine Resource Management Program at Texas A&M University at Galveston. 

Laura Huffman
Texas State Director, The Nature Conservancy
As state director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas, Laura Huffman heads a statewide team of scientists, conservation experts and support staff whose work protects the integrity of Texas’ vast natural resources and most iconic landscapes. Huffman is also founding director of the Conservancy’s North America Cities program, created to support cities as they integrate natural infrastructure into local planning and development initiatives in ways that safeguard people and reduce vulnerability to climate change.

In her role as Texas state director, Huffman establishes conservation strategy and provides public policy leadership in order to advance The Nature Conservancy’s mission to protect the land and water on which all life depends. Under her leadership, the organization has been instrumental in the development and subsequent passage of the RESTORE Act, and has worked closely with Texas legislators to draft legislation with far-reaching ramifications for statewide water conservation.   Huffman has a long and distinguished record of public service. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, she served six years as assistant city manager for the City of Austin. She currently serves as board chair for the Texas League of Conservation Voters and as an ECO Advisory Board member for South by Southwest. In 2015, she joined the New York University faculty as adjunct professor of Resilient Cities, a class created to examine the ways in which people can make growing cities safer and more sustainable. Huffman earned a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Texas A&M University. An Austin native, she enjoys running, swimming and hiking with her husband and four children.

Cathy Howell

Senior Attorney, The Nature Conservancy

Catherine Howell is a Senior Attorney for The Nature Conservancy, and has been with the global conservation organization since 1999.  Ms. Howell provides general legal and real estate  services to the Conservancy, and also provides guidance on oil and gas matters and serves as chair of the organization’s Energy and Minerals legal practice team and North America Energy Pipeline Team.  She is a frequent presenter on conservation easements, oil and gas issues on conservation lands, government grants, and land acquisition.   Ms. Howell is a 1990 honors graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, where she was also an editor of the Texas Law Review.  She began her legal career in private practice specializing in real estate and corporate matters, after which she became an internal auditor for an international relief and development organization.  Prior to joining the Conservancy, Ms. Howell served as executive director for a non-profit organization providing legal services to low-income Texans.   

Bobby Humphrey

Supervisor – Natural Resource Conservation, Lower Colorado River Authority

The LCRA natural resource conservation department helps fulfill LCRA’s stewardship mission by demonstrating soil, water and wildlife conservation on LCRA lands and through public/private partnerships that enable private landowners to conserve the natural resources of the lower Colorado River basin.  Bobby is privileged to supervise a team of professionals who are dedicated to this effort. Prior to joining LCRA, Bobby served as an Arabic linguist in the U.S. Air Force, taught fifth grade and worked as a conservation planner for the Pedernales Soil and Water Conservation District. Bobby holds a BS in Resource Conservation from Texas State University, and serves as a director on the Blanco County Farm Bureau and the Johnson City Community Education Foundation boards. Bobby and Lauri, his wife of 29 years, live in Johnson City and operate a 2,400 acre cow/calf ranch that has been in her family since the 19th century.  Bobby credits his father-in-law, the late Erwin Sultemeier for demonstrating every day of his life what it takes to maintain a ranch in a manner that is both economically feasible and ecologically sustainable.  Bobby and Lauri share a deep resolve for passing this legacy unto their two sons, Aaron and Aubrey.   

David Iannelli
Hudson Pacific

David is a founding partner of Hudson Pacific, a strategic communications consulting firm. He uses public opinion research and other data to provide corporate and political leaders an objective perspective on their communications and reputation challenges, identifying opportunities and recommending strategies to help achieve their goals. He began his thirty-year career working in political and media polling as part of the bipartisan Hart-Teeter polling team conducting the NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll. In 2004, David joined Public Strategies in Austin, TX, which later became Hill+Knowlton Strategies, where he was Executive Vice President for Global Research. There he oversaw public opinion and market research engagements around the world and counseled clients from a wide array of industries including energy, financial services, automotive and food and beverage to name a few. David is a graduate of Northwestern University, the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  

Burgess Jackson
Attorney, Law Offices of Burgess Jackson

Burgess Jackson is an Austin attorney specializing in conservation law, representing nonprofit organizations and public agencies.  In 2007, he completed a 20-year tenure in the National Resources Division of the Texas Attorney General’s office, where he practiced environmental and real estate transactions and litigation. Mr. Jackson was a founding board member of the Texas Land Trust Council and has been a speaker at the TLTC conference every year since 1997. He has served on the Land Trust Alliance Conservation Defense Advisory Council and Policy Advisory Council, and currently serves on the LTA Rally Program Committee.  Mr. Jackson has authored several publications in the field of conservation law, including Legal Steps to Starting a Land Trust in Texas, Eminent Domain and Conservation Properties, and Guiding Land Trusts through Political Season: The Prohibition on Political Campaign Activity by Charities.  He is a graduate of Louisiana State University and the University of Texas School of Law.  

Wendy Jackson

Executive Vice President, Land Trust Alliance
Wendy assumed the role of executive vice president of the Land Trust Alliance in September of 2016. Before coming to the Alliance she spent 15 years as the founding executive director of the Freshwater Land Trust in Birmingham, Alabama. During her tenure, the land trust conserved more than 11,000 acres and accepted the largest gift in the history of U.S. Steel to create a new 1,200-acre urban park. In partnership with the local health department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Wendy led planning efforts that engaged 29 municipalities and 3,000 stakeholders in the development of the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System, a 750-mile network of trails and complete streets for which the Trust secured $15 million in local and federal dollars. The Freshwater Land Trust’s community-based approach to conservation has been recognized by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and renowned scientist Dr. Edward O. Wilson, an Alabama native.

Prior to her work at the Freshwater Land Trust, Wendy spent eight years as Director of Land Protection and Government Relations with the Alabama Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, where she also worked as a member of the Conservancy’s national policy team on early efforts to seek full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Wendy is a native of Alabama, who still enjoys life on her family’s farm just outside of Birmingham.

Joseph Kiesecker
Lead Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
Joseph Kiesecker is Lead Scientist for The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental organization. He pioneered the Conservancy’s Development by Design approach, an initiative that seeks to improve development planning through the incorporation of predictive modeling to provide solutions that benefits conservation goals and development objectives and directs its implementation in over a dozen countries around the world. To date the program has helped shape changes to national level environmental licensing policy in the USA, Mongolia and Colombia; helped to guide the implementation of approximately a billion dollars in offset and other conservation funding; and help guide the establishment of ~150,000 km2 of new protected areas in Mongolia. Joe has published over 130 articles, on topics ranging from climate change to the effectiveness of conservation strategies; examples of his work has been published in Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Conservation Biology, Ecology and American Scientist – in 2017 he published the book Energy Sprawl Solutions with Island Press. Prior to joining the Conservancy he was a professor at Penn State University and has also held faculty appointments at Yale University and the University of Wyoming.  

Jay Kleberg
Associate Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation
Jay Kleberg joined Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation as Associate Director in September 2013. He directs the Foundation’s Land Conservation Program, which has recently conserved more than 60,000 acres of the state's most pristine lands to benefit wildlife and provide recreational opportunities to the public, including Powderhorn Ranch, the largest investment in conservation land in Texas history. Prior to joining the Foundation, Mr. Kleberg provided strategy consulting services to Grand Canyon National Park on behalf of the Business Management Group and Comptroller of the National Park Service. Mr. Kleberg also spent seven years in the commercial real estate industry. Previously, he helped start and manage a nonprofit organization to promote and establish sustainable land use practices in Brazil. He lives in Austin with his wife and three daughters.  

David Monsma     

Vice President, Aspen Institute

David Monsma is Vice President of the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Energy and Environment Program. The Institute’s Energy and Environment Program convenes several annual policy forums and roundtables including The Aspen Institute Energy Policy Forum; the Global Forum on Energy, Economy and Security; and the Clean Energy Innovation Forum; and the Aspen-Nicholas Forum on Water Policy. The program also convenes, and David moderates, policy-testing dialogues on wildlife and ocean conservation; food security; climate change; energy governance; and the India and China Track II Dialogues on Climate Change and Energy as well as the Aspen Institute’s Executive Seminar. An attorney by training, David has over 20 years of experience in environmental law and policy. He taught law and ethics at Loyola University in Maryland and served as director of business and environment at Business for Social Responsibility in San Francisco. During the Clinton Administration, David was the environmental management task force coordinator for the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD). David began his legal career as a program attorney in the Office of Toxics Substances and Pollution Prevention at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, DC.  

