Board of Directors

Rita Hayen, Chair, River Hills

Ms. Hayen has spent her career in the ever-evolving world of energy production and transmission. In 2010, she accepted a position for TRC Solutions developing new business primarily focused on hydroelectric power generation and other renewables. Before that, She was the Environmental Department Manager for American Transmission Company, where she oversaw environmental function for ATC and worked closely with stakeholders and regulatory agencies to identify collaborative and innovative ways to address environmental protection. Prior to ATC, Rita worked for We Energies for 19 years in several roles including power plant engineering and corporate planning. Rita has degrees in Mechanical Engineering and an Executive MBA from UW- Milwaukee. Rita and her husband, Walter Boeshaar, enjoy gardening and the process of restoring a portion of their yard with swales, rain gardens and native prairie plantings. In her spare time, Rita pursues her first love – art. She paints, draws, weaves and makes jewelry.

Thomas Mitchell, Vice Chair, Madison

Thomas Mitchell is an Associate Professor and the University of Wisconsin Law School. He has researched extensively how land tenure systems impact poor and minority communities. With a research team including real estate economists and a GIS expert, he is currently working on a Ford Foundation-funded book on the economic, civic and social impacts of black land loss in the rural South. At UW-Law he directs the Community Development Externship program, placing law students with public interest firms and organizations located in poor communities to offer legal services to community development initiatives. He also served on the American Bar Association’s Property Preservation Task Force and as vice president of the board of directors of Farmers’ Legal Action Group. Professor Mitchell has provided several legal interns for Gathering Waters in recent years, including two working with us this fall.

Terry Hatch, Secretary, Mahomet, IL

Mr. Hatch is a recently retired pediatrician who worked in private practice and in academic medicine at University of Illinois and Southern Illinois Medical Schools. A life-long resident of central Illinois, Terry his wife DiAnne and their family have grown attached to their forest and cottage in Iron County. They have donated conservation easements on 140 acres of lake front and working forest to the Northwoods Land Trust. They enjoy fishing, hunting and various outdoor activities throughout the year, and strongly support land conservation here and in Costa Rica.

Eric Schumann, Treasurer, Racine

A businessman his whole career, Eric is the President and owner of Potala Corporation in Racine, WI. He is the past-president of Merit Gear and FAI, Inc. His connection to Gathering Waters Conservancy has grown from his service on the board of the Caledonia Conservancy, of which he is currently the president. Eric is new to our board, but we’ve been benefiting from his fiscal savvy for over a year as he has been a member of Gathering Waters’ finance committee. He is an equestrian, a fitness buff and lists investments among his hobbies.

Chris Hughes, Past Chair, Madison

Chris Hughes is an attorney and partner with Stafford Rosenbaum. A major focus of his practice is land use and real estate law. Chris has served on the Board of Directors of the Natural Heritage Land Trust for several years and continues to serve on their Stewardship Committee. He also serves on Gathering Waters' Land Protection Committee. Chris has presented at a conservation seminar sponsored by GWC in addition to co-presenting on conservation easements with Gathering Waters staff at several continuing legal education seminars for attorneys.

Bill Berry, Stevens Point

Bill is a self-employed writer and editor who specializes in communicating about conservation on America’s working lands. His current projects include serving as writer/communications specialist for the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters’ Future of Farming and Rural Life in Wisconsin project. Berry writes a regular column for the Capital Times of Madison and contributes regularly to other national and state publications. He resides in Stevens Point with his wife, Nick Schultz, who is also a writer.

Susan Buchanan, Nashotah, WI

Susan Buchanan is currently the Executive Director of Tall Pines Conservancy. Before joining Tall Pines in 2008, she served as Executive Director of WasteCap Wisconsin, a non-profit environmental organization that promotes waste reduction and recycling programs for business and the environment. Susan has ties to Waukesha County, having been the Executive Director for the Waukesha Business Improvement District for 7 years-an organization charged with revitalizing downtown. She is a licensed real estate broker, currently serves on the Shorewood Plan Commission, and the board of directors for Town & Country RC&D. She is also active with the “Friends of Farmland Protection” actively advocating for farmland preservation initiatives in the State. Susan and her husband own two farms, one on Washington Island and the other in Windsor, Connecticut.

Jeffrey Crawford, Milwaukee

Jeffrey Crawford has served as the Attorney General for the Forest County Potawatomi Community in Milwaukee since 1997: he is also a member of the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe. His previous professional life was in Minneapolis where he was an associate at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, then an attorney for General Mills. More recently, he served Wisconsin as a member of the board of the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming and is a board member of the Wisconsin Business Council. He is a frequent presenter on environmental topics and was a panelist for the 2010 Marquette University Law School Public Service conference on water law and a water ethic for Wisconsin.

Kristine Euclide, Madison

Kristine Euclide has been Vice President/General Counsel of Madison Gas and Electric Company (MGE) since 2001 and is also a MGE Foundation Director. Kris has over thirty years legal experience, focusing on energy, environmental and local government law matters. From 1997 to 1999, Kris served as Executive Assistant to Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. Kris has also long been active in many professional and civic activities at a state and local level. Married with two adult children, Kris and her husband, Doug, have long been supporters of energy efficiency and protecting natural resources and received national, state and local recognition in the late 1970s for building one of Wisconsin’s first solar-heated, highly energy-efficient homes.

Kimberly Gleffe, Milwaukee

Kimberly Gleffe is currently Executive Director of the River Revitalization Foundation and has earned degrees in Psychology, Sociology and a Masters in Cultural Foundations of Education. Currently focused on serving the conservation community especially the Milwaukee River, she has devoted her entire career to the nonprofit sector, and is certified in nonprofit management. Her interests include travel, film, birding, and kayaking.

