Board and Staff

The Conservation Trust for Florida is run by a highly professional and effective staff and board. We have built relationships with federal, local and state government agencies as well as with landowners and other key stakeholders who are motivated by the same goals – to see large connected landscapes preserved in Florida.

Want to help?

If you are passionate about natural Florida and the beautiful rural landscapes that make Florida such a special place, please consider volunteering with us. If you are interested in board or committee service, please e-mail us at info@conserveflorida.org.


Lisa Molitor Gearen, President of the Board

Lisa Molitor Gearen is a native Floridian. She migrated to Gainesville from South Florida as a young woman to attend The University of Florida. A lifetime of outdoor recreation has sustained her love affair with natural Florida.

An ARNP, she practiced professional nursing at The UF Medical Center and The ACORN Clinic (Brooker) for 35 years. She is married to a retired Orthopaedic surgeon, and their daughter works in DC.

Celeste Shitama, Vice-President of the Board

Celeste is a longtime supporter of land conservation in Florida. Her work with Sandhill Cranes at the Florida Wildlife Commission led to graduate studies at the University of Florida in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, as well as work on the Northwest Florida Permanent Exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History. She is the former owner of the first property in Costa Rica protected with a conservation easement, and current owner of restored springs property along the Suwannee River. She has five grown children and seven grandchildren that keep her life interesting and the stakes high for the future.

David Pais, Secretary of the Board

David graduated from Rollins College and the University of Florida. He was a founding member and past president of the Florida Native Plant Society. He is a licensed real estate broker specializing in restoration and preservation of unique properties. He remains committed to protecting native and working landscapes throughout Florida.

Barry Rutenberg, Treasurer of the Board

Barry has been active in homebuilding, community development, and community organizations since the 1970’s.  He has served on many Gainesville and Alachua County committees and task forces.  In the early 1980’s, Barry became active in local energy and land conservation committees.  Barry was the 2000 president of the Florida Home Builders Association and the 2012 chairman of the board of directors of the National Association of Home Builders.  He is currently chairman of Arthur Rutenberg Homes and holds a BS degree from Northwestern University and a MBA from Harvard University

Jeff Hardesty, Member at Large

Jeff’s educational background is in biology and wildlife ecology, and he spent his career protecting and restoring public lands. As a senior level strategist for The Nature Conservancy, Jeff was responsible for leading global conservation programs. His retirement came last year, and he’s returned to Florida where his wife, Susan, continues her career at the University of Florida.

Linda Jones, Member at Large

Linda is a recently retired member of the University of Florida’s College of Education Faculty, where for over 30 years, she prepared undergraduate and graduate students for careers as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educators. Her innovative and creative approaches to curriculum development resulted in generous grant funding over the life of her career. A child of South Florida, Linda grew up in the outdoors and developed a deep love of natural Florida. She has spent more than two decades championing the protection of water and habitat in Florida. Her passion is shared by her husband Griff, also a UF educator.

Jacob McCrea, Member at Large

Jacob is an assistant state attorney for the Office of the State Attorney, Fourth Judicial Circuit. He graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 2009 and has been practicing law since graduation. His wife Meredith is a veterinarian and they live in Jacksonville. They are the proud parents of Margaux, their daughter, who was born in July of 2015.

Ed Montgomery, Executive Committee Member at Large

Ed joined Rayonier Inc. in 1979 after graduation from the University of Florida with a BS in Forest Resources and Conservation. Ed recently retired from a successful forestry and land conservation career at Rayonier, which spanned 35 years. While Ed held various real estate positions at Rayonier, his favorite job was conserving and protecting suitable tracts of Rayonier’s land for future generations. A native of north Florida, Ed enjoys boating on Florida’s beautiful waterways with his wife Jennifer, playing folk music and serving on praise music and prison ministry teams.

