Rhode Island Land & Water Conservation Summit

March 9th, 2024 • URI Memorial Union

Speakers

Charles “Chuck” B. Allott, Esq.

Chuck is a conservation consultant and attorney specializing in conservation law representing land trusts and land owners alike. Chuck has over 35 years Chuck experience in various aspects of land conservation. Chuck has done everything represented land owners to being title attorney for the RIDEM to being a founding board member of the Aquidneck Land Trust “ALT”, and then running ALT as Executive Director for 10 years. Chuck was also recently appointed by the Governor to the Agricultural Land Preservation Commission.

Workshop:
A4. Land Protection 101 – The Nuts & Bolts of Putting a Project Together

Aleksandra (Sasha) Azbel

Aleksandra Azbel (Sasha) is a textile artist with a background in architecture. She is the founder and creative director of Sashoonya, a sustainable textiles company in Providence specializing in natural dyes. Sasha grows and forages plants and seaweed for color to create one-of-a-kind naturally dyed apparel, accessories, wall art, and installations. On special occasions she collaborates with environmental organizations to help connect people to nature, through textiles. When she’s not dyeing, planting, harvesting, teaching, or designing, you can find her salsa dancing the night away.

Workshop:
B9. From Forests to Fashion

Joseph Bachand

Joseph Bachand is the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Easement Program Manager for the State of Rhode Island. He is responsible for overseeing the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) for both Agricultural Lands and Wetlands. He is responsible for acquisition of easements through the Resource Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Forest Health Works Project. He has been working for USDA-NRCS for more than 35 years. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1989 with a BS degree in Soil and Water Resources.

Workshop:
C5. Land Protection and Stewardship Using the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Programs

Rob Bower

Rob Bower is chair of the Scituate Land Trust and a member of the Scituate Conservation Commission. Besides his work for the Town of Scituate on these boards, he is a volunteer coach for youth soccer. Currently retired, Rob served as professional staff in communications work at Rhode Island College for 28 years. He has been a resident of Hope since 1986.

Workshop:
C6. Creating ADA Accessible Trails in Rhode Island

Alby and Heather Brandon

Alby and Heather Brandon run Brandon Family Farm an organic diversified fruit and vegetable operation in West Kingston, RI. They grow fruits and vegetables year round using 8 High Tunnel Greenhouses and sell to directly to the public through farmer’s market, CSA boxes and wholesale to several grocery stores in the state including Whole Foods, Dave’s Marketplace and Belmont Market. They are both passionate about growing and eating healthy food here in Rhode Island and are fortunate to make our full time living farming in Rhode Island.

Workshop:
A10. Protecting Farmland for the Next Generation of Farmers

Marina Capraro

Marina Capraro (she/her) is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island, and holds a B.S. in Environmental Science & Management. She has a variety of experience interfacing with partners, participating in environmental policy and programs at all levels of government, and successfully implementing projects with various audiences and stakeholders. She has worked in municipal government and as a partner planner for the USDA-NRCS in RI. Her primary focus in recent years has been on the implementation of forestland easements through the USDA-NRCS’ Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and watershed-level conservation planning. Marina has experience working on projects through the many iterations of the RCPP program, including 2014 RCPP and 2018 RCPP. She now works for USDA-NRCS in RI as the RCPP and Conservation Innovation Grants Program Manager.

Workshops:
A5. The Rhode Island Forest Health Work Project – Funding to Conserve Forests
C5. Land Protection and Stewardship Using the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Programs

Alex Chuman

Alex Chuman is the Conservation Director at Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT). ALT has protected 2,816 acres of open space on Aquidneck Island across 99 properties and manages 13 miles of trails. Alex works on conservation planning, land protection, stewardship including monitoring and land management, and community outreach initiatives. He also serves on the Board of the RI Land Trust Council.

Workshops:
A4. Land Protection 101 – The Nuts & Bolts of Putting a Project Together
C6. Creating ADA Accessible Trails in Rhode Island

Brenda Clement

Brenda is the Executive Director of HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University. HousingWorks serves a clearinghouse of information about housing in Rhode Island. It releases a yearly factbook and other research to promote dialogue among policy makers about the importance of safe and affordable housing for our state’s economic future and for residents’ well-being. Brenda has over 30 years of experience in the housing and community development field. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Economics from Providence College and a Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at American University.

Workshop:
C7. The Rhode Island Zoning Atlas: Navigating the Housing, Development and Conservation Landscape across Rhode Island

Jeanne Cooper

Jeanne Cooper is the Carter, Tillinghast & Shorebird Program Manager at The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island (TNC-RI). Her passion for nature began with her love of animals as a child, and her discovery of freedom through romps in local woods. Jeanne manages 3,000+ acres of forest, field, and coastline habitat, which includes oversight of restoration projects, public engagement, volunteer coordination, conservation easement monitoring, and stewardship of hiking trails to enhance the safety and enjoyment of visitors. She also manages nesting populations of Piping Plover, a federally threatened shorebird, at sites on the east side of Narragansett Bay. Jeanne, as a member of TNC-RI’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Justice Team, is working with fellow staff to improve access to TNC-RI preserves open to the public. She enjoys birdwatching, photography and camping in northern New England.

