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, more than 44,000 acres of land and nearly 140 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 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 for the quality of life it provides people.

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.

Marissa Duque

Director of Development

Marissa Duque

Director of Development
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 is proud to have been part of the Conservancy team since 2013.

David Foote

Director of Facilities

David Foote

Director of Facilities
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.

Chris Garrock

Director of Stewardship

Chris Garrock

Director of Stewardship
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.

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 started early and deepened after living for a time in the Arizona desert. Jennifer has a passion for connecting people to each other and to the 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 Study. She previously served on the board of the Grand Traverse Conservation District and as a member of the Lower Boardman Leadership Team. Jennifer lives with Evan, a writer, with whom she enjoys cooking and growing things 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 enjoys a multitude of outdoor pursuits in his spare time, and lives in Interlochen with his wife Ali and sons Riley and Owen (when they are home from college).

Katie Auwers

Communications and Outreach Specialist

Katie Auwers

Communications and Outreach Specialist
kauwers@gtrlc.org

"Katie has held the Great Lakes close to her heart from a young age. Growing up in West Michigan, she fell in love with Lake Michigan's shoreline while visiting family in Saugatuck and the Old Mission Peninsula. As a young adult, frequent backpacking and paddling trips to northern Michigan kindled her love for the outdoors and eventually lured her to the area. She earned a degree in Psychology from Aquinas College, where she decided to dedicate her career to making a positive impact. After graduating, she sourced donations from local food producers for Feeding America West Michigan and spent several seasons working on a small family farm. Before joining the Regional Land Conservancy in 2021, Katie worked with watershed restoration group, Conservation Resource Alliance.

In addition to preserving northern Michigan's spectacular wild spaces, Katie cares about protecting the region's freshwater resources and supporting sustainable food systems. She currently lives in Benzie County with her boyfriend, their beloved cat and dog, and their flock of chickens. She enjoys mountain biking, running, kayaking, snowboarding, gardening, and hanging out with her pets."

Jacob Blessing

Conservation Easement Steward

Jacob Blessing

Conservation Easement Steward
jblessing@gtrlc.org

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.

Angie Bouma

Senior Land Steward

Angie Bouma

Senior Land Steward
abouma@gtrlc.org

Angie grew up on a dairy farm in northern lower Michigan and enjoys traveling, photography, and hiking. Since 2009, her work at GTRLC has focused on managing, protecting and restoring high quality habitats and coordinating community science projects on nature preserves and nature sanctuaries. Prior to her work at GTRLC, she coordinated efforts for the Hiawatha National Forest as a native plant greenhouse manager and at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore as a vegetation technician where she mapped orchids and other rare plants. She also spent time at The Nature Conservancy as a coordinator of the local cooperative invasive species management area. She has a B.S. in Geography and Biology from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.

Erica DesJardins

Volunteer Coordinator

Erica DesJardins

Volunteer Coordinator
edesjardins@gtrlc.org

Erica grew up in southeast Michigan and spent her summers up at her family cottage on Crystal Lake, where she grew to cherish the incomparable natural beauty of the region. She went on to earn her B.S. in environmental science from the University of Michigan, specializing in conservation biology. After graduating she served in several AmeriCorps positions across the country, including building trails on 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado, and teaching environmental science topics to third graders in New Hampshire public schools. After serving for a year with GTRLC through Huron Pines AmeriCorps, Erica was delighted to stay on permanently as a Volunteer Coordinator. She can be found at all times of the year hiking, running, or biking any of the area’s gorgeous trails with her pup Levi.

Sam Griffin

Land Stewardship Specialist - Misty Acres Farm Assistant

Sam Griffin

Land Stewardship 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: Major Gifts and Planned Giving

Barb Heflin

Charitable Giving Specialist: Major Gifts and Planned Giving
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 Specialist

Claire Herman

Land Protection Specialist
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 Stewardship Specialist

Steve Lagerquist

Land Stewardship 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.

Charlie MacDonald

Land Protection Specialist

Charlie MacDonald

Land Protection Specialist

Charlie grew up on the water in southwest Michigan where fishing and boating were daily activities. His love of the outdoors led to him pursuing his B.A. in outdoor education and environmental studies from Prescott College in Arizona. Charlie then attended law school at WMU Cooley Law School, and obtained a masters in environmental and natural resources law from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. Charlie lives in Traverse City, and after work you will find him fly fishing in the summer and skiing in the winter. He has previous work experience with Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, and the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

Will Manty

Charitable Giving Specialist

Will Manty

Charitable Giving Specialist
wmanty@gtrlc.org

Will grew up in Traverse City, where he developed his sense of place in the woods, the countryside, and the waters of northern Michigan. After earning a B.A. in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from Western Michigan University, the call of adventure and wilderness led him to several seasons of backcountry trail building in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Will then apprenticed on an organic dairy and vegetable farm in upstate New York. Upon returning home to Michigan, he continued farming, working with vegetables and managing a goat dairy for several years in Leelanau County. Prior to joining the GTRLC team, Will was the Produce Buyer for Cherry Capital Foods, a Michigan food distributor focused on direct partnerships with small-scale farmers. He lives with his wife and two kids, just outside of Traverse City, in a stand of tall sugar maples, where they revel in the early springtime tradition of making maple syrup.

