Leadership Team

Adrian Benepe
Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development

A senior vice president and director of city park development for The Trust for Public Land, Adrian Benepe is one of the nation’s experts on the nexus of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in public-space development and management. Born and raised in New York, Adrian served as New York City Park Commissioner for 11 years under Mayor Michael Bloomberg prior to joining The Trust for Public Land. During that time he oversaw a major expansion of the city’s park system, including restoring historic parks such as Central Park and Battery Park, adding 730 acres of new parkland including Hudson River Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the High Line, and laying the groundwork for an additional 2,000 acres of parkland within the city.

In his career, Benepe has worked in leadership roles on park and public space conservation, design, construction, and operation, and in the areas of city planning, arts and culture, historic preservation, and landscape and urban design. He also helped to create or empower several New York business-related organizations, from business improvement districts to park conservancies, including the Madison Square Conservancy, Jamaica Bay Conservancy, Historic House Trust of NYC, and Fort Tryon Park Trust.

Previously, Benepe also held the positions of New York City director of art and antiquities, director of natural resources and horticulture, operations coordinator, and director of public information. Benepe is also the former vice president for issues and public affairs at the Municipal Art Society and the director of the annual fund and major gifts for the New York Botanical Garden.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Middlebury College, Benepe holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, where he was awarded a Pulitzer Fellowship. In 1987, he participated in the mayor’s Top 40 program, and in 1992, he was selected to participate in Leadership New York, a program of the Coro Foundation.

Raymond Christman
Senior Vice President, Mid South Division Director

Ray Christman has over 30 years of experience working in the fields of urban development, conservation, affordable housing and financial services. He has served in senior level positions in the for-profit, non-profit, and governmental sectors.

Ray began his career, after earning a Master’s degree in Urban Regional Planning, with the Pittsburgh-based Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, one of the largest land trusts in the country. He subsequently worked for several Pittsburgh area not-for-profits that were involved in the redevelopment of Pittsburgh and its economy.

Ray also served during the 1980s and 1990s as Executive Director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, the City of Pittsburgh’s development agency, and for four years as Secretary of Commerce for Pennsylvania in the administration of Governor Robert Casey. Ray spent nearly 15 years in the financial services sector working in the Federal Home Loan Bank system, first as Chairman of the Pittsburgh Federal Home Loan Bank, and then as President and CEO of the Atlanta Federal Home Loan Bank.

After retiring from the Home Loan Bank system in 2007, Ray returned to work associated with planning, public policy and community development. He managed former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s major transit expansion initiative, and provided consulting services to a number of local and national non-profits, including the Urban Land Institute. Ray also served for two years as Director of the Livable Communities Coalition of Metro Atlanta, a consortium of more than 50 organizations whose mission is to advocate for and promote smart growth and sustainable development policies and practices.

In 2011, Ray joined The Trust for Public Land as Senior Vice President and Division Director, where he has responsibility for overseeing field operations in 22 states in the Midwest and Southeast regions of the U.S., as well as two territories in the Caribbean. Ray has an undergraduate degree in Business from Florida State University and a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Pittsburgh.

Sean Connolly
Chief Marketing Officer

With over 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising, Sean joined The Trust for Public Land in May 2012 as the Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to joining TPL, he oversaw marketing for Best Buy's $14 billion computing business unit as the Senior Director of Marketing. Prior to Best Buy, Sean was a VP of Marketing at XM Satellite Radio in Washington DC, where he guided a rebranding and marketing campaign that helped draw millions of subscribers to XM and was named one of the best ad campaigns of 2006 (in a USA Today poll). Sean also oversaw corporate partnerships for XM, leading business development and co-marketing with leading companies such as Starbucks, JetBlue, Avis and United. He joined XM from Intel Corporation, where he worked in marketing for just over seven years, ultimately acting as the Worldwide Advertising Director and overseeing the development of all consumer and B@B campaigns, including the world renowned "Blue Man Group" campaign and the worldwide launch of Centrino wireless mobile technology.

Sean got his start in advertising, working for some of the top Agency brands in the 90s, including Grey in New York City and FCB in New York City, Hong Kong and San Francisco. Sean received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University and lives in the Minneapolis area with his wife, daughter and twin boys.

Ernest Cook
Senior Vice President, Conservation Director

Ernest oversees the national divisions of TPL that provide TPL's conservation services, which includes Conservation Transactions, Conservation Vision/GIS, Conservation Finance, Federal Affairs, and the national Parks for People (urban) program. Since joining TPL in 1980, Ernest has significantly expanded TPL's geographic and program scope, laying the groundwork for TPL's land conservation programs in New England and the Midwest and serving as TPL's first Regional Director for both regions. After moving to a national leadership role in 1994, Ernest played a primary role in planning and marketing TPL's Green Cities Initiative, which renewed and expanded TPL's historic commitment to urban parks. He also built TPL's Conservation Finance program by establishing a nationwide team of staff and political consultants who have helped state and local governments create over $40 billion in new sources of public funds for parks and land conservation. More recently, Ernest formed a Conservation Economics unit and is leading the creation of large-scale national databases that allow for greater accountability and effectiveness of conservation programs for both public and private conservation partners. Ernest holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a Master's in Public Administration from New York University.

