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Seminar Faculty Bios

David Allen is a partner with Conservation Consulting Group, and brings more than 30 years of experience in conservation fundraising and development, including 13 years for Nature Conservancy chapters in three states, and 9 years in senior management of Sand County Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin. He is a strategic thinker, problem solver, facilitator, educator, and program developer. David is a skilled teacher and presenter, particularly in major gift fundraising, and served as an internal consultant for The Nature Conservancy's national fundraising program. (SEM-15)

Craig Anderson is the CEO of LandPaths whose mission is to connect people to land for the benefit of both. Since 1997, he has envisioned a working Farm / City Park in urban Sonoma County, People-Powered-Parks where citizens create and operate publicly-accessible open space, an adoption-based environmental education program and a system of preserves spanning from ex-urban to wildlands. Craig is the 2014 “Conservation Hero” recipient of Bay Nature Institute & Magazine. (SEM-16)

Judy Anderson of Community Consultants has worked in the land trust sector for over 20 years. Judy currently assists nonprofit organizations on practical strategic conservation initiatives incorporating local communities, climate change, governance, communications and community-based fundraising strategies. She also coaches land trusts in Guided Organizational Assessments, systems development, easement drafting and stewardship, inclusive conservation, and building greater community relevance to ensure their work withstands the test of time. Judy is a regular presenter at national and regional land trust conferences and trainings on topics including fundraising/outreach, easement drafting/stewardship, climate change and land protection, and inclusive conservation. (SEM-09)

Jennifer Brady-Connor is the program manager for the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. Jennifer previously worked for the Land Trust Alliance assisting in the development of the 2004 Land Trust Standards and Practices, helping in the creation of the land trust accreditation program, and providing technical assistance to land trusts across New York the northeast. Jennifer previously worked for and volunteered with a local land trust and other nonprofits for many years in various positions. (SEM-17)

Melinda Beck practices in the areas of conservation, land use, real estate transactions and real property transfers. Melinda assists local governments, land trusts and private landowners with purchases and donations of conservation easements throughout the United States and internationally. In her career, Melinda has completed hundreds of conservation transactions. Melinda's practice also includes assisting landowners and land trusts with issues related to oil and gas development, including the negotiation of leases and surface use agreements. (SEM-08)

Allan Beezley is a Colorado attorney specializing in land conservation. Since 1991 he has been involved in more than 1750 land conservation transactions throughout the western United States, encompassing more than 4.5 million acres. Allan served as western regional counsel for The Nature Conservancy and was a Peer Reviewer for the Land Trust Alliance publication “Acquiring Land and Conservation Easements” (2009). (SEM-11)

Shelli Bischoff is founder/ CEO of Conservation Impact an 18 year company whose mission is to radically improve how conservation nonprofits do business. Shelli has worked with more than 450 conservation organizations and over 80 land trusts in strategic planning and positioning, marketing, and organizational development. (SEM-14)

Rich Bruer leads Solid Ground Consulting’s communication practice, and has helped land trusts and other conservation groups strengthen their voice and message. Previously, Rich owned a PR/Marketing firm dealing with all facets of communication from branding to campaign execution. (SEM-03)

Karen Buck is a consultant with Conservation Impact, whose mission is to radically improve the way conservation nonprofits do business. Karen has 12 years of fundraising, program development and nonprofit management experience. Karen has worked with a variety of local and national nonprofits most recently for an institution related foundation for a community college where she specialized in donor communications and stewardship, annual campaign and grant-making. She has a master’s degree with honors in nonprofit management from Regis University. (SEM-14)

Kendrick Chittock entered the land trust community during an internship with Blue Ridge Land Conservancy in Roanoke, Virginia. The experience of saving land and a bachelor’s degree in environmental science led him to pursue his graduate education in natural resource management at Lincoln University outside of Christchurch, New Zealand. Among other projects, Kendrick is working to advance the Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s strategy to protect essential natural assets in eastern Ohio; Uncommon Ground. (SEM-01)

Daniel Cline is a Michigan attorney practicing in the areas of nonprofit organization, employment, and real estate law. He has been in the private practice of law since 1981, and has worked with many nonprofit organizations, both as legal counsel and as a volunteer board member. Dan serves as a Commissioner on the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. (SEM-11)

Rich Cochran is president/CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy. In 1996 Rich became the first employee of Chagrin River Land Conservancy. The result of mergers among 13 land conservation organizations, today the organization serves 19 counties in northern and eastern Ohio, and operates under the name Western Reserve Land Conservancy. It employs about 40 people, operates 8 field offices in addition to its headquarters, has established nearly 20 county land banks in Ohio, and has preserved about 550 properties totaling 40,000 acres in its history. (SEM-01)

Sharon Danosky, Founding Partner of Danosky & Associates, is a dynamic and engaging speaker who is passionate about sharing what she has learned and enabling her audience to practically apply her strategies. In her more than 30 years of experience in building organizational capacity, she has transformed organizations into highly effectively charities of choice. She is a member of the community of practice for The Land Trust Alliance and her article on fundraising events was featured in the Spring edition of Land Trust Alliance’s Field Guide. (SEM-04)

Paul Doscher is senior advisor for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, one of the nation's oldest land trusts. He recently retired as vice president for land conservation after 27 years with the Society. He also serves as vice president of the board of the Piscataquog Land Conservancy and is a former member of the board of Trout Unlimited where he served on the Risk Management Committee. (SEM-06)

Donna Fletcher is principal of Mission Driven, a fundraising, communications and planning consulting firm. In business since 1991, Mission Driven has worked with more than 125 local and national conservation organizations and has helped them raise more than $600,000,000 in funding. Prior to establishing Mission Driven, Donna was annual giving and director of the national Sierra Club. (SEM-02)

Ellen Fred is an attorney and mediator practicing law in California and Michigan in the areas of real estate and tax law, focusing primarily on land conservation transactions and nonprofit tax issues. (SEM-13)

Ben Gajewski started as an intern with the Genesee Valley Conservancy, then served for over five years as its first stewardship director. Ben was interim executive director in 2011 and is now the executive director. He has a bachelor's degree in sociology and environmental studies minor, serves as a Village Trustee, as a board member of the Association for the Preservation of Geneseo (APOG), and as a member of the Geneseo Farmers' Market committee. (SEM-12)

Omar Gallardo is the outreach and diversity director for LandPaths. Omar worked as the lead organizer for the Graton Day Labor Center, is on the steering committee for the North Bay Organizing Project and is the leader of an Aztec Dance Troupe. He works with several tribes of California Native People and is a leader of the North Bay Labor Organizing Project. (SEM-16)

Jessica Jay is the founding partner of Conservation Law, P.C., a law firm devoted to ensuring the permanence of land conservation through sound transactions and strong defenses. Jessica represents land trusts and landowners in the Rocky Mountain West, and guides the next generation of land conservationists through courses at the Vermont Law School and the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law. Jessica collaborates with the conservation community to shape emerging law, and discover new frontiers in land conservation. (SEM-12)

Jeff Jocks is a partner with Olson, Bzdok & Howard, PC in Traverse City, Michigan. His practice includes land preservation law, real property, municipal, oil and gas, and estate planning. He has represented clients in land use litigation, mediation and pre-litigation mediation. (SEM-13)

Melissa Kalvestrand is the review manager for the Land Trust Accreditation Commission where she reviews applications for accreditation, oversees review processes, and develops and maintains the Commission’s review systems. Prior to joining the Commission in 2009, Melissa spent six years as a wetland scientist, then interned at The Nature Conservancy to develop key ecological indicators for the Hudson River adaptive management plan. Melissa earned her master’s degree in biodiversity, conservation and policy from the University at Albany. (SEM-07)

Christine Lent is an experienced certified public accountant who has been providing financial management services to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations for over three decades. She recently formed BlueRoc Financial Management Services, LLC, offering financial guidance to small and mid-sized companies. Christine has further expanded her scope by joining forces with Danosky & Associates to help nonprofit organizations develop and streamline their financial systems, business processes and reporting so that they can unlock their full potential and fulfill their missions. (SEM-04)

Debbie Leonard is an attorney and mediator with McDonald Carano Wilson LLP in Reno, Nevada. Her practice, which includes Nevada and California, focuses on natural resource, land use and water disputes. She serves as a mediator in the Nevada Supreme Court’s settlement program. Debbie is also a board member of Nevada Land Trust. (SEM-13)

Rob Levin practices law in Portland, Maine, specializing in land conservation. He represents a variety of land trusts and landowners, and has spoken and written extensively on land conservation issues. Since 2005, Rob has written and updated Land Conservation Case Law Summaries for the Land Trust Alliance. (SEM-12)

Melissa Levy is a senior associate with Yellow Wood Associates and, has experience working closely with local governments, nonprofit organizations, foundations and businesses in the areas of community and economic development and natural resources. Melissa has worked with a wide variety of organizations in the area of measurement. She is the co-author with Doug Hoffer of Measuring Community Wealth. Melissa has a master's degree in natural resource planning and a bachelor's degree in environmental studies. (SEM-09)

Konrad Liegel is a solo practitioner in Seattle, a graduate of Carleton College and Cornell Law School (cum laude), and a former partner and associate of K&L Gates LLP for over two decades. He has been listed in Best Lawyers’ 2013 Lawyer of the Year Environmental Law-Seattle. Konrad advises families, individuals, non-profit entities, businesses and municipalities to preserve and steward a wide range of property, and is counsel to a number of land trusts in the Pacific Northwest. (SEM-12)

Peter McKeever has been advising land trusts and landowners in Wisconsin for 16 years. He is also a partner with the Conservation Consulting Group, which provides organizational assessments, strategic planning, facilitation and training programs for land trusts. He is negotiating a conservation easement on his own land and was state director of The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin for ten years. He has been a founder, director, board member, employee and advisor to nonprofits throughout his career. (SEM-15)

MaryKay O’Donnell is the Midwest conservation manager for the Land Trust Alliance. Prior to joining LTA she worked on land conservation acquisitions for 16 years, first at The Conservation Fund (CO) and later at the Little Traverse Conservancy (MI). MaryKay is one of the authors of the Land Trust Alliance publication “Acquiring Land and Conservation Easements” (2009). (SEM-11)

Leslie Ratley-Beach joined The Land Trust Alliance as its first conservation defense director in August 2007. Leslie leads the national conservation defense insurance program (Terrafirma) and the Alliance’s conservation defense center. She is a national author and speaker. Previously, Leslie worked with the Vermont Land Trust for almost 13 years as stewardship director and prior to that was project counsel. Leslie has a law degree from Boston University and bachelors’ degrees from the University of Oregon. (SEM-06)

Jim Rokakis is director of Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute, is one of the nation’s leading experts on the foreclosure crisis and neighborhood revitalization. In his 33-year career in public service as a member of Cleveland City Council and then Cuyahoga County Treasurer, Jim was instrumental for many innovations, including the passage of a state law allowing for the creation of county land banks. As director of Thriving Communities Institute, he has helped to raise over 180 million dollars for blight removal in Ohio’s communities. (SEM-01)

Dianne Russell is president of the Institute for Conservation Leadership (ICL) and leads the fundraising, financial management, and oversight of program design and delivery. Dianne also works closely with boards of directors, foundations, and nonprofit leaders to support and guide innovative and lasting organizational change initiatives. She is also an instructor for the Land Trust Alliance's executive director training program. Dianne has provided services to local, state and regional activists and groups in the environmental and conservation community since 1985. She has worked with over 1,000 groups across North America on leadership, organizational development, strategic planning, campaign development and fundraising during her tenure with ICL.  Previous staff positions included work with Americans for the Environment, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE). A native of the Great Lakes region, Dianne earned a double degree in Religion and Sociology from Wittenberg University (Ohio). When she's not working, she enjoys playing and learning with her partner and two daughters, seeing the world through her camera, biking, or messing around in the garden. (SEM-10)

Kevin Shea is a Colorado Certified General Appraiser and owner of Shea Appraisal Company LLC in Arvada, Colorado. He has real estate sales and acquisition experience in the private and public sectors with the City and County of Denver and both Jefferson County Open Space and the City of Boulder. Appraisal experience includes condemnation, conservation, public acquisition, estate valuations and federal land trades. He has extensive appraisal and document review experience including title work, mineral assessments, conservation easements and contracting for transfer of Colorado State conservation easement tax credits. Kevin is active in professional organizations and is past president of the local chapter of the International Right of Way Association, a board member and treasurer of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts and was on the board for the Jefferson Conservation District for nearly a decade. He holds the professional designation of SR/WA from the International Right of Way Association. He is a candidate member of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. He speaks on Appraisal and Conservation topics for a variety of audiences. (SEM-08)

Bill Silberstein is a partner at Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP (CO). For 30 years, Bill has represented landowners and conservation organizations in hundreds of conservation easement transactions and in more than 30 IRS audits of conservation easements. Bill helped the Forbes family create a conservation easement for 80,000 acres of its ranch in the San Luis Valley. Bill is counsel to Colorado Open Lands and the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts, and a frequent conservation lecturer and author. (SEM-12)

Stephen Small is a tax attorney at his own firm, the Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C., in Newton, Massachusetts.  He is the author of The Federal Tax Law of Conservation Easements (Land Trust Alliance, 1985); Preserving Family Lands:  Book I (special updated fourth edition, Landowner Planning Center, 2009); Preserving Family Lands:  Book II -- More Planning Strategies for the Future (Landowner Planning Center, 1997); and Preserving Family Lands:  Book III -- New Tax Rules and Strategies and a Checklist (Landowner Planning Center, 2002).  More than 145,000 copies of the Preserving Family Lands books have been sold. Before going into private practice, Steve was an attorney-advisor in the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service in Washington, D.C., where he wrote the federal income tax regulations on conservation easements. Steve has worked directly on matters that have resulted in the protection of more than 1.5 million acres of land around the country.  He advises business and individual landowners and is recognized as the nation’s leading authority on private land protection options.  He advises private landowners on federal income and estate tax planning to help preserve valued family land, including planning for the next generation of ownership.  He has worked with landowners around the country to preserve a wide range of property, from small family parcels, timberland, and dairy farms to western and southwestern ranches, southern plantations, Atlantic coast barrier islands, farmland, and wildlife habitat.  Steve has given more than 350 speeches, seminars, and workshops around the country on tax planning for landowners, succession planning for family lands, and tax incentives for land conservation.  He is a member of the Massachusetts and District of Columbia Bars. (SEM-05)

Marc Smiley has worked with land conservation groups since 1982 as a board and staff leader, and staff member to more than a dozen groups and as a consultant to hundreds of land trusts nationwide. Marc is a former Accreditation commissioner, and currently serves on the Saving Land editorial board. (SEM-03)

Marie Vicek has been a paralegal at Allan C. Beezley, P.C. in Boulder since 2001. During that time she has worked almost exclusively on land conservation matters and has been involved in over 900 land conservation transactions. She has extensive experience in title review in conservation matters. (SEM-11)

Mark Weston has over 25 years experience as an independent real estate appraiser with special interest in valuation of conservation easements. Mark is co-author of the Land Trust Alliance’s Tax Benefits & Appraisals of Conservation Projects, 2007. He is a contributing author to the Water Rights Handbook for Colorado Conservation Professionals, 2011; Colorado Water Trust, and Appraising Easements: Guidelines for Valuation of Land Conservation and Historic Preservation Easements, 3rd edition; Land Trust Alliance and National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1999. Mark is an appraisal instructor for the International Right of Way Association, a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, assisted in development of and instructs the five-day conservation easement valuation seminar for the Appraisal Institute, and is an AQB Certified USPAP Instructor. (SEM-08)


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