Carleton Montgomery, Executive Director
Carleton became PPA’s second executive director in 1998. Carleton left legal practice in Washington, D.C., where he was a partner in the firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, to join the nonprofit world and devote himself to environmental protection. Carleton has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and an M. Phil. from University College London, both in philosophy, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Carleton is the editor of Regional Planning for a Sustainable America: How Creative Programs Are Promoting Prosperity and Saving the Environment, published by Rutgers University Press in 2011, a book he compiled and to which he contributed the introductory and concluding chapters. Carleton is a founding board member of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. Contact: 609-859-8860 ext 119 or Email Carleton@pinelandsalliance.org
Jaclyn Rhoads, Ph.D., Assistant Executive Director
Jaclyn received a Ph.D. in environmental policy from Drexel University and joined PPA’s staff in 2004. She also teaches environmental studies and policy at Drexel and Widener University. She serves on the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters political committee, as co-chair for the outreach committee for the New Jersey Keep it Green Coalition, and as president of the Darby Creek Valley Association and Friends of the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania where she lives. Jaclyn was awarded Woman of the Delaware River Watershed by Penn Future in 2018 and Environmental Advocate of the Year by the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners in 2017. Contact: 609-859-8860 ext. 118 or Email Jaclyn@pinelandsalliance.org
Stephen Elliott, Water Outreach Specialist
Stephen joined PPA in 2023. He returned to Burlington County, where he was born and raised, in 2017 after over 14 years living throughout the country and overseas. Growing from his sense of duty and passion for the natural world, he left his career in the federal government to find a place among those working to make the planet a safe and healthy environment for all its inhabitants. Stephen was first hosted by PPA as a NJ Americorps Watershed Ambassador for the Rancocas watershed where he received experience and training which assisted in his career transition. He graduated from Rancocas Valley Regional High School, obtained his B.A. in Philosophy from Penn State University, and brings a wide range of professional experience to PPA. When not serving as PPA’s “waterbender,” he is likely wandering in the woods with his dog, reading, or learning a new skill or hobby. Despite his wandering tendencies, Stephen feels like he found a home back in familiar territory and with the dedicated, talented PPA team. Contact: 609-859-8860 ext. 127 or Email: Stephen@PinelandsAlliance.org
Rebecca Free, Director of Membership & Communications
Becky joined PPA in 2007. Becky has worked for the American Cancer Society, The Nature Conservancy of New Jersey’s Pine Barrens Program, and as a seasonal park ranger at Big Bend National Park in Texas. She has a Master’s Degree from Texas A&M University in Parks, Tourism and Recreation. Becky grew up in Bucks County PA and is married to Jeff Tober, Rancocas Creek Farm Manager. When she isn’t working to save the Pinelands or picking strawberries, she is playing sports with her sons or training as a powerlifter and a Strongman competitor. Contact: 609-859-8860 ext. 121 or Email Becky@pinelandsalliance.org
Rachel Grace, Membership & Communications Associate
Rachel joined the PPA staff in February 2022. Her love for the natural world and her time spent exploring the Pinelands as a child brought her to her career at PPA. She received her bachelor’s degree in Sustainability with a minor in Holistic Health from Stockton University. Rachel has worked previously as a project manager in the recycling industry and has also completed her certification in Permaculture Design with the tenets of Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share. Outside of PPA work, Rachel can be found teaching yoga, performing flow arts, appreciating live music, getting her hands in the soil, or exploring the natural world. Her passion and purpose is to be of service to her community and the environment, and she is beyond excited to work for PPA’s mission that aligns with her own. Contact 609-859-8860 ext 114 or Email email@example.com.
Audra Hardoon, Director of Operations
Audra joined our staff at the start of the Pinelands Adventures initiative. You can contact Audra about operations or finances at Adventures, PPA, and Rancocas Creek Farm. Audra received her degree from Arizona State University. She lived out west and worked as a Commercial Real Estate Manager for over a decade. Prior to coming on board with PPA she worked as a Veterinary Hospital Manager. When Audra isn’t working in the Pinelands you can usually find her at the beach, playing pickle ball, exercising with her dog, or relaxing with her cats. Contact: 609-859-8860 ext. 123 or Email Audra@pinelandsalliance.org
Jason Howell, Public Lands Advocate
Jason Howell joined the staff in 2015. He is a New Jersey Volunteer Master Naturalist and Wilderness First Responder. In addition to working as a public lands advocate and land steward, Jason creates film and video projects for PPA. One such project, Pinelands National Reserve – Wilderness Remains, is a long-form non-narrative film that documents the unique landscapes and ecology of the Pinelands. Jason is a board member of the Rancocas Conservancy, a senior fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, and an avid canoeist, hiker, and primitive skills enthusiast. Contact: 609-859-8860 ext. 125 or Email Jason@pinelandsalliance.org
Sean Kane-Holland, Access Nature Disability Advocate
Sean joined the team in November of 2022 as the Access Nature and Disability Advocate. Attending Rutgers University, He graduated with a B.A. in American History & Political Science. Since 2014 he has worked in the New Jersey Park Service at Batsto Historic Village in Wharton State Forest as a member of the history department. Overcoming many challenges, he was born with a birth defect, (Spina Bifida) and needs the use of leg braces and forearm crutches to get around – but that doesn’t hold him back from accomplishing his goals. A lifelong Southern New Jersey resident. Being an avid outdoorsman – any chance he gets, you’ll find him kayaking one of the many rivers in the Pinelands or exploring the countless historic/cultural sites with his dog. He’s devoted to the preservation of natural, cultural, and historic sites being a proud member of American Battlefield Trust which protects hallowed ground. He’s thrilled about working in an organization that shares the same goals and commitments as he does for preserving, restoring, and interpreting natural and historic resources for current and future generations and ensuring everyone in our diverse collective community has a chance to enjoy the magnificence of New Jersey’s great outdoors. Contact (609) 859-8860 ext. 117 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Seigha Omuso, Community Engagement Liaison
Seigha joined PPA in September of 2022 after working with PPA and Rancocas Creek Farm in designing a farm to table internship program. Through this work, he was able to collaborate with several community-based organizations allowing youth to gain a hands on farming experience including community discussions, business professional engagements, and more. Seigha is also the Executive Director of 14 years for The Opportunity League, a nonprofit community development and public health organization based in Burlington County. He earned his B.S. in Business Marketing from Cabrini University in Radnor, PA. In the span of Seigha’s career as a community organizer, he has been awarded the Southern Burlington County NAACP “Legacy Award”, Burlington County “40 under 40” Award, and was a Russ Berrie “Making a Difference” Honoree, as well as, a Youth Council Member of the Burlington County Workforce Investment Board and Youth Investment Council member of the Burlington County Workforce Development Institute. Seigha looks forward to connecting other communities to the work that PPA focuses on and bringing awareness on issues affecting our communities and environment. Seigha is the father of 3 brilliant little minds, the husband to a remarkable woman, the oldest brother to a few and many, and a son of two amazing parents. Contact: (609) 502-5041 or Email email@example.com.
Kathia Ramirez, Policy Advocate
Kathia joined PPA in May 2022 after working for almost 8 years as Food Justice Coordinator at a grassroots-based non-profit organization, working with the immigrant and farmworker community. Through this previous work, she was able to learn about successful models from social movements that focus on the well-being of people and the environment. Although not as big as Rancocas Creek Farm, she was managing a small community garden incorporating sustainable methods, culture, and other aspects of building a more just food system. Initially, she had no knowledge whatsoever of what growing food was all about! She identifies as indigenous Zapotec as her roots are from Oaxaca, Mexico although she was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her B.A. in Spanish and Latino Studies from Mount Holyoke College in Western MA. Kathia looks forward to connecting other communities to the work that PPA focuses on and bringing awareness on issues affecting our communities and environment. She recently started creating homemade medicine, although still considers herself a beginner. She also enjoys baking during her spare time. Contact: 609 859 8860 ext 116 or Email Kathia@pinelandsalliance.org.
Erin Tobiassen, Bookkeeper
Erin joined PPA in February 2021. Coming from a non-profit background she enjoys working for an organization that has a mission. Erin brings over 18 years of experience as a full-charge bookkeeper managing all aspects of receivables, payables and financial reporting. Among other interests, Erin likes to read and takes classes to hone her skills. As avid photographers, it is not unusual to find Erin and her husband Ted up at dawn waiting for a beautiful sunrise, driving through the trails at Whitesbog or searching for the Snowy Owl at Island Beach State Park. Both have received recognition for their photography in local art shows. A great day for Erin is spending time with family, taking photographs and simply enjoying nature and wildlife. Contact: 609-859-8860 ext 112 or Email Erin@pinelandsalliance.org.