Lori Olson
Lori Olson has served as the Executive Director of the Texas Land Trust Council since July of 2011, coordinating a coalition of over 30 land trusts from across the state of Texas, focusing on efforts to enhance, sustain, and ensure the continued success of the conservation movement. Lori has over 17 years of experience in the field of land conservation, working with land trusts in Oregon, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas. She is the former Executive Director of the Eno River Association in Durham, NC and served as a project manager for The Trust for Public Land, focusing on Central Texas conservation projects with government agency partners including the Cities of Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Travis and Hays Counties.  A native Texan, Lori is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Biology, and a graduate of the University of Oregon with a Master's degree in Community and Regional Planning, as well as a Master of Science degree in Public Affairs.  She lives in Wimberley with her husband and two daughters.  

Mike Personett

Mike Personett, Director of the Watershed Protection Department, City of Austin
Mr. Personett has nearly 40 years of experience in all facets of the water industry.  He has held various executive and senior management positions in government, at various level, and in the private sector.  The focus of Mr. Personett’s career has been in water resources planning and management, and more recently in environmental resource management.  This includes state water policy, regional water and local supply planning, urban and agriculture water conservation, drought contingency planning, and watershed management.  Mike currently serves as the Interim Director of the City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department, which has as its mission flood risk reduction, stream protection and restoration, and water quality protection.  The Department is a fee-funded drainage utility established under State law and has a current annual operating and capital improvement budget of nearly $100 million and 300+ permanent full-time employees.  

Mary Anne Piacentini

President, Katy Prairie Conservancy

Mary Anne Piacentini, President, Katy Prairie Conservancy, coordinates its land protection programs and conservation assistance to private landowners, establishes community partnerships and relationships with diverse stakeholders, and oversees the agency’s operations and programs.  She expanded the land protection program from 1,300 acres in 1999 to more than 20,000 acres today; implemented a conservation buyer program to support additional conservation; and formed joint venture partnerships to restore habitat while also increasing earned income using stream and wetlands mitigation projects. In 2014, Ms. Piacentini was one of four women to receive the inaugural Terry Hershey Texas Women in Conservation award.  In 2005, she received the Army and Sarah Emmott Conservation Award from the Citizens' Environmental Coalition.  She served on the Board of Directors of the Texas Land Trust Council (TLTC) and was Past president of the Municipal Arts Federation. She currently serves on numerous planning committees in Harris and Waller counties and on the TLTC’s Advocacy Committee.   She received a Master of City Planning from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of New Hampshire.  

Gary Price
77 Ranch, Navarro County  

Patrick Reznik
Attorney, Braun & Gresham Attorneys at Law
Patrick’s clients are land and business owners who need to resolve a lawsuit or reduce the likelihood of litigation. His clients benefit from extensive jury trial and dispute resolution experience. Patrick’s Texas farm and ranch background, agricultural engineering education, and hardworking lifestyle bring a skilled, creative, understanding and compassionate approach to protecting clients’ rights and resolving conflicts. His years of working with clients in difficult and often emotional circumstances have equipped him to handle complex legal problems with skill and compassion. He has handled a variety of disputes, including those involving rural land uses, urban land uses, condemnation, transmission line routing, leases, contracts, estates, contested wills and probate, shareholder’s rights, deed restrictions, developers, builders and homeowners.  

Sara Richards

Water Program Officer, The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation
Sarah Richards is Water Program Officer for the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation where she invests resources towards addressing water management challenges to ensure adequate water supplies for the environment in Texas. With nine years of experience in the Texas water and natural resource sector and fifteen years working in and with academia and nonprofits, Sarah is passionate about enhancing and aligning the field for meaningful impact on Texas’ natural resources.  Prior to joining the Mitchell Foundation, Sarah served as Executive Director for the Colorado River Alliance where she developed and delivered award-winning water and natural resource education and advocacy efforts throughout the Texas Colorado River basin. Sarah is advisor and volunteer with several community organizations and advocacy efforts in Austin and serves as appointed member on Austin’s Integrated Water Resource Planning Community Task Force.  

