Experts at The Trust for Public Land
From city planning to mapping technology, The Trust for Public Land is on conservation's cutting edge.
Will Abberger is director of The Trust for Public Land’s Conservation Finance service, helping state and local governments and citizen groups nationwide to gauge public support for open space and craft ballot and legislative measures that generate new sources of funding for land conservation.
Abberger has been directly involved in more than 70 local and state land conservation ballot measures and numerous legislative campaigns. In 1999, he led the organization’s efforts to secure legislative approval of the Florida Forever Act, the nation’s largest legislatively enacted state conservation land acquisition program. He was also actively involved in helping to design and win voter approval in 2008 for the Minnesota Clean Water, Land, and Legacy state constitutional amendment, the nation’s largest land conservation ballot measure.
In his 19 years with The Trust for Public Land, Will’s responsibilities have also included serving as associate director for Conservation Finance in the eastern United States, directing Florida Programs for the Florida Office, directing the Conservation Services program for The Trust for Public Land’s nine-state Southeast Region, and directing the Southeast Land Trust program. Before joining The Trust for Public Land, he served as an associate with the World Wildlife Fund’s Successful Communities Program in Washington, D.C.; field representative for the Successful Communities Program in Florida, in partnership with 1000 Friends of Florida; and as senior cabinet aide for environmental affairs in the Florida Treasurer's office. He is also a former employee of the natural resources unit of the Florida Governor's Office of Planning and Budgeting.
Will received a master's degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia School of Architecture, where he worked for the university's Institute for Environmental Negotiation, and a BA in English from Davidson College.
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.
Jad Daley is the director of The Trust for Public Land’s Climate Conservation Program and holds the endowed position of Martha Wyckoff Fellow. Daley is a graduate of Peddie School, Brown University, and Vermont Law School, where he earned a master of studies in environmental law summa cum laude.
Daley coordinates The Trust for Public Land’s development of climate-smart cities through green infrastructure and strategic “resilient landscape” conservation targeted to climate change mitigation and adaptation. This work integrates GIS planning, partnership facilitation, state and federal policy, and conservation transactions. Exemplary efforts include the Waterfront Resilience Pilot in New York City to strategically site and then develop new green infrastructure—from restored wetlands to waterfront parks—to help protect the city from sea level rise and future storms. Daley also leads the organization’s development of forest carbon projects for voluntary and compliance carbon markets.
In addition to facilitating these on-the-ground climate efforts, Daley guides The Trust for Public Land’s climate policy work, including roles as founding co-chair of the Forest-Climate Working Group—the leading coalition of forest industry, private landowner, carbon, and conservation interests promoting U.S. forests as a tool for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Daley has also been newly nominated to serve as a member of the public-private national council established by the Obama administration to guide the work of the federal Landscape Conservation Cooperatives.
Daley has a long history in strategic conservation. From 2000 to 2008, he led the 22-state Eastern Forest Partnership, a joint federal advocacy effort among groups from Mississippi to Maine. In these roles he helped to author two programs enacted within the 2008 Farm Bill, the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program and Community Wood Energy Program, leading lobbying efforts to enact the Highlands Conservation Act.
Daley is widely published and quoted on landscape conservation and climate change issues. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Boston Globe, among other outlets. He has been quoted frequently in Greenwire, Environment and Energy Daily, ClimateWire, and other trade press. Daley has also spoken on climate change and landscape conservation in numerous public forums, including the Society for Conservation Biology Annual Conference (2012), ESRI Federal Users Conference (2013), and the national Land Trust Rally (2013).
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.
Peter Harnik is director of The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence. He has led numerous research projects into what makes for great park systems, and he speaks frequently and writes widely about the relationship between cities and parks. His most recent book, Urban Green: Innovative Parks for Resurgent Cities, published in 2010 by Island Press, was named one of the five best books of that year by the American Society of Landscape Architects’ blog.
Three of Harnik’s research projects resulted in groundbreaking booklets to help illuminate the issues facing urban parks: The Excellent City Park System: What Makes it Great and How to Get There; Measuring the Economic Value of a City Park System; and From Fitness Zones to the Medical Mile: How Urban Park systems Can Best Promote Health and Wellness. He has also closely studied the park system of the city of Chicago.
Prior to joining The Trust for Public Land in 2001, Harnik was co-founder and vice president of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, coordinator of Environmental Action, Inc., and a co-founder of the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail. He has been a longtime board member of the City Parks Alliance, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and Smart Growth America. He is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University and a resident of Arlington, Virginia.
Selected Keynote Speeches
- Chicago Friends of the Parks, Chicago, 2013
- Michigan Recreation and Park Association, Lansing, 2013
- U.K. Public Parks Summit, London, 2012
- Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, 2011
- 21st Century City Conference, Dallas, 2010
- International Federation of Parks and Recreation Adminstrators, Hong Kong, 2010
- Concerned Citizens for Open Space, White Plains, N.Y., 2008
- Humane Metropolis, New York, 2002
Selected Training Sessions
- Smart Growth Conference, Kansas City, 2013
- Brick Industry Association, Washington, D.C., 2012
- American Public Health Association, Washington, D.C., 2011
- National Trust for Historic Preservation, Buffalo, 2011
- National Executive Development School, Albuquerque, 2011
- Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, Milwaukee, 2011
- Mayor’s Development Roundtable, Oklahoma City, 2008
Breece Robertson is the National Geographic Information Systems (GIS) director for The Trust for Public Land. Robertson joined The Trust for Public Land in 2001 to create a comprehensive, coordinated GIS program. Today she provides leadership for the organization’s Conservation Vision and GIS service—the leading provider of “Land for People” science in the country—managing a cutting-edge team of GIS staff and consultants nationwide.
The Trust for Public Land’s Conservation Vision and GIS service weds community engagement to cutting-edge data and mapping technologies to help cities and communities create informed, forward-looking park and conservation plans. Esri, the world’s leading manufacturer of geographic information system (GIS) technology, has twice honored The Trust for Public Land’s GIS service for innovation in helping communities meet park and conservation goals. In 2006, The Trust for Public Land was awarded the Esri Special Achievement in GIS award and in 2012, the prestigious “Making a Difference” award.
Breece presents at conferences annually around the country and is featured in and has authored many publications. In 2011, she received a Planning and Urban Form Research Fellowship from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Breece is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a master’s degree in geography and planning.
Prior speaking engagements include:
- 2002 - 2013 Esri International User Conference
- 2009 – 2013 Land Trust Alliance Rally
- 2012 Greater and Greener International Urban Parks Conference
- 2012 National Conference on Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution
- 2010 New Mexico Watershed Forum
- 2008 National Smart Growth Conference
- 2007 ESRI Health GIS Conference
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.