Stories in California

Why I Give

California Donor Stories

Visitors explore the old homestead at The Nature Conservancy's Palo Corona Ranch in Monterey County, California.
Palo Corona Ranch Visitors explore the old homestead at The Nature Conservancy's Palo Corona Ranch in Monterey County, California. © The Nature Conservancy (Mark Godfrey)

Francie Mitchell

Francie has been a TNC donor for more than three decades.
Francie Mitchell Francie has been a TNC donor for more than three decades. © Jim Mitchell

“The level of scientific knowledge at TNC impresses me,” says Francie Mitchell, a former chemist and international IT director at Clorox. “It exceeds my expectations.”

A TNC donor for more than three decades, Francie came onboard as a volunteer seven years ago, shortly after retiring. Since then, she has helped the California Chapter’s conservation and science teams with projects ranging from ocean protection to habitat connectivity. This includes supporting TNC’s Regional Conservation Investment Strategy Symposium, an annual gathering where public agencies and stakeholders share best practices to identify regional conservation priorities and guide development to avoid conflicts with nature.

“I was committed to TNC before, but through volunteering, I became even more committed. To actually see the work TNC does and the impact it makes just blew me away,” she says.  

When Francie is not working alongside TNC colleagues, she enjoys biking and exploring the hiking trails near her home in Northern California. Knowing that she is helping to protect the natural world makes her adventures even sweeter. “I am a native Californian. The work that TNC is doing really helps preserve the California that I grew up in and that I love.”

An Enduring Legacy: Remembering Kerry Landreth Reed

Kerry never let anything get in the way of living life to the fullest, even the return of her cancer.
Kerry Landreth Reed Kerry never let anything get in the way of living life to the fullest, even the return of her cancer. © Landreth and Reed Families

TNC is fortunate to have many dedicated donors who are passionate about protecting the natural world. Some give money. Others give time. Some make introductions. Others give advice. Kerry Landreth Reed gave all that and more: she gave her whole self.

A lifelong outdoors enthusiast, Kerry spent many happy hours hiking, skiing, and angling with her loved ones. TNC’s preserve at the McCloud River was a favorite destination, and it became a focal point of her family’s philanthropy with us. In 2012, after conquering her first battle with breast cancer, Kerry set out to make her mark on the issues she cared about, including conservation. She co-founded—and led—the California Leadership Council, a group of business and philanthropic leaders who serve as TNC ambassadors. Her efforts paid off; the California Leadership Council is now one of TNC’s most important outreach and engagement programs.

Kerry never let anything get in the way of living life to the fullest, even the return of her cancer. Despite the long hours she spent at the hospital, she remained deeply engaged with TNC. In 2017, during the final months of Kerry’s life, we renamed our preserve at the McCloud River in her honor. We are proud to be part of her incredible conservation legacy and to continue the work she believed in so deeply.

“I’ve always felt that California provided a model for the world,” she said. "Whether the issue is fighting climate change, keeping our rivers flowing or protecting wildlife habitat, we are leading the way.” 

Former board member and one of our earliest supporters.
Jack Weeden Former board member and one of our earliest supporters. © Paul Weaver

Remembering Jack Weeden

As TNC celebrates 60 years in California, we honor the life of our friend and former board member Jack Weeden, one of our earliest and most dedicated supporters.

Growing up in Northern California in the 1930s and ’40s, Jack and his three brothers enjoyed exploring the natural world. They frequented the lush forests owned by family friends Heath and Marjorie Angelo—3,100 acres in Mendocino County that would later become the Angelo Coast Range Reserve, TNC’s first reserve in the state. During World War II, they held summer jobs at Yosemite, and Jack later hiked the John Muir Trail with his brothers Alan and Don.

Jack served on TNC’s California Board of Trustees for 17 years and generously supported our projects, making his final donation with a $2.3 million bequest. He remained a champion of nature into his 90s, welcoming TNC staff to tour his beautiful San Francisco garden and chat about environmental issues—a special experience for anyone lucky enough to be invited.

After Jack’s passing in March, we named an ironwood grove in his memory on our Santa Cruz Island Preserve, a place that was dear to his heart. It is one of the many ways we will remember Jack and his extraordinary commitment to conservation. 

Angelo Coast Range Reserve

In 1959, the Angelos were at a crossroads. They owned 3,100 acres of pristine, old-growth forest in Mendocino County, but a new law forced property owners to pay taxes on the value of their timber whether or not they chose to harvest it. That’s when they approached TNC.

Today, the Heath and Marjorie Angelo Coast Range Reserve spans 7,660 acres and is operated by UC Berkeley.

Trustee Angela Nomellini Has Made a Splash in the World of Conservation

Angela and her husband, Ken Olivier, first discovered TNC after one of Ken’s fishing trips more than 20 years ago.
Angela Nomellini Angela and her husband, Ken Olivier, first discovered TNC after one of Ken’s fishing trips more than 20 years ago. © Ken Olivier

“How do I most like to connect with nature? I connect through my waders!” says Angela Nomellini, an enthusiastic fisher and member of TNC’s California Board of Trustees.
 
Angela and her husband, Ken Olivier, first discovered TNC after one of Ken’s fishing trips more than 20 years ago. Since then, they have generously invested in TNC’s conservation efforts around the world. They like to support conservation in “places where we live, where our lives touch down,” explains Angela. One of their greatest passions is the California Salmon and Steelhead Coalition, which works to recover salmon and trout populations across the state. The coalition is a partnership between TNC, California Trout, and Trout Unlimited, where Ken is a board member.
 
In addition to her role as a trustee, Angela is co-chair of the California Chapter’s Our World Campaign Committee and serves on both the global Our World Planned Giving Committee and the North America Advisory Cabinet. This June, her contributions were recognized at the Volunteer Leadership Summit, where she received TNC’s highest honor: the Oak Leaf Award for outstanding service.
 
“What keeps me coming back is the quality of the people I get to work with,” she says. “TNC is doing a lot of good work. Everybody working at TNC and the other donors I interact with are grade-A people.”

Generosity in Action: Celebrating the CLC Challenge

Generosity in Action: Celebrating the CLC Challenge
Camping Trip Generosity in Action: Celebrating the CLC Challenge © Deeksha Prakash

"I was struck by the question, ‘If not us, who?’” said Sally Liu, a scientist with TNC’s California Water Program and co-chair of the California Leadership Council (CLC), a group of volunteer leaders at TNC. “How can we ask others to do more, to give more, if we don’t lead the way?"

In early 2020, Sally and CLC co-chair Mike Green each pledged to give $1 million to TNC in the final months of the Our World Campaign. They challenged their fellow CLC members to help raise $5 million by June. The group not only met this challenge, they surpassed it. Together, they raised $7.4 million for nature, bringing the CLC’s contribution to more than $13 million over the seven-year campaign.

“The CLC knows how critical TNC's work is to the preservation and protection of the natural world,” said Mike. “Hopefully this reinforces how much we appreciate the passion and commitment of staff across the organization, and how strongly we believe in the work they do.”

Charlotte Davis

Donation letter from 9 year old Charlotte Davis.
Charlotte Davis Donation letter from 9 year old Charlotte Davis. © TNC