Jeff Danter
Senior Vice President, Atlantic Seaboard Division Director

Dr. Danter comes to The Trust for Public Land most recently from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), where he was the Florida State Director from 2007 to 2011, leading one of the biggest offices in one of the world's largest conservation organizations. Previously, he had been TNC's Alabama Director from 2002 to 2007. He received his PhD in Ecological Management Communications from the Ohio State University. Earlier, he had received his Master's degree in Business Administration from the Ohio State University, and received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the same university.

Kathy DeCoster
Vice President and Director of Federal Affairs

As director of Federal Affairs for The Trust for Public Land, Kathy DeCoster oversees The Trust for Public Land’s federal policy, program, and funding work and represents the organization with the administration, Congress, and NGOs. DeCoster has worked for The Trust for Public Land since 1994 and spent 14 years prior to that on Capitol Hill working on environmental issues.  

In addition to overseeing the day-to-day federal work of The Trust for Public Land, DeCoster currently serves as a lead strategist for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition and directs The Trust for Public Land’s grassroots and outreach efforts in support of the coalition and the LWCF Campaign. DeCoster also provides advice on federal funding strategies to other nonprofit organizations such as the Eastern Forest Partnership, the Partnership for the National Trails System, and the New England Forest Policy Group.

DeCoster received an MA in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and graduated from Kenyon College (Ohio) with a BA in history.

M. Holly Haugh
Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Holly Haugh joined The Trust for Public Land as a project attorney in 1986, served as Assistant General Counsel for many years, and became General Counsel in 2011. Holly is responsible for the legal affairs of the corporation and oversees a highly professional and dedicated legal team. Over her years at TPL, Holly has served the organization in many non-legal capacities as well, including regional management, project management, and oversight of leasing and office construction for our National Offices.

Prior to joining TPL, Holly practiced litigation and real estate law in San Francisco. Holly holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and an undergraduate degree from Harvard College.

Margie Kim
Senior Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer

With 27 years of experience in the nonprofit arena, Margie joined The Trust for Public Land as the Chief Philanthropy Officer in 2010. She is responsible for planning and managing the organization's first national campaign, The Power of Place, with a goal of raising $400 million by 2017.

Prior to joining The Trust for Public Land, Margie was the Director of Philanthropy for the Asia-Pacific Region of The Nature Conservancy. Based in Hong Kong, she worked with TNC programs in China, Mongolia, Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Micronesia, and Palau. Margie was involved in the planning the Conservancy's successful $1 billion Campaign for a Sustainable Planet and raised private funds to support conservation work in the Asia-Pacific region. During her six years at The Nature Conservancy, she also served as the Deputy Director of Development for TNC California.

Previously, Margie served as Vice President for the Western Region of the National Audubon Society and Director of Development for Audubon California for four years. While at Audubon, she did volunteer work with the Alaska Department Fish & Game's population monitoring study of marbled murrelets in the Tongass National Forest.

Before entering the field of conservation, Margie was at UCLA for ten years, serving as the Director of Development for the Humanities, raising private funds for endowed chairs, graduate fellowships, and faculty research projects. During this time, she was also the Director of the Letters & Science Fund, which included responsibility for the annual College of Letters and Science Awards Gala.

Before entering the field of fundraising, she was a planner at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles where she worked with youth and family agencies in East Los Angeles and Watts/Willowbrook. She also conducted an Asian/Pacific Islander health and human service needs assessment on ten different ethnic communities (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Cambodian, Laos, Vietnamese, Thai, Pilipino, Samoan, Tongan).

Margie received both her BA in Linguistics/Psychology and MSW in community planning from UCLA. A native Californian, she enjoys traveling, diving, reading, birding, and good wine. Her lovely daughter is pursuing her Ph.D. in Performance Studies at NYU.

Deb Love
Senior Vice President, West Division Director

A 23-year veteran of the organization, Deb has managed land protection projects in the northeast, southwest and northwest, protecting more than 600,000 acres including many iconic places such as Santa Fe Railyard Park, Ute Mountain, Montana Legacy Project, Hoback Basin, and Story Mill Community Park. In addition to her project experience, Deb has served as New Mexico State Director, Montana Program Director, and Northern Rockies Director. As Senior Vice President and West Division Director, Deb is excited for the opportunity to lead The Trust for Public Land’s western team in conserving and restoring our Land and Water heritage and creating Parks for People in the communities across the American West. Deb has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.S. in Natural Resources Management from Antioch New England Graduate School. Deb serves on the board of Headwaters Economics and was Board Chair for the Western Conservation Foundation. She and her husband Eric do their best to share their love of the outdoors with their two kids, Sabine and Alex, with help from their yellow Lab, Avalanche.

William Rogers
President and Chief Executive Officer

Will Rogers is the president and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. He has been with the organization since 1991, first as the director of California, Hawaii, and Nevada operations and as CEO beginning in 1998.

Rogers is a nationally recognized advocate for land conservation and has given major addresses or interviews to the Urban Land Institute, the National Smart Growth Conference, the National Brownfields Conference, and Talk of the Nation, among others.

Prior to joining The Trust for Public Land, Rogers managed urban projects for a Chicago-based real estate development company, managing both new construction and the rehabilitation of vacant industrial buildings for commercial, office, and residential use. Before becoming a developer and then an "undeveloper," Rogers was a commercial beekeeper, founding and managing a commercial honey production company in Bogotá, Colombia.

He is a graduate of Stanford University and received his MBA from Harvard University. Will lives with his family in Kensington, California. In addition to tending to the chickens, beehives, and vegetables in his backyard, his favorite outdoor activities are hiking, backcountry skiing, and bicycle touring.

Pages: