American Friends of Canadian Conservation is governed by a talented board of directors representing both Canada and the United States.
John W. Peirce
John is a retired geophysicist who grew up in eastern Massachusetts, where his father started two land trust organizations that together have protected some 40,000 acres over the last fifty years. John is a graduate of Dartmouth College and earned a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the M.I.T.-W.H.O.I. Joint Program in Oceanography. He taught geology and geophysics at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S. for two years.
When John and his wife Nancy lived in Calgary he was heavily involved in the creation of Nose Hill Park, the largest municipal park in Canada. They now live on Gabriola Island B.C. in a 22-sided, geothermally-heated house. In retirement, John operates a market garden on their property featuring numerous shared-land projects and designs rainwater-harvesting systems.
John is Past President of the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT), and he played a major part in negotiating the Robinson Woods covenant for the American Friends/GaLTT partnership. This was American Friends’ first BC conservation easement. His many other community roles include Treasurer of the Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber’s representative to the community-led Village Vision planning effort, and President of the Nanaimo CarShare Cooperative. In addition to serving on American Friends’ board, John is a member of the Corporation (essentially an extended Board of Trustees) of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
Sandy and his family have been part of the Georgian Bay ON community of American landowners for many decades. His experience working to protect his family‘s property there led to his general interest in cross border conservation. Sandy is a consultant to nonprofit organizations in the Berkeley CA area, assisting them with strategic planning, fundraising and communications. Most recently Sandy led a complete update of the California Native Plant Society’s strategic plan. In addition to his professional support for nonprofits, Sandy has served on several Bay Area boards, including the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and as the chair of the board of the California Institute for Biodiversity.
Gail specializes in serving Canadian businesses and individuals with a U.S. presence as well as U.S. businesses and individuals with a Canadian presence. As a resident of Canada working in the U.S., she provides a unique perspective to this complex area. She is an accomplished, sought-after speaker and author on such topics as Cross Border tax issues, tax planning for businesses and individuals, and doing business in Canada.
She is a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia and is the former treasurer of the Canada-America Society of Washington, a business and social networking organization that works to encourage business relationships between Canadians and Americans.
Gail and her husband, Ed, have two grown children and two grandchildren. She likes to spend her free time with family, and she and Ed enjoy travelling.
Allyn Abbott joined the Board of Directors of American Friends of Canadian Conservation at the beginning of 2017. Allyn lives in Gravenhurst, Muskoka, Ontario where she has served on the board of the Muskoka Conservancy, one of American Friends’ partner land trusts, including 6 years as the president. Allyn’s background as a biologist with Environment Canada followed by a career as a lawyer is a good match for American Friends’ work to protect Canada’s ecologically significant landscapes. “I joined the American Friends to get involved with their important work of helping Americans to permanently protect wild spaces in Canada. Because some of the properties have been owned for generations, the families have a deep love of their land and are eager to ensure that their properties are preserved forever.”
Michael J. Hart
Michael J. Hart is a Principal of LandVest, Inc., and is a real estate consultant specializing in the valuation of significant land-based assets, including institutional timberland, urban and suburban development land, coastal resort land, remote natural amenity land and residential estate property. He is experienced in federal estate and gift tax valuation, feasibility and highest and best use analysis, and the valuation of conservation easements. He has worked for government agencies, non-governmental organizations, conservation non-profits and private landowners.
Mr. Hart joined LandVest’s Real Estate Consulting Group in 1990 and currently sits on the firm’s Board of Directors. Mr. Hart is responsible for appraisal production and internal appraisal review and oversight at LandVest, and engages in a broad spectrum of real estate advisory, consulting and brokerage activity.
Mr. Hart’s practice has involved assignments for significant property located throughout the United States, in Canada, the Caribbean and in Latin America. He appraised the largest conservation easement in the U.S. (by land area), which involved the 755,000+ acre easement on the Pingree heirs’ land in Maine.
Robert founded Orland Conservation in 2003 as a social enterprise and environmental consulting group that offers a range of services in land conservation, sustainability planning and environmental communications to conservation authorities, land trusts and municipalities. A skilled strategist, public speaker and accomplished entrepreneur, Robert has delivered presentations and workshops as an expert on land securement across Canada. Working in partnership with municipalities and government agencies for many years, Robert has facilitated and advised on the protection and creative stewardship of over 10,000 acres of environmentally significant natural heritage lands and parks in Ontario’s urban and rural communities.
Sandra Tassel is the President of Look at the Land Inc, a conservation consulting firm that works with non-profit and governmental entities involved in saving land. Tassel is the author of The Conservation Program Handbook published by Island Press. The purpose of the handbook is to assist local governments and conservation advocates involved in starting new land acquisition programs. Tassel consults with communities around the country to help them establish or improve their conservation programs.
In addition, she is a frequent contributor to national publications related to land conservation, including writing the chapters on both local governments and partnerships for The Conservation Easement Handbook, published by the Land Trust Alliance and the Trust for Public Land (TPL). Tassel regularly leads trainings related to land protection for organizations such as American Planning Association and the Land Trust Alliance. Prior to becoming a consultant, Tassel was the founder and director of the TPL’s office in Colorado where she did all conservation transactions in the state and helped lead some of the region’s first successful conservation finance measures.
During the years that she lived in Colorado she helped found the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts and served on the board and on the executive committee for many years.
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