Workshop:
C6. Creating ADA Accessible Trails in Rhode Island

Martha Day

As an attorney who has conducted thousands of real estate transfers, Martha Day has deep knowledge and experience in a broad range of title matters and land issues. Martha served as the president of Board of Directors of the South Kingstown Land Trust for five of the nine years she was a board member (2012-2021). During her tenure SKLT sought and received accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, and enrolled in Terrafirma, giving Martha new experience in best practices, risk management and violation policies. In addition to the dozens of conservation easement and land purchases she was involved with at the land trust, she has done title and easement work for many other conservation partners and clients protecting their property over her 38 years in practice.

Workshop:
C4. Ask an Attorney: “Where Queries Meet Esquires”

Katie De Goosh DiMarzio

Katie DeGoosh-DiMarzio is an Environmental Scientist with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Office of Water Resources, specializing in lakes and ponds. Katie provides technical assistance to those interested in lakes and invasive plants, and has worked to map aquatic invasive plant distributions statewide since 2006 to document the ever-growing problem in RI. Katie coordinates monitoring activities, education and outreach initiatives to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive plants, and management and control activities where possible to restore and protect habitat and recreation.

Workshop:
B3. Hydrilla: the World’s Worst Weed Coming to a Lake Near You, and How to Prevent It

Nicole DiPaolo

Nicole is a community organizer, artist, and strategy enthusiast who has been working at the intersection of human rights and the environment since 2014. In her work as a consultant and as the Director of Energy Justice at Roots 2Empower, Nicole applies her educational background in philosophy and the humanities to bridge people-centered campaigns with research and strategy. Specializing in offshore wind from 2019-2023, Nicole has worked locally, regionally, and nationally with organizations like the National Wildlife Federation and the BlueGreen Alliance to advance equitable, environmentally responsible offshore wind projects that support workers, communities, and wildlife.

Workshop:
B7. Offshore Wind: Discussing the Realities, Dispelling the Myths, and Creating a Path to Climate Justice

Marc Doherty

Marc Doherty is the full-time Land Stewardship Manager for the Westerly Land Trust, where he leads stewardship volunteers, prioritizes land management practices and monitors conservation properties and their habitats. He received his B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder and spent a few years living to ski before diving into a local journalism and digital marketing startup. Marc’s career in conservation picked back up after a summer guiding in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska, followed by rangeland monitoring for the Bureau of Land Management back in north-central Colorado. Marc began his work with the Westerly Land Trust first as an AmeriCorps service member in 2021. Projects with the Westerly Land Trust include brook trout habitat assessment, historical pond restoration, native and invasive plant work and a long-term photo point monitoring program. Marc enjoys botany, bike riding, surfing, making jokes and enjoying life!

Workshop:
C9. Land Conservation Stewardship Roundtable

Cindy Elder

Cindy Elder is the Executive Director of the Barrington Land Conservation Trust. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector, including leadership roles with the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of RI, Coggeshall Farm Museum, and Hospice of Central Florida. She also served as chief of business development for the RI Parks & Recreation. Cindy earned a BA from Roger Williams University and an MPA from Brown University.

Workshop:
B8. Taking the Leap: Hiring Your First Staff Person

Kevin Essington

Kevin has served as an environmental professional and leader for over 25 years. He is the founder of City Greener Strategies, a strategic planning and facilitation firm that helps non-profits elevate and fund big ideas and better integrate people and nature in their work. Kevin has been leading strategic and action planning initiatives for small- and medium-sized programs for 20 years. His passion for helping others aim and achieve higher was kindled in 1996 when he collaborated with The Nature Conservancy in Colorado to create a Preliminary Conservation Plan for the Conservancy’s work in the biologically rich San Luis Valley in south central Colorado. He went on to become a member of the international Conservation Coaches Network, serving conservation teams across the country and in the Caribbean. He brought his passion for helping others achieve more to The Trust for Public Land, leading people-focused planning sessions for his colleagues working in cities and small towns across the country. Raised in Detroit, he now lives in Providence, Rhode Island. He currently serves on the Sustainability Commission for the City of Providence and the Board of Directors of One Neighborhood Builders, a community development corporation in central Providence.

Workshops:
A8. Your Plan, Your Funding: A Strategic Planning Model For Sustainable Community Impact
C8. Volunteers and Board Members: A Discussion About Building Your Community Coalition

Jennifer Fusco

Jennifer Fusco is the Executive Director of the Westerly Land Trust. She was born and raised in Westerly, RI, growing up playing in Mastuxet Brook, which is now conserved by the Westerly Land Trust. Her appreciation for the open spaces and unique character of Westerly followed her to Boston, where she attended Boston College, graduating with a BA in English. Jennifer worked as a fundraiser for more than a decade for Land Trust Alliance and American Farmland Trust. She served on the Board of Directors for the Westerly Land Trust from 2011-2018, establishing WLT’s signature Farm Dinner fundraiser. In 2018, she became Executive Director of WLT, and has enjoyed growing the staff and working with its hands-on Board. Jennifer lives in Westerly with her husband Jay and dog Ruby, who often accompany her on WLT’s beautiful trails. MPA from Brown University.

