Executive Director

Nancy Smith

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANancy’s passion for land protection stems from time spent in her childhood in the forests and streams of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains where for many years her father directed the University of Virginia’s Biology Field Station.  Nancy has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Bates College and a Master’s degree Occupational Therapy from Virginia Commonwealth University.  While raising her three children she helped found the East Aurora Village Tree Board, the Explore & More Children’s Museum and Western New York Earth Day.  She opened the Western New York Office of the New York Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides before joining the Land Conservancy staff in 2004.  Nancy served as the Land Conservancy’s first Community Outreach Director, before transitioning to the role of Stewardship Director in 2010 and then Executive Director in 2012.

Deputy Executive Director

Jajean Rose-Burney

roseburneyJajean was born and raised in Western New York. He has a bachelor’s degree in environmental design and a master’s degree in urban planning, both from the University at Buffalo (UB). After graduating in 2007, he worked at the Urban Design Project, a research center at UB, on several local planning efforts, environmental coalition building, and non-profit development. As a graduate student, Jajean studied in the Sustainable Futures program in Costa Rica, and taught in the same program while working for the Urban Design Project. From 2010 to 2012 he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer stationed with Mexico’s federal environmental agency in Puebla, a large city in southern Mexico, along with his wife Ana. There, he helped protect a large wetland from rapid and unplanned urban development, a project that led to an international Ramsar Site designation for the wetland and a new state park. This project won the 2013 International Planning Award from the American Planning Association (APA). Jajean has written numerous articles and books on environmental topics, leads bird and nature tours, and has worked with several environmental organizations.

Stewardship Director

Kathleen McCormick

mccormickKathleen has a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She spent ten years as a college professor before returning to school to obtain a master’s degree and hands-on training in ecological landscape design and planning from the Conway School. After completing her degree, Kathleen became a program manager for Keep Western New York Beautiful, a not-for-profit that supports grassroots efforts to clean and naturally beautify our region. In this capacity, she worked with block club leaders, property owners, and staff from municipalities, schools and not-for-profits on community cleanups and tree plantings, food system planning, and an award-winning phytoremediation project. Kathleen’s training and experience has taught her that healthy land means healthy people. She is delighted to be part an organization that is growing Western New York’s treasure trove of healthy natural areas and working lands.

Land Protection Director

Patrick McGlew

McGlewPatrick grew up on the New Jersey dairy farm his grandfather purchased in 1924, learning how to stack hay on a flat wagon at an early age. “Take care of the land and the land will take care of you” is a phrase he often heard.  Patrick took that message to heart, earning bachelor’s degrees in Forestry from Michigan Technological University and Environmental Studies from Northland College.  At the start of his career, Patrick worked in the acquisition department of a land investment company and then started a forestry consulting business. Some years later, he entered the master’s degree program in Forest Policy at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and, while there, was hired as a Project Director for The Nature Conservancy’s Niagara Frontier Project.  When the Niagara Frontier Project ended, Patrick provided consulting services for the Seneca Trail Resource Conservation & Development Council as they began the undertaking of operating as a non-profit organization after decades of Federal support. Patrick’s inspiration for land protection stems from both his earlier life experience as a forester and land manager, and as a father who has concern for the environmental legacy we as a society leave to future generations.

Conservation Project Manager

Dave Spiering

Dave grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee, but from childhood was drawn to the outdoors playing in undeveloped lots residential lots and drainage ditches running through apartment. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison double majoring in Conservation Biology and Zoology. After several field jobs, he earned a Master’s degree in Ecology from Colorado State University studying cavity-nesting birds in the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. He then worked for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources restoring bluff prairies for Timber Rattlesnakes. In 2008, Dave moved to Western New York to become to the Ecologist at Tifft Nature Preserve for the Buffalo Museum of Science where he worked on invasive species control, wildlife habitat enhancement and science education for nine years. As the Conservation Project Manager for the Restore the Gorge project and the Stella Niagara Preserve restoration, Dave believes in using a solid scientific framework for the protection and restoration of biodiversity.

Community Engagement Director

Rachel Chrostowski

Rachel_PhotoRachel has a degree in Geography and Environmental Studies from SUNY Geneseo; however, her education in earth science started at a much earlier age. She credits her geologist mother with her deep love of the natural environment, appreciation for open space, and strong conservation values. Before coming to work for the Land Conservancy in April 2015, Rachel was a planner for over eight years in Erie and Livingston Counties where she worked to recertify and consolidate agricultural districts, organized training events for local government, supported regional planning initiatives, and more. Rachel is excited to work closely with volunteers and the community to advance the Land Conservancy’s mission to permanently preserve natural spaces and to protect our region’s farmland for future generations.

Office Manager

Liz Birardi

Liz BirardiLiz has lived in Western New York for more than 20 years. She enjoys spending time outdoors and has a keen interest in the condition of our natural spaces. She discovered the Western New York Land Conservancy through a friend, went on a hike at the Kenneglenn Nature Preserve, and became a volunteer. She took part in several volunteer activities including preparing the office space at Kenneglenn and going on monitoring visits before joining the Land Conservancy staff in November 2011. This work started with a temporary job reviewing the records and files, and led to her current position as part-time office manager in April 2012. Liz is an artist and is active in the East Aurora Art Society. She is also a member of Enjoy the Journey Gallery and the Buffalo Society of Artists. Her art, while not being representational, reflects her experience of the outdoors and nature.

Eden Farmland Protection Consultant

Diane Held

dianeDiane Held spent the past decade working to protect farmland in western New York. Until recently she was Senior New York Field Manager for American Farmland Trust working with farmers, land trusts, local officials and the public to save farmland in New York. Currently, she is the Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County, and a farmland protection consultant for the Western New York Land Conservancy. Diane has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Cornell University and a master’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Buffalo. Her career in agriculture includes a variety of positions with Cornell Cooperative Extension and a past stint as a dairy farmer. Diane is President of the New York State Agricultural Society, on the board of Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo, and is a graduate of LEAD New York, an intensive agricultural leadership program.