Meet the Florida Board of Trustees
Our Florida Board of Trustees demonstrates outstanding personal commitment of service to The Nature Conservancy in Florida, providing oversight and balance to our work in the sunshine state. Our dedicated trustees fulfill several distinct and significant roles and responsibilities including guidance, strategic thinking and problem-solving for all aspects of our conservation efforts. They help to establish effective relationships with leaders in the spheres of philanthropy, public policy, science, education and other sectors to promote our mission and goals; and they represent TNC and our work in their communities, personal and professional networks and in the public eye.
Apalachicola, trustee since 2015
Patrick J. Balthrop, Sr. was born and raised in the Florida panhandle and is the founding principal of Apalachee Ventures, LLC. He has more than 35 years of experience building, growing and turning around businesses and commercial enterprises around the world, most recently as CEO of a publicly traded company. Pat is a demonstrated thought leader in the life sciences, medical device and genomics industries. He serves on the board of directors of several companies, including Agendia, Discovery Life Sciences, Pattern Bioscience, MaxCyte (NASDAQ: MXCT) and Burke Porter Group. Pat was CEO, president and a board director of Luminex Corporation (NASDAQ: LMNX) for more than 10 years. He served as president of Fisher Healthcare and previously enjoyed a 20-year career at Abbott in clinical diagnostic systems and vascular devices. Pat has an MBA from Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University, and his undergraduate studies were at Princeton University and Spring Hill College. He earned a BS in biology from Spring Hill.
Thomas (Tom) Costello
Sarasota, trustee since 2016
Tom Costello is co-owner of Costello Companies, which work to make long-range investment decisions, long-term commitments and long-term relationships to create affordable housing solutions for future generations. He is a fourth-generation leader from a family committed to making a difference in the affordable housing industry. The Costello family history with real estate began in the 1930’s when Tom’s great- grandfather ventured from his furniture store business into real estate development. As of today, the Costellos have developed and manage more than 4,000 units in six states. Since joining the family company in 1989, Tom has developed over 80 affordable housing communities, many of which have been with nonprofit partners. In 1998. In 2000, Tom was one of only 100 in the nation to receive the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) “Best of the Best” award for best practices in the development of affordable housing.
Miami, trustee since 2014
Mark is Vice President, SAP. Prior to joining the software company in 2007, he was an associate at McKinsey & Company. His relationship with TNC began when he was living in New York City and helped establish the New York Young Professionals Group (YPO). He has been actively involved with fundraising and donor engagement efforts for TNC in Miami. He is a board member of the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of South Florida. He was raised in Titusville and still has family living in Central Florida. Mark is a Trustee Legacy Club Ambassador.
Tequesta, trustee since 2020
As Executive Vice President and COO at Greg Norman Company, Chris oversees the company’s consumer businesses, joint ventures, real estate, licensing and private equity investments in the U.S., Australia, Asia, Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Chris is also a co-owner of Florida Living Realty, a boutique residential real estate company specializing in Palm Beach County and Martin County. A native Californian, Chris lived overseas and spent time in 33 other countries, which has informed his perspective as a global citizen. A seeker of adventure, Chris’ heart sings in the outdoors and in wild places as a lifelong mountaineer, fisherman, diver, and distance runner. Chris holds a B.A. from Boston College and an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California. He lives in Tequesta, Florida with his wife and three children, and is committed to land stewardship and the conservation of wild places that will enable these same experiences for future generations.
Vero Beach, trustee since 2016
Ron has spent over 40 years in the Florida agri-business sector. A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Ron was a CPA with Ernst & Ernst, auditing agri-business companies. In 1975 he joined Tropicana as Chief Accountant and rose to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. In 1986 he joined ConAgra, Inc. as President of their Juice Division. In 1987 Edwards joined Evans Properties, Inc., a closely held family-owned agri-business and real estate company based in Vero Beach with cattle and citrus operations in eight Florida counties, as President and CEO. He has served on the steering committee for Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Cooperative Conservation Blueprint Taskforce. Edwards is a member of the Florida Land Council, and also serves on the Board of Florida Family Growers Association. Ron also serves on the Boards of Viewpost, LLC, Terviva Bioenergy, Inc., Parabel, LLC, and is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AquaFiber Technologies Corporation.
