Glen Chown

Executive Director

Glen Chown

Executive Director
glenchown@gtrlc.org

Glen is the founding Executive Director of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. In this position he oversees the Regional Conservancy’s efforts to protect scenic, natural and farm lands in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Manistee Counties. Since the Conservancy’s founding in 1991 by Rotary Charities, nearly 41,000 acres of land and over 121 miles of shoreline along the region’s scenic rivers, lakes and streams have been forever protected. Glen is a member of the Land Trust Alliance’s Leadership Council as well as a founding board member of Michigan’s Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy. He holds Bachelor and Masters degrees in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan. Glen lives in an historic farmhouse on the Old Mission Peninsula with his wife, Becky, and their sons, Martin, William and Leonard where he enjoys hobbies including playing the piano, barn restoration, studying American history and growing Riesling grapes.

Katie Lowran

Executive Assistant

Katie Lowran

Executive Assistant
klowran@gtrlc.org

Growing up downstate, Katie’s love of the outdoors was enriched by living on Lake Sherwood and camping throughout the United States National Parks system with her family every summer. Katie attended Michigan State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and has a true passion for inspiring and connecting people. Before joining the Conservancy team, Katie worked in local government as the Administration Manager for Grand Traverse County and most recently as the Deputy City Clerk for the City of Traverse City. Katie also served as the Traverse Area Chamber of Commerce Vice Chair for the Leadership Committee and is a Leadership Grand Traverse graduate. Katie is thrilled to be working alongside an amazing team of staff, board members and volunteers who value nature not only for its own sake, but also for the quality of life is provides people. In her free time, Katie enjoys life in the outdoors with her three children, running, road biking, skate skiing and attending Michigan State Football / Basketball games

Anthony Rupard

Director of Development

Anthony Rupard

Director of Development
arupard@gtrlc.org

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Anthony spent summers throughout his youth with his cousins in Pentwater, Michigan where he developed a love for the lakeshore and national forests along Lake Michigan. He has worked professionally in higher education for the past 14 years in various roles at Lee University (TN), Georgetown College (KY), and most recently as the Director of Development for Northwestern Michigan College. His wife Natalie and their two children live on Old Mission Peninsula and routinely enjoy the trail systems near the lighthouse and Pelizzari Nature Preserve.

Birgit Conway

Director of Finance & Administration

Birgit Conway

Director of Finance & Administration
birgit@gtrlc.org

Birgit has been with GTRLC since 1992 and oversees the financial and administrative management of the organization. Born and raised in Germany, Birgit moved to Traverse City in 1990 and later earned a B.S. in Accounting from Ferris State University. She has two grown children, Shawn and Serena, and enjoys hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing and aspires to be a world-traveler.

David Foote

Director of Stewardship

David Foote

Director of Stewardship
dfoote@gtrlc.org

David Foote spent his early years in the woods and dunes of Hazelhurst, a small community on the shore of Lake Michigan founded by several important leaders of the early conservation movement. His entire career has been in land conservation and land management. Early on he was the supervisor of a large municipal beach in southwestern Michigan, an intern with both the U.S. EPA and the Escambia County Parks Department, and a park ranger with the Florida Park Service. He then worked as a natural resource specialist with the Land Preservation team in Broward County (the greater Fort Lauderdale area) who were building a $200 million bond-funded program to acquire conservation land and parks. Most recently David has worked for the South Florida Water Management District where his duties included wetland restoration, building and sustaining partnerships, writing management plans, public outreach, regional planning, and legislative work. He earned a B.S. from the University of West Florida in Environmental Studies/Natural Resource Policy, and a M.S. from Florida State University in Executive Management of Non-Profit and Public Organizations. In 2014 he earned a Juris Doctor from the Florida International University College of Law and became a member of the Florida Bar. In his free time, David enjoys sailing, swimming, painting, and spending time with his wife and three children, Talula, Petra, and Trey.

Jennifer Jay

Director of Communications & Engagement

Jennifer Jay

Director of Communications & Engagement
jjay@gtrlc.org

Growing up in Petoskey, Jennifer’s appreciation for our freshwater paradise began early and deepened after living for a time in the Arizona desert. Jennifer has a passion for connecting people to each other and to their environment in support of protecting and caring for our natural resources. Before joining the Conservancy team, Jennifer was the project manager for the Boardman River Dams Committee. She has served on the board of the Grand Traverse Conservation District since 2007. Jennifer lives with Evan, a writer, with whom she enjoys urban farming and restoring their 100 year-old home.

Chris Sullivan

Director of Land Protection

Chris Sullivan

Director of Land Protection
csullivan@gtrlc.org

Born in Wisconsin, Chris first moved to Traverse City when he was four years old. He received a B.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan, and has worked as a Research Assistant in limnology for the University of Michigan and with threatened/endangered salmon and trout stocks for the U.S. Forest Service in the Pacific Northwest. Chris moved back to Traverse City to join the Regional Land Conservancy in April 1999. After seven years as the Conservancy’s Director of Stewardship, Chris spent time as a Land Protection Specialist, and, as of 2018, serves as Land Protection Director. Chris lives in Traverse City with his wife, Ali, and two sons, Riley and Owen and enjoys most outdoor pursuits in his spare time.

Jacob Blessing

Conservation Easement Steward

Jacob Blessing

Conservation Easement Steward

Growing up in in Southeast Michigan, Jake came to appreciate nature wherever he could find it, whether in his backyard or during regular visits with relatives in the Northern part of the state. Already an omnivorous consumer of natural history with a particular fondness for birds and native plants, he developed a passion for private land conservation while working with the land steward of the Bitter Root Land Trust in Western Montana. There he visited with fourth generation farmers and other landowners who told inspiring stories of how they had decided to protect the open space on their properties for future generations. In addition to his work with the land trust, Jake has led immersive field science programs for teenage youth in Yellowstone National Park, contributed to a stream restoration project in the headwaters of the Columbia River, and worked as a field technician with a bird population study in Central California. He has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Williams College and a master’s degree in quantitative ecology from Cornell University. On the weekends he does his best to keep up with his wife, McCullough, while cross country skiing or biking. He is thrilled to be back in his home state.

Jacob Bournay

Land Steward Specialist

Jacob Bournay

Land Steward Specialist
jbournay@gtrlc.org

Born and raised in Michigan’s great southwest Jake grew up exploring the region’s natural beauty, agricultural richness and productive forests. His passion for the out-of-doors quickly turned into a career when he began working at Warren Dunes State Park as a teenager. Both work and recreation have helped him appreciate Michigan’s natural features and wildlife and has taken him to every corner of the state. Jacob holds a B.S. in Forestry from Michigan State University. While attending college, Jacob worked as a student employee in the department of Forest Entomology and worked for three years after graduating as a research technician. Jacob met his future wife while working with her in the forest entomology lab. She went on to finish medical school and accepted a residency position at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.The area’s recreational opportunities and family connections to the region made for an easy decision to relocate. After the move Jacob worked on a certified organic farm and as a cellarman at a local brewery while searching for work in his field. He was thrilled to accept an internship with the Conservancy and even more excited when asked to stay on with the organization. When not working Jake can be found with his wife out on the trail, hiking, biking, paddling, or skiing.

Drew Broadway

Office Manager

Drew Broadway

Office Manager
dbroadway@gtrlc.org

Drew Broadway is a Traverse City native who grew up taking full advantage of our region’s opportunities to hunt, fish and enjoy the great outdoors. After graduating from NMC and then earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Ferris State University, Drew joined the Conservancy as a Fund Development intern. He joined the staff full time in 2015 and serves as Administrative Assistant. When he’s not at work, Drew loves to spend time with his family, friends and dog, Rooney.

Art Bukowski

Communications & Outreach Specialist

Art Bukowski

Communications & Outreach Specialist
abukowski@gtrlc.org

A native of the Detroit area, Art earned a journalism degree from Michigan State University and moved to Traverse City in 2007 to work as a reporter for the Record-Eagle. He joined GTRLC in 2015 after more than five years at the paper and nearly three years as an account manager for a pair of marketing and communications agencies. He is responsible for most of the written content produced by GTRLC, including that found in Landscript and other specialty publications.

