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Staff Members | Catawba Lands Conservancy
Amanda Byrum
Land Conservation Director
Amanda Byrum
Land Conservation Director

Amanda joins the staff of Catawba Lands Conservancy with a background in real estate, local government, law, and policy, including more than six years with the City of Charlotte where she helped lead the Tree Canopy Preservation Program. A native of the Charlotte area, she received her undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina, law degree from UNC Chapel Hill, and master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Sustainability from Clemson University. In her free time, Amanda enjoys aerial fitness, hot yoga, and Pilates reformer classes, reading, and trying new recipes.

Bart Landess
Executive Director
Bart Landess
Executive Director

Bart brings nearly 30 years of fundraising and nonprofit experience to the Conservancy and the Thread Trail. He came from the YMCA of Greater Charlotte where he served for eight years as Vice President of Major and Planned Gifts. Prior to this, Bart worked at the Foundation For The Carolinas in development and planned giving. He is a graduate of Davidson College, where he also worked as Assistant Vice President of Major and Planned Gifts, then General Counsel and the President’s Executive Assistant. Prior to that he practiced law at Smith Helms Mulliss & Moore. Bart received his law degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and has always been a lover of the land. Landess, his wife and his four children all enjoy the outdoors, especially skiing.

Bart is former Chair of the North Carolina Planned Giving Council. He’s also a founding member of the Institute of Philanthropy and Leadership Gift School and a former Board member of Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont (now Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy) and former Deacon and member of the Session of First Presbyterian Church. He was part of the Charlotte Chapter of American Leadership Forum’s Class V.

Bret Baronak
Carolina Thread Trail Director
Bret Baronak
Carolina Thread Trail Director

Bret comes on board the Carolina Thread Trail with a background in public sector land use and transportation planning. Throughout his career, he has specialized in bicycle and pedestrian planning. From 2006 to 2014, Bret served as the Bicycle, Greenways, and Pedestrian Coordinator in Palm Beach County, Fl, where he was responsible for planning, funding and elevating awareness for non-motorized transportation.  In late 2014, he moved to the Charlotte region and held the position of Senior Transportation Planner with the Gaston-Cleveland-Lincoln MPO. Bret is a native of western Pennsylvania and a graduate of Penn State University. He is an avid road and mountain cyclist, and also enjoys hiking, travel and NASCAR racing.

Sean Bloom
GIS Director and Biologist
Sean Bloom
GIS Director and Biologist

Sean joined CLC in 2011 as GIS Director. His role includes mapping and geographic analysis for both CLC and the Carolina Thread Trail. Sean also assists the Stewardship Director with baseline reporting, monitoring and management of conserved lands.Sean graduated from Catawba College with an environmental science degree and biology minor. Upon graduation he took the lead Park Ranger position at Boone’s Cave Park in Lexington, N.C.  Most recently, Sean was a staff scientist with environmental consulting firm Hart & Hickman. In his free time Sean enjoys hiking, camping and kayaking with his wife and son.

Robin Buckler
Finance Director
Robin Buckler
Finance Director

A graduate of Goizueta Business School at Emory University, Robin worked as an auditor for Ernst & Young and most recently served as director of corporate accounting at Genuine Parts Company in Atlanta. She enjoys biking with her husband and three children, volunteering at her childrens’ school and horseback riding.

Saxby Chaplin
Legal Counsel
Saxby Chaplin
Legal Counsel

After practicing law for over 25 years, and working for The Trust For Public Land for 12 years, Saxby joins CLC staff as in-house legal counsel. He received his undergraduate degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a law degree from UNC Chapel Hill, and a master’s degree in English from UNC Charlotte. He has taught classes at The Charlotte School of Law and Central Piedmont Community College, and is currently serving as a part-time faculty member in the English department at UNC Charlotte. Saxby has also been involved with Habitat for Humanity’s Charlotte affiliate, having served two terms on the board of directors.

Jennifer Clark
Communications and Marketing Manager
Jennifer Clark
Communications and Marketing Manager

Jennifer brings to Catawba Lands Conservancy 6 years of experience in communications and marketing for environmental nonprofits. She previously worked at Sustain Charlotte and prior to that at WakeUP Wake County, serving as the communications lead for each organization. After graduating from UNC Wilmington Jennifer earned her Master’s degree from the University of Miami. In her free time Jennifer loves doing hot yoga, baking, eating pasta, and spending time with her husband and cat.

Vanessa Covington
Engagement and Volunteer Manager
Vanessa Covington
Engagement and Volunteer Manager

Vanessa joined the Carolina Thread Trail staff in October 2012 as the outreach coordinator. She spearheads community outreach efforts to support the development of local trail segments, oversees volunteers, encourages trail use and manages the Trailheads membership. Vanessa graduated from Bradley University with a degree in advertising, marketing and Spanish. Her love for travel, culture and the environment was fostered at a young age. Before joining the Thread Trail she was the outreach specialist for REI’s Charlotte market. Vanessa enjoys hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, yoga and cheese.