KC Nayfield, Member at Large

KC is a Florida native. He spent his veterinary career as a surgeon to pets and exotic animals in Crystal River. He built a practice there over three decades, and as an independent veterinarian, he gained tremendous small business expertise. He is regionally known as a skillful and ethical surgeon. KC and his wife, MaryBeth, brought their two children up to cherish the great outdoors. MaryBeth has been a public health nurse in Citrus County for her entire career. The family are lifelong sailors, explorers and wildlife fans.

Jane West, Member at Large

Jane is a member of both the Florida and Maine bars, as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh and Seventh Circuits. She is also admitted to the U.S. District Court – Southern District of Florida. Jane has been practicing law since 1998, primarily in the areas of environmental and land use litigation. She is a graduate of the University of South Florida (BA 1994) and Nova Southeastern University (JD 1998). Jane has served as a member of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers, the Executive Council of the Environmental and Land Use Law Section of the Florida Bar. She is the recipient of the Judy Florence Memorial Award for Outstanding Service to the Florida Bar Environmental and Land Use Law Section of the Florida Bar. She lives in St. Augustine Beach with her husband and two young sons.

Fay Baird: Fay is a hydrologist with the St. Johns River Water Management District and she is one of the founders of Micanopy’s charter elementary school, and former member of the Micanopy Town Commission. She is not a bad banjo player, either.

Steve Beeland: Steve is a fundraising consultant who advises CTF on development strategies. Beeland is a twenty-year veteran of higher education fund raising at the University of Florida and the University of Maryland – College Park. He is a 1969 University of Florida graduate and served as an artillery officer in the U.S. Army from 1970-72. He and his wife Lohse live in Gainesville.

David Carr: Founder and Past President: Founder of the Conservation Trust for Florida, Inc. (CTF). Former Executive Director of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, noted conservationist, owner of the Pearl Country Store, landowner, and native Floridian. David is also a member of Scenic Highway 441 Corridor Management Council.

Margaret (Peggy) Carr: Peggy is an Associate professor in the University of Florida’s Department of Landscape Architecture. She serves as the principal investigator for the Florida Statewide Greenways Planning Project and for an EPA funded project to identify major ecological systems and areas of importance to biological diversity in the eight southeastern states.

Carol Lippincott, PhD: A Miami native and longtime resident of Gainesville, Carol is a research coordinator with the University of Florida Water Institute. For over 20 years she has been a professional facilitator in Florida water resource and natural areas management and multi-stakeholder collaboration. Carol has worked for Florida state and county governments, a non-profit research organization, and as an independent consultant for natural resource issues. Carol earned her PhD in Ecology from University of Florida, Masters from Texas A&M, and Bachelors from UF. She is certified as a professional facilitator by the International Association of Facilitators.

Anne MacKay: Anne is a native Floridian, and she helped create the State Wildflower license tag in 2000, through which thousands of Floridians annually make donations to support Florida’s wildflowers. She also is a founding member of the Florida Wildflower Foundation, representing the Florida League of Cities. She also mentors a child in the state’s Guardian Ad Litem program. Anne is also a Master Gardener and an elder in the Presbyterian Church. She lives in Lake Weir and North Carolina with her husband, former Florida Gov. Buddy Mackay. The couple have four children and eight grandchildren.

Gov. Buddy MacKay: Gov. MacKay built a 27-year record of service based on finding common-sense solutions to the problems facing Florida’s families. As a result, his leadership earned him the reputation of Florida’s most influential lieutenant governor in history. As a state representative and senator, a Congressman and as Lt. Governor, MacKay focused on the issues that matter most to the families of Florida. He and his wife Anne were both born and raised in Ocala. Buddy earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Florida, while Anne graduated from the University of North Carolina.

Reed Noss, PhD: Reed is Provost’s Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Central Florida and president of the Florida Institute for Conservation Science. He has a BS in education from the University of Dayton, an MS in ecology from the University of Tennessee, and a PhD in wildlife ecology from the University of Florida. He has served as editor-in-chief of Conservation Biology, president of the Society for Conservation Biology, and president of the North American Section of the Society. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has served on many boards and advisory panels, including the board of governors of the Society for Conservation Biology, the board of trustees of the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, Florida’s Acquisition and Restoration Council, and a Federal Advisory Committee for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. Professor Noss has more than 300 publications and is recognized as one of the 500 most highly cited authors in all fields worldwide. He has published seven books, the most recent being Forgotten Grasslands of the South: Natural History and Conservation (2013, Island Press). He is currently writing a book on the Fire Ecology of Florida and the Southeastern Coastal Plain (University Press of Florida).

Jennifer B. Springfield: Jennifer is a practicing Gainesville attorney with 20 years experience, primarily in environmental/land use law and she is a certified mediator.

Hans G. Tanzler, III: Hans is an attorney with a legal master’s degree in taxation. He is also a CPA, financial executive and valuation analyst with broad based experience over the last ten years in various industries including manufacturing, real estate, and computer technology. He is currently managing Cypress Grove Farm, a container nursery of Florida native trees and shrubs located in Waldo, Florida. He formerly practiced fifteen years as an attorney/CPA tax attorney in Jacksonville and five years with the IRS and Department of Justice in Miami. He is a current member of the Governing Board of the St. Johns River Water Management District, the University of Florida Foundation Board of Governors, and former Chairman of the Jacksonville Zoological Society.

Carlton Ward, Jr.: Carlton is an environmental photojournalist from Clearwater, Florida. Through his photographs, he promotes conservation of natural environments and cultural legacies. Carlton’s passion for nature was born from the Florida landscape, where eight generations of family history ground his perspective. As a leading proponent of conservation photography, Carlton founded the Legacy Institute for Nature & Culture (LINC). LINC’s mission is to raise awareness for natural environments and cultural legacies, educate about important connections between human societies and natural ecosystems, and promote conservation of natural heritage.

Richard White: Richard holds a B.A. from the University of Florida ’72, a J.D. from Florida State University ’75, LL.M. (Estate Planning) and the University of Miami ’77. He is a Board Certified Wills, Trusts & Estates Attorney Member and serves on the Professional Advisory Board, the Dade Community Foundation Member, and he is on the Board of Directors of the Gainesville Community Foundation.

Kathleen S. Williams: Past President of the Board. Member at Large. A native Floridian, Kathleen conducted her Master’s Degree research at the University of Florida on wildlife corridors. She has researched sandhill cranes, gopher tortoises, and fox squirrels in Florida and sea turtles in Australia. As an administrator for the Wildlife Conservation Society, she managed conservation projects in Central America. Kathleen is also a writer, photographer, and videographer.

Terry L. Zinn: Past President of the Board. Terry is a retired environmental attorney with the Florida Department of Transportation, District 2 in Lake City, Florida. Terry operates a wildflower seed business in Alachua County. Terry served on CTF’s Board of Directors for six years and was President for three of the six years.

Cyndi Fernandez

Operations and Outreach Manager

Cyndi is a Florida native who is passionate about protecting the working lands and wildlife habitat that make Florida such an ecologically diverse and beautiful state. She is a communications specialist with broad nonprofit management and organizational development experience. Before joining the Conservation Trust for Florida, she worked for the Whidbey Camano Land Trust in Coupeville, Washington and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida. She holds an associate degree in graphic arts and a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass media communications. She spends her free time exploring, taking pictures, playing frisbee and visiting with her family and friends.

Keith Fountain

Real Estate and Conservation Strategies Consultant (Contractor)

Keith Fountain is founder and manager of Conservation Advisors LLC, and a member of The Florida Bar. He has over 20 years of experience in real estate transactions and the development and implementation of conservation strategies that have protected hundreds of thousands of acres of land for both public and private ownership and management. Read more about Keith Fountain here.