The Nature Conservancy Announces New Executive Team in Florida
Leadership to launch bold conservation agenda to protect nature and preserve life in the Sunshine State.
Maitland, FL | October 26, 2016
Career conservationist and Florida native Greg Knecht has been named deputy state director for The Nature Conservancy in Florida where he will lead the organization’s strategy and policy work.
Knecht, of Tallahassee, is a 4-year veteran of The Nature Conservancy and since 2012 has directed the Conservancy’s land protection program in Florida. This includes partnering with the ranching and forestry communities to protect critical working lands through the use of conservation easements as well as efforts to conserve, restore and expand the state’s longleaf pine forests. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Knecht spent nearly 20 years at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, most recently in the office of the Secretary as the Director of the Office of Ecosystem Projects.
“Greg knows both the Conservancy and Florida extremely well and has proven his ability to generate conservation outcomes by using a collaborative, strategic approach,” said Temperince Morgan, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Florida, in announcing the appointment. “I have come to rely heavily on his insight and counsel, and his leadership will allow us to embolden our efforts to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends.”
Knecht, a native Floridian, grew up in Winter Haven where he worked in the citrus and cattle industries, and hunted and fished the many lakes and state lands before moving to Tallahassee to obtain a bachelor of science degree in biology from Florida State University. A lifelong outdoorsman, Knecht’s travels throughout Florida and beyond to cycle, fish and hike have given him a deep and personal commitment to conservation, Knecht says.
“I feel fortunate to have grown up with such ready access to a diversity of beautiful natural places and recreational opportunities—from the state’s everglades and coral reefs in the south, the springs, lakes and rivers in central Florida to the beaches and longleaf pine forests in the panhandle,” he explains. “These natural resources have compelled me to both make Florida my lifelong home and dedicate my career to protecting the lands and waters critical to our economy, the health of all Floridians, and our way of life.”
Knecht joins a newly-formed executive leadership team for the organization led by Temperince Morgan. In addition to Morgan and Knecht, the other members are: Heidi Albritton (Director of Operations), Marilyn Bauer (Director of Strategic Communications and Marketing), Steve Coates (Director of Field Initiatives), Rosemary Mann (Director of Development), and Kristina Serbesoff-King (Director of Science and Planning).
Several appointments to the executive team—in addition to Knecht—represent promotions or new hires: Bauer, Coates, and Serbesoff-King.
Kristina Serbesoff-King was promoted from her role as the interim Director of Conservation to the newly created position of Director of Science and Planning where she will concentrate on building a Florida-based team focused on scientific research and long-term planning. The new department will scientifically assess the myriad of issues that contribute to both the decline of nature as well as the benefits and services that nature provides to people. These findings will then be integrated into the broader Florida team’s conservation planning and goal setting in order to best drive conservation outcomes that achieve positive impacts for both people and nature. A 12-year Conservancy veteran, Serbesoff-King has held roles as varied as Invasive Species Program Manager and Associate Director of Conservation.
Marilyn Bauer joins The Nature Conservancy in Florida this month as the Director of Strategic Communications and Marketing. Bauer brings an extensive background in marketing, writing, and public relations to her appointment, including three years as the Director of Marketing and Government Affairs at the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. Bauer will oversee efforts in Florida to raise awareness and engage target audiences, deepen membership engagement, and generate funding for conservation.
Steve Coates is the second new addition to the Conservancy team, where he will assume the role of Director of Field Initiatives. In this capacity he will oversee the Conservancy’s preserve operations and staff to execute conservation strategies and associated science, deploy new initiatives, and expand partnership opportunities across the Sunshine State. The University of Florida alum joins the team from the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station outside of Gainesville in Melrose, where he administered conservation, research, education, and outreach programs for 16 years.
“Our conservation vision for Florida is ambitious and the challenges we face are great, but I am confident that we can succeed due to the incredible dedication, innovation and passion of our team and supporters,” says Morgan. “I could not be more thrilled to welcome Steve and Marilyn to the Conservancy, and congratulate Kris and Greg on their well-deserved promotions.”
In addition to restructuring the Florida team, Morgan has reshaped Florida’s conservation agenda since assuming the role as Executive Director in 2014. To this end, the executive team will put the finishing touches on a five-year strategic plan early next year.
“The Nature Conservancy has long understood the value nature brings to our economy, communities and way of life. This is especially true here in Florida, where our recreation and commercial fishing industries are valued at $30 billion, and our beautiful weather, coasts and natural places attract hundreds of thousands of new residents each year. Florida is already the third most populated state in the U.S., yet our population continues to grow at a higher rate than most and is expected to increase by upwards of 40 percent by 2050,” says Morgan. “Nature will play a critical role in Florida’s future, as we seek innovative ways to provide space, clean water and energy for all Floridians—without sacrificing the unique wildlife and places that make our state so special. This challenge will be exacerbated by degrading infrastructure that threatens our coastal and inland waters, and climate change which will raise temperatures to new heights and potentially flood upwards of $152 billion in coastal property by 2050.”
The Nature Conservancy in Florida is working to address these critical challenges with five interlocking programs focused on:
- Water Security
- Land Protection
- Healthy Oceans & Coasts
- Climate Change Action
- Sustainable Cities
“Our strategic plan focuses on generating conservation outcomes that benefit people, wildlife and Florida’s natural systems,” says Morgan. “Our recent work to install nine new oyster reefs across nearly four acres of Charlotte Harbor to attract and support new oysters for the purposes of improving water quality, supporting wildlife, and helping to stabilize shorelines by reducing erosion from wave and tide action is an outstanding example of the type of legacy we can create when we work with others and have the needs of both people and nature in mind.”
“More than ever, it’s critical that we find a way to get more people connected to our work,” she continues. “The world that we rely on also relies on us. If we are to be successful in securing our future here in Florida and across the globe, we will need everyone to take bold steps and speak up for nature today.”
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 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.