Who we are
The Tampa Bay Conservancy was founded in 2001 to protect the Tampa Bay region’s natural, cultural, scenic and agricultural heritage. The TBC has worked on land protection throughout Tampa Bay, recently expanding north to Citrus County and east to Polk County.
We have secured a magnificent 60-acre property, the Gibbons Nature Preserve along the Alafia River, and a total of 116 acres of pristine bottomland hardwood hammock near the Homosassa River in separate fee simple donations. The TBC also serves as Trustee for the Doyle Campbell Park. Our organization works primarily through an all-volunteer Board of Directors, pro bono legal assistance, and one part-time staff member.
Conservation is humanity caring for the future.
– Nancy Newhall
Our Board of Directors is community-based and represents agricultural, urban, business and environmental concerns in the five county region of Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Manatee counties. Our board members have more than 100 years of cumulative experience in conserving lands and water resources in the Tampa Bay region.
Meet the Board
Ethel Hammer, President
Ethel Hammer has over forty years of experience in the field of land use and environmental planning. Currently she is President of Engelhardt Hammer & Associates, a land use planning firm. Ethel was the Principal Planner in charge of short-range planning for Hillsborough County and was the Chief Environmental Planner for Hillsborough County while employed at the Hillsborough County Planning Commission. She has been instrumental in the evaluation of properties for acquisition by governments and private development interests for many years. She has a life-long interest in the environment and scenic beauty of the Florida landscape. That experience and passion can assist the Conservancy in acquisition and management of current and future properties.
Heidi McCree, Vice President
Heidi McCree of Tampa is an attorney who has been involved in water and land conservation policy throughout her career. Heidi is a member of Leadership Florida, Class XXV. She is the honored recipient of the 2009 Audubon of Florida, Women in Conservation, Special Places Award. She is a founding Board member and President of the Tampa Bay Conservancy.Ms. McCree has served on numerous environmental boards and committees at both state and local levels, as well as being active in several legal, educational, faith-based, and political organizations. Heidi received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Vanderbilt University in 1986 and a juris doctor from George Mason University School of Law in 1992. She received certification from the Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium in 1996 for negotiating and resolving public disputes.
Jeff Steinsnyder, Secretary
Jeff has been a Board member of Tampa Bay Conservancy since 2005. Jeffrey Steinsnyder has served as the County Attorney for Pasco County, Florida and is a Board Certified City, County and Local Government Law Attorney. Jeff also spent two years as Attorney for the Florida Department of Community Affairs and fifteen years in the Office of the County Attorney for Manatee County. Jeff holds a B.A. degree from the University of Miami, School of Arts & Sciences and received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami, College of Law. Jeff is a member of the U.S. District Court of Florida, Middle District; U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the Florida Association of County Attorneys and is on the Advisory Board for Mote Marine Laboratory.
René Wiesner Brown, Treasurer
René Wiesner Brown is a land conservationist, ecologist, and climate change scientist with over 20 years of experience in the field. She is a former Program Manager with the Land Trust Alliance, the national umbrella organization for land trusts. She sought to get involved with a local land trust when she moved to the Tampa Bay area in 2000. She found a group of like-minded people and became a founding board member of the Tampa Bay Conservancy. She is a past President and Program Director.
René is passionate about protecting the environment, and her involvement ranges from local to global. She is the Natural Resources Manager for Pasco County government, and was the first Program Manager of the Pasco County Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program when the program began in 2005. Prior to moving to Pasco County, she was an Environmental Specialist for Hillsborough County’s Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program, where she contributed to land management and restoration on over 40,000 acres of preserves.
René is a civil society delegate of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and aims to bridge local and global efforts. René earned a PhD in Integrative Biology from the University of South Florida (USF) and is a Fulbright Scholar. She received a Master’s in Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and a Bachelor’s in biology from Moravian College.
Ann Paul, At-Large Board Member
Ann Paul has worked for Audubon’s Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries (FCIS) since 1991 and is the Tampa Bay Regional Coordinator. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Cornell University in New York and Master of Science degree in biology from Trinity University in Texas. She worked for the Texas Nature Conservancy as Assistant Land Steward and Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation managing conservation lands. Ms. Paul is an expert in waterbird populations and management of coastal habitats for wildlife, and an active participant in the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Reddish Egret, American Oystercatcher, and Wood Stork Working Groups. She currently serves on the board of the Tampa Bay Conservancy and is past president of the Tampa Audubon Society.
Steve Blaschka, Board Member
Steve is a native of Maitland, Florida, and has called the Tampa Bay area home since 1989. He is married and has two sons. Steve is a graduate of Florida State university where he completed his B.S. in Political Science. Steve holds a Florida license as a State Certified General Appraiser RZ0001411 and is declared to be an Appraisal Expert as a Court Witness in Hillsborough, Polk and Desoto County, Florida. Steve is a former President of the Florida Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.Steve has been employed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District for more than 15 years as the Real Estate Services Manager. His other public employment includes 5 years as the Real Estate Appraiser to the Board of County Commissioners of Imperial Polk County, Florida and as a Real Estate Coordinator for the City of St. Petersburg, Florida. Steve’s first employment out of college was as a staff then as a Senior Appraiser with the appraisal firm of Pardue, Heid, Church, Smith & Waller in both their Orlando and Tampa offices (1986 to 1994).
Dan Savercool, Board Member
Mr. Savercool is an ecologist with over 36 years of field experience in habitats ranging from the open ocean to xeric uplands, with the vast majority of this time focused in Florida, Caribbean, and other coastal tropical locations throughout the world. Areas of specialty include marine and estuarine benthic invertebrates and fish, wetland vegetation (estuarine to freshwater), and habitat level ecology. He possesses expertise in the ecology, restoration, and creation of tropical freshwater and estuarine marshes, mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, barrier islands, streams, rivers, and adjacent upland habitats. Research experience includes the study of plant and animal colonization of recently restored or impacted coastal habitats, experimental revegetation of wetlands utilizing both marine and freshwater species, and management techniques for the control of undesirable exotic vegetation.Mr. Savercool is a Certified Senior Ecologist with Ecological Society of America and a Senior Certified Military Natural Resource Professional with National Military Fish and Wildlife Association. Read his full bio here.
Sally Thompson, Board Member
Sally Thompson has lived in Florida since she was nine years old. She received her B.A. in English from Hollins University in Virginia and her Master of Public Administration (MPA) from USF Tampa. She is retired from the City of Tampa, and has taught Environmental Resource Management as an Adjunct Professor at USF.
Sally served on the Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District for over ten years. She chairs the City of Tampa Greenways & Trails Citizens Advisory Committee and is a member emeritus of the Florida Greenways & Trails Foundation, She also serves on Jan K Platt Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection (ELAPP) Selection and General Committees, the Florida Aquarium’s Board of Trustees, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful Board of Directors, and is one of the founding members of the Tampa Bay Conservancy.
Helen Scott, Admin Assistant
Pamela Jo Hatley
Carlton Fields Jorden Burt
Pro-Bono Law Firm