Art is an avid fisherman and outdoorsman who deeply values the Grand Traverse Region’s unique collection of natural resources and outdoor opportunities. He is married to Allie, a school teacher.

Marissa Duque

Campaign Coordinator

Marissa Duque

Campaign Coordinator
mduque@gtrlc.org

Marissa grew up in Traverse City working summers at local farms and sharing her love of the region with residents and tourists alike. She moved to Colorado after high school where she earned her B.A. in Strategic Communication from the University of Denver, with a minor in Environmental Science. She studied abroad in Italy, spending four months studying various topics like photography, recreational use in national parks and the slow food movement. Marissa enjoys kayaking, hiking, traveling and camping.

Chris Garrock

Land Steward Specialist

Chris Garrock

Land Steward Specialist
cgarrock@gtrlc.org

Chris grew up in Traverse City spending much of his youth camping, biking, and exploring the natural wonders of our region. He graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife with a Water Sciences concentration. Previous to joining GTRLC as a full time staff member, he served as a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member and later a Land Specialist. He has also held positions with the Invasive Species Network and the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

Sam Griffin

Land Steward Specialist - Misty Acres Farm Assistant

Sam Griffin

Land Steward Specialist - Misty Acres Farm Assistant
sgriffin@gtrlc.org

Samantha grew up in southeast Michigan. She received her B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Management from Lake Superior State University. During that time she was a seasonal inter for the Grand Traverse Watershed Center, and completed a senior thesis on Common Raven feeding behavior. On her free days she spends her time on her SUP board exploring the many lakes of Northern Michigan.

Barb Heflin

Charitable Giving Specialist

Barb Heflin

Charitable Giving Specialist
bheflin@gtrlc.org

Inspired by the beauty of the pristine places the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy has helped to protect and the sanctuary those places provide, Barb is passionate about the work of preservation and land protection. Barb has worked in business development and sales for IBM and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University. She loves being in the woods with her husband, Bob, and their dog hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and finds joy in gardening, cooking , reading and music.

Claire Herman

Land Protection Assistant

Claire Herman

Land Protection Assistant
cherman@gtrlc.org

As a native of southwest Michigan, Claire always displayed a passion for all things environmental. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management from Grand Valley State University, began working as a GIS Specialist in Ludington, MI, and later transferred to Pittsburgh, PA. Claire was quickly drawn back to Michigan to be near family and the unmatched beauty of the region. Upon arriving in Traverse City in 2014, she served as a Research Technician for the MSU Horticultural Research Station, Planning & Zoning Coordinator for Peninsula Township, and is now thrilled to find a home at GTRLC as the Land Protection Assistant. Claire enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, Robert, and their dog, Bear.

Steve Lagerquist

Land Steward Specialist

Steve Lagerquist

Land Steward Specialist
slagerquist@gtrlc.org

Steve is a native of Northern Michigan who grew up on High Lake in Traverse City. His time in the area cultivated his passion for wildlife and biology and ultimately influenced his educational path later in life. After attaining both a B.S. and M.S. in Biology/Zoology at Portland State University, Steve returned to the Traverse City area to be near family and to re-immerse himself into Northern Michigan living. Steve worked for the GTRLC as a seasonal employee for two years before joining full-time in early 2009. A diverse work background, including bicycle mechanic, electrophysiology/neural development research technician, biological science technician for USFWS, and carpenter/remodeler has provided Steve a wide range of skills which serve him well in the world of Land Stewardship.

