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.
Board meetings are held every other month and an annual meeting is held in November each year. All community members are welcome to participate in meetings. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for location and times.
Meet the Board
René Wiesner Brown, President
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.
Ethel Hammer, Vice President
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.
Sally Thompson, Secretary
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.
Jennifer Seney, Treasurer
Jennifer retired from the Pasco County, Florida Department of Solid Waste in 2018 after ten years as Recycling Supervisor. Prior to that, she was the Executive Director of her own 501c3 environmental educational organization known as Pascowildlife, Inc. (PWL). The primary purpose of PWL was to create and advocate for a Pasco County environmental land acquisition program. To that end, Ms. Seney also worked with Pasco County to create a regulatory frameworkto support land conservationthrough the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Codes.Theacquisitionprogram was established in 2004 andwas funded through the Penny-for-Pasco public referendum. Along the way, she served on several county citizens’ committees including the Citizens’ Ordinance Review Committee (CORC) and the Citizens’ Advisory Committee for the Comprehensive Plan (2000-2007).Ms. Seney hails from Denver, Colorado and is a graduate of the University of Colorado
Jeff Steinsnyder, At-Large Board Member
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.
Nathan LaFata, Board Member
Nathan’s passion is working to preserve the natural resources and biodiversity of the Tampa Bay community and beyond. He graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in International Studies, History and Geography. Post graduation he taught at An Giang University in Vietnam, and served in the Peace Corps in Myanmar. Nathan worked for the West Virginia Land Trust, where he developed an appreciation for the preservation of natural communities through private partnerships. Currently Nathan is a graduate student at the Patel College of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida, where he is seeking a Master of Science in Water Sustainability and Climate Change.
Heidi McCree, Board Member
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.
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.
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