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.

D. Malcolm Carson
Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Malcolm Carson started as Senior Vice President and General Counsel Designate in November 2015. Formerly, Malcolm served as General Counsel and Policy Director for Environmental Health at Community Health Councils, a health policy-focused nonprofit based in Los Angeles. In addition to the general counsel role, Malcolm led a program centered around environmental and land-use planning with a key focus on the link between access to parks and open space and health.

Prior to this he was Managing Attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, supervising the legal teams for employment and community economic development. In this role he developed expertise in lobbying, employment law, environmental review, land use, real estate, federal tax exemption and corporate governance among others and led initiatives to leverage land use, transportation and environmental planning processes for the benefit of low-income communities and improve client services by better integrating digital communication technology into their collaborative working processes. Additionally, Malcolm taught law and public policy at USC, is on the California State Building Standards Commission, and was previously a Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco and an associate at Orrick.

While Malcolm's work over the last twenty years has focused on improving the quality of life in underserved communities, he is passionate about the full range of our work and is an avid surfer, hiker and bicyclist.

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.

Ernest Cook
Senior Vice President, Conservation Director

Ernest oversees the national divisions of The Trust for Public Land that provide our conservation services, which includes Conservation Transactions, Conservation Vision/GIS, Conservation Finance and Federal Affairs. Since joining the organization in 1980, Ernest has significantly expanded its geographic and program scope, laying the groundwork for its land conservation and park programs in New England and the Midwest and serving as its first Regional Director for both regions. After moving to a national leadership role in 1994, Ernest played a primary role in planning and marketing the Green Cities Initiative, which renewed and expanded The Trust for Public Land’s historic commitment to urban parks. He also built the 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 park and conservation programs for both public and private conservation partners.

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.

Margie Kim
Senior Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer

Margie Kim joined The Trust for Public Land in 2010 as its Chief Philanthropy Officer, building upon a 28-year, successful record in human services, higher education, and conservation. She is responsible for planning and leading the organization’s first national campaign, The Power of Place, a $ 450+ million effort that completed in 2016. 

Prior to joining The Trust for Public Land, Margie was the Director of Philanthropy for the Asia-Pacific Region of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). 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 West 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 of 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. 

Prior to her fundraising career, she was a planner at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles where she worked with youth and family agencies in East Los Angeles, Watts and Compton. 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).

A native Californian, Margie received both her BA in Linguistics/Psychology and MSW with a concentration in community planning from UCLA.  

Ann Morgan
Senior Vice President, West Division Director

Ann Morgan joined The Trust for Public Land in September, 2016 as the Senior Vice President, West Division Director based out of Denver. Ann has served in leadership positions at The Wilderness Society and the National Wildlife Federation and was a State Director at the Bureau of Land Management in Colorado and in Nevada where she managed millions of acres for conservation and multiple-use. Ann also managed lands and aquatic resources for the State of Washington. Ann has helped conserve and protect millions of acres across the West. She earned a BS in natural resources from University of California at Berkeley and an MBA from Golden Gate University. She serves on the boards of Conservation Science Partners and the University of Colorado Law School’s Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment.

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.

Cindy Scherer
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Cindy joined the finance department of TPL in 2003 and as CFO oversees the finance, accounting and information technology departments. Prior to entering the not-for-profit sector, Cindy worked in corporate finance for a Fortune 500 telecommunications company in their Washington, DC headquarters. She also has a background in accounting in the broadcast industry. Cindy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Colorado and a Masters of Business Administration degree from California State University.

Brenda Schick
Vice President and Director of Conservation Transactions

Brenda Schick is Vice President and Director of Land Protection at The Trust for Public Land, a position she has held since 2010. Brenda first joined The Trust for Public Land as a project manager in 2001, doing conservation real estate work in Oregon and Idaho, and in 2005 became Director of Project Review. Since 2005, she has provided critical oversight leading to protection of over one million acres valued at nearly 3 billion dollars in 42 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

As the conservation portfolio of The Trust for Public Land grows larger and more diverse, Brenda's role has grown commensurately. In addition to her internal responsibilities in risk management and creative interface with legal, parks, and transaction staff across the country, she frequently reaches out to important private and corporate landowners in order to create new land conservation initiatives. Prior to joining The Trust for Public Land Brenda worked in a variety of management, consulting, and mediation positions, including a tenure with The Nature Conservancy as the Director of Protection for their Oregon Program. She has a B.A. from Lewis and Clark College and a J.D. from the University of Oregon.

Barbara Smith
Vice President and Senior Director of Human Resources

Ms. Smith has been TPL's Director of Human Resources since October 1994. She has over 30 years of management experience, including the position of Vice President of Human Resources at Young and Rubicam, an advertising agency; and as Vice President of Human Resources at The Sharper Image, a catalog and specialty retailer. Prior to that she worked as a personnel manager and a direct mail manager at Esprit, an international clothing company. Ms. Smith graduated from the University of Florida with a Masters in Spanish and Italian. She is a human resources generalist with experience in recruiting, compensation, benefits, performance management, labor law, counseling and training.

Tim Wohlgenant
Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer, Tim Wohlgenant works with leadership across the organization to carry out strategic initiatives and address challenges that confront a fast-paced, complex national organization. Tim was hired by The Trust for Public Land in 2007 as Colorado State Director. Under Tim's leadership the Colorado office raised more than $92 million to protect some of the state's most precious and threatened lands for public enjoyment, and to design and build parks and natural areas where they are needed most in the Denver metro area.

Prior to joining The Trust for Public Land, Tim worked in the environmental dispute resolution field in Washington D.C., and with a Colorado-based private consulting firm specializing in public land exchange facilitation throughout the West. He has served on a number of nonprofit boards including Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado and the Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust. Tim holds an M.S. from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a B.A. in Biology from Brown University.