Rockaway River, Montville
Photo Courtesy The Land Conservancy of New Jersey
- John Thonet, President
- George Cassa, 1st Vice President
- Cindy Ehrenclou, 2nd Vice President
- David Budd, Treasurer
- Jean Rich, Secretary
- Candy Ashmun
- Bill Cogger
- Robin Dougherty
- Ron Farr
- James Gilbert
- Marion Harris
- Dwight Hiscano
- Michael Keady
- Cinny MacGonagle
- Kate Millsaps
- William D. Primus
- Ben Spinelli
- Elizabeth (Betsy) Stagg
- Judith Joan Sullivan
- Joyce Vilas
- Rev. Franklin (Skip) Vilas, D.Min.
Candace Mckee Ashmun chairs the Coalition's Policy Committee. She serves as a private consultant to non-profit organizations on environmental matters and works with municipal environmental commissions and other organizations involved in land use decisions and legislation. Appointed to the original Pinelands Commission by then Governor Byrne, she was reappointed to ten additional terms by subsequent Governors and is currenly on the Pinelands Commission. She was the first Executive Director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC). She served three terms as the President of ANJEC and two terms as an At-Large member of the Sierra Club/NJ Chapter Executive Committee. She is currently Vice Chairman of the Board of the Fund for New Jersey and serves on the Board of the Coalition for Affordable Housing and the Environment. Candy lives in Basking Ridge.
David Budd is a Senior Managing Director with Griffin Financial Group, LLC, specializing in bank mergers and acquisitions. He has over 30 years experience in the banking industry and holds an MBA from Wharton and a BA in English and American Literature from Hobart College. He has served on the Harding Township Planning Board and the Harding Township Environmental Commission and served two terms as Chairman of the Great Swamp Watershed Association, as well as other officer positions on their Board, since joining them in 1988. David lives in Morristown.
George Cassa is a principal engineer with a naval architectural and marine engineering design firm in Scotch Plains. He is co-chairman of the Alliance for Historic Hamlets, and is a former board member of the Great Swamp Watershed Association, where he served as secretary and chairman of the Land Use Committee for several years. George lives in Tewksbury, and is a co-owner of a fly fishing shop in Califon.
Bill Cogger is Mayor of Chester Township, serving in his second term. Prior to being Mayor, he was Councilman for 8.5 years. He has served as Council liaison to Parks, Public Works, Police, Utility, Agriculture and Open Space. Bill also served as the Mayor's liaison to the Morris County Agricultural Development Board for more than 10 years and is a former member of the Township Board of Adjustment. He is a former Council Member and Treasurer of the New Jersey Highlands Council and a former executive board member of the Raritan Highlands Compact.
Mr. Cogger is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison where he earned a BA in anthropology and sociology. He holds a Masters in management and labor relations from Rutgers University, New Brunswick and post graduate work in Manpower Development from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He has been certified as a municipal zoning official by the Bloustein School Center for Government Affairs at Rutgers University. Bill is a life-long resident of New Jersey and lives in Chester Township with his wife and daughter. He currently owns and operates the Chester Antique Mall in Chester Township.
Robin Dougherty is the Executive Director of the Greater Newark Conservancy. She has led the team to create the environmental and ecological center in downtown Newark to educate inner city children on the importance of the natural environment. Previously, she was an educator of special needs students, and a school administrator. A Leadership New Jersey Class of 2004 graduate, and a 2007 Gustav Heningburg Fellow, Ms. Dougherty was a founding member and completed two terms as president of EarthShare of New Jersey. She serves on the School Leadership Team for the John F. Kennedy School for special needs and has been active in social justice issues for over 20 years.
Cynthia Ehrenclou became the Executive Director of Upper Raritan Watershed Association in February 2006, after over twelve years as the Association’s Development Director. She oversees all operations and program areas including a growing land preservation program. She established URWA’s Education and Outreach Program for children throughout the region and founded Wake Up Call, an environmental informational breakfast series for municipal leaders. She serves on the NJ Land Trust Council, Raritan Basin Watershed Alliance Steering Committee and is a member of Leadership New Jersey’s Class of 2007. Cindy lives in Bernardsville.