Vic Lane

Senior Conservation Project Manager

Vic Lane

Senior Conservation Project Manager
vlane@gtrlc.org

Vic earned a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University, which he has put to use in a variety of arenas. Before joining the Regional Land Conservancy in 2003, Vic worked as a Stewardship Specialist for the Little Traverse Conservancy in Harbor Springs and, prior to that, as a Wildlife Assistant for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at their Traverse City Field Office. He has also held various short-term positions that included tracking radio-collared moose in the Upper Peninsula and conducting biological surveys. Vic’s duties at the Regional Conservancy include managing the organization’s conservation easement stewardship program as well as the sustainable forestry program. A Frankfort native, Vic is very excited to be part of a team working to protect the natural places he enjoyed as a child. Vic lives with his wife, Holly, and two daughters, Robin and Aeslyn, on a small farm in Leelanau County.

Angie Lucas

Senior Land Steward

Angie Lucas

Senior Land Steward
alucas@gtrlc.org

As a steward of GTRLC nature preserves, Angie enjoys working with volunteers and partner organizations to ensure ecological health of protected lands on projects including wetland restoration, invasive species removal, vegetation monitoring, flora and fauna inventories, and many more. Angie grew up on a dairy farm in northwest lower Michigan and after graduating from Northern Michigan University, she worked for various ngo, state and federal agencies on botanical projects in the Upper Peninsula and California. These experiences, combined with an interest in photography, deepened her appreciation of the diverse landscapes of Michigan and she enjoys opportunities to share and connect people of all ages to the natural world around them.

Mike Okma

Manager of Easement Stewardship

Mike Okma

Manager of Easement Stewardship
mokma@gtrlc.org

A native of Northern Michigan, Mike grew up in Suttons Bay, spending his time outside hiking, sailing and riding bikes. He graduated from Michigan Technological University with B.S degrees in Applied Ecology and Wildlife Management. Mike joined the Conservancy team in 2006, and works with conservation easement owners throughout GTRLC’s service area. Mike, his wife Daniele and their two children can be found hiking, cycling, or spending time outdoors with family and friends.

Kathy Partin

Manager of Information Technology, Salesforce Systems & Risk Analysis

Kathy Partin

Manager of Information Technology, Salesforce Systems & Risk Analysis
kpartin@gtrlc.org

Growing up in Pontiac, Michigan, Kathy enjoyed weekends and vacations at their family cabin in Grayling where she credits her parents for instilling her with a deep passion for the outdoors at a young age. In her teenage years Kathy’s family relocated to Grayling where she attended High School. After graduation Kathy worked in Petoskey for a time then moved to Traverse City where she worked for 13 years at a local non-profit.

Kathy enjoys photography, woodworking, fishing, hiking, kayaking and playing hockey. She also enjoys spending time with her family and has a special place in her heart for her nieces and nephews. Kathy and her Yorki-poo, Maggie Mae, belong to the Teacup Dogs Agility Association (TDAA) and participate in local as well as national agility trials.

Kathy is excited to be part of the GTRLC team and welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the success of the organization whose mission she passionately believes in.

Kate Pearson

Senior Charitable Giving Specialist

Kate Pearson

Senior Charitable Giving Specialist
kpearson@gtrlc.org

A lifelong resident of Traverse City, Kate brings to her position a deep love of the region and appreciation for the wonderful people who make up our community. Kate’s interest in land stewardship and preservation was ignited while studying in Krakow, Poland, where she observed first-hand the positive influence that good community planning can have on the quality of life for future generations. Kate earned a B.S. in Community Development from Central Michigan University via the NMC University Center. Before joining the Regional Land Conservancy, she was the Visitor Center Manager for the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau. Kate enjoys outdoor recreation of all kinds, making art, reading, and creative writing.

Nate Richardson

Design, Digital Content and Social Media Communications Specialist

Nate Richardson

Design, Digital Content and Social Media Communications Specialist
nate@gtrlc.org

As a native of Traverse City, Nate grew up on the base of Old Mission Peninsula and remembers when Pyatt Lake became the Conservancy’s first protected property in 1991, as well as skiing, hiking and exploring for hours “in his backyard,” which is now Pelizzari Natural Area. These experiences as a youth and living for many years away from the area galvanized Nate’s commitment to return to this special place and make it home. He is thrilled to be a part of team dedicated to keeping northwest Michigan amazing. Nate holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Communication Arts from Aquinas College and a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Nate has worked as a Landscape Architect and Designer, graphic designer, furniture designer, and a disability examiner for the State of Michigan. He loves design, words, and most things outdoors. If you would like to volunteer time with GTRLC please contact him.

