National Board Members

The Trust for Public Land benefits from the expertise and guidance of the National Board of Directors and its emeritus members. State advisory boards attuned to local conservation needs help guide our work across the country.

Stephen W. Baird

Stephen Baird is the president and chief executive officer of Baird & Warner. Established in 1855, the firm is the oldest residential real estate brokerage in the United States and currently ranks among the nation's top 12 with an annual sales volume of approximately $5 billion. Under Baird's leadership, the firm has grown dramatically -currently with a sales force of approximately 1,700 sales associates, who operate from 30 strategically located offices throughout Chicago and its suburbs. The Company also operates subsidiaries in residential mortgage banking, title services and home services.

He serves as chairman of The Realty Alliance - a consortium of the nation's top real estate firms - and has testified before the US Congress on matters of vital interest to the real estate community. In addition, he has long worked for the preservation of open space as past-president of CorLands, The Openlands Project and, currently, as a national board member of the Trust for Public Land. He holds memberships in the World Presidents Organization, the Chief Executives Organization and the Commercial Club of Chicago. He serves as a trustee of the Morton Arboretum and has recently been appointed to the boards of Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ) and the local advisory board of US Bank. He also was selected by Fortune Small Business Magazine as a "Best Boss" for 2004.

A 1975 graduate of Harvard University, Baird remains active in the Harvard community. He currently serves as the national chairman for the HAA Schools and Scholarship Committee and is the co-chair of the Harvard Schools Committee in Chicago, which interviews applicants for admission. Baird earned his MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Business Management in 1985, and also serves as a director of that school's Alumni Board.

Steve and his wife, Susan, and daughters, Abigail and Lucy, are longtime residents of Chicago and the North Shore.

He serves on The Trust for Public Land's National Board of Directors and is the Chair of the organization's Chicago Advisory Board.

Brian M. Beitner

Brian Beitner is the Chief Investment Officer of the start up investment management firm Chautauqua Capital Management. Prior to 2009 Brian was a Managing Director, Senior Portfolio Manager and Senior Equity Strategist at the investment management firm Trust Company of the West. He is a Director of VestMatch, Inc. He is a CFA charter holder and past President of the Security Analysts of San Francisco. Mr. Beitner has served as a co-Chair of the Trust for Public Land, California Advisory Board. He received his B.A. and MBA from the University of Southern California.

George P. Bell

Background and expertise: A 30-year veteran of creating and growing consumer businesses; prior to re-joining General Catalyst as an XIR, he was CEO of Jumptap, a General Catalyst portfolio company, sold to Millennial Media (NYSE: MM); former Managing Partner at General Catalyst; former CEO of Upromise; former chairman and CEO of Excite and Excite@Home; founder of The Outdoor Life Network (now NBC Sports Network); former senior vice president of Times Mirror Magazines, overseeing titles such as SKI and Field & Stream; recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for California and New England; four-time Emmy Award-winning producer and writer of documentaries on adventure, wildlife, and vanishing cultures; regular guest and co-host on CNBC.

George Bell serves on the boards of Millennial Media (Vice Chairman) and Big Fish Games; former board chairman of Harris Interactive; Advisory Board member of CARE.COM, Next Jump, and Simulmedia Inc.; board member of Squashbusters; national board member for The Trust for Public Land.

Page Knudsen Cowles

Page Knudsen Cowles was an investment professional in the financial services industry during the 1980's. She has been an active volunteer in the Twin Cities for many years and has served on the boards of the Children's Theater Company, Planned Parenthood Minnesota/South Dakota and Graywolf Press, a nationally acclaimed literary publisher.

She currently is a trustee of St. Paul Academy and Summit School; serves on the board of Unity Avenue Foundation, a family foundation; and is a director of Lawrence Creek, LLC, a private investment company. In addition to serving as Chair of the national board of The Trust for Public Land (TPL), she is immediate past chair of the board of The Conservation Campaign, TPL's 501(c)(4) lobbying affiliate. She serves as President of Madison Valley Park Foundation in Seattle, WA and as Managing Director of Knudsen Vineyards, LLC, a family-owned wine grape growing concern in Dundee, OR. Ms. Cowles is a native of Seattle, Washington. She received her B.A. from Yale College (New Haven, CT), her M.B.A. from Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) and her CFA from the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts.

William J. Cronon

William Cronon is a historian of American environmental history and of the American west. In 1991, his book, Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, was awarded the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize; in 1992 the Bancroft Prize; and in 1993, the George Perkins Marsh Prize as well as the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Award. He co-edited Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America's Western Past, a collection of essays on the prospects of western and frontier history in American historiography, and edited Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, which examines the implication of different cultural ideas of nature for modern environmental problems. Currently he is working on a history of Portage, Wisconsin, which will explore how people's sense of place is shaped by the stories they tell about their homes, their lives, and the landscapes they inhabit.

Professor Cronon is also completing a book entitled Saving Nature in Time: The Past and the Future of Environmentalism, on the evolving relationship between environmental history and environmentalism and what the two might learn from each other. In 1992, he became the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography, & Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was previously a member of the Yale History Department. He is past President of the American Society for Environmental History, serves on the Governing Council of The Wilderness Society and is general editor of the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books Series. He received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; an M.A., M.Phil. and a Ph.D. from Yale, and a D.Phil. from Oxford University. He has been a Rhodes Scholar, Danforth Fellow, Guggenheim Fellow, and MacArthur Fellow.

