The Central & Western chapter staff may be a small bunch, but these 14 New Yorkers are are responsible for the protection and restoration of more than half of the Empire State. Combining a wealth of talent with a passion and dedication to the mission of The Nature Conservancy, this group of conservationists are making sure our natural treasures stick around for the next generation.
Stevie is our Freshwater Conservation Practitioner based out of the Rochester office. She supports our on-the-ground efforts to conserve and restore freshwater biodiversity in Central and Western New York and statewide. Since 2000, Stevie has worked for academic institutions, non-profits and government agencies monitoring marine, freshwater and terrestrial systems, overseeing stream habitat restoration projects and conserving land for natural resource protection. She recently moved to the Finger Lakes area with her husband and daughter, and is thrilled to have forests and streams right in her backyard.
Darran Crabtree is Director of Conservation Programs for the Central and Western New York Chapter. Darran began with the Conservancy in 2002 working as Director of Conservation Science for the French Creek Project, a landscape managed by both PA and CWNY. His work has helped lead to a shift from restoration approaches in French Creek to strategies that are aimed at maintaining the already high quality habitats. Now he leads the conservation team for CWNY while contributing to freshwater conservation priorities throughout New York.
As senior conservation scientist, Kristin helps guide where we work and develops effective conservation strategies. Kristin's field research has taken her from Antarctica to Tanzania to southern Virginia — but now she's happily settled back home in upstate New York (and reportedly still loved the snow even after surviving her first upstate winter in a decade)! She also enjoys exploring by foot, bicycle, or kayak and takes dance classes.
Gretchen is a third-generation member of the Conservancy: her great aunt (a teacher and amateur naturalist) became a member shortly after the founding in the early 1950s. As office manager, Gretchen supports the staff, coordinates volunteer activities, and assists with finance and operations. She is an avid canoeist, both tandem and solo, and enjoys backcountry trips with tent, husband and dog. She attended college at SUNY Potsdam.
As executive director, Jim Howe leads the Chapter's efforts to protect New York's forests, freshwater, and and natural communities. Jim has a passion for nature and a broad expertise in public policy and natural resources. He serves as an advisor to other conservation groups and is co-author of Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities. Jim enjoys canoeing, playing the banjo, and spending time with his two children.
David Klein, senior field representative, has worked for the Conservancy for 17 years, including 12 years as director of the CWNY Chapter. Today, he works with a bi-national team of partners to develop and implement a conservation program for Lake Ontario. In his spare time, David is a birder, kayaker, and sings in a concert choir. He recently took up tennis at the urging of his wife, and is now struggling with his back-hand.
Mat is the Northern New York Field Representative based in our Pulaski office. He manages stewardship activities at several of our priority conservation landscapes and preserves, including Eastern Lake Ontario, Alvar Limestone Barrens, and Rome Sand Plains. Currently he is working in conjunction with multiple agencies to control invasive species and restore wetlands of Eastern Lake Ontario. Mat has a background in ecology and ten years of natural resource management experience with government and non-profit organizations. He is always excited for the next outdoor adventure with his wife and 6-month-old daughter.
Liz has been director of finance and operations with the chapter since early 2007. A veteran accountant, Liz has been active in organic gardening and homegrown sustainability for the last decade. Liz has three kids and enjoys hiking, birding, and quilting during the long Rochester winters.
Jan, CFRE, is the Associate Director of Philanthropy and Senior Philanthropy Officer. Jan is an accomplished fundraiser who comes to us from the National Kidney Foundation, where she served as Division President for Upstate and Western New York. Her thirty years of fundraising experience also includes positions with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the American Heart Association. As a founding member of a local land trust, Jan is enthusiastic about protecting our natural resources.
Mary Pappa brings over 18 years of administrative experience as our Northern NY Office Manager. As a native northern New Yorker, Mary is deeply familiar with the land and residents of the area. She is extremely proud to be working for the Conservancy, as she believes sustainability is the key to our region's future. Mary enjoys boating, walking, fishing, and spending time with family.
As program stewardship ecologist, Gregg coordinates stewardship and ecological management activities across the chapter. These include managing invasive species, maintaining preserves, and protecting rare species and communities. Currently, Gregg is designing and building Rob’s Trail, a memorial trail in the Western Finger Lakes. Gregg enjoys recreating outdoors and is a devoted Buffalo Bills fan.
Stacy Wais Seretto
As major gifts manager, Stacy coordinates the fundraising activities of the chapter. Stacy has several years of philanthropy experience and a degree in marine biology. She grew up in western New York and enjoys horseback riding, writing and following the Buffalo Sabres.
Rob is the Invasive Species Program Coordinator for the St. Lawrence – Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (SLELO-PRISM), providing strategic leadership to a coalition of partners and coordinating both terrestrial and aquatic invasive species projects. He is based at our Northern New York Field office in Pulaski. Rob is educated as a freshwater biologist with extensive field experience, and co-founder of both the Finger Lakes – Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance and the North Coast Initiative, a.k.a. Lake Ontario Coastal Initiative.