Trees, blue sky, and clouds reflected in the Mink River Estuary.
Mink River Estuary, Door Co. The Mink River flows along a forested shoreline in eastern Door County, Wisconsin © Jason Whalen/Fauna Creative


The Nature Conservancy welcomes four new members to its Wisconsin Board of Trustees

Madison, WI

  • Emily Mills
    PR and Media Manager
    The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin

The Nature Conservancy recently welcomed four new members to its Wisconsin Board of Trustees, two of whom are part of TNC’s innovative student trustee program.

The new members represent diverse experiences and knowledge and bring invaluable perspectives to the organization as it enters its 60th year of working to protect the lands and waters of Wisconsin. With guidance and input from its trustees, TNC is also focused heavily on leveraging its science-based approach to conservation to address climate change, create healthier cities, and ensure that food and water are provided sustainably to a growing population.

Headshot of new TNC trustee, Dr. Thomas J. Hrabik
Dr. Thomas J. Hrabik, TNC Wisconsin Trustee © Photo courtesy of Tom Hrabik

Dr. Thomas J. Hrabik is a Professor of Biology at the University of Minnesota, where he also recently served as department head. His work, which includes 75 publications in his field, focuses on aquatic diversity, as well as aquatic and landscape ecology, specifically within freshwater lake systems.

The waters of northern Wisconsin are a special focus for Hrabik, who grew up on the Lac du Flambeau chain of lakes in Vilas County where he spent considerable time shadowing local biologists. He attributes his early interest in the outdoors and biology both to the freedom his parents gave him to explore, and to experiencing waterbodies with older family members who showed him the beauty and importance of the work.

Hrabik has for years also worked at the UW’s Trout Lake Research Station, and authored a novel study showing that diversity in lakes is associated with their position in the landscape. His lifelong connection to and work with various managing agencies on Lake Superior also helped draw him to TNC via the organization’s focus on water conservation generally and on sustainable fisheries in the Great Lakes in particular.

“I really appreciate the whole endeavor of The Nature Conservancy. Any way I can help, I certainly will,” Hrabik says. “It’s in the name. Conservation is one of the primary things that we must do. It’s one of the things I learned about back when I was at UW Steven’s Point reading Aldo Leopold. Here’s an organization that’s actually purchasing pieces of high-quality habitat to conserve them—not to prevent human use, but what people have to embrace is sustainable use.”

Headshot of new TNC trustee, Jim Schleif
Jim Schleif, TNC Wisconsin Trustee © Photo courtesy of Jim Schleif

Jim Schleif is a longtime Wisconsinite and UW Madison graduate (’87). Jim has also been an award-winning realtor since 2003 with Shorewest Realtors in Milwaukee and among the top 1% of Realtors nationwide per Real Trends Magazine. He resides with his spouse of 28 years, Bill Morley, on Milwaukee’s Upper Eastside.

Currently, Jim volunteers as a cabinet member for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s "Greater Together" campaign as well as on various leadership and mission committees at Immanuel Presbyterian Church. Jim previously served 12 years as a board member and recent VP of the Urban Ecology Center, was a founding member of the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Radio 88.9 Building Campaign Cabinet member, and Wisconsin Humane Society Gala Co-chair, among many other volunteer positions.

Jim has been a member of The Nature Conservancy for over 20 years and is a cabinet member for the Wisconsin chapter’s major development campaign, “Wisconsin’s Path.” Through their James A. Schleif and William H Morley Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Jim and Bill have given generously to TNC and other charities dedicated to conservation, advancing human rights, and the alleviation of poverty.

“One thing I have learned is that when caring, active people come together, they can change the world,” Jim says. “As the earth and her species face a tragic tipping point, my role with TNC as a champion for nature continues. With TNC I see hope.”

Headshot of new TNC student trustee, Emily H. Capodarco
Emily H. Capodarco, TNC Wisconsin Student Trustee © Photo courtesy of Emily Capodarco

Emily H. Capodarco is a current JD/MPA dual degree student at the University of Wisconsin Law School and the Robert M. LaFollette School of Public Affairs and joins the board as part of TNC’s student trustee program. Emily grew up in rural Wisconsin and loves being outdoors in the state's natural beauty. After completing her undergraduate degree at Marquette University and before returning to school, she worked for organizations in international development, food and employment access, and criminal justice. She is excited to serve as a trustee for TNC and support its work protecting and preserving the state's natural areas. 

Headshot of new TNC student trustee, Thomas Franklin
Thomas Franklin, TNC Wisconsin Student Trustee © Spectrum Brands Inc. Video Department

Thomas Franklin is Assistant Manager of New Product Development at Spectrum Brands and is currently pursuing an MBA at the University of Wisconsin. Since moving to Madison, Thomas has participated in multiple volunteer days for Clean Lakes Alliance. He’s looking forward to working with TNC’s Board, where he hopes to gain valuable information and experience in the work to protect nature.

“All four new trustees bring unique professional expertise and personal passions to TNC’s Board, from urban conservation in Milwaukee to native fish in the Great Lakes,” says Elizabeth Koehler, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin. “These four individuals complement the strengths of fellow board members, volunteers and our staff. Together, with the help of more than 20,000 member households in Wisconsin, we are making a difference for land and water—and one key role for us all in 2020 is to share our love for nature with others and invite them to join us in the mission.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.