Experts at The Trust for Public Land

From city planning to park mapping technology, The Trust for Public Land is on conservation's cutting edge.

Will Abberger
Conservation Finance Director

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...

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.

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 Parks 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...

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 Parks 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.

Nette Compton
Deputy Director, Parks for People

Nette Compton is the Deputy Director of Parks for People for the Trust for Public Land and a registered Landscape Architect. In this role, she oversees and coordinates national urban park programs and initiatives including creative placemaking, design quality, sustainability, green infrastructure and climate change.

Prior to joining TPL, Nette served at the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation over the past seven years, where she has been involved in many sustainability initiatives throughout the city. She worked on design teams for several parks projects, greenways and playgrounds. She has contributed to many publications and initiatives of New York City, working with multiple City agencies on PlaNYC, the Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan, the Street Design Manual, the Green Infrastructure Plan, and Mayor Bloomberg's Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency. As Fellow of the Design Trust for Public Space, she was the project manager for the Design Trust/DPR's "High Performance Landscape Guidelines". Over the past two years, she served as the DPR Director of Green Infrastructure, managing a team of nine landscape architects and engineers with a $10 million annual capital...

Nette Compton is the Deputy Director of Parks for People for the Trust for Public Land and a registered Landscape Architect. In this role, she oversees and coordinates national urban park programs and initiatives including creative placemaking, design quality, sustainability, green infrastructure and climate change.

Prior to joining TPL, Nette served at the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation over the past seven years, where she has been involved in many sustainability initiatives throughout the city. She worked on design teams for several parks projects, greenways and playgrounds. She has contributed to many publications and initiatives of New York City, working with multiple City agencies on PlaNYC, the Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan, the Street Design Manual, the Green Infrastructure Plan, and Mayor Bloomberg's Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency. As Fellow of the Design Trust for Public Space, she was the project manager for the Design Trust/DPR's "High Performance Landscape Guidelines". Over the past two years, she served as the DPR Director of Green Infrastructure, managing a team of nine landscape architects and engineers with a $10 million annual capital budget. Nette is an adjunct professor of Environmental Design at Fordham University and President of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) New York Chapter. Nette earned B.S. degrees in both Landscape Architecture and Plant Sciences from Cornell University, where she also earned a M.S. in Urban Ecology from Cornell's Urban Horticulture Institute, focusing her graduate work on green roofs and stormwater capture.

Kathy DeCoster
Vice President and Director of Federal Affairs

As director of Federal Affairs, 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 in Ohio with a BA in history.

As director of Federal Affairs, 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 in Ohio with a BA in history.

Diane Regas
President and Chief Executive Officer

An internationally recognized conservation leader, Diane Regas joined The Trust for Public Land in the spring of 2018 as president and CEO. Prior to The Trust for Public Land, Diane worked for more than a decade at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), most recently as executive director, where she helped EDF advance solutions that promote prosperity for all people and for the planet. She guided work to improve ocean health, stabilize the climate, reduce toxins in everyday products, and promote collaboration and partnerships. Prior to EDF, Diane served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working under both Democratic and Republican administrations as the top civil servant protecting our nation’s rivers, lakes, and bays.

Diane earned her A.B., M.S. in energy and resources, and J.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, and resides in Berkeley, CA. An avid outdoor explorer, Diane enjoys hiking, cycling, diving, camping, and spending time in nature with her husband, children, and granddaughter.

"National change starts in our communities,” said Lisa Jackson, administrator of the EPA under President Obama. “Diane’s proven track record and inclusive vision will help communities...

An internationally recognized conservation leader, Diane Regas joined The Trust for Public Land in the spring of 2018 as president and CEO. Prior to The Trust for Public Land, Diane worked for more than a decade at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), most recently as executive director, where she helped EDF advance solutions that promote prosperity for all people and for the planet. She guided work to improve ocean health, stabilize the climate, reduce toxins in everyday products, and promote collaboration and partnerships. Prior to EDF, Diane served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working under both Democratic and Republican administrations as the top civil servant protecting our nation’s rivers, lakes, and bays.

Diane earned her A.B., M.S. in energy and resources, and J.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, and resides in Berkeley, CA. An avid outdoor explorer, Diane enjoys hiking, cycling, diving, camping, and spending time in nature with her husband, children, and granddaughter.

"National change starts in our communities,” said Lisa Jackson, administrator of the EPA under President Obama. “Diane’s proven track record and inclusive vision will help communities create vibrant outdoor experiences for millions of people."

Breece Robertson
Director, Conservation Vision & GIS

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...

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.

Presentations and speaking engagements include:

  • 2014 Esri Southwest User Conference, Keynote Speaker
  • 2014 Washington GIS Conference, Keynote speaker
  • 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