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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  


The Board


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

Board meetings are held every other month and an annual meeting is held in November each year. Please visit our News & Events page for exact dates. All community members are welcome to participate in meetings. Please contact us at for location and times.

Board Meetings

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 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

Ethel 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.

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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 framework to support land conservation through the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Codes. The acquisition program was established in 2004 and was 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.

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Grayson McCormick

Grayson McCormick is currently working with Flatwoods Consulting Group as a Senior Ecologist II managing the impacts of development through oversight and implementation of NPDES, ERP and ACOE permits. He has conducted environmental surveys and did such a job for the Conservancy on their Yulee-Cummings property. He has worked for Hillsborough County maintaining wetland mitigation sites and stormwater canals and worked in private industry overseeing environmental protection on many projects.  He is a graduate of the University of South Florida.


An ecologist and an enthusiastic conservation advocate, he has developed a passion for old-growth forests and native plants.  He explores the wild and remote places in search of these habitats. He is a county coordinator for the Old Growth Forest Network and he actively advocates for their protection. All this led him to the Conservancy where he was instrumental in acquiring old-growth status for the Myron and Helen Gibbons Nature Preserve.

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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.


Board Member



Board Member


Other Partners


Helen Scott, Admin Assistant

Advisory Committee

Dick Eckenrod

Scott Emery

Gary Englehardt

Pamela Jo Hatley

Rob Heath

Mike Kelley

Fritz Musselmann

Jan Smith

Laura Starkey

Dave Sumpter


Carlton Fields Jorden Burt
Pro-Bono Law Firm

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