Who We Are






Board of Trustees

David A. Budd earned a BA in English Literature from Hobart College and a Masters Degree in Finance from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1973. He went on to work for Dominick & Dominick, Inc., Sperry Rand Corporation, the Hertz Corporation and Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc, where he was a senior Vice President and co-director of the Corporate Finance Department.  He left KBW in 1993 to co-found McConnell, Budd and Romano, Inc. where he directed the corporate finance department until the firm disbanded in 2005.  During his tenure at KBW and MB&D, he participated in the successful completion of more than 100 mergers in the banking industry and numerous securities offerings including IPO’s of banks and bank holding companies.  He has served in various capacities as an officer and trustee for the non-profit Great Swamp Watershed Association including serving three terms as Chairman.Mr. Budd is an avid fisherman, both saltwater and fresh, and both fly fishing and artificial lures, hence a life-long interest in water quality and quantity. He and his wife, Susan, have five children and three grandchildren and live in Vero Beach, FL.  They also divide their time between residences in Morris Township and a farm in Donegal, Ireland.

Jessica K. Murphy is the former executive director of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation and is currently the director of communications for The Arc of Essex County. She grew up on Lake Hopatcong, earned her B.S. in environmental science and journalism from the University of Richmond (studying Australian rainforest deforestation for a semester through the School for Field Studies), and earned her M.P.A. from NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She initially worked in newspaper and magazine reporting and editing, including as the first editor of the Lake Hopatcong News. In 2012, Jess helped establish the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, whose mission includes improving the health of the watershed and educating local students about lake ecology. She worked as the LHF’s first employee and served as a founding member of the board of trustees before stepping down in the fall of 2020. Jess and her husband, Chris, live in Maplewood with their four children and spend their summers on Lake Hopatcong, where together they sail, swim, kayak, fish, and enjoy the view.

John Donahue is currently President of Three Rivers Environmental Consulting, Inc., which has a special interest in creating net benefit for the environment while mitigating energy and infrastructure projects. In this capacity, he recently advised the law firm of PerkinsCoie on the Mountain Valley Pipeline project that resulted in a voluntary agreement funding nearly twenty million dollars of land acquisition and economic grants for towns in Virginia and West Virginia. He has also recently completed two and a half years as the Delaware River Watershed Consultant with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. He previously worked for 38 years with the United States National Park Service throughout the country, serving as National Park Superintendent for 24 of those years, managing natural and cultural resources, recreation facilities, infrastructure and endangered species, as well as oversight responsibility for construction, natural area restoration, road and bridge repair and historic restoration.  He is currently on the Boards of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, the National Park & Conservation Association, Northeast Region, and the Pinchot Institute. John has a BA in Environmental Studies and Planning Natural Resource Management from California State University and holds a certificate in Public Leadership from the Brookings Institute and an Executive Fellowship from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.  He currently resides in Dingmans Ferry, PA.

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 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 40 years.  He currently serves as Chairman of the Holland Township Environmental Commission, Vice Chairman of the Planning Board, and is chair of the Green Team under the Sustainable Jersey program.

Laura Oltman is an international-touring concert and recording artist.  She teaches classical guitar at Princeton University and Lafayette College.  As a member of the Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo (www.guitarduo.com), Laura has performed on five continents.  She is co-founding artistic director of Raritan River Music (www.raritanrivermusic.org), New York Guitar Seminar at Mannes (www.mannesguitar.com), and Lanciano International Guitar Seminar (www.lancianoguitar.com).

Laura has lived in the Highlands for over 40 years, the last 30 along the Delaware River in Pohatcong Township, Warren County.  She has been active in local, regional, and statewide environmental issues.  She serves as director of Eco Action Initiatives of Warren County, is management coordinator of PRO’s Pohatcong Grasslands Eastern Tallgrass Prairie Bird Sanctuary, and is an active participant in Save Roaring Rock Park (www.saveroaringrockpark.org), as well as the New Jersey Highlands Coalition’s Policy Committee and Natural Heritage Committee.

Jan Barry is a freelance writer, poet and author whose books include A Citizen’s Guide to Grassroots Campaigns (Rutgers University Press). A member of the Sierra Club and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, he teaches World Sustainability at Ramapo College of New Jersey. As a staff writer at The Record of Bergen County, he covered the creation of the NJ Highlands Regional Master Plan and related environmental issues in the region. He lives in Teaneck, NJ.

Sandy Batty is the former Executive Director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), where she worked for 29 years in various capacities before retiring in 2014. She is currently Chair of the Mountain Lakes Shade Tree Commission, and is a former Chair of the Planning Board, member of the Environmental Commission, and Borough Council member. She previously served as President of the Board of the Highlands Coalition from 2009 to 2012 and from 2016 to 2020. Sandy lives in Mountain Lakes.

The Honorable Bill Cogger, currently a Commissioner for the Morris County Parks Commission and President of the Morris County Library Foundation, served as a 3 term Mayor of Chester Township.  Prior to being Mayor, he was a 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.  Bill and his wife, Marie, live on their preserved family farm in Chester Township.

James Gilbert retired in 2017 from Merrill Lynch where he served as Managing Director, Wealth Management. 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 Board of New Jersey Future. Jim lives in Chatham.

Barbara Gomes is a New Jersey Highlands resident for more than two decades. She has more than 20 years of nonprofit management experience with an emphasis on communications, donor development, and project management. She volunteers for Sparta Responsible Development which is currently opposing an 800,000 square foot mega warehouse application proposed to be built over the Germany Flats Aquifer in Sparta Township.

Her passion for helping others has led her to work with nonprofit organizations to build their capacities and grow their support base.  Barbara is a Fundraising Consultant for Match Nonprofit Consulting. Before her work at Match NPC, she worked for NJ SHARES from the time it was a start-up organization until it celebrated its 20th anniversary, which gave her the unique experience of working with utilities, government, and social service agencies throughout New Jersey and nationally.

Barbara has served on the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition Board of Trustees, the Center for Non-Profits Board in New Jersey, and the Sparta Township Communications Committee.  She adheres to the Association of Fundraising Professionals Code of Ethics.  Barbara earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Public Relations from Kean University.

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. His photographs are held in collections in the U.S. and abroad, and have been featured in numerous group and solo exhibits including the Nature’s Best exhibit at the Smithsonian, the National Geographic sponsored International Mountain Summit in Italy, and the Capitol Rotunda.

Dwight’s photographs have appeared in The New York Times, Outdoor Photographer, Nature’s Best, Black and White Magazine, Nature Conservancy Magazine, and Photographic Magazine.  He recently won Black and White Magazine’s Single Image Spotlight Award, was a finalist in the 2018 International Color Awards, and was twice nominated for the Black and White Spider Awards. His work has been featured prominently in books, posters, calendars, websites, and annual reports in the US, Europe and Asia.

A lifelong conservationist, Dwight has also served on the boards of The Nature Conservancy’s NJ Chapter and the Summit Conservancy in his hometown of Summit, New Jersey.  He founded and curates the Annual Highlands Juried Art Exhibit with the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, now in its sixth year.

Michael Douglas Henderson is a historian and a cultural resource specialist in American social history, material culture and decorative arts.  He is a former superintendent of the Morristown National Historical Park.  He previously served on the Board of the Olana Partnership and currently serves on the Boards of the Morris County Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Mt. Hope Iron Conservancy. Michael lives in Morristown, NJ.

Edward “Ned” Kirby is currently Professor Emeritus of Plant Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University-Newark. He received his undergraduate degree in zoology from The University of Michigan and Ph.D. in botany from the University of Florida. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in forest genetics at the Oregon Research Center in Portland and was awarded an international research fellowship in plant physiology for study at the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands. At Rutgers University, Ned served as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. His research interests, supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research have centered on the genetics of forest trees. He is author of over 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications. Ned has been a visiting scientist, consultant, and technical advisor to national forestry research institutes in Colombia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, New Zealand, and Brazil. He was awarded an International Research Fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education for study at the University of Málaga. Ned has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Great Swamp Watershed Association

Jim Lyons was born in New Jersey and developed his passion for the outdoors and interest in natural resource policy and management from spending much of his youth in the NJ Highlands. Jim and his wife, Jennifer Palmieri, split their time between the home Jim and his father built in the Upper Greenwood Lake region of West Milford, NJ and a home in Edgewater, Maryland.

Jim stepped down as a visiting professor and lecturer at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (now the Yale School of the Environment) in 2020. Under President Clinton, Jim was USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment (1993-2000) where he oversaw the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service and dealt with issues ranging from the President’s Northwest Forest Plan to updating national wildland firefighting policy. Under President Obama, Jim was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management in the Interior Department (2013-2017) where he oversaw initial development of renewable energy projects on public lands and helped lead the effort to
protect the Greater sage grouse across 11 western states. Earlier in his career, Jim served as Policy Director for the Society of American Foresters and as senior staff to the House Committee on Agriculture where he helped develop the conservation title and the first forestry title of the 1990 Farm Bill. Jim has been recognized as a distinguished alum by Rutgers University (1995) and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (2019) for his contributions to the fields of conservation and natural resource management. He currently serves on the Board of the NJ Conservation Foundation and volunteers on several committees for West Milford township.

Chief Mann has been the Turtle Clan Chief of the Ramapough Lenape Nation, which encompasses Passaic County, NJ, Warwick, NY and surrounding areas, for approximately twelve years. He is one of the founders of a natural growing farm known as the Munsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm, which was created to assist the Turtle Clan realize food sovereignty and a resource for clean and healthy food.

He received the Russ Berry Foundation’s highest award for being an Unsung Hero for his people, specifically for his efforts to bring to light the health ramifications and the decades long struggle after the Ford Toxic dumping. In 2016, he was asked to speak at a forum at the University of Dayton Ohio on the effects of toxic dumping on his people. Chief Mann also engages with Ramapo College’s Environmental Master’s Program on the topics of pipelines and environmental justice. In February 2020, Chief Mann was the Keynote speaker for the Watershed Conference held on the Delaware River in Lambertville NJ.

Chief Mann has been working with NYU Environmental for the past 5 years, 2 years of which were spent creating a community health survey to address the health concerns of his community. He continues to work with NYU to date.

Chief Mann has begun the process of rebuilding the community of one of the two Churches the Ramapough communities attend. The church is listed on the National Historic Registry as a Historic Native American Church and was founded by Samuel Defreese, a Ramapough.

With long-term goals of cultural restoration, Chief Mann is currently working on co-creating the United Lunaapeewak. This project will also provide an educational aspect for the greater citizens of NJ and Southern NY. In addition, he is working with the Rutgers Newark Price Institute and Rutgers New Brunswick on a book entitled “Our Land Our Stories.”

Chief Mann is often asked to give Land Acknowledgments throughout NJ as well as NYC honoring his ancestors as well as all his relations.

He became a trustee of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition in 2020 after serving on the Legacy Council. As a former member of the Ringwood mines superfund site’s Citizen Advisory Group (CAG), Chief Mann has been at the forefront of protecting 4 million peoples drinking water. As an advocate for cultural and environmental issues he continues to this day to work tirelessly for humanity and for our natural environment.

Sergio Moncada is an environmental planner and project manager with more than a decade of experience in the design, management, monitoring, and evaluation of conservation and sustainability projects.  At National Parks Conservation, Sergio oversees campaigns to grow support for national parks in the U.S. Northeast incl. the 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the 73.4-mile-long Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River.  Prior to NPCA, he helped manage and expand conservation projects in Latin America for two of the world’s largest conservation organizations (The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund) and launched new initiatives for two of the world’s largest animal advocacy organizations, at the intersection of factory farming and its footprint on water and air quality, community health, and animal welfare.  He holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins University’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. He was born and raised in Honduras, is fully bilingual in English and Spanish, and also speaks French and Portuguese. He likes to spend his free time exploring the supernova of a city where he now lives (NYC), biking, hiking in the New Jersey Highlands and northeast national parks, and volunteering for human rights and animal advocacy campaigns.

Jean Rich is a trustee of the Morristown Green and sits on the Morris Township Historic Preservation Commission. She is also a former trustee of the Great Swamp Watershed Association, a former president of the Washington Valley Community Association, and she spent many years as a trustee of Jewish Family Service of Metrowest. She holds a doctorate in History. Jean lives in Morris Township.

The Honorable Michael Soriano served as Mayor of the Township of Parsippany from 2018-2021. Michael was a steady hand as he led the Township through the pandemic and the economic hardships that followed. Prior to his election, his neighborhood and home in the Lake Hiawatha part of town were flooded as a result of 2011’s Hurricane Irene. As Mayor, he focused on initiatives to prepare Parsippany for future weather events like Hurricane Irene. He began by commissioning a new Master Plan for the township’s future that prioritized permeable surfaces and flood mitigation. Under his leadership the Township began re-engaging the municipality in the process of conformance to the Highlands Regional Master Plan. This had been withdrawn under a prior Administration for reasons that were subsequently shown to be misleading and inaccurate. Additionally, he signed and enacted the first municipal plastic bag ban in the Highlands region.

Early in 2018 he began a special project with the Open Space Institute and became instrumental in lobbying the Jersey City Council to open the Jersey City Reservoir to a public recreation trail. This also included filtering Route 287 run-off that will improve water quality in the future.

Michael is also an Eagle Scout who enjoys the outdoors. His proudest achievement is becoming a father in 2005 to his son Leo.

The Honorable Adele Starrs currently serves as the Director of Communications for Blair Academy, one of the nation’s oldest coeducational boarding schools. Her professional experience includes serving as the mayor of Knowlton Township from 2014 to 2023, a role in which she advocated for protecting the agricultural heritage and scenic resources of northwest New Jersey, and more than 20 years as a freelance copy editor for Penguin Random House, Inc. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in English at The College of William and Mary, Adele earned her Master of Science in human capital management at Columbia University in 2021. She is a co-founder, past president and trustee of the Warren County Governing Officials Association and a volunteer with the Land Conservancy of New Jersey and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Adele and her husband, Tom, have four children, Xavier, Lily, Brigette, and Helen. 

Ashwani Vasishth, PhD is Professor of Sustainability and Director of the Center for Sustainability at Ramapo College of New Jersey.  He is the founding Chair of the President’s Committee on Campus Sustainability, which has the mission of promoting sustainable practices throughout the campus and of building a deeply pervasive culture of sustainability within the community.  He is President of the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS).  His pedagogy is focused on taking a systems approach to depicting complex problems, and on Education for Sustainability (EfS) from within an interdisciplinary framework.

Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds has over twenty-five years of experience working with private, public, grassroots organizations, and businesses. She has collaborated and done consultancy work on Environmental, Sustainability, Health, Economic, Recreation, and other issues and events, with various organizations, local officials, and stakeholders. She does community outreach and organizing to get people involved in the decision-making process to find tangible solutions to issues that affect our environment, health, and quality of life. She was appointed by the Mayor of Newark, NJ and the Municipal City Council to the Board of the Newark Environmental Commission on October 2015. She also serves on the Boards of Clean Water Action (National and New Jersey.) She is currently the Executive Director of the Weequahic Park Association.

Lee Wallace earned a BA degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania. