|Board of Directors|
Todd H. Votteler – Chair
Todd Votteler is currently the Executive Manager of Intergovernmental Relations and Policy at the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority. His duties at GBRA range from legislative and congressional contacts, to Edwards Aquifer issues, to managing major research studies. He was the Federal Court Monitor's assistant during ESA litigation over the Edwards Aquifer, Sierra Club v. Babbitt from 1994-1996. In 1996, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Lucius Bunton appointed him the Federal Special Master for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) litigation, Sierra Club v. San Antonio. Previously, he was a research Scientist at the Battelle - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington, D.C. and Executive Director of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust, a 501(c)3 land and water trust. Todd has a B.S. in Natural Resources from The University of the South, a M.S. in Natural Resources from The University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Geography from Texas State University. He also serves as Editor in Chief of the Texas Water Journal.
Jeff Weigel - Chair Elect
Jeff Weigel is Director of Strategic Initiatives at The Nature Conservancy of Texas where he works on project and partner development, government affairs, and fundraising. A native of Minnesota, Jeff has devoted his career to the conservation of wildlife and natural ecosystems across the United States and Latin America, including grasslands, forests, deserts, freshwater and marine environments. He began his conservation career as a field biologist in Minnesota, and has evolved into program and project management, spending over 15 years working in Texas and over a decade focused on Mexico and Central America. Jeff holds a B.A. degree in Biology from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, as well as a M.S. in Range Management from Texas Tech University.
Clayton Ripley – Treasurer
Clayton A. Ripley, CPA is a managing director of Town Lake Capital Management. His firm is an Austin-based registered investment advisor serving foundations and endowment funds that seek to implement the endowment model. The firm’s expertise lies in executing a low-cost, all-liquid endowment portfolio using the knowledge gleaned from more than a decade of experience working with some of the largest foundations and endowments in the nation. Mr. Ripley is a graduate of Baylor University with a degree in Accounting. He is a Certified Public Accountant and member of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, as well as a member of the board of the Austin Chapter's Financial Literacy Task Force. Clayton is a native of West Texas and currently resides in Austin.
Laura Wood - Secretary
Laura is a native Texas, residing in Fort Worth. After spending several years serving The Nature Conservancy of Texas, Laura is now a consultant to non-profit and public conservation based entities seeking to strengthen their fundraising, marketing and branding. She is also Executive Director of her family's private foundation, the Dorothy Marcille Wood Foundation. In addition to her role with TLTC, she is on the Board of Directors for the Lena Pope Home in Fort Worth. Laura has over 15 years of fundraising and sales experience and holds a B.S. in Management from the University of Phoenix.
Frank is the Director of Land Stewardship for Hill Country Conservancy. With over five years experience in land conservation, he has assisted in or supervised the acquisition or transfer of conservation easements totaling over 6,400 acres, working with a variety of public and private partners. Frank also manages the drafting of baseline documentation reports and works closely with landowners to monitor each of Hill Country Conservancy’s conservation easement properties. Frank holds a B.S. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology from Texas State University – San Marcos.
Blair Calvert Fitzsimons
As Texas Advisor to American Farmland Trust (AFT) from 2004-2009, Ms. Fitzsimons facilitated the start-up of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust, which she now serves as Executive Director. In 2004, she created a coalition of agricultural and conservation organizations in support of legislation creating the Texas Farm & Ranch Lands Conservation Program, and continues to work to secure funding for the program. On behalf of AFT, she also commissioned the 2009 Texas A&M Texas Rural Land Trends Study, which documents trends in rural land use between 1997-2007. Previously, Ms. Fitzsimons worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and chaired the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board, a $1.5 billion fund established by the Texas Legislature to make grants for telecommunications to rural schools, hospitals and libraries. Blair has long been involved in the management of her family’s ranch, which was the 2005 regional winner of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s environmental stewardship award. Blair currently serves as the Western At-Large Representative to the Land Trust Alliance’s Members Committee for Terra Firma, the conservation easement defense insurance program.
David Hartman, Partner, Smith/Robertson, LLP, concentrates his practice in the areas of land use and real estate development law, including experience in a broad range of land development permitting, entitlement, and natural resource issues. His practice encompasses environmental and regulatory compliance issues arising under the Endangered Species Act, and other natural resource regulatory matters. He has extensive expertise in all aspects of conservation transactions including conservation easements and fee title acquisitions, conservation banking, and related funding mechanisms and programs for conservation acquisitions. He is a frequent speaker on conservation acquisitions, and Co-Chairs CLE International’s Conservation Easement Conference. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Austin Bar Association Real Estate Law Section and the Cathedral School of St. Mary, and has been selected as a participant in Leadership Austin and as a McBee Fellow of the Austin Area Research Organization
James J. Jeffries
Jim has been a real estate appraiser for over thirty five years and has earned the professional designation of the MAI and ARA (Accredited Rural Appraiser). For the last 20 years, he has specialized in rural and ecologically significant properties. He has assisted in the creation or expansion of a number of different wildlife refuges or preserves in Texas including the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Caddo Lake State Park, and the Big Bend State Natural Area. Jim has been deeply involved in the evolution of conservation easements as a viable preservation tool in Texas, and is a past Chair of the Texas Land Trust Council. He has a decade of experience preparing conservation easement appraisals on a number of properties covering approximately 250,000 acres. Jim regularly consults with conservation easement donors and their professional tax and legal advisors.
Clif Ladd is Vice-President of Loomis partners, Inc. where he manages the Environmental Group. His principal fields of training and experience are terrestrial and wetland ecology, wildlife management, endangered species, ornithology, and environmental assessment. He has over 25 years of experience working on ecological projects in the southern United States and has been a registered Certified Wildlife Biologist by the Wildlife Society since 1989. He holds a B.A. in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin and a M.S. in Wildlife Biology from Texas State University.
Ross Melinchuk is the Deputy Executive Director for Natural Resources for
Mark Steinbach is the Executive Director of the Texas Land Conservancy (formerly NAPA). He is a native of Texas and worked formerly with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a private lands wildlife biologist, providing technical assistance to landowners throughout the Texas Hill Country. Mark's land management experience also stems from his time working on his family's farm in Washington County. Mark holds a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science and a M.S. in Rangeland Ecology & Management from Texas A&M University, as well as a Ph.D. in Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana in Missoula.