Andy Robinson        

Andy Robinson Consulting LLC

Andy Robinson (www.andyrobinsononline.com) provides training and consulting for nonprofits in fundraising, board development, marketing, earned income, planning, leadership development, facilitation, and train-the-trainer programs. He specializes in the needs of organizations working for human rights, social justice, artistic expression, environmental conservation, and community development. Over the past 22 years, Andy has worked with organizations in 47 US states and Canada. Recent clients include the Association of Fundraising Professionals, National Main Street Center, American Rivers, the Land Trust Alliance, and many, many local organizations. Andy is the author of six books, including Train Your Board (and Everyone Else) to Raise Money, www.trainyourboard.com. His latest is What Every Board Member Needs to Know, Do, and Avoid. When he’s not on the road, he lives in Plainfield, Vermont.  

Dr. Chris Shepard

Director of Science – Gulf of Mexico Program, The Nature Conservancy

Christine Shepard, Ph.D., is Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico Program.  Christine’s primary research focuses on assessing coastal hazards risk, quantifying the role coastal habitats play in reducing risk, and identifying where ecosystem-based approaches such as conservation or restoration are likely to be effective for risk reduction. In addition, Christine works to develop innovative spatial analyses and community engagement tools to help decision makers address coastal risks from climate change and coastal hazards like storms and sea-level rise. She co-authored the 2012 World Risk Report in partnership with United Nations University and was a member of the Department of Interior’s Strategic Science Working Group "Operational Group Sandy" deployed to assist the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. Christine completed her Ph.D. in Ocean Science at the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2010 and her B.S. in Zoology and Psychology at the University of Florida in 2002.  

Carter Smith
Executive Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Carter Smith serves as the executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), a position he has held since January 2008. A native of central Texas, Smith developed his passion for wildlife and the out of doors at a young age while roaming his family’s farm and ranch land interests in Gonzales, Williamson, and Edwards Counties.  He has a wildlife management degree from Texas Tech and a master’s degree in conservation biology from Yale University.  He began his professional career in 1992 as a management intern at TPWD, assisting in the Private Lands and Public Hunting programs. He serves on a number of conservation-related boards of directors and advisory councils, including the Texas Land Trust Council, and the Katy Prairie Conservancy. He has served as past President of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Chair of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and as Chair of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.  He is also a Professional member of the Boone & Crockett Club and a lifetime member of the Texas Bighorn Society, The Dallas Safari Club, and the Houston Safari Club.  Smith was recently named an outstanding alumnus by Yale University and Texas Tech, and was honored by the Audubon Society with their Victor Emmanuel Conservation Award, and the Texas Wildlife Association with the Sam Beasom Conservation Leader Award. Prior to his selection as TPWD executive director, Smith was with The Nature Conservancy of Texas, serving as state director. At Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, he is responsible for overseeing an agency of 3,100 professionals in 11 different divisions, including Wildlife, Law Enforcement, State Parks, Coastal Fisheries, and Inland Fisheries.  Smith has been particularly active in the realms of private lands stewardship, coastal issues relating to the state’s involvement with the Deepwater Horizon incident, children in nature initiatives, invasive species issues, expanded outreach to the state’s urban populace, and most recently acquisition of new state park and wildlife management areas and the state’s response to the chronic wasting disease situation in captive cervid facilities. Carter and his wife, Stacy, and their son, Ryland, reside in Austin.   

Mark Steinbach
Executive Director, Texas Land Conservancy

Mark is a native of Texas and has been the Executive Director of the Texas Land Conservancy since 2007. He previously worked at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, where he was a private lands wildlife biologist providing technical assistance to landowners in the Hill Country. Mark’s land management experience also stems from his academic career and working on his family’s farm in Washington County. Mark earned his bachelor’s in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and master’s in Rangeland Ecology and Management, both from Texas A&M University. His master’s research focused on Texas landowners and their knowledge of conservation policy and land management techniques. Mark received his Ph.D. from the University of Montana in Missoula from the College of Forestry and Conservation. His dissertation and post-doctoral work focused on land fragmentation in the Rocky Mountain region.  

