About Our Team

About Our Team

Since 1958, Heritage Conservancy has been preserving and protecting our natural and historic heritage.

Heritage Conservancy is an accredited not-for-profit conservation organization that specializes in open space preservation, planning for sustainable communities, natural resource protection, property stewardship, historic preservation, adaptive reuse of existing structures, wildlife habitat restoration and biodiversity.

Through 60+ years of professional land use planning and design; innovative land conservation and historic preservation strategies; public outreach and education; and the application of “best management practices” for property stewardship, the Conservancy has established itself as an acclaimed full-service leader. Its national accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission affirms Heritage Conservancy’s commitment to excellence, trust  and permanence.

Our Board of Directors

Stephen L. Phillips
Vice Chair
Maria T. Rieders, PhD
Kevin Zosulis, CFA
Nicholas DeRose, PG


  • Douglas L. Carr, CPA
  • Christopher B. Chandor, Esq.
  • Brian J. Clark, Esq.
  • Stephen G. Darlington
  • Ralph C. Fey, AIA
  • Brian G. Firth, MD, PhD, MBA
  • Louis J. Lombardi
  • Sydney F. Martin
  • Jeffrey H. Nicholas
  • Frank C. Palopoli
  • Scott A. Reines, MD, PhD
  • Jonathan Moore Sharaf MBA
  • Beth Snyder DMD
  • Kathy H. Summerall
  • Julia R. Toner, Esq.
  • Trey Wilson, DDS

Chairman Emeritus

William Hart Rufe III

Directors Emeritus

  • Robert L. Byers
  • Elizabeth H. Gemmill, Esq.
  • J. Lawrence Grim Jr., Esq.
  • Joseph R. Kempter, C.P.A.