Kellie Westervelt, Director of Philanthropy
Kellie joined PPA in 2021. Originally from Mays Landing, Kellie was raised in and studied southern New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, earning her degree in Environmental Science from Stockton State University. Before joining PPA, Kellie worked as Development Director for Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and Director of Development for the Wildlands Network; was Habitat Director for the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and led a 436-acre restoration as Project Director for the American Littoral Society. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including the Society for Ecological Restoration at both the chapter and international level. She has translated a lifelong passion for nature into a career advocating for its protection and is happy to return to the area she first called home. Contact: 609-859-8860 ext. 124 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Wetstein, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Advocate
Jonathan joined PPA in early 2024. He carries a long-standing commitment to equitable development work. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University’s Community and Economic Development Graduate Program, Jonathan’s professional experience began in 2005 as a consultant in comprehensive land use planning and design. After 2011, Jonathan entered the field of community development as an independent consultant. During this time, he worked alongside non-profits on a variety of food system development initiatives as well as founded Roots to Prevention (RTP). Established in Camden, New Jersey, this cross-sectoral collaboration brings together residents, nonprofit organizations, farmers, institutions, and government entities. The goal is to leverage each other’s strengths and resources to create new economic and lifestyle opportunities for those most affected by limited access to healthy food. Jonathan also teaches a Sustainable Food Systems course at Temple University as an adjunct professor. Contact: Email email@example.com.
Kevin Whitley, Database Manager
Kevin joined PPA in November 2022 with an extensive background as a database professional. Most recently he helped support healthcare IT projects for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He holds a master’s degree in Information Technology from Penn State University. Originally from Northern New Jersey, Kevin is a long-time resident of Burlington County and raised his family in Marlton Lakes, where he instilled in them a love of nature and responsibility for the environment. Kevin considers himself a very amateur birder and in his free time enjoys volunteering at music festivals and Irish social organization events. Contact: 609-859-8860 ext. 129 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Heidi Yeh, Ph.D., Policy Director
Heidi joined PPA in 2022. She grew up in Vermont but has made an annual pilgrimage with her family to visit relatives in South Jersey. Rutgers University brought her to the state as a permanent resident, where she completed her dissertation in the Department of Marine & Coastal Sciences. Although a scientist by training, she has kept a foot in policy work through internships with the U.S. EPA, the NJ Legislature, the Rutgers Office of Federal Relations, and the Hudson River Foundation. She is passionate about science communication and getting more scientists involved in policy, which she has pursued as co-president of the graduate student group Science Policy Advocacy at Rutgers (SPAR). She is particularly interested in communicating science through food (microbial foods such as sourdough, yogurt, and kombucha), and likes to incorporate scientific themes into her art (oil and watercolor paints). Heidi spends far too much time cooking and baking, but her husband and toddler don’t think this is a problem! Contact: 609-859-8860 ext. 122 or Email email@example.com.
Jeff Tober, Farm Manager for Rancocas Creek Farm
Jeff joined PPA in 2020 as the Farm Manager. Prior to PPA, Jeff started a CSA farm (Community Supported Agriculture) at Fernbrook Farms in Chesterfield in 2007 and was the Farm Manager for 13 years. Jeff got his love for growing food at Aspen Farms Community Garden in West Philadelphia and later apprenticed at Brookfield Farm CSA in Amherst, MA. Jeff got his degree in English (not Agriculture) from Muhlenberg College and later served for 2 years with AmeriCorps and went on to work for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Green Program revitalizing urban parks before farming full-time. Jeff is on the board of the New Jersey Agricultural Society and the Burlington County Agricultural Development Board. Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife Rebecca and their 2 sons and generally being outside. Contact: 609-859-8860 ext 130 or Email Jeff@pinelandsalliance.org.
Ezra Tischler, Assistant Farm Manager for Rancocas Creek Farm
Ezra joined PPA in 2022 as a farm apprentice with Rancocas Creek Farm and assumed the role of Assistant Farm Manager in 2024. Prior to working at Rancocas Creek Farm, he spent three years managing High Hill Hydro, a small indoor hydroponic farm in Delaware County, PA, growing greens for Philadelphia area restaurants. Ezra also spent two years working at North Star Orchard in Chester County, PA where he discovered his love of farming and desire to be part of the local food system. He graduated from Lafayette College, in Easton, PA with a Bachelor’s degree in English and continued his education earning a Master of Environmental Studies degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Ezra lives in South Philly with his amazing wife, their ever-curious son, and one cute little dog. When not at the farm Ezra enjoys hiking with his family, consuming Philadelphia sports (and the associated heartbreak), and writing poetry, among other creative outlets. Contact: 609-859-8860 ext 128 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Giles, Director of Pinelands Adventures
Andy joined PPA in 2022. Having moved to Shamong, NJ in 2004 he now considers himself a Pinelands local. Prior to joining PPA Andy had reinvented himself during the pandemic and gained his Blue Seal Industrial Engineering licenses in Steam and Refrigeration with State of NJ, working as an Industrial Mechanic/Operating Engineer with Oatly, Inc. after spending 20+ years as a Director in Non-Profit 501 (c) 3, College Athletics, and Local Authority Recreation & Parks Departments. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Matthew Boulton College UK in Sports and Recreation Management, a Diploma from the Institute of Sports and Recreation Management, and a CPRP from the National Recreation and Parks Association. He has been an American Red Cross Instructor since 1998. Outside of work Andy can be found tinkering with all things mechanical, hiking with his doggy, kayaking, and immersing himself in the lore and culture of the Pinelands. Contact: 609-268-0189 or Email email@example.com.
Krissy Raudys, Operations Manager
Krissy’s enthusiasm for adventure and passion for the outdoors brought her to the heart of The Pinelands. With years of experience leading trips and developing programs in many different outdoor industries, her expertise and creative ideas are a welcome addition to the Pinelands Adventures team. Coming equipped with an adventure degree, naturally she spends her free time in other outdoor pursuits playing with nature and gravity. When not doing the work thing, she loves to travel, ski, hike, swim, and play volleyball (in no particular order). She digs extreme weather, baking, music, photography, watching sunsets while sipping adult beverages, and is freakishly good at jigsaw puzzles. Being very observant and thoughtful when it comes to the guest experience, Krissy works hard to add in special moments and is excited about making others excited about the outdoors. Contact: 609-268-0189 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allison Hartman, Education Director
Allison is a beach kid who feels like she’s won the job lottery: she’s made paddling into a career. She’s a South Jersey native and has been leading kayak and paddleboard tours through the salt marshes for more than ten years. Allison is a graduate of Stockton University’s Marine Science program and a senior fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program Fellowship. With a background in marine biology and environmental education, Allison is always excited for a chance to “nerd out” and share her passion for anything in the natural world, but especially aquatic plants and animals. When you meet her, she’d love to hear your best nature-based fun fact! Contact: 609-268-0189 or Email email@example.com.
Monica Cahill, Operations Lead
When Monica joined Pinelands Adventures as a driver in 2019, she fulfilled her lifelong dream of working in the great outdoors in ecotourism. A South Jersey native who eventually settled down in Folsom (just outside Hammonton), she enjoys sharing her ever-growing knowledge of the history and ecology of the New Jersey Pinelands. Her passion for protecting and conserving our last remaining wilderness comes straight from the heart. Monica has quickly become a customer favorite by sharing her experiences in the forests and talking about the unique flora and fauna she’s encountered during her explorations of rivers and trails. Nature is her church. Monica also has worked at Rancocas Creek Farms, a restorative farming project sponsored by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. She enjoys creative cooking with all the fresh veggies grown at the farm. As a yoga practitioner, Monica has also earned her 200-hour yoga teacher training certificate and is continuing her studies. Favorite quote: “Heaven is under our feet, as well as over our heads” ~Henry David Thoreau Contact: 609-268-0189 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Board of Trustees
Below you will find all the voting members of the Board of Trustees for the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.
Emile DeVito, Ph.D.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Retired, Senior Project Manager, Liberty Property Trust
Refuge Manager, John Heintz National Wildlife Refuge
CEO of Allies in Caring, Inc.
Ron Hutchison, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology, Stockton University
Photographer, Retired Rutgers Executive
David F. Moore
Former Executive Director, NJ Conservation Foundation
Director of GIS, Hopeworks Camden
Attorney, Senior VP/ General Counsel at Revel Casino Hotel
Communications Specialist, U.S. General Services Administration
Amy Vasquez, Esq.
James Barnshaw, M.D. is a retired physician who has been a member of the board since 2012. Jim served as Chair of the Board of Trustees for six years, stepping down in 2020. After 12 years of volunteer work with the Adirondack Forty-Sixers and The Mercer Alliance to End-Homelessness Jim returned to volunteer in the Pine Barrens where he has spent many days hiking and canoeing, having resided as a youth in Merchantville, NJ.
Barbara H. Trought, member of the board since 2012, has been active for over 45 years in numerous community service and political activities. She was appointed by Gov. Thomas Kean to the Department of Environmental Protection’s Tidelands Resource Council, and served from 1987-2011. Barbara has also moderated candidate forums for the League of Women Voters throughout the state, served as Government Director for NJ State League in the 1990’s as well as being an advocate for affordable housing. Barbara has served as a Trustee for the Forums Institute for Public Policy, been a docent at the Alice Paul Institute in Mount Laurel and a member of the Institutional Review Committee for the Cooper Health Systems, 2001-2003.
Michael Gallaway was the New Jersey Sierra Club’s representative to the advisory committee established by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation that gave birth to PPA in 1989. He is a founding board member of PPA, and has chaired numerous board committees. He serves as the NJ Sierra Club’s representative on the PPA board, and has been the chair of the Medford Lakes Environmental Commission. He is a pediatric optometrist with a private practice in Marlton, NJ, and is an Associate Professor at Salus University in Philadelphia.
Patricia A. Butenis joined the Board in 2017 and was elected board chair in October 2020. Raised in Atco, NJ and with an undergraduate degree from Penn, Pat retired back home after a 34-year career as a Foreign Service Officer which included assignments as ambassador to Bangladesh and to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. She also served in Pakistan, Iraq, Colombia, El Salvador, India and Poland. Her favorite project in Sri Lanka was promoting the welfare of its wild and captive elephant populations.
Timothy J. Byrne, a resident of Princeton, New Jersey, is an attorney in private practice in New York. He is the son of former governor Brendan Byrne, and has a long-standing interest in Pinelands preservation. Tim joined the board in 1999.
Charles M. Caruso is a retired Patent Counsel who has been a member of the Board since 2016. During his 28-year career at Merck & Co., Inc. he was International Patent Counsel where he represented Merck at pharmaceutical industry trade associations around the world on intellectual property law and policy matters and was also a patent litigator engaged in the protection of patented medicines. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers University School of Law and was a Master of Science candidate in Chemical Oceanography/Environmental Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a Master Naturalist and an active member of the Barnegat Bay Partnership.
Charles M. Chapin lives in Oldwick, Hunterdon County, NJ and serves on the Board of New Jersey Audubon, and the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy in Tallahassee, Florida. He was a Trustee for many years of the Upper Raritan Watershed Association, serving for many of them as President. Charlie joined the board in 1997.
Emile DeVito, Ph.D. joined PPA’s board in 2002. Emileis the Manager of Science and Stewardship at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation since 1989. He received a doctorate in Ecology in 1988 for research on bird communities and vegetation landscapes in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. Dr. DeVito develops management plans for NJCF’s 20,000 plus acres of holdings designed to protect and enhance biological diversity. Emile educates government officials, advocacy groups, land trusts, teachers and students on forest-interior habitat and migratory stopover needs of Neotropical songbirds. He is also a trustee of the NJ Natural Lands Trust. He serves on the Endangered and Non-Game Species Advisory Committee within the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, the New Jersey Invasive Species Council, and the Science Advisory Committee of the NY-NJ Trail Conference.
Until he retired in 2018, Bill Fisher is the Senior Project Manager-National Development, Liberty Property Trust, with over thirty five years of hands-on experience in development, planning, design, and construction management both in the U.S. and overseas. His particular expertise is creating innovative, energy-efficient environments for commercial, industrial, medical and research clientele. Bill is currently furthering the implementation of the Navy Yard Business Center’s Master Plan, which covers 1,200 acres along Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront. Bill joined the board in 2014.
Lamar Gore joined the board in 2021 and is the Refuge Manager at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia, PA. Lamar works with partners to connect the communities of the greater Philadelphia area to the refuge and brand the refuge as America’s First Urban Refuge. Previously, Lamar worked in the Northeast Regional Office of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as Assistant Refuge Supervisor and Chief of the Office of Diversity and Civil Rights. During this time, Lamar was responsible for the Career Discovery Internship Program, which was designed to introduce culturally and ethnically diverse students to the USFWS. Lamar has also worked as Assistant Regional Biologist, Assistant Refuge Biologist, and Biological Technician. His work during this time involved tidal saltmarsh restoration, non-breeding season bird monitoring (songbirds), sea turtle protection, sea lamprey control, and wetland restoration from Vermont to Virginia.
Ivette Guillermo-McGahee is the founder and CEO of Allies In Caring, Inc. a New Jersey nonprofit offering counseling as well as indoor/outdoor educational programs that foster resiliency, promote healing and bring people together in meaningful interactions. Ivette is also the founder of Con-Vivir Wellness Hub a center pursuing pioneering solutions that alleviate loneliness and social isolation, and other factors contributing to the rising behavioral problems that have become a major burden for our communities. Ivette’s late work has been focused on generating collective impact by building coalitions among different sectors, and mobilizing the talents of neighborhood residents and strengthening communities form the inside out, addressing divides and building bridges.
Anne Heasly, has served on the PPA board since 2007. Her admiration for the unique qualities of the Pine Barrens grew out her experience working as the Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Pine Barrens Field Office. Anne has a Masters of Landscape Architecture and a Certification in Urban Design from the University of Washington. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources, from Cornell University and is a certified Landscape Architect in the State of Maryland and New Jersey. She is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Joann Held comes to PPA through her vast experience in environmental science and policy and her leadership role in the League of Women Voters. Joann worked at the NJ Department of Environmental Protection for 26 years, specializing in air quality and site remediation issues. She is the author or coauthor of numerous scientific papers on these topics. She has a BS in Meteorology from St. Louis University and a Masters Degree in air pollution control from the Harvard School of Public Health. Since retiring from NJDEP, Joann is involved in many civic activities. These include serving on the NJ Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board; the NJDEP Environmental Justice Advisory Council; and leadership positions in the Pennington Borough Environmental Commission and Hopewell Valley Green Team. In 2017, she was recognized as a Camden Environmental Hero by the Camden Collaborative Initiative in recognition of her advocacy for the City of Camden.
Ron Hutchison, Ph.D. joined the board in 2014. Ron is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Richard Stockton College and has been teaching there since 2005. He received a doctorate in plant Biochemistry in 1994 from the University of Illinois. His research involved studying the biochemical basis for cold injury in crop plants. Ron teaches courses in Plant Physiology, Cell Biology, and introductory Biology, as well as two general science courses called the “Nature of Cold” and “Cancer”. Ron and his undergraduate research students study diverse topics in plant and microbial molecular biology. His current research involves using design principles found in nature to create sustainable communities.
Chris Kosseff comes to PPA after a distinguished career in the field of behavior health. Chris retired in 2016 as President and CEO of University Behavioral Healthcare of Rutgers University (formerly the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey), where he was responsible for all aspects of the largest behavioral healthcare system in New Jersey. Prior to assuming the top job he held several leadership positions in UMDNJ’s behavior health programs. He has held appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the New Jersey Medical School. Chris is an avid and adventurous traveler and an accomplished nature photographer.
David F. Moore has served on PPA’s board since the organization was founded including 14 years as Chair (from 2000 to 2014). Dave became superintendent ofAllaire State Park in 1962, and in 1964, the state’s Chief of Natural Areas. He developed the state’s first comprehensive strategies for identifying, acquiring and interpreting natural areas. Prior to 1962 he worked for two paper companies as a forester in northern New England, after graduating from the University of Maine in forestry in 1958. In 1969, Dave became Director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, which he led until his retirement in 1999. Over 77,000 acres were preserved as public open space by the Foundation during his tenure. Dave helped to found the Pinelands Preservation Alliance in 1989 and has served on the board ever since.
John Murphy joined the Board in 2020 after a 38-year career as a partner at the Stradley Ronon law firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During his tenure at the firm, he served as Chairman of the firm’s 70 attorney litigation department and specialized in civil litigation involving securities, employment, property and commercial disputes. John is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he served as an editor on The Daily Pennsylvanian. He subsequently attended Rutgers Law School where he served as Projects Editor of the Rutgers Law Review. John has paddled the rivers and lakes and hiked the forests and trails of the Pinelands for over 25 years. An avid cyclist, John regularly participates in charity rides for a wide array of organizations like the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Society, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and World Team Sports. He resides in Medford, New Jersey with his wife Mary and daughter Erin.
Luis Olivieri joined the Board in 2021. He is the Director of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) at Hopeworks Camden, a nonprofit that for more than 20 years has used an advanced training curriculum, working with youth 17-24 to get back in school and find a safe pathway to their future. For more than 15 years, Luis worked as a professor in the areas of GIS, remote sensing, and GPS. While working at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, he directed a program sponsored by NASA, recognized by the agency as one of their best education programs at the time. He worked as a researcher for the Puerto Rico Water Resources and Environment Research Institute and has also worked as a private consultant in the area of GIS for the State and Federal government, and private sector. Luis has lived in the Pinelands since he moved to NJ in 2008.
Laura Palazzo joined the Board in 2023. Laura has enjoyed a career in financial management in the casino industry that has spanned over forty years. She currently is the Chief Financial Officer of Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City. Although Laura grew up in North Jersey (Morris County), she has been a resident of South Jersey, since attending and graduating from Stockton State College (now Stockton University), with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, concentration in accounting. She is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive) and serves as a member of Stockton’s Business School Advisory Board. Laura currently resides in Stafford Township, and in her free time away from work, enjoys spending time tending to her vegetable garden and enjoying life with her husband at the Jersey shore.
Loretta Pickus, member of the board since 2010, has over 28 years of experience as an executive in the casino entertainment industry with broad expertise in strategic corporate planning, administration of legal affairs and governmental compliance. Loretta has also been an adjunct instructor at Atlantic County College in the hospitality division, served on the Atlantic County’s Child Placement Review Board for Department of Youth and Family Services cases, been company chair and organizer of the United Way Campaign, Shirley Mae Breast Cancer Walk/Run and Red Cross Radiothon. Before joining the board Loretta served on PPA’s advisory committee.
Sarah Puleo lives in Philadelphia and grew up on a farm in Southampton, New Jersey where her family has worked to preserve meadows and wetlands to provide natural habitats for wildlife. They are currently working to reforest Eastern White Cedars and to create a Pollinator Garden. She works as a Multimedia Developer at the U.S. General Services Administration and is acting as the Fine Arts Officer, managing the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Fine Arts Collection. She also freelances as a Documentary, Travel, and Fine Arts Photographer. She had a show on the Pine Barrens at Gravy Studio + Gallery in 2014. Sarah started PPA’s Instagram Account and joined the board in 2015
William A. Rodio is a lifelong resident of the Town of Hammonton. He has been exploring the Pinelands since childhood. He feels very fortunate to have grown up in such close proximity to such an amazing wilderness. Bill continues to spend many days hiking and exploring Wharton State Forest. He introduced his children to the Pines at very young ages and they enjoy spending time together exploring, hunting, fishing, canoeing and searching for plants and animals. When he is not exploring the pinelands, Bill is a practicing attorney. He has been in private practice for twenty years. His law practice is focused on transactional matters. His law office is located in Hammonton. Bill joined the Board in 2017.
Amy joined the board of trustees in October 2020. Amy has represented children and parents in child welfare matters for 20 years through her law practice in Burlington, NJ. She co-authored a report on the overrepresentation of children of color in segregated special education classrooms entitled, “Segregated and Second Rate, II.” As the recipient of the Inaugural Haywood Burns Fellowship for Civil Rights, Amy worked at the Innocence Project led by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld. She is proud of her work there, where, in cases where she was charged with locating and preserving physical evidence, three clients were eventually exonerated by DNA evidence and freed after decades of imprisonment. Amy received the Democratic nomination for Congress NJ-4 in 2004. Prior to law school, Amy was a teacher and currently teaches legal studies to middle and high school students on an online platform. Amy has a 12-year-old daughter and together they enjoy hiking, geocaching, exhibiting annually at the Philadelphia Flower Show, and rescuing terrapin and horseshoe crabs.