Ron Farr is a Certified Forester who works at the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission and operates a private consulting firm, Farr Forestry Services. He is currently a board member of the American Chestnut Foundation Pennsylvania Chapter. He received a B.S. in Forest Management from the University of Maine and a Masters in Environmental Management from Montclair State University. Ron resides with his family in Newfoundland.
James Gilbert is a Senior Vice President at Merrill Lynch. He was the first Chairman of the NJ State Planning Commission and helped author the State Development and Redevelopment Plan. He also was instrumental in drafting the NJ Fair Housing Act. He serves on the Boards of New Jersey Conservation Foundation, New Jersey Planning Officials, Community Theatre (Morristown), New Jersey Future, and New Jersey Common Cause. Jim lives in Morristown.
Marion Harris currently serves as a trustee and Treasurer of Preserve Greystone, is the current chairman and a trustee of the Morris County Trust for Historic Preservation, and is on the Board of Preserve Historic Hackettstown. In addition, she serves as Vice-Chair of the Highlands Coalition Cultural Resources Committee and is an active member of the Policy Committee, as well. Recipient of the Preservation New Jersey lifetime achievement award in 2003 and the Schuyler-Hamilton chapter, NJ DAR, national preservation award in 2006, Marion holds a BA in English from Wellesley College and an MA (equiv.) in linguistics from Columbia University. She currently resides in Morristown.
Dwight Hiscano is a photographer who has dedicated a good part of his decades-long career to capturing our state's landscapes on film and digital sensor. With particular emphasis on the rugged landscapes of the Highlands, where his family has owned land for over a century, Dwight has channeled his efforts toward using photography to promote the preservation of endangered landscapes. A former trustee for the New Jersey chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Dwight regularly volunteers for, and has donated images to, a number of state and national conservation organizations. Widely published and highly collected, Dwight's work has been featured in numerous exhibits, including the Nature's Best exhibit at the Smithsonian and the recent National Geographic sponsored International Mountain Summit in Italy. His book, New Jersey, the Natural State, was published by Rutgers University Press.
Michael Keady is President of Friends of Holland Highlands, a local citizens group that he founded in rural Holland Township in western Hunterdon County in order to oppose growing suburban sprawl on the steep slopes of this community that lies in both the Highlands Preservation and Planning Areas. Retired after nearly 30 years in AT&T's Public Relations Department, Mike now heads Stone House Creative Services, LLC, which provides public relations and advertising services for corporate and non-profit clients. He has applied his writing, media relations and community organizing skills to stopping several developments that threatened C-1 streams in Holland. Originally from the Boston area, Mike has lived in Holland Township for more than 35 years. He currently serves as Chairman of the Holland Township Environmental Commission, Vice Chairman of the Planning Board, and is a member of the Green Team under the Sustainable Jersey program.
Cinny MacGonagle is a former Westfield social studies teacher, where she received a Governor's Teacher of the Year Award. She received grants to participate in Dodge-Earthwatch rainforest expeditions and National Geographic Alliance wilderness and technology workshops. She holds a B.A. from Smith College and an M.A. from Rutgers. She serves on the board of the Musconetcong Watershed Association, ANJEC and the Musconetcong Mountain Conservancy. She is a Master Gardener and heads up the native planting project at the MWA's River Resource Center. Cinny lives in Bethlehem Township where she was chair of the Environmental Commission and a member of the Open Space Committee.
Kate Millsaps is Conservation Program Coordinator for the Sierra Club, New Jersey Chapter. Kate has been active in statewide and local environmental issues, previously working for the New Jersey Highlands Coalition and the New Jersey Environmental Federation. Kate graduated from Ramapo College, where she first developed her passion for protecting the Highlands, with degrees in International Studies and Environmental Studies. Kate has also served on the Clinton Township Environmental Commission.
William D. Primus, former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League of Morris County, received his Bachelors Degree, Political Science & Sociology from Livingstone College, Salisbury, NC, and received his Masters Degree, City & Regional Planning and Design from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY. His many accomplishments include: Associate Administrator, DC General Hospital, Washington, DC; Senior Vice President Health Corporation Archdiocese of Newark, NJ; Deputy Executive Director, Regional Health Planning Council (Essex, Morris, Sussex, Union, Warren Counties); Director, Program Planning and Development, Division of Human Rights (Rockefeller Administration), State of New York; Research & Land Use Planner (Cahill Administration), Department of Community Affairs State of New Jersey; Chairman of Governors Commission on Discrimination in Employment, Purchasing and Contracts (Whitman & DiFrancesco Administrations); Vice Chairman (Board of Health, Madison); Commissioner/Chairman (Housing Authority, Madison; Board Chairman (Partnership for Housing, Washington, DC; Board of Directors (United Way); Board/Executive Committee (Newark Museum); and Borough Council (Madison, NJ). Bill lives in Ledgewood.
Jean Rich is a former trustee of the Great Swamp Watershed Association and former president of the Washington Valley Community Association. She holds a doctorate in History. Jean lives in Morris Township.
Ben Spinelli recently served as Executive Director of the Westchester Land Trust responsible for overall organizational management and operations as well as providing leadership and vision for the land trust. A graduate of Seton Hall University-School of Law, he served as a trial attorney for private firms, Assistant County Prosecutor for Essex County, and Chief Counsel and Director of Policy at New Jersey's Office of Smart Growth, where he also served as Executive Director. In addition, he has held numerous public positions including serving three three-year terms as Mayor of Chester Township. Ben also holds a BA in History and Political Science at Muhlenberg College in PA and currently lives in Chester.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Stagg, P.E., P.P., is a licensed professional engineer and planner. She owns her own Environmental Engineering firm and is a full time PHD Candidate in the Environmental Management Program at Montclair State University. She has also been an elected official (Councilwoman) in her hometown of Oakland for the past nine years. her research is in the area of flood mitigation techniques. She was a contributing writer in "Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Sustainability," edited by Robert W. Taylor; McGraw Hill, 2011.
Judith Joan Sullivan is an attorney and the chairwoman of Anderson, Kill & Olick's International Group, out of New Jersey and New York City. She is also the founder and president of Ramapough Conservancy, a non-profit company focused on the Ramapo Mountains and its peoples. Considered a leader in big law, and in academic and charitable circles, Ms. Sullivan brings a new fresh skill set to NJHC, and bridges a gap between corporate America and the need to preserve and protect our land, drinking water and cultural and historic heritage.
John Thonet is the President of Thonet Associates, Inc., an environmental planning and engineering design consulting firm. He is a licensed Professional Engineer and professional Planner and has had over 30 years experience working in the NJ Highlands. He serves on the Board of the New jersey Environmental Lobby and is the recently retired Chairman of the Board of Henley Industries, Inc., an international manufacturer of defense components. John lives in Pittstown.
Joyce Vilas was born in Connecticut, and is the wife and working associate of Dr. Franklin Vilas. After ten years as a preschool teacher, Joyce created and managed two thrift shops in New York City in support of private schools, and was the founder of the C. G. Jung Book Store in the city. She has accompanied her husband on all his assignments, and served as Facilities Manager of Wainwright House conference center when he was Executive Director of the institution.
Joyce was involved in the founding of GreenFaith, and was the administrator of a ten year project introducing the concept of an environmental liturgical "Creation Season" in the national Episcopal Church and on an ecumenical basis throughout the world. Since retirement she has accompanied her husband as part of an interim team ministry in 4 New Jersey parishes and the Seamen's Church Institute in Port Newark.
Rev. Franklin E. Vilas, D.Min. was born and grew up in New York City. Attending Yale University and Virginia Theological Seminary, he was ordained to the Priesthood of the Episcopal Church in 1960. He has served at churches in New Canann, Ct., Beverly Farms, MA, Lower Manhattan, NYC, Brooklyn Heights, NY and in Chatham, NJ. He served for 5 years as Program Director of the Diocese of Conneticut, and for 6 as Executive Director of Wainwright House Conference Center in Rye, NY. Since retirement, Skip and his wife, Joyce, have served as an interim team in four New Jersey parishes and the Seamen's Church Institute in Port Newark.
During his career, Dr. Vilas has been involved in the field of mental health, serving in the Carter administration as one of twelve members of the President's Commission on Mental Health. In recent decades he has been engaged in the ministries of environmental stewardship and ecojustice. He is the founder of the national Episcopal Environmental Newtork (www.eenonline.org) and of GreenFaith, an interfaith statewide organization in New jersey (www.GreenFaith.org). He serves on an interfaith advisory committee to the United Nations Environment Programme, (www.jc4cc.org) and represents GreenFaith on the policy committee of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition.