Seventy-five of Pennsylvania’s most active conservation organizations count themselves as dues-paying members of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association. These organizations elect the ten individuals who serve on PALTA’s board of directors
Reneé Carey, President
Reneé has been with the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy since 1994, becoming Executive Director in 1998. She is currently serving as President of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association board. She also serves on the organization’s Policy Advisory committee, as well as the conference committee. Renee’ sits on the Pennsylvania Forestry Association Board and serves on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Forest Stewardship Committee. Additionally, she is involved with the Pine Creek Watershed Council, Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies, and the Commonwealth’s forest stewardship advisory committee.
Karen Martynick, Vice-President
Karen Martynick is the Executive Director of Lancaster Farmland Trust, a land trust dedicated to preserving the rich, productive farmland of Lancaster County. Prior to joining the Trust, Karen served for 12 years as County Commissioner in Chester County, where she was involved in the protection of over 30,000 acres of open space and farmland and initiated and implemented the County’s award winning comprehensive land use plan “Landscapes”.
In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of PALTA, Karen is a member of the Land Trust Alliance Leadership Council, the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition and the Lancaster County Agricultural Council. She has served on the board of the National Association of Counties, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and the EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee.
Karen earned her B.A. in Political Science and her M.S. in Health Administration from West Chester University. She is married and has two sons, four amazing grandchildren, and a rescue pup named Ella.
John Conner, Treasurer
John was one of the original 1996 incorporators of The Manada Conservancy, and served as its President from its inception through 2007. He is a former member of the East Hanover Environmental Advisory Council and was active in efforts to update the zoning there. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1975 and is retired from the Internal Revenue Service, where he was employed for 35 years. Along with land preservation, John’s interests include working with other non-profit organizations, organic gardening and his golden retrievers. John serves on the Preservation Committee and chairs both Manada’s Administration and Finance Committees.
Thomas D. Saunders, Secretary
Tom Saunders came to the Western PA Conservancy from Florida where he was Community Development Director for the City of Gainesville. In that role, Tom directed planning, growth management, redevelopment, housing, historic preservation, and neighborhood planning. Prior to that, Tom was Director of the Maryland Environmental Trust, a statewide land trust that protects open space, and supports the conservation work and capacity growth of 40 local land trusts across the state. As one of the largest conservation and voluntary preservation easement-holding organizations in the country, the Maryland Environmental Trust works with property owners across the state on permanent land protection. Tom was also a land use, historic preservation and redevelopment attorney with Arent/Fox and Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. Tom holds an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, a Masters in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning from Princeton and a J.D. from Stanford.
Chris Beichner is the current Executive Director for Allegheny Land Trust. Before his position at Allegheny Land Trust, Chris worked most recently at the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) where he served as its Executive Director for four years. Prior to his current position he served for eight years in a number of different capacities with the Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission in Oil City, PA. His final position with the Commission was as Director of Community Development and Planning. Chris received a BS in Business Administration from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Chris has shown strong leadership while at the MWCDC overseeing business retention, expansion and attraction, park management, youth programming, environmental education, energy assistance, housing development, and public safety. Among Chris’ many accomplishments are doubling his organization’s budget in three years and receiving the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Innovation Award twice.
Ellen M. Ferretti was named the director of the Brandywine Conservancy in June 2016. She brings more than 25 years of natural resource management and conservation/environmental experience. She served as Secretary for Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Deputy Secretary for Parks and Forestry for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Under her leadership, land conservation was a key priority and, working closely with staff and stakeholders, significant natural areas were protected as public lands. She also has proven success in strategic planning, partnerships and collaborations, and fiscal management and operations. Ferretti oversees the conservancy’s important work to protect water, preserve land, and engage communities. The organization’s three programs—Land Conservation, Land Stewardship, and Municipal Assistance—are renowned for their multi-tiered approach to conservation through working with private landowners who wish to see their lands protected forever, and providing innovative community planning services to municipalities and other government agencies. She is a graduate of Wilkes College with a BS in Environmental Science.
Jeffrey L. Marshall
Jeff has been involved in land conservation and historic preservation for 30 years. Marshall has been a frequent presenter at the Land Trust Alliance Rally. A strong advocate of community outreach and engagement, he was selected for a Lifetime Achievement Award as the “2015 Ambassador of Bucks County” and was a 2014 recipient of a Visit Bucks County Annual Tourism Award. In 2003 he was the recipient of inaugural “Bucks County Preservation Legacy Award” created in his honor for the preservation of historic places and open spaces by the Bucks County Commissioners. He is the author of six books on Bucks County architecture and history. Marshall serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the National Barn Alliance and is the President of the Board of Directors of the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania.
Molly K. Morrison
For more than 20 years, Molly Morrison has been on the front lines of protecting and conserving the region’s open spaces, natural areas, and farmland. Prior to joining Natural Lands in 2000, Molly worked for the Chester County Board of Commissioners where she was responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the county’s nationally recognized open space program. Molly has received numerous awards and accolades for her work, including being named one of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s “Women of Distinction” (2012), the CRC Watersheds Award (2013), and the Rebecca Lukens Award (2013). She is a graduate of Ursinus College (B.A. English) and Syracuse University (M.S. Communications).
Kimberly J. Murphy, CFRE
Kim joined Berks Nature staff in January 2004 and became President in July that same year. Prior to coming to Berks Nature, Kim was Director of Development at Penn State for nearly 12 years. During her time at Penn State she managed the development , alumni and university relations program for both the Berks Campus in Reading and the Lehigh Valley Campus in Fogelsville. While at Penn State, Kim raised over $17 million for the Berks Campus and Berks-Lehigh Valley College added 39 new endowed funds, managed a successful capital campaign raising $4.7 million and has executed a variety of special events and worked with many volunteers. Kim has served on the board of several charitable organizations in the community including: Beacon House, The American Red Cross-Berks County Chapter, and The Girl Scouts – Great Valley Council. Kim does numerous trainings throughout the community and enjoys sharing her experience in development and non-profit administration with others.
D. Andrew Pitz
Andy Pitz is the Executive Director of the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, and has been a Landscape Architect for 28 years. In his prior position as Executive Director of Conservation Planning at Natural Lands Trust (NLT) he oversaw the preparation and execution of strategic plans, protection programs, preserve management plans, and site plans for numerous projects in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey. His projects have included ecological management plans for Trust preserves like the 5,000-acre Glades Wildlife Reserve on Delaware Bay, and the lands of other nonprofit organizations including Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and Winterthur Museum. He has also been active with the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, as a founding board member and past President.
Steven J. Schiffman concentrates his practice in the fields of business, taxation (including business and estate planning and administration), commercial loans, bank asset recovery and workout and non-profit corporation law. He also provides counsel in the areas of general litigation, real estate and personal injury. Steve is a graduate with distinction of the Pennsylvania State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1974. In 1977, he graduated from Capital University School of Law with a Juris Doctorate magna cum laude, followed by a Master’s of Law in Taxation from Temple University of Law in 1983. After graduation from law school in 1977, Steve served as an Assistant Attorney General with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue until 1980.
Philip R. Wenger, a local business owner and community leader, became the Lancaster County Conservancy’s new Chief Executive Officer in 2016. During his first year at the Conservancy, an additional 570 acres were preserved, and he re-energized the primary focus of protecting wild places for future generations. Phil retired from active leadership at Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches in 2014. Both his success as an entrepreneur, and his passion have led to a proven track record for helping organizations grow.
Over the last 30 years, Phil has successfully led numerous community organizations, serving as Board Chair of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Lancaster County Community Foundation, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, and Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness, among others. He currently serves as Chair of Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine. Phil leads a Conservancy that protects and manages over 6,000 acres and in recent years has transformed the former Camp Snyder in Pequea, PA into the Susquehanna Riverlands Research & Education Center at Climbers Run Nature Preserve.