Douglas Durst

Douglas Durst is a member of the third generation to run The Durst Organization, one of New York City's most respected real estate developers, owners and management companies. Founded in 1915 by Douglas' grandfather Joseph Durst, they have been responsible over the last 90 years for transforming the skyline of midtown Manhattan. Beginning in the late 1950's, The Durst Organization began to develop office buildings along the Third Avenue corridor from 42nd Street north to 50th Street.

When Douglas joined the firm in 1970, it was at the start of their Westside development, which resulted in another three office buildings along The Avenue of the Americas. In 1996, under the leadership of Douglas, The Durst Organization became the catalyst for large-scale office development of the "New Times Square" with the completion of 4 Times Square at 42nd Street and Broadway. 4 Times Square was the first speculative office building that incorporated environmentally responsible design and building practices. The Durst Organization recently completed The Helena, a 600 unit residential building at 57th Street and 11 Avenue which was designed to be achieve a LEED gold rating, and they are constructing The Bank of America Tower at 1 Bryant Park to LEED Platinum standard.

Douglas was born in New York City in 1944. He graduated from the Fieldston School in 1962 and the University of California at Berkeley in 1966 where he studied economics and learned civil disobedience. Returning to New York in 1967, he married Susanne with whom he has three children: Anita, Alexander, and Helena. After two years of study at the Urban Studies Program at New York University he joined The Durst Organization learning the business from his father Seymour and his two uncles, Roy and David.

Douglas has been involved with the theatrical arts for many years and is a member of the Board of Directors of The Roundabout Theater, Primary Stages and The Town Hall. He is also a Director of the Real Estate Board of New York, The Landmarks Conservancy, The Municipal Art Society, and Co-Chair of Friends of Hudson River Park. In addition, he has been an environmentalist activist for many years and is part owner of the largest organic farm in New York State. For relaxation he rides horses, bicycles, and skis. For aggravation, he plays tennis.

Whitney Hatch

Whitney Hatch currently serves as Chairman of the Board of The Fund for the Republic and Director of Program Initiatives and Trustee at The John Merck Fund. The Fund for the Republic is dedicated to challenging the undue influence of well-financed special interests over American politics and government. The John Merck Fund’s mission is to benefit human health in New England and beyond by accelerating the region’s transition to clean energy and sustainable food systems, and by eliminating harmful chemicals in the environment. JMF also seeks to ease the burdens for families with developmentally disabled children, and to enhance those children’s futures.

Whitney worked from 1998 until 2011 at the Trust for Public Land, most recently for two years as Director of Southern New England and Director of Corporate Relations. During the prior 10 years Whitney served as Regional Director to the six-state New England region.

Before joining the Trust for Public Land, Whitney served for fifteen years at GTE Corporation in various capacities. For most of his GTE career, as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, he was responsible for all GTE’s Washington, D.C. federal regulatory advocacy on behalf of its local and long distance telephone, cellular, internet, public air-to-ground and satellite business units, among others.

Whitney was a founding board member of the School for Field Studies, and has served as Chairman of the American Rivers and Management Assistance Group boards. He has been reappointed by Governor Deval Patrick to a second, seven-year term on the Stewardship Council of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, where he serves as the Finance Committee Chair. He also serves on the Trust for Public Land Board of Directors, on the Conservation Law Foundation Board of Trustees, on the Board of Overseers of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and on the Board of the Merck Family Fund.

Caroline Niemczyk

Caroline Niemczyk currently serves as Chair of The Conservation Campaign and Vice Chair of the Open Space Institute. Advisory board roles include the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, and the Land Trust Alliance.

Ms. Niemczyk's career includes having served on the staff of Senator Daniel P. Moynihan, as a program officer at the Smith Richardson Foundation, as special assistant to Boston University President John Silber, and as an adjunct professor on the history faculty at Barnard College. Ms. Niemczyk holds degrees from Yale, the London School of Economics, and Columbia. She has three children and resides in Bedford, New York.

Michael E. Patterson

Michael E. Patterson worked for JPMorgan from 1987-2009, serving as general counsel, chief administrative officer, a member of the board and vice chairman. Prior to his employment with JPMorgan, Michael practiced law in New York and Paris as a partner of Debevoise & Plimpton.

He is a director of The Hastings Center, USA Cycling, and the French-American Foundation. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Child School. A native of New York, Michael completed his undergraduate work at Harvard and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School. He lives with his wife, Elena, in New York City and Connecticut and is a bicycle racer.

Thomas S. Reeve

Thomas Reeve is Chair of The Trust for Public Land's National Leadership Council, sits on its National Board of Directors and is the former Chair of its Washington State Advisory Board. Tom is past president of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition board and serves on the National Council of the Land Trust Alliance.

The Reeve family lives on their Lopez Island farm, which they have protected by conservation easements. Tom spent 18 years at Microsoft working in a variety of technical and management jobs. Joining Microsoft when he was young, some of Tom's jobs included managing teams focused on consumer software, internal tools, international software versions, the Works business, media production and the portal site. He is an avid traveler and outdoorsman, exploring the outdoors of Washington State and the world with his family. Born and raised in Honolulu, Tom earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard University.