Tierra Verde, trustee since 2022
Jarred is CEO of SF Fulfillment, a family-owned-and-operated third-party logistics business headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Jarred played football at The University of Florida and the University of Illinois, where he graduated in 2010 with his B.A. He went on to play in the NFL from 2010 to 2015, achieving his lifelong dream. After his playing days, Jarred went on to handle the commercial rights for the world’s largest fishing platform, representing professional athletes and partnering with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, National Geographic, Blue Star Planet and others. Jarred and his team filmed several migrations and brought awareness to coastal issues and estuaries. Today Jarred can be found between his home in Tierra Verde, FL, and Cedar Rapids, IA, with his wife, Muffy Sadler-Fayson, and son, Cruz. Looking forward, Jarred is yearning to raise awareness and educate others on what can be done to preserve, improve and protect marine life and estuaries.
Lynetta Usher Griner
Chiefland, trustee since 2014
A native Floridian, Lynetta is Secretary/Treasurer of Usher Land & Timber, Inc., a family-owned logging, farming and cattle company in Chiefland, Florida. She served on the Suwannee River Water Management District Governing Board for 14 years and the Florida Forever Advisory Council. Lynetta is past President of Florida Forestry Association (the first female President in its 91-year history) and is the agricultural citizen appointee to the Acquisition ad Restoration Council. In 2013, she was named Woman of the Year in Agriculture for the state of Florida. Lynetta was honored as the Swisher Sweet/Sunbelt Ag Expo Farmer of the Year for 2018 and in October 2022 honored with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award. She is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Law. Lynetta and Ken have one son, Korey, and they live in Fanning Springs on the banks of the beautiful Suwannee River.
Orlando, trustee since 2015
Ted serves as President of The Edward E. Haddock Jr. Family Foundation, which invests in the work of social justice and environmental stewardship. He established Common Pictures to engage pressing social issues by creating films and stories that heal; Trust Foundation to foster natural preservation and endangered species; The Foundation Hub, a collaborative workspace for non-profits; Kaley Square, an asset-based community development organization in a distressed community; and Friends of Tinker Field Foundation promoting Orlando’s civil rights history. Ted serves on the boards of Humanite, Institute for Sport and Social Justice, The Human Trafficking Institute and Orlando Land Trust. He spent 10 years as Director of Photography for International Justice Mission where he provided a global voice for survivors of human rights abuses and helped to brand the organization in its formative years. Ted received his MFA in Photography from Indiana University and his BA from Furman University.
Winter Park, trustee since 2020
A native Floridian, Christie grew up in Jacksonville and Palatka. Her family owned a farm in Palatka and a ranch in Montana, so she grew up enjoying Florida’s outdoor natural treasures and became passionate about protecting her home state. She met her husband, Bill Heavener, while they were both attending the University of Florida. Bill is CEO and Co-Chairman of Full Sail University (partner of Garry Jones). Christie is a trustee for the Thomas T Phillips Jr Foundation. She raised her two sons to care about conservation, bringing her family along on multiple TNC events and field trips over the years. She now has young grandchildren and has decided to devote her time and energy into helping ensure that we protect the planet and nature for generations to come.