Laura Rigan

Farmland Protection Specialist

Laura Rigan

Farmland Protection Specialist
lrigan@gtrlc.org

Born and raised on the Old Mission Peninsula, Laura spent most of her time outdoors and developed a passion for the land. This lead her to pursue a B.S. in Environmental Policy and Science from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where she was a member of the Women's Volleyball team. She also attended the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal, Virginia.

During her college summers, she was a stewardship intern at GTRLC and has worked as a MAEAP technician at the Grand Traverse Conservation District prior to this.

She enjoys all outdoor activities and working on her family's vineyard on Old Mission with my husband, Peter, and dog, Odin.

Erin Schug

Sign Technician

Erin Schug

Sign Technician
eschug@gtrlc.org

Growing up in a house with the rules that no one is allowed to be inside unless it is too cold, actively raining, or dark, Erin’s curiosity about nature started at an early age and only grew as her family traversed the country in the summers visiting as many national parks as possible. Jumping at the opportunity to relocate from the Flint area to Traverse City, she finished her senior year at Benzie Central and went on to study graphic design. Before joining the team at GTRLC, Erin worked as a graphic designer at Northwestern Michigan College and Cherry Republic. Having only fallen deeper in love with the area, most of her free time is now spent outdoors and exploring Northern Michigan with her husband, Alan, and rowdy pup, Ursa.

Jon Throop

Volunteer and Events Program Manager

Jon Throop

Volunteer and Events Program Manager
jon@gtrlc.org

Spending his formative years canoeing, camping and hiking in Northwest Lower Michigan, Jon quickly realized his passion for the natural environment. While completing his B.S. in Conservation Biology at Lake Superior State University, Jon was fortunate enough to intern with the conservancy for three consecutive field seasons, eventually leading to a permanent position on the stewardship team. After spending six years in stewardship, Jon now spends his time connecting volunteers to our mission through his role as the Volunteer and Events Program Manager.

Todd Vigland

Land Protection Specialist

Todd Vigland

Land Protection Specialist
tvigland@gtrlc.org

A native of Benzie County, Todd grew up sailing Crystal Lake and hiking Lake Michigan dunes. Todd completed a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University in Landscape Architecture which included a semester of study in Europe and later returned to MSU for a masters program in Urban and Regional Planning. In the early 90’s, Todd began his career at GTRLC doing seasonal stewardship work for three years. He then headed to Maryland, where he spent four years preserving farmland and critical Chesapeake Bay shoreline at the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. Thankfully, he returned to GTRLC in 2002 and now focuses primarily on preserving the best of the Chain of Lakes and Jordan River watersheds. Todd resides in Traverse City with his wife Susan where both can often be found on a trail or in a boat.

Americorps Staff

Matt Leone

Americorps Member

Matt Leone

Americorps Member

Matt grew up in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan. His love for the outdoors came from growing up in a family of avid hunters and fishermen. He developed a love for northern Michigan specifically through family vacations to Traverse City and a family cottage on the east side of the state near Mio. These passions carried him through college at Michigan State University where he graduated with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife concentrated in Fisheries Management. During this time, he participated in a study abroad to Fiji, with the goal of learning about how climate change affects the Fijian culture with regards to tourism, regular/agri-business, coastal processes, and marine life. While there he gained a broader understanding of the importance of preservation, conservation, and how heavily cultures depend on our planet’s water sources and all they have to offer. Also while at MSU, Matt did an internship with the Charlevoix Fisheries Research Station in Charlevoix, Michigan. There he was able to gain a deeper knowledge of how research gets conducted and just how important it is, by participating in a few of the active studies being conducted. Now, as an AmeriCorps member serving with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Matt is excited and eager to network with other professionals in the Natural Resources field and get a lot of good hands-on experience. In his downtime, Matt likes hanging out with friends fishing, hunting, and hiking.

Rose Maylen

Americorps Member

Rose Maylen

Americorps Member

Rose is a recent Kalamazoo College graduate who loves everything Michigan. Recently, her family moved to Manistee which has only strengthened her passion for protecting and conserving these natural areas for decades to come. While in school, she majored in Biology with a minor in Psychology and a concentration in Environmental Studies which speaks to her love of learning in several disciplines. While in school, Rose had the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica where she hiked every weekend and learned her love of coffee. As a senior, she wrote her undergraduate thesis on population control strategies for Asian Carp to prevent their entrance into the Great Lakes. Through this process, she learned innovative ways to approach management practices and how interconnected our ecosystems truly are. Growing up Rose loved exploring outside and was instantly friends with every animal she has ever meet. She played volleyball from age 10 until her retirement her Junior year in college. As a first-year AmeriCorps member, she hopes to grow her passions in the field of conservation and solidify plans for a masters program and is excited to do so with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. In her free time, Rose loves walking the beaches of Lake Michigan with her Dachshunds and creating memories around a bonfire with her friends.

Parker Maynard

Americorps Member

Parker Maynard

Americorps Member

Parker was raised in Novi Michigan and realized his love of the outdoors through camping and fishing as a kid. Through his experience earning a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science at Eastern Michigan University, he discovered an interest in maintaining and improving ecosystems. It is Parker’s goal to research and execute sustainable solutions for mitigating anthropogenic harm in vital areas. Parker is excited to be serving with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and feels like it is the perfect opportunity for him to give back to the state that has provided so many of the natural resources and recreational activities that he has enjoyed throughout his life here.

Kyler Moran

Americorps Member

Kyler Moran

Americorps Member

Kyler is a recent graduate of Michigan State University as of May 2018. He left MSU with a bachelor's degree in Fisheries and Wildlife, concentrating in Wildlife Biology and Management. He also minored in Sustainable Natural Resource Recreation Management, which supplemented his love of outdoor recreation with helpful knowledge. Kyler started working with the Forest Service’s entomology biocontrol research lab at Michigan State in 2015 and continued working there until his service began with AmeriCorps. During his time with the Forest Service, he gained high-quality experience with fieldwork and maintained thousands of Emerald Ash Borer Beetles in a research colony. His favorite part about keeping insects? Maintaining the feeding regime. He also started a club at MSU oriented around bat conservation and helped plan and earn funding to lead bioacoustic tours of the local bat population along the Red Cedar River in Lansing. Kyler is excited to serve at Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and eager to help design sustainable trails and learn about the many different aspects of the land and invasive species management work we do here. In his free time, Kyler enjoys reading, exploring in the outdoors, and a good cup of coffee.

Alicia Symanski

AmeriCorps Member

Alicia Symanski

AmeriCorps Member

Alicia is an ardent outdoorswoman and has been in the Grand Traverse region for 5 years. An affinity for water, open spaces, and rich soil convinced her that this was the place to be upon completing a gap year. Since moving to Traverse City, Alicia graduated from Northwestern Michigan College's Water Studies Institute and worked on vegetable and hop farms. She's made lattes for thousands of sleepy people, cat-sat in every county, and logged many miles on the region's shorelines and under its verdant green overstories. She grew up getting dirty, sun burnt, and scratched crawling around the forest floor and jumping in any feature that held water. This is her second term with AmeriCorps, having served as a VISTA with Inland Seas Education Association writing and delivering educational programming. As a farmhand she explored the importance of community food sources and as an education intern she enjoyed discovering teaching practices and of how people learn. She is committed to creating sustainable systems during her career, and is excited to be at the GTRLC. Her hobbies reflect this region, and include snorkeling, foraging, growing and making food, skiing, trail running, and staring at maps and sometimes making them. After this field season, she has sights on returning to school to dig deeper into sustainable agricultural and natural systems. Until then she will be cooking wild foods, and is always on the lookout for an opportunity to learn to fly fish.