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 three 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 joined the Conservancy staff in 2002. She 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.
Before joining the Regional Land Conservancy, Kate was the Visitor Center Manager for the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau. Kate enjoys outdoor recreation of all kinds and all things creative: making art, playing and listening to music, dance, cooking and creative writing. She is also a member of the National Ski Patrol and serves as a first responder at Mount Holiday in Traverse City.

Fields Ratliff

Land Stewardship Specialist

Fields Ratliff

Land Stewardship Specialist

Fields grew up in Northern Michigan near the south end of Torch Lake. He received a bachelor of science degree in Environmental Studies from Western Michigan University and obtained a masters in Geographic Information Systems from Penn State University World Campus.

He has spent most of his conservation career working for various organizations in the Grand Traverse Bay Region which has included non-profits, conservation districts, and companies that provide eco-services. In between studying and working in conservation throughout the years in Michigan, Fields has volunteered abroad and has worked as a trail steward in Brazil, an environmental education coordinator in Curaçao, and a farm hand in New Zealand.

When he’s not working Fields enjoys a variety of sports and outdoor activities such as hockey, golf, hunting, fishing, and can also be found boating on one of the regions many beautiful lakes in the summertime. Fields currently lives in Williamsburg with his family and also enjoys sharing his love of nature with his wife, Ivy, and two young children Wren and Royal.

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 Program Manager

Laura Rigan

Farmland Program Manager
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 her husband, Peter, and dog, Odin.

Erin Schug

Graphic Design and Systems Improvement Specialist

Erin Schug

Graphic Design and Systems Improvement Specialist
eschug@gtrlc.org

Growing up in a house with the rule 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, children Rowan and Fianna, and rowdy pup Ursa.

Cody Selewski

Land Stewardship Specialist

Cody Selewski

Land Stewardship Specialist
cselewski@gtrlc.org

Raised on the northern shores of Lake Michigan, Cody from a young age developed a deep appreciation and understanding for the natural world. After attending Northern Michigan University in Michigan's upper Peninsula pursuing a degree in ecology, Cody went on to work for the University of Tennessee gathering research on grassland bird demographics and beef cattle production as well as for Oregon State University in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management studying Sage grouse in Oregon's Warner mountains. Recently Cody worked two seasonal field positions with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and is now thrilled at the opportunity to work as a land specialist with GTRLC. His interests in land management, ecological sustainability, and project management serve him well working for the conservancy. In his time off you can find him in the woods grouse hunting, fly fishing, mountain biking, and trail running with his German shorthaired pointer, Bella.

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.

Americorps Members and Seasonal Staff

Sam Frederickson

Conservation Program Assistant

Sam Frederickson

Conservation Program Assistant
sfrederickson@gtrlc.org

Sam grew up in Evanston, Illinois, and received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Loyola University Chicago. He is currently a second-year master's student at the University of Michigan-SEAS studying geospatial data sciences and conservation ecology. For his master's project, Sam is working on the Obtawaing Biosphere Region expansion where he is developing a strategic plan in partnership with the RTCA (River, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program) and using GIS to geovisualize northern Michigan.

Sam is currently a Conservation Program Assistant with GTRLC, where he is working to assess tools and methodologies for measuring, reporting, and using ecosystem services as a way to communicate the impacts and significance of conservation work.

He also loves to hike, kayak, and ski, and is an avid Chicago White Sox fan.

Travis Gelinas

Seasonal Land Steward

Travis Gelinas

Seasonal Land Steward
tgelinas@gtrlc.org

Growing up in northern Michigan, Travis spent all of his time outdoors. From getting lost exploring the local forests, swimming in Torch Lake at his grandparent’s cottage, or on family trips to national parks, he quickly developed a true love and respect for nature. And from a young age, he knew he wanted to work in the outdoors. He went on to pursue a B.S. in Conservation Biology at Lake Superior State University in the Upper Peninsula, where he solidified his love and appreciation of land conservation.

Before joining GTRLC, Travis worked as a wildlife assistant for the DNR and a climbing arborist. When not working, you can find him backpacking, rock climbing, fly fishing, or planning his next national park to visit or mountain to summit. No matter where he is, he is usually with one of his cameras capturing gorgeous landscapes.

Jack Polus

Seasonal Land Steward

Jack Polus

Seasonal Land Steward
jpolus@gtrlc.org

Jack was born and raised in Cadillac, Michigan. He attended Michigan State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Forestry in 2017. He has professional experience in tree care, consulting and urban forestry. He is a Certified Pesticide Applicator, a Certified Arborist and enjoys exploring invasive species management including insects and pathogens.

He has a passion for the outdoors, and enjoys fishing and exploring northern Michigan’s incredible natural resources. For Jack, working with GTRLC to preserve and improve the health of our forestlands is a greatly rewarding experience.