Randall Lawton, De Pere

Randall is the Board president of C.A. Lawton Co., a 131 year-old family-owned industrial machinery and components manufacturing company, located in De Pere, WI. He served as CEO of the company for 35 years. Randall is also active as a Board member for numerous non-profit organizations, including Community Partnership for Children, Bay Area Community Council, NEW Curative Rehabilitation Center, SEEDs for De Pere, American Foundry Society Research Board – the list goes on! Randall is an outdoor enthusiast who owns, and has protected, land on Moonlight Bay in Door County.

Penny Leder, Clintonville

Penny currently farms with her husband Bob in the NE corner of Waupaca County, near Clintonville. They sustainably raise lamb by rotational grazing of their flock of 300 commercial sheep on 80 acres of highly erodible land. Penny has been active in farm and forest land preservation since 2005 when she joined the Town Planning Committee to assist in writing their Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Shortly thereafter, she joined Waupaca County’s efforts to preserve agricultural land by helping to orchestrate the Land Use Study Tours, which brought busloads of Wisconsin citizens and government officials to Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey with the purpose of learning about successful methods of farmland preservation. Upon returning Penny helped form the Waupaca County Partners for Working Lands (WCPWL); a group of concerned citizens that advocate for ag land preservation. Bob and Penny have two grown children who now live out of state; both with active careers in medicine.

William Lunney, Madison

Bill has worked professionally in State government for over a decade, initially serving as a budget adviser to Governor Knowles and later as Deputy Administrative Director of State Courts. Bill serves as Chair of the Dane County Parks Commission and has served multiple terms on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. He has won several awards for his work in conservation including a lifetime achievement award for Natural Heritage Land Trust and the Town of Dunn Land Steward Award. He and his wife, Judie Pfiefer, are co-founders of he Friends of Capitol Springs Recreation Area and continue to serve actively with the group. Bill and Judie live on Lake Waubesa and have two sons and three grand children.

Tia Nelson, Madison

Tia Nelson was named Executive Secretary of the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands in October 2004. She oversees the management of approximately 78,000 acres of Trust Lands located in northern Wisconsin, the State Trust Fund Loan Program, four Trust Funds valued at over $735 million, and the Original Land Records Program, which includes land survey records dating back to the 1830’s. Ms. Nelson was previously with The Nature Conservancy for seventeen years. Beginning in 1994 she led The Nature Conservancy’s climate change program where she played a key leadership role in climate change policy and in developing forest protection and restoration as a climate change mitigation strategy. She received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Change Leadership Award in 2000. Ms. Nelson was appointed by Governor Doyle in April 2007 to co-chair the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming.

Ben Niemann, Hayward

An emeritus Professor in the UW's Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Niemann has a long standing interest in applying the power of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for natural resource conservation. This GIS work was instrumental in helping establish the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. He was a co-founder of the Wisconsin Land Information Program and served three terms on its Board. Ben's most recent contribution is a co-authored ebook entitled "Citizen Planners: Shaping Communities with Spatial Tools." He is presently on the Board of the Couderay Waters Regional Land Trust and the Town of Round Lake Planning Commission. He helped coordinate the Moose Lake Legacy Initiative and participated in the preparation of the Town of Round Lake Comprehensive Land Use Plan. He was recently appointed by the County Board to represent citizen interests as part of the Sawyer County Land Information Program. Ben lives on Moose Lake with his wife Sue and Ajax, their Wirehaired Pointing Griffon where they collectively pursue the lakes walleyes and muskies in addition to waterfowl and wild rice on neighboring rivers and Ruffed Grouse in the adjacent public forests. They also enjoy snow shoeing across the lake and forests as well as canoeing, sculling, and kayaking on their lake and its neighboring public trust waters.

Rebecca Smith, Middleton

Rebecca directs The Nature Conservancy’s Upper Mississippi River program. She works with five states in improving water quality, reconnecting floodplains and improving water flow via infrastructure improvements. She directed The Nature Conservancy’s conservation programs in Wisconsin for 15 years. She has management experience in social service and educational organizations and has an undergraduate degree from UW-Madison and a graduate degree from the University of Chicago. She serves on Wisconsin Lakes board and is active in supporting the local domestic violence shelter, DAIS. She is a native Wisconsinite from Wausau, and loves to spend time “up north” with her husband Rob Peters and two daughters.

Roy Thilly, Baileys Harbor

Most recently, Roy served as President and Chief Executive Officer with WPPI Energy from January 1, 1992 to January 31, 2011. Before joining WPPI Energy, Roy was a partner in the Madison law firm of Boardman, Suhr, Curry & Field, where he served as outside counsel to WPPI Energy from its inception in the late 1970s. Roy has been active on national, as well as state electric issues for many years. He was recently elected to the Board of Trustees of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). He also currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of Cool Choices, Inc., a Wisconsin non-profit that fosters voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by individuals, communities and businesses, and as President of the Ridges Nature Sanctuary in Door County, Wisconsin. In addition, he chairs the Stakeholder Steering Committee of the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative (EIPC), on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. On the state level, he served as co-chair of the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming in 2007-2008. In 2004, he served on the Governor's Task Force on Energy Efficiency and Renewables. From 2006- 2010, Roy was a member on the Board of the Energy Center of Wisconsin, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to developing solutions to energy challenges that promote economic and environmental sustainability through innovative research and education.
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