Why Heritage Conservancy?: An Interview with Stephen Phillips

To continue our “Why Heritage Conservancy?” series, we would like to highlight someone whose memories of the importance of protecting our land date back to his childhood. For many years, conserving land has been a true passion for Chairman of the Board, Stephen Phillips.

Stephen grew up on a small farm in Wrightstown, Pennsylvania, neighboring Mrs. Tyler who lived on a larger farm and graciously allowed his family to ride their horses and bicycles around her property. She even allowed for the creation of horse trails connecting their property to the covered bridge she owned over the Neshaminy Creek.

Today, her land is Tyler State Park and her house and other buildings are part of Bucks County Community College. Through the permanent protection of her beloved property, she ensured that the community would be able to enjoy it as much as she and Stephen did.

“It created a compelling example of why we need to preserve land,” Stephen recalled.

Additionally, Stephen’s wife, Candace, grew up on a horse farm in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, where her family enjoyed fox hunting, a sport that requires open space and contiguous properties with sufficient land. This led her father, Donald B. Jones, to become a strong advocate for land and historic preservation, ultimately becoming President of the NJ Conservation Foundation.

Stephen enjoyed comparing land preservation strategies with his father-in-law and chose to take on the role of Supervisor in Solebury Township during the 1990s. During this time, a successful open space program was implemented which has since preserved nearly 40% of the entire township – an incredible feat!

As Supervisor, Stephen worked closely with Jeff Marshall, our past president, on various projects that resulted in preserving several farms and securing multiple National Historic Districts in Solebury. After his second term, Stephen decided to apply his expertise to the mission of what is now Heritage Conservancy.

When asked to reflect on the benefits the Conservancy brings to the community, Stephen replied, “Heritage has helped to preserve thousands of acres of land in our region and has helped to preserve many historic buildings and districts that represent the fabric and culture of our community. Beyond that, I believe we have helped inspire many
municipalities, county officials, and landowners to preserve and protect our natural and historic resources, which is the essence of our mission.”

Being Chairman of the Board comes with a host of responsibilities and many donated hours. As with any non-profit, challenges can arise, but Stephen spoke only with confidence regarding the Conservancy’s ability to navigate them.

“Fortunately, we have a hard-working Board, dozens of staff, and hundreds of volunteers forming a remarkable team of people who make it all happen,” he said.

Our work is truly a community effort and we thank our supporters for their generous aid in working towards our mission!

Stephen continued, “We have a talented team of passionate and professional people who are committed to our mission. I am confident that we will continue to grow and expand upon the successes we have achieved to date, and remain one of the premier accredited land trusts in Pennsylvania.”

Challenges only inspire our team to work harder, and we look forward to what the new year will bring!

“I believe that there is nothing we can do in our lifetime with a more lasting benefit and legacy than preserving land in perpetuity. Buildings will come and go; people will come and go; but the land we preserve now will be here forever…and we cannot make more to fill the void. Our future generations will thank us for the choices we make and the work we do today,” said Stephen.

We could not have said it better! Every day, we are losing more and more of the beautiful land that defines our region. If you are interested in becoming involved with historic or land preservation, there are numerous ways to get involved. By becoming a member, you can stay up to date with our events, educational programs, progress, and opportunities to further your involvement.

For more information regarding membership, click HERE or contact Emily at