Miami, trustee since 2021
Dr. Cheryl L. Holder is a National Health Service Corp Scholar, Internist, HIV Specialist, once Medical Director of one of Miami’s largest community health centers and a participant in NIH and CDC health advisory and programmatic review panels. She has dedicated her career to improving health of underserved populations. Since 2009, Dr. Holder teaches about the social determinants of health, diversity, HIV prevention and the health impact of climate change at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University. She also serves as Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity and Community Initiatives. Her leadership roles extend to several medical and climate change focused organizations. She is president of Florida State Medical Association, Founder and Co-Chair of Florida Clinicians for Climate Action and Co-chair of Miami Dade Heat Health Task Force. Most recently, her TED Talk “The link between climate change, health and poverty” garnered over 250,000 views.
Winter Park, Lifetime Trustee
As President of Full Sail University, Garry Jones is one of the prime catalysts of the university’s forward motion, as he continually works to ensure that the university’s progress maintains the original mission and culture of the institution. Garry served as a consultant during the creation of Full Sail, and in 1980 joined the faculty as an educator. From 1980 to 1999, he served in a variety of leadership roles across the institution and was promoted to the role of President in 1999. During his tenure as President, Full Sail University has received a wide range of accolades and awards for its educational approach and the quality of its curriculum. Garry has also received awards for his leadership such as being named ITFlorida’s “IT Leader of the Year” in 2009, recognition on Florida Trend Magazine’s “Florida 500 List” identifying the 500 most influential Floridians across the state, and most recently being named one of the Orlando Business Journal’s “Power Players” in 2022.
Orlando, trustee since 2021
Rena Langley is the Walt Disney World Senior Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs. She oversees public relations, government relations, external communications, internal communications, executive communications, and corporate citizenship for the Walt Disney World Resort. Rena has a deep breadth of experience in communications with more than two decades at Disney. She previously led Public Affairs for Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club and Adventures by Disney. In the community, Rena serves on several boards including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Orlando Economic Partnership, and the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness. In addition, she is part of the Advisory Council for the University of Florida’s Public Relations department. Rena is a former news reporter and spokeswoman for the American Automobile Association and her alma mater is the University of Florida.
Miami, trustee since 2022
Throughout his career, John has been identifying, analyzing and investing in leading applied-technology companies. He was a top-ranked technology analyst at Goldman Sachs, founder of a pioneering tech fund at Westway Capital, and now a professional seed stage VC investor and advisor/ board member to young companies. To date, John has sourced and invested in over 60 early stage applied-technology companies in healthcare, FinTech, AgTech, AI and other sectors. Additionally, John has served on The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut Board for 10 years, from 2008-2018. During that time, he assumed many global and local leadership positions, including Board chair and vice chair, Campaign co-chair, Brazil Task Force co-chair and early advisor to TechStars. A featured college lecturer and conference speaker, John holds a Chemistry degree from Lafayette College and an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. He also has served on various corporate and non-profit boards.
Sanford, trustee since 2018
Gilbert serves as the Board Chair of the Bradley-Turner Foundation. He has been involved with the work of the Beloco Foundation for over a decade and a half, formally joining as a trustee in 2000. The grandson of the founder of Beloco, Gilbert has prioritized defining the foundation’s Mission and strengthening governance. He is also a trustee of W.C. Bradley Company, Epworth-by-the-Sea, and Andrew College. Gilbert is the immediate past board chair of the Southeastern Council of Foundations. While not in the boardroom, Gilbert manages Kimi Farms Christmas Trees, has a small commercial real-estate development partnership, and is working on a series of children’s books based on his life in the South. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Gilbert continues to be involved at his alma mater, serving as the Chair of the Dean’s Council of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. He and his wife, Jamee, have two sons, William and Benjamin and a daughter, Juliette.
Dr. Sejal Patel
Winter Park, trustee since 2022
With more than 20 years of experience in medicine, Sejal Dharia Patel, MD, is dual board certified in reproductive endocrinology and obstetrics and gynecology. Raised in Clearwater, Florida, Dr. Patel received her undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Miami. She then completed her internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. Dr. Patel is on the faculty at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine and currently serves as the medical director for reproductive medicine at AdventHealth Celebration. Her interest in nature conservation started early. Being raised in Clearwater, she was aware of the balance of the ecosystem, from sustainable fishing to repopulation of native plants in lakes and gardens. Dr. Patel is inspired to continue this passion for conservation on our planet through education, research and awareness.
Key Largo, trustee since 2020
A Chicago native, Bruce served as the 42nd Governor of the State of Illinois from 2015-2019. Governor Rauner’s achievements included equal funding for charter schools, a historic tuition scholarship tax credit program, and criminal justice reforms. Prior to his public service, Bruce was Chairman of private equity and venture capital firm GTCR. Bruce has served on the boards of numerous civic and philanthropic organizations including New Schools for Chicago, and World Business Chicago. Bruce serves on the boards numerous environmental organizations and works with TNC in Montana and Montana Land Reliance. Bruce received Murie-Broome Award from The Wilderness Society for outstanding work in wilderness preservation. Bruce is an avid fly fisher, bird hunter, backpacker, skier, golfer, and motorcycle and horseback rider. Bruce received his B.A. from Dartmouth College and his M.B.A. from Harvard University. Bruce and his wife Diana have six children and three grandchildren.
Orlando, trustee since 2019
A world traveler, Anne has spent her professional career establishing conservation programs for endangered species. She developed Proyecto Tití, a conservation program designed to conserve Colombia’s most endangered primate, the cotton-top tamarin, making conservation of the cotton-top tamarin a priority in Colombia. Anne is the former Conservation Director for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, supporting Disney’s strong conservation legacy. She has worked with Walt Disney Imagineering to incorporate conservation into many of the theme park attractions and experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and other Disney Parks and Resorts. Anne received her B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. She has held numerous leadership positions within Association of Zoos and Aquariums and other scientific organizations. She received the Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club and currently serves on the board of Fundación Proyecto Tití and Foundations of Success.
Robert A. Spottswood, Jr.
Key West, trustee since 2021
Robert is part of the 7th generation of the Spottswood Family to call Key West home. After attending the University of Florida, he went on to study law at Nova University where he worked with several environmental groups including the Everglades Law Clinic to advocate for responsible development and preservation of vital native habitats for endangered and threatened species. Robert has continued to be an advocate for sustainable and environmentally conscious development through his law practice which is focused on real estate development and the hospitality industry. In 2019 Robert and his wife Stephanie permanently relocated to Key West, where they now reside with their children Florence, Eleanor, and Robert III. He serves as President of Spottswood Companies, Inc., President of Spottswood Management, Inc., Co-President of Keystar, Inc., and is a Partner at Spottswood, Spottswood, Spottswood & Sterling, PLLC. Robert is also Board Member of the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida.
Jacksonville, Lifetime Trustee
JoAnn currently owns J Properties, LLC, a restoration, and management company of historic properties in the Jacksonville area. In 2008, she retired as President of the Jacksonville-based National Financial Brokerage, Inc. JoAnn served as Chair for the Florida Board of Trustees from 2016 to 2019. She is a former Board Chair of Resco Products, Inc. and is married to Jack Meeks, a CPA and President of Jack Meeks & Associates. JoAnn holds a B.S. in Forestry from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from the University of North Florida.
Tallahassee, trustee since 2021
Noah is a founding partner at Brightwater Strategies Group, PLLC, where he provides strategic guidance to private and non-profit sectors. Noah served as both the Secretary for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the state’s Chief Resilience Officer and worked to champion and advocate for water quality improvements, Everglades and springs restoration, coastal resiliency, and land conservation in Florida. Noah led the creation of the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection at DEP, the agency’s resilience grant program, and helped secure record funding for climate change and resilience initiatives in Florida. He also served in leadership positions on the United States Coral Reef Task Force, the United States Everglades Task Force, and the Environmental Council of the States. Noah graduated from FSU’s College of Law and received his Bachelor’s degree from UF’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, where he graduated with honors.