Our Staff

Joyce G. Austin
Administrative Assistant
215-345-7020 ext. 100
Joyce is the Administrative Assistant for the Properties & Programs Department and the main technical support for production of narrative documents and other printed materials. She is also the voice and the face of the front desk. She has worked in secretarial/administrative assistant positions for more than 25 years and has completed numerous documents for the Conservancy.
Laura Baird
Senior Land Conservationist
215-345-7020 ext. 135
With nearly two decades of experience in land conservation, Laura’s primary role as Senior Land Conservationist is to negotiate land protection transactions by writing grants, meeting with landowners and preparing baseline documentations in order to acquire conservation easements. She also works with municipalities to assist in the implementation of their open space plans. Prior to Heritage Conservancy, Laura was a Community Planner at the Monroe County Planning Commission where she managed the County Agricultural Land Preservation Program. Laura has a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from East Stroudsburg University.
Elizabeth Barmach
Community Engagement Associate
215-345-7020 ext. 105
As Heritage Conservancy’s Community Engagement Associate, Liz has the crucial role of managing the volunteer program to maximize volunteer opportunities and engage a broader community with the Conservancy’s mission. She works with staff to determine organizational needs and then matches volunteers with positions appropriate to their skills. Liz holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Kenyon College and a certificate in Historic Preservation from Bucks County Community College. Before joining Heritage Conservancy’s staff, Liz worked for the Bucks County Parks and Recreation Department.
Emily Bonavitacola
Development Associate
215-345-7020 ext. 107
As Development Associate, Emily focuses on cultivating both individual and business members for Heritage Conservancy as well as planning and hosting outreach events, which include Heritage Conservancy’s two major fundraising events, Christmas at Aldie and Farm to Table. Prior to joining Heritage Conservancy, Emily worked at Pennsylvania Ballet where she expanded the Young Friends program, working to cultivate the next generation of donors. Emily also has experience in special events after serving as a development intern at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Emily holds a B.A. in History from Temple University.
Linda J. Cacossa
Chief Operating Officer
215-345-7020 ext. 124
As Chief Operating Officer, Linda is responsible for the day-to-day business operations of Heritage Conservancy. This includes all fiscal activities, fundraising, marketing/branding and communications, property management and organizational strategic planning. She provides guidance to department management, establishing organizational performance metrics; driving the goal-setting process throughout the organization; and conducting regular operating reviews to assess financial results and projections relative to budgets. Linda provides the leadership, management and vision necessary to ensure that the Conservancy has the proper operational controls and administrative procedures in place to effectively grow the organization. Linda, a resident of Doylestown Borough, brings substantial experience including 20+ years in land planning and engineering as well as nonprofit management experience as the Executive Director of Fighting Children’s Cancer Foundation.
Alexandra Dashkiwsky
Manager of Marketing and Communications
215-345-7020 ext. 131
With a background in sales and marketing, Alexandra is responsible for overseeing and implementing Heritage Conservancy’s strategic marketing initiatives. She executes the day-to-day communications operations, which include press releases, newsletters, publications, video production, social media, website material and advertising. Alexandra holds a B.A. in English from Millersville University.
jim drennan
Jim Drennan
Land Conservation Manager
215-345-7020 ext. 134
As Senior Conservation Steward, Jim’s primary responsibility is to identify and implement conservation projects on our preserved properties to maximize the health of their natural resources for the benefit of wildlife and our community. Jim has a B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Rutgers University. Before joining Heritage Conservancy’s staff, Jim worked as an environmental educator and land manager for the National Audubon Society and as a high school science teacher.
Dan Ford
Dan Ford
Conservation Easement Steward
215-345-7020 ext. 150
Dan completes baseline documentation studies for new property acquisitions, monitors existing conservation easements, and manages municipal open space monitoring contract projects. He also manages the organization’s preserved land property database and leads GIS and mapping work, conducting spatial analysis and cartographic design in support of conservation projects. Dan has a B.S. in Wildlife Conservation, Entomology, and Agriculture and Natural Resource Studies (Triple Major) from the University of Delaware. His previous experience includes environmental consulting and regulatory compliance, engineering and surveying, and geospatial software development.
Shannon Fredebaugh
Community Engagement Programs Manager
215-345-7020 ext. 104
Shannon works within Heritage Conservancy’s Development Department and is responsible for strengthening Heritage Conservancy’s volunteer base. She recruits volunteers and matches them with opportunities that suit their interest. Shannon also coordinates community outreach events as well as our yearly Volunteer Appreciation Event. Shannon holds a B.A. in Zoology and Environmental Studies from Ohio Wesleyan University and an M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Shannon has worked on research projects ranging from wildlife behavior and habitat use to species diversity in biofuel agricultural systems and many more.
Carryn Golden
Aldie Mansion and Executive Projects Manager
215-345-7020 ext. 112
Carryn manages the flow of communication between board and staff, schedules board and committee meetings, and manages a variety of projects identified by executive staff. She is also responsible for coordinating and monitoring all projects and building operations for Aldie Mansion and its gardens, including renovations, restorations, the historic tours program, and working with the in-house catering company to promote Aldie Mansion for weddings, private events, and meetings. Carryn holds degrees in Interior Design and Urban Planning.
john for web 2
John Greenwood
Property Caretaker
215-345-7020 ext. 121John is responsible for maintaining Aldie Mansion and its surrounding nine acres. He has a sales, management, and manufacturing background and uses this experience to meet the daily challenges of maintaining Aldie Mansion and its beautiful verdant grounds, trees, and facilities. John graduated from Philadelphia University with a B.S. in Business Administration and had a thirty-five-year career in industry before coming to Heritage Conservancy. His daily goal is to care for and improve this exceptional environment.
Diane Hillman
Accounting Manager
215-345-7020 ext. 118
Diane manages and performs various accounting functions such as developing, implementing and maintaining the accounting systems, policies and procedures; compiling, analyzing and reporting accounting data for management reports and decision-making purposes. She brings nearly thirty years of Accounting and Financial Management experience, ten of which were in non-profit, and an additional ten years were spent in residential and commercial development and land acquisition. With a strong interest in environmental issues and conservation, Diane has offered her support and services to several nationally-recognized organizations, one of which included marsh land restoration due to the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast.
Kris Kern
Director of Resource Protection
215-345-7020 ext. 101
Kris has more than ten years of land-use planning and conservation experience. In addition to assisting with Heritage Conservancy’s grant writing and fundraising efforts, Kris works with municipalities and private landowners to protect land via conservation easements and fee acquisitions. Before joining Heritage Conservancy, she worked for the County of Bucks, administering three grant programs under its Open Space Program. Kris is a graduate of Kutztown University and the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a Master of City and Regional Planning degree.
Jeffrey L. Marshall
215-345-7020 ext. 113
As President, Jeff leads the Conservancy’s principal mission-related initiatives including Lasting Landscapes, historic preservation, land protection negotiation, and high-level strategic master planning. Jeff has over 40 years of combined experience in land protection and historic preservation. He is actively involved in administering the conservation easement and facade easement programs with expertise in the employment of protection strategies for significant resources. He gives public education programs and acts as a preservation advocate throughout the community. Numerous articles have been published on his endeavors in the preservation field.
Mary Lou McFarland
Senior Preservation Specialist
215-345-7020 ext. 109
Mary Lou founded The Conservancy of Montgomery County (CMC) and served as its president for more than 20 years. As part of Heritage Conservancy’s 2012 merger with CMC, she joined our staff in a leadership role. In this position, Mary Lou oversees the continual monitoring of eleven acquired conservation easements from CMC in addition to the conservation easements in Montgomery County already preserved by Heritage Conservancy. With an extensive background in historical research, she heads historic preservation projects in Montgomery County and surrounding areas as well. Mary Lou received her undergraduate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and her Master’s degree from Ohio State University.
Katie Paone
Manager of Development
215-345-7020 ext. 108
Katie is responsible for overseeing and managing the daily activities to implement fundraising and outreach efforts. Her role entails organizing engagement programs and special events and managing donor relationships. She also works to align individuals from the community to support strategic initiatives, continue organizational growth and expand mission awareness. Katie holds a B.S in Tourism and Hospitality Management with a concentration in Destination and Event Management from Temple University.
Jim Thompson
Senior Conservation Steward
215-345-7020 ext. 120
Jim has more than 20 years of experience in conservation and land management. He identifies, evaluates and monitors natural resources on Conservancy-owned properties and conservation easements. His primary responsibilities include preparing annual monitoring reports for these properties, conducting baseline documentation surveys and report preparation for acquisitions and conservation easements. Jim holds a B.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment.
Nina Valentin
Conservation Steward
215-345-7020 ext. 102
As Conservation Steward, Nina assesses, evaluates and implements the best possible conservation management techniques suitable for properties and the wildlife that inhabit them. She also performs weekly to monthly monitoring, maintenance, and care of each property. Nina graduated from Delaware Valley University with a B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Management. She interned with Heritage Conservancy before joining our staff full-time in 2017.
Sandra Yerger
Senior Development Associate–Grants
215-345-7020 ext. 103
Sandy has managed all aspects of member relations for Heritage Conservancy including planning, organizing and implementing special events, fundraising, educational programming and volunteer activities for more than 18 years. She is currently responsible for much of the Conservancy’s development of community outreach programs and funding opportunities with private citizens, businesses and corporations, and private and family foundations.