Melinda Taylor

University of Texas School of Law
Taylor is a Senior Lecturer and Executive Director of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business at the University of Texas.  At the law school, she teaches courses on environmental law and oversees the Center, which publishes policy and legal analyses, offers interdisciplinary courses to law and business students, and sponsors symposia and conferences. Prior to joining the faculty of the Law School in 2006, Taylor was the Director of the Ecosystem Restoration Program for the Environmental Defense Fund, a national, nonprofit conservation organization.  Taylor was a partner at the law firm Henry, Lowerre, Kelly & Taylor from 1991-1993.  She served as Deputy General Counsel of the National Audubon Society from 1988-1991.  At Audubon, she was responsible for managing the organization’s litigation docket and supervising a project aimed at reducing pollution from oil and gas drilling. She was an associate at Bracewell & Patterson in Washington, DC from 1986-1988, where she specialized in energy and environmental law. Taylor graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1986.  She also holds a B.A. from the University (Plan II, cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) (1983).  

Richard Taylor
Blue Mountain Peak Ranch, Mason County

I have had a great interest, for most of my 74 years, in the outdoors, Nature and species diversity. I spent some time, as a boy, at a family ranch in Nova Scotia and, when I moved to Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1949, it still had dirt roads and dairy farms that I loved. I have worked many different jobs but spent most of my career in technology. I have no formal training in the environmental sciences but I have been involved in, participated in, led, and funded, research expeditions in the USA, China, British Virgin Islands and New Zealand. I am a founder and still vice-president of The Conservation Agency, founded 1981. I am an avid reader and have studied the field extensively, attended many conferences/seminars and have been mentored by experts in the field. We bought the cedar-covered ranch in the Southwest corner of Mason County, Texas in 2002 with the intent to restore the eco-system and enhance/bring back native species.  

Jerry Webberman

Partner, Jackson Walker LLP

Jerry Webberman has extensive experience in a wide variety of real estate, financial and environmental matters and is considered one of the foremost land conservation attorneys in Texas. With over 20 years of experience advising private landowners, land trusts and governmental entities on conservation issues, he has gained a deep understanding of and appreciation for the complex and sensitive issues involved in balancing land use with conservation and protection of natural resources. Mr. Webberman is particularly experienced in structuring complex multi-party transactions and negotiating and drafting conservation easements, as well as handling open space, endangered species habitat, and water quality issues.  Mr. Webberman has served on the Austin Advisory Board of The Nature Conservancy, the Board of Directors for Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve and the Board for the Real Estate Council of Austin. He received his B.A., with high honors, and his J.D. from The University of Texas.  

Sara Wilson

President and Principal Consultant, Mayes Wilson & Associates

Sara Wilson, a native Texan and landowner, is the President and Principal Consultant of MAYES | WILSON & ASSOCIATES, a consulting firm she founded in 2001 to help nonprofit organization work more effectively. Sara’s nonprofit experience spans more than 25 years of progressive leadership positions and consulting on organizational and board development, strategic planning, community conservation and executive leadership development. She conducts land trust assessments and has guided many land trusts successfully through accreditation. Sara is passionate about building leaders and helping organizations build strong teams, engage constituents, and work more strategically. She serves on the board of the Urban Ecology Center and is on the editorial board of the Land Trust Alliance’s publication, Saving Land. Sara is a frequent trainer at regional and national nonprofit and land and water conservation conferences including Land Trust Rally. You can learn more about Sara at www.mayeswilsonassociates.com.  

Michael Young

Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas
Dr. Michael Young is Associate Director for Environmental Research and Senior Research Scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin. In this capacity, he coordinates research programs for a group of ~40 scientists involved in a variety of research spanning landscape processes, energy/water issues, groundwater recharge processes, water quality and resources, coastal processes and geological mapping. He earned his Ph.D. in Soil and Water Science (specializing in soil physics and hydrology) from the University of Arizona, Tucson. He is co-Director of the International Soil Modeling Consortium and is a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America and Geological Society of America. Dr. Young has authored or co-authored nearly 80 peer-reviewed journal articles, several book chapters, 200 presentations at scholarly meetings, and many other technical reports. His personal research interests and experiences include water and land impacts from energy development; water/energy nexus; groundwater recharge; and the connection between water resources, landscape development, and human interactions.

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