Workshops:
A10. Protecting Farmland for the Next Generation of Farmers
C10. What Do You Mean I Need a Permit for My Footbridge?

Vincent Gebhart

Vinny Gebhart is a sitting City Council member from Warwick, RI representing the Cowesett and Potowomut sections of the City. In his role as a representative of those areas he has championed efforts to protect and preserve areas of environmental importance including Dawley Farm and Chepiwanoxet Point. Vinny is a native Rhode Islander, a graduate of LaSalle Academy and Providence College. In addition to his work on the City Council, Gebhart is also a sitting board member of Leadership Rhode Island and Warwick Police Athletic League.

Workshop:
B4. Perpetual Conservation Protection Using the Public Trust Doctrine on Municipal Lands

Gregg Gerritt

Greg Gerritt has been a cutting edge environmental and social radical since he organized his High School for the first Earth Day. Currently involved in exploration/activism around the ecology/economy interface, writing about community prosperity and how to achieve it, urban agriculture, compost, restoring the Moshassuck River, and studying amphibian populations, Gerritt has been the leading advocate in RI for making sure ecology is actually a component of efforts to create a sustainable economy. He has been making videos on urban wildlife for his Youtube Channel Moshassuckcritters for more than 11 years and is the founder of the RI Nature Video Festival.

Workshop:
B6. Using Video to Help Further Local Conservation and Conservation Education

Cindy Gianfrancesco

Cindy Gianfrancesco currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Scituate Land Trust and Chair of the Scituate Conservation Commission. Cindy is a retired environmental scientist who worked for the State of RI for over 32 years, 28 of which were with RIDEM in the Site Remediation and Brownfields program. She is a Certified Professional Geologist and Certified Invasives Manager. For fun, she enjoys hiking, camping and canoeing with her husband, Chuck, and their dog, Trixie, and playing pickleball. In her free time, she helps maintain their rhododendrons at Gleaner Gardens and is an avid vegetable gardener.

Workshop:
C10. What Do You Mean I Need a Permit for My Footbridge?

Sean Grandy

Sean Grandy has worked as the Stewardship Manager at Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT) since 2022. His interest in land conservation began when he took a course in Baseline Documentation Reports and continued later as a University of Rhode Island Master of Environmental Science & Management (MESM) student when he worked as a summer Stewardship Assistant at ALT, and later again when he worked with the Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District. Now as Stewardship Manager at ALT, he works on a variety of projects including monitoring conserved lands, maintaining public trails and properties, restoring ecosystems, and planning volunteer and outreach events. He is particularly interested in implementing new technology into stewardship work, as well as engaging the community in good stewardship practices that they can incorporate at home on Aquidneck Island. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, birding, gardening, and playing the drums.

Workshop:
C9. Land Conservation Stewardship Roundtable

Chuck Horbert

Chuck Horbert is a Deputy Administrator in DEM’s Office of Water Resources who spent over 25 years of his career supervising the DEM’s Freshwater Wetlands Permitting Program. While his current focus is water quality certification and stormwater permitting, he was a key team member in the implementation of the new Freshwater Wetland regulations. His preferred mode of transportation is a canoe.

Workshop:
C10. What Do You Mean I Need a Permit for My Footbridge?

Julie C. Keller, PhD

Julie C. Keller is an associate professor of sociology and director of the Social Science Institute for Research, Education, and Policy at the University of Rhode Island. Her research focuses on agricultural labor, immigrant health, marginalized farmers, sustainable agriculture, farmland conservation, and gender and sexuality in rural places.

Workshop:
B10. Diversity, Land Trusts, and Farmers and Gardeners from Marginalized Backgrounds in New England, U.S.

Bryce Kelley

Bryce Kelley, HousingWorks RI’s Senior Research Analyst, is responsible for compiling and analyzing data, drafting and editing research publications, and providing policy support. In 2023, Bryce co-created the Rhode Island Zoning Atlas, which serves as the state’s first comprehensive zoning map, allowing users to explore zoning conditions across Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns. His work currently focuses on further analyzing zoning and planning conditions in municipalities across Rhode Island to better understand local barriers to affordable housing development. Prior to joining the HousingWorks RI team, Bryce served as a policy analyst and advocacy specialist at a public affairs and integrated communications firm in Tallahassee, FL. Bryce both grew up in and is a current resident of Richmond, RI, where he serves on the Planning Board and is the Board’s representative on the town’s Affordable Housing Committee. He also serves on the Advisory Board of Neighbors Welcome! Rhode Island, a nonprofit advocacy group seeking to increase housing choices for all Rhode Islanders.

Workshop:
C7. The Rhode Island Zoning Atlas: Navigating the Housing, Development and Conservation Landscape across Rhode Island

John Kostrzewa

John Kostrzewa worked for 42 years in the newspaper industry, including the last 29 at The Providence Journal as a business reporter, columnist, business editor, and assistant managing editor. He retired from the Journal in 2017 and spent three years as an adjunct professor at Bryant University. Since launching a hiking column called “Walking Rhode Island” in The Providence Journal in 2021, he has written more than 120 columns. He recently published a compilation of his hikes into a book, Walking Rhode Island 40 hikes for Nature and History Lovers With Pictures, GPS Coordinates and Trail Maps. A College of the Holy Cross graduate, Kostrzewa resides in Cranston with his wife Carol.

Workshop:
A9. Walking Rhode Island: Spring Hikes

Julia Landstreet

Julia Fry Landstreet currently serves as the first executive director for the South Kingstown Land Trust. Working with a small but mighty team, SKLT protects and preserves over 3,000-acres of farm, field, forest, wetland, and two historic properties. Prior to her move to Rhode Island from Tennessee Landstreet served as executive director for the Nashville Civic Design Center, a nonprofit think tank promoting high-quality design and planning for the city’s built and natural environments. As president of the board for Friends of Warner Parks, she led a successful capital campaign to purchase properties, including a 250-acre old-growth forest, increasing the park’s holdings to 3,100 acres. She has additional experience as a community organizer, elected official, naturalist, planning consultant, educator and curator.

Workshop:
C10. What Do You Mean I Need a Permit for My Footbridge?

Corey Lang

Corey Lang is a professor of environmental economics at the University of Rhode Island. His research focuses on land conservation, land use change, renewable energy, and voting.

Workshop:
B10. Diversity, Land Trusts, and Farmers and Gardeners from Marginalized Backgrounds in New England, U.S.

Hope Leeson

Hope Leeson is a botanist who has spent 34 professional years walking throughout Rhode Island, flagging wetlands, conducting plant inventories, and collecting native plant seeds, which she propagated for the Rhode Island Natural History Survey’s Rhody Native initiative. For the last 13 years, Hope has also been teaching botany at the Rhode Island School of Design. An experience which has tied her back to earlier artisan pursuits. For the last 4 years, Hope has been learning from plants from the perspective of the pigments and tannins they hold within their bark and leaves.

Workshop:
B9. From Forests to Fashion

Charles Levesque

Charles Levesque has had a 44 year career in forestry, land trust management and as a consultant for the last 30 years. As contract staff to the North East State Foresters Association, the state government head forester NGO in New England and New York, he has led numerous projects in the last 27 years. The latest of those is Securing Northeast Forest Carbon Program (www.northeastforestcarbon.org), a USDA Forest Service funded program to provide the latest information on forest carbon to foresters, land trusts and landowners so that informed decisions can be made about forest carbon and its management in the northeast. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and, with his two grown sons, manages a retail firewood business and maple syrup operation.

Workshop:
C2. Forest Carbon Science, Management, and Markets

Melina Lodge

Melina Lodge has served as the Executive Director of the Housing Network of Rhode Island since 2015. She also directs HNRI’s affiliated nonprofit the Community Housing Land Trust of Rhode Island. She is responsible for working with HNRI’s membership and allied organizations to develop and advance a housing advocacy agenda. Previously she held positions at RIHousing and the WARM Center. Melina holds a BA in Economics and Master’s in Community Planning from the University of RI. She serves on several housing related commissions including the House Special Legislative Commission on Housing Affordability, RIHousing’s Neighborhood Opportunities Advisory Committee, the State of Rhode Island’s Housing Resources Commission, and LISC’s Neighborhood Development Fund Advisory Committee.

Workshop:
A3. Roots and Roofs: Understanding the Community Land Trust Model

David Lough

David has a national practice focusing on the acquisition, leasing, development and disposition of commercial real estate. A significant part of David’s practice is negotiating ground leases and retail space leases for a national retail company and collaborating with a team of civil engineers and architects to successfully navigate complex development and entitlement issues. David’s areas of specialization include assisting large national law firms with local counsel real estate remedies legal opinions, lease transactions involving an array of health care related issues, renewable energy projects (off-shore and on-shore wind turbine and solar transactions, including associated contracts with municipalities involving tax stabilization agreements and agreements involving payments in lieu of taxes), and counseling clients in complex property disputes. David’s practice also includes land use permitting advocacy before municipal zoning boards of review and planning boards as well as land conservation transactions with national and local 501(C)(3) organizations.

Workshop:
C4. Ask an Attorney: “Where Queries Meet Esquires”

Diane Lynch

Diane currently serves as President of the Rhode Island Food Policy Council, a statewide network organization working to increase the equity, environmental sustainability and economic strength of the state’s food system, and to ensure access to healthy food for all Rhode Islanders. On the Council, she leads a workgroup that supports farmland conservation, is working on legislation to increase supports for small and urban farms and is currently working with state agencies and community-based organizations to update Rhode Island’s state-wide food strategy. Diane also supports Rhode Island’s agricultural community by serving as a Commissioner on Rhode Island’s Agricultural Land Preservation Commission.

Workshop:
C11. New Developments in Farmland Conservation Across New England

Stephen H. Marsella, Esq.

Stephen H. Marsella, Esquire, is the Assistant Town Solicitor for the Town of Narragansett assigned to support the Zoning Board, Planning Board, Community Development Department, Building Department, Land Conservancy Trust and Historic District Commission. Steve is also the assistant city solicitor to the City of Cranston and counsel to the North Providence Housing Authority and the Cranston Housing Authority. Steve is a graduate of Tufts University and the Catholic University Columbus School of Law. He is admitted to the bar in the State of Rhode Island, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the U.S. District Court in the District of Rhode Island.

Workshop:
B4. Perpetual Conservation Protection Using the Public Trust Doctrine on Municipal Lands

Joseph McLaughlin

As Director of Properties, Joseph oversees the Sanctuary’s 300+ acres, 11 buildings, and coastal campus, and serves as the point person for outside contractors. Joseph strives to sustain and improve the Sanctuary’s diverse habitats for the benefit of birds and other wildlife, and for people’s education and enjoyment. Originally hailing from New York, Joe has called NBS home for nearly two decades, following stewardship, preservation, and environmental education roles at the New York Botanical Garden and the Town of Greenburgh, NY Parks and Recreation Department. Joseph holds a BA in Environmental Science from SUNY Plattsburgh and a MS in Education from the University of Bridgeport.

Workshop:
C6. Creating ADA Accessible Trails in Rhode Island

Marco McWilliams

Marco A. McWilliams is leading the Black History tours. He is a Black Studies scholar and adjunct professor, a DEI/J and education consultant, and a movement based organizer/educator. He is a published writer with nearly two decades of engaged scholarship work in convening diverse learning communities. He is also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, and owner of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu studio where he teaches personal self defense to marginalized communities.

Workshop:
C1. How to Engage with Tribal Nations and People of Color in Racial Equity Work, NESAWG Track

Casey Merkle

Casey Merkle is the Coordinator for the Wood-Pawcatuck Wild and Scenic Rivers Stewardship Council. Casey has an MA in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies from RISD, and a BA in Biology from Lawrence University. She works to build cooperative organizational capacity to achieve equitable outcomes in project planning, design, and implementation across the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed.

Workshop:
B5. Flowing Legacy: Celebrating 5 Years of Wood-Pawcatuck Wild & Scenic River Designation

Bella Noka

International Human Rights Activist; Civil Rights and Minority Rights Advocate. Member and Tribal Elder of the Narragansett Indian Tribe. Former Narragansett Tribal Council Member and Tribal Intergenerational Director. Executive Officer for non-profit organizations The Red Wind and Native Green. Human trafficking and environmental justice advocate.

Workshop:
C1. How to Engage with Tribal Nations and People of Color in Racial Equity Work, NESAWG Track

Randy Noka

Member and Tribal Elder of the Narragansett Indian Tribe. Former Narragansett Tribal Council Member and Tribal Ambassador. Former Executive Officer for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), for the United South & Eastern Tribes (USET) and for the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society. Principal and Chief Consultant on Aboriginal & Tribal Affairs for Nokasett, LLC consulting services. Board Member of Native Green. Environmental, human rights, and civil rights advocate.

Workshop:
A1. The Ancestral Land of the Narragansett Nation: Stewardship Through Collaboration, NESAWG Track

Ethan Paiva

After graduation from the University of Rhode Island with a B.S. in Wildlife Conservation Biology this past May, Ethan has taken on a new experience with serving as a TerraCorps Member with Audubon Society of Rhode Island as a Land Stewardship Coordinator. Here, he has been working on volunteer projects dealing with Eastern Bluebird monitoring, collecting data on reptile and amphibian vernal pool use on Audubon refuges, and creating refuge condition reports which includes habitat management plans. Ethan has been the Leader of the Youth Conservation League for the past two summers in which has helped develop his love and understanding for Forestry and Habitat Management. He spends his free time taking his pet pig, Ella, for walks teaching her tree and bird identification.

Workshop:
A6. Youth Conservation League: Ready for Action

Jamie Pottern

Jamie Pottern is the New England Program Manager at American Farmland Trust. She works across New England to address land access barriers for farmers, protect farmland, and provide support to conservation organizations and communities. Jamie currently has a special focus in Massachusetts where she is working alongside partners to increase the pace and scope of farmland protection, access, and succession efforts. She is the co-author of AFT’s Farms Under Threat: A New England Perspective research report, which analyzes threats and opportunities for a more resilient and justice-driven agricultural system in New England.

Workshop:
C11. New Developments in Farmland Conservation Across New England

Raffini

Raffini has been educating and enlightening young people most of her life. She is a poet, oral historian and playwright, best known as a member of RI Black Storytellers. In the 1980s, she started teaching gardening to youth and adults, including SCLT garden workshops. She worked at the UCAP School (the Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program) for 25 years as an arts educator, and managed a program called “Sister to Sister,” which brought young girls of color together to learn their history and discuss how to improve their lives. Raffini says she’s still in contact with most of the graduates of the program. Her goal, she says, “is to lift young people through education and knowledge of their elders and ancestors – particularly their struggles, contributions and sacrifices – to give youth a positive understanding of their self-worth.” Every January, RI Black Storytellers hosts Funda Fest around MLK’s birthday. Funda means to learn and to share, and that’s exactly how she lives her life.

Workshop:
C1. How to Engage with Tribal Nations and People of Color in Racial Equity Work, NESAWG Track
Closing Ceremony

Heidi Ricci

Ms. Ricci is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at Mass Audubon. She has decades of experience in environmental policy and public engagement. She co-authored Losing Ground: Nature’s Value in a Changing Climate and has assisted many communities in building climate resilience through nature-based solutions. She works on land use policies that integrate protection of natural and working lands with the clean energy transition and equitable, sustainable development. Ms. Ricci holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Tufts and an M.S. degree from Antioch University New England. She serves on the Nashua River Wild & Scenic Stewardship Council and on the Boards of the Citizen Planner Training Collaborative, Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, and the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance, and she has received several awards for her advocacy work.

Workshop:
A2. Mapping and Planning to Protect Nature and Grow Solar

Joanne Riccitelli

Joanne Riccitelli was the Director of Land Protection for the South Kingstown Land Trust in Wakefield, RI from July 1998 through September 2021. She completed 110 projects, protected 2148 acres, raised $14.8 million for land purchases, and received $11.9 million in land donations. She coordinated efforts in land conservation in the town of South Kingstown among partner agencies, and was responsible for the land protection projects for SKLT. Joanne now works as a consultant on RI’s Forest Health Works Project, funded by US Natural Resources Conservation Service and administered by RI DEM. Her role is to assist land trusts in applying for this funding to protect private forest land through the use of conservation easements. Joanne received a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology at Brown University. Currently Joanne serves on the Town of South Kingstown’s Sustainability Committee, the Governor’s Advisory Committee for Natural Heritage Preservation, and on the board of directors of the RI Natural History Survey.

Workshop:
A5. The Rhode Island Forest Health Work Project – Funding to Conserve Forests

Barbara Rich

Barbara has been a member of the Smithfield Land Trust since about 2007. She has served as Treasurer and Vice Chair and is currently the Chair. Barbara has also been a member of the RI Land Trust Council Board since about 2015. Smithfield has preserved over 1,000 acres of woodlands and farms during the 23 years that the Smithfield Land Trust has existed.

Workshop:
B4. Perpetual Conservation Protection Using the Public Trust Doctrine on Municipal Lands

Christopher Riely

Christopher Riely is a Forestry Specialist and Research Associate with the University of Rhode Island. For nearly a decade, he has been a regional leader in integrating climate considerations into forest stewardship and conservation. As part of a larger research project, Christopher is the RI site lead for the Southern New England Exurban Oak Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) replicate site at RIDEM’s Hillsdale Preserve in Richmond. He is Co-Coordinator of the Rhode Island Woodland Partnership and a former RI Land Trust Council board member.

Workshop:
B2. Climate-smart Approaches to Caring for Your Woods

John Rogan

Dr. Rogan is a professor of Geography at Clark University. He Clark University in 2003 after receiving his PhD in Geography the joint doctoral program at San Diego State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. John specializes in landscape ecology, urban forestry, fire ecology, optical remote sensing and GIScience. Recent research projects have involved monitoring land cover change in California using remote sensing date, mapping wildfire burn severity in southern California and southeastern Arizona, and mapping forest types in Massachusetts using multi-season Landsat data. He also holds M.A. and B.A. degrees (Geography) from the University of Arizona.

Workshop:
A2. Mapping and Planning to Protect Nature and Grow Solar

Thomas Rogers

Thomas E. Rogers is an independent consultant specializing in solving energy- and project-related problems. He retired from National Grid and its predecessor company, the New England Electric System, after 25 years of service. His positions included Vice President of Retail Marketing & Demand Side Management, director of the post-merger integration of Eastern Utilities, director for the divestiture of the generation business and Project Director of the Manchester Street Repowering Project in Providence, RI. Prior to New England Electric, Rogers was a commissioned officer in the US Army Corps of Engineers with troop and engineering assignments. Rogers graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point N.Y. and from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rogers is a registered professional engineer in Massachusetts. Rogers is currently the president of the board of the Rhode Island Land Trust Council and a board member of PowerOptions, Inc and formerly the Chair of the Narragansett Land Conservancy Trust and president and board member of Save the Bay.

Workshop:
B4. Perpetual Conservation Protection Using the Public Trust Doctrine on Municipal Lands

Paul A. Roselli

Paul A. Roselli is the president of the Burrillville Land Trust, an all volunteer private land trust in Burrillville. Paul has a masters in Global Environmental Studies from Bryant University, an MA in Education from URI and a BS in Plant and Soil Science also from URI. Paul is a vegan chef, advocate for the health and integrity of soils in Rhode Island. Paul has two children and enjoys snowshoeing and making snow angles in the winter, and basking in the variabilities of New England weather all throughout the year.

Workshop:
B9. From Forests to Fashion

Scott Ruhren

Scott Ruhren, Ph.D., Senior Director of Conservation, Audubon Society of Rhode Island, is a lifelong nature lover and forest explorer. Scott holds a Ph.D. in ecology from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in botany from the University of Maryland. He has served at Audubon for the past 18 years and has guided the management of wildlife refuges and added nearly 1,000 acres of protected habitat, mostly forest. Scott has also taught numerous courses in ecology, biology and conservation science at the University of Rhode Island and other universities on the east coast. His favorite way to explore nature is with his family.

Workshop:
A6. Youth Conservation League: Ready for Action

Alicia Schaffner

Alicia has been working for the Salt Ponds Coalition since 2014 and has served on the Rhode Island Rivers Council since 2017. Prior to that, she received a joint degree including her law degree from Roger Williams University School of Law and a Masters of Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island; she also has her Bachelor’s in Biology from Villanova University. She is passionate about protecting Rhode Island’s waterways, especially our beautiful coastline.

Workshop:
C3. Rivers Council Stewardship Roundtable

Courtney Schmidt

Courtney is a Staff Scientist at the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program. She joined the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program in 2014 after completing her PhD in Oceanography from University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. She specializes in urban estuaries and uses her experience to manage NBEP’s scientific projects and programs, and synthesizes regional data to share widely. She collaborates with partners to identify research needs and provide meaningful learning experiences for students through NEBP’s Internship Program. She manages scientific projects and programs, collaborates with regional partners to synthesize data, fill data gaps, identify research needs, and manages the implementation of projects.

Workshop:
A2. Mapping and Planning to Protect Nature and Grow Solar

Michelle Sheehan

Michelle Sheehan is the manager of the State Land Conservation Program at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, working to conserve land for habitat, agriculture, and recreation statewide. She has engaged in large scale planning efforts for both land conservation and outdoor recreation and conducts policy research and implementation for a variety of issues including farmland access and public outreach. Michelle is particularly interested in the ways climate change, equity and land conservation/land access intersect. She lives in Providence with her husband and son and enjoys gardening and hiking with her family.

Workshop:
A10. Protecting Farmland for the Next Generation of Farmers

Dinalyn Spears

Dinalyn Spears, a citizen of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, is the Director of Natural Resources and Planning. Dinalyn also oversees the Tribe’s Agricultural & Food Sovereignty Program. The Natural Resources & Planning Department is responsible for ensuring the Tribal Community has access to a healthy and safe environment while preserving culture and fostering a holistic approach to community development that supports economic well-being and a high quality of life for the community and visitors. Dinalyn holds an Associate’s degree in Business Management from the Community College of Rhode Island, a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Biology and Management from the University of Rhode Island, and a Master’s of Science degree in Environmental Studies from Antioch New England Graduate School.  Dinalyn is also an Herbalist and a Master Gardener.

Workshop:
B9. From Forests to Fashion

Karen Spiller

Karen A. Spiller, with over twenty years of experience, is the Principal of KAS Consulting based in Boston Massachusetts. With a focus on racial equity and intersectionality, Karen works with local, state, regional and national organizations committed to creating equitable public health and sustainable food systems. Involved in state-wide and regional food system work, Karen is a backbone and a steering committee member of and serves as Massachusetts and coordinating Ambassador for Food Solutions New England (FSNE), a six-state multicultural, multigenerational network focused on food system transformation with racial equity at its core. Celebrating its 10th year of national and international participation during the month of April, Karen co-leads the FSNE’s 21 -Day Habit Building Challenge designed to “build skill and will” and action to address racial inequities, through a food system lens. Along with being a board member of Boston Food Forest Coalition, Karen serves as a land steward and leader of the Old West Church Food Forest in downtown Boston. She also is a board member of Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, Northeast Organic Farming Association – Massachusetts (NOFA/Mass) and American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). Karen is a founding member of Southern New England Farmers of Color Collaborative (SNEFCC). Among national contributions in food justice, she contributes to the National Right to Food Community of Practice as a coordinating team member. As the Thomas W. Haas Professor in Sustainable Food Systems at University of New Hampshire, Durham, Karen is engaged in scholarship on the intersection of networks and racial equity across the campus and its surrounding community, extending to higher education partners nationally and internationally.

Workshop:
B1. Transitioning from a White-led Organization to a BIPOC-led Organization

Steven Tadros

Steven manages outreach and public affairs for Avangrid within Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including the Project’s landfall sites in Barnstable and the South Coast of Massachusetts. Steven is also the Tribal Relations Managers for Avangrid’s Projects in the northeast, leading outreach and relationships with Tribal Nations. Prior to joining Avangrid, Steven was the Rhode Island Community Liaison with Vineyard Wind 1, connecting the project to the communities of southern New England. Previously, he was a consultant for the oil and gas industry, bringing his expertise in energy infrastructure to his local communities. He holds a master’s degree in Oceanography and a BS in Marine Biology from the University of Rhode Island.

Workshop:
B7. Offshore Wind: Discussing the Realities, Dispelling the Myths, and Creating a Path to Climate Justice

Jed Thorp

Jed became the Rhode Island State Director of Clean Water Action in May 2022, having previously worked on energy and climate change policy in Clean Water Action’s Boston office from 2003-2005. Before returning to Clean Water Action, Jed was the Advocacy Coordinator for Save The Bay (Rhode Island). He got his start in environmental advocacy as a canvasser and field manager for Ohio Citizen Action in his native state of Ohio. He spent five years as the Public Involvement Coordinator with the Ohio EPA and was the Chapter Director for the Ohio Sierra Club before moving to Rhode Island.

Workshop:
A7. How a (Bottle) Bill Becomes a Law: Reducing Plastic Bottle Pollution in R.I

Elise Torello

Elise Torello lives in South Kingstown and is a two-time URI graduate, with degrees in Wildlife Biology and Computer Science. She has been employed by and volunteered with several local conservation organizations over the years, and currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the South Kingstown Land Trust and Friends of the Saugatucket. She is locally “famous” for her trail camera videos and usually has at least four cameras out in the nearby woods. What started as her hobby has become a source of enjoyment and connection with nature for friends, family, and community members who watch her videos online. Elise hopes to turn people into cheerleaders for conservation of nature and wildlife through her photography and videos.

Workshop:
B6. Using Video to Help Further Local Conservation and Conservation Education

Carol Lynn Trocki

Carol Lynn Trocki is a conservation biologist and educator with over 20 years of experience helping others better understand, manage, and appreciate the natural world. Since 2004, she has been working with land trusts and conservation groups in Southern New England, assisting them to map and prioritize their land acquisition efforts, document conservation values, and plan for the long-term stewardship of their protected properties. For ten years Carol Lynn taught Wildlife Management at the University of Rhode Island, where she now teaches a graduate-level Land Conservation Practicum in an effort to train and develop the next generation of practitioners that will be needed to solve today’s complex challenges. Carol Lynn specializes in coastal, avian and wetland ecology and is passionate about local agriculture as a vital part of any thriving landscape. She has been the lead scientist for the Boston Harbor Island Coastal Breeding Bird Monitoring Program since its inception in 2007. Carol Lynn is most interested in the intersection of ecology and human values and believes that the health and integrity of any landscape relies on people’s sense of connection to it. Carol Lynn currently serves on the Board of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Land Trust Council, as well as her local Conservation Commission in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

Workshop:
C9. Land Conservation Stewardship Roundtable

Brunilda Velez

Brunilda Velez is the NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs in Warwick, Rhode Island. In her role, she leads the Financial Assistance and Easement programs in partnership with State and Local Entities. She has more than twenty years of experience with NRCS implementing conservation programs in multiple states. She has volunteered for several details in National Headquarters and as Acting State Conservationist in both Connecticut and Kentucky. Bruni started her career as a Soil Conservationist in West Bend, WI after graduating with an B.A. in Agricultural Technology from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez campus. She is a member of the National RCPP Improvement Team a member of Women in NRCS, and a lifetime member of the National Hispanic NRCS Employees Organization. She has been recognized by the National Civil Rights Division for her commitment to an inclusive and diverse workforce. She was a recipient of the National Organization of Professional Hispanic NRCS Employees “Excellence in Hispanic Community Outreach Award” and was recognized by the Wisconsin Federal Women’s Program for her leadership and dedication to NRCS. Bruni is motivated by knowing that her efforts are helping and strengthening local Rhode Island entities, landowners, and conservation partners to protect our natural resources for future.

Workshop:
C5. Land Protection and Stewardship Using the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Programs

Chandelle Wilson

Chandelle grew up in Lower South Providence. Since graduating from RISD in 2008 with a degree in fine art, she has worked in a number of capacities in higher education and in workforce development. Along the way, she also obtained a master’s degree in Education/Community Education from Goddard College in Vermont, and is pursuing becoming a Master Gardener, as well as an herbalist. Besides her life-long interest in plants, and parenting three children, Chandelle is also committed to creating healthy spaces in her community. She is the Education Program Manager at Southside Community Land Trust.

Workshop:
A3. Roots and Roofs: Understanding the Community Land Trust Model