Alesia DiCosola
Development Director
Alesia DiCosola
Development Director

Alesia brings to the Conservancy more than eight years of marketing and public relations experience in the nonprofit and museum sectors. Her background includes media relations, online marketing, strategic communications, branding and social media. She previously worked at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Conn., and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, N.C., where she managed marketing and public relations for the grand openings of two landmark expansion projects. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism, Alesia enjoys traveling, cooking and exploring new trails.

Andy Kane
Land and Trail Stewardship Associate
Andy Kane
Land and Trail Stewardship Associate
Mark Kincaid
Carolina Thread Trail Community Coordinator
Mark Kincaid
Carolina Thread Trail Community Coordinator

Mark joins the Thread Trail staff after completing a 35-year career in local Parks and Recreation. A Business Administration Major at University of Florida, Mark spent thirteen years with Mecklenburg County, four years as Director of Huntersville Parks & Recreation and eighteen years as Deputy Director of City of Concord Parks & Recreation. His focus at each location was Project Management and Administration. Mark enjoys camping and boating with his family.

Amy Schmidt
Stewardship Associate
Amy Schmidt
Stewardship Associate
Charley Orner
Davidson Impact Fellow
Charley Orner
Davidson Impact Fellow

Charley graduated from Davidson College in 2019 with a degree in Environmental Studies and Latin American Studies. At Davidson she was a member of the Women’s Lacrosse team and served as a research assistant for the Davidson Department of Environmental Studies conducting research on sustainable agriculture on college campuses. She also conducted her own research on reforestation, resistance, and indigenous identity in Guatemala. Charley enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking and going to farmer's markets.

Jessica Otto
Carolina Thread Trail Capital Campaign Manager
Jessica Otto
Carolina Thread Trail Capital Campaign Manager

Jessica brings nearly 15 years of nonprofit and fundraising experience to the job of raising funds for the next phases of the Carolina Thread Trail. Her background includes serving as Development Director for the Autism Society of North Carolina’s Charlotte and Asheville regions, and Development & Communications Director for Community Link in Charlotte. Jessica also serves as a board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Charlotte Chapter, and has earned the designation of Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).  She loves to read, try new foods and recipes, and get outside with family and friends.

 

Tammy Pfaff
Land Protection Paralegal
Tammy Pfaff
Land Protection Paralegal

Tammy joined CLC as its Land Protection Paralegal in October 2012. In this position, she assists with land acquisitions and supports the land protection process through funding coordination and grant submissions. Tammy is a North Carolina Certified Paralegal, has more than 25 years of real estate experience and worked in conservation for more than a decade. Prior to joining CLC, she was a paralegal with The Trust for Public Land. Tammy enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her family.

Robin Taylor
Development Associate
Robin Taylor
Development Associate

Robin joined CLC in March 2019 after spending more than a decade working for non-profits in Washington, DC, focused on donor stewardship, supporting volunteer leadership, and advocacy.  She spent her undergraduate days at Northland College in northern Wisconsin before pursing her MA in International Relations at American University. Robin also served as a research assistant at the National Security Archive, where she was thrilled to work on the well-reviewed book The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush. Conversations That Ended The Cold War. During her years on the shore of Lake Superior, Robin became a lover of kayaking, a hobby she kept up on DC’s rivers, and is looking forward to exploring the waterways of the Charlotte region with her family. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Charlotte, watching hockey, and searching out local book stores.

Jon White
Davidson Impact Fellow/Program Coordinator
Jon White
Davidson Impact Fellow/Program Coordinator

As a Durham native and recent graduate of Davidson College, Jon joins us for a year-long fellowship to lead environmental education and outdoor activities like hikes, bike rides and paddles on conserved lands and the Carolina Thread Trail. Jon is excited to combine his outdoor leadership experience with his studies in anthropology and environmental studies to craft meaningful and engaging programs that connect people to the complex history and ecology of the places we call home.

Sharon Wilson
Land Stewardship Director
Sharon Wilson
Land Stewardship Director

A native of Charlotte, Sharon holds a bachelor's degree from Western Carolina University in park and recreation management. Sharon has more than 15 years experience in natural resource management. She began her career as a park ranger for Mecklenburg County's Division of Ranger Services and focused on environmental education and resource management/protection. Sharon accepted a position with the U.S. Forest Service in 1992 and turned her attention to the Chattooga River Ecosystem Management Project. During her career, Sharon has gained experience in timber management, wildlife and fisheries protection and enhancement, and wildland fire suppression. In her spare time, Sharon enjoys mountain biking and camping with her family.

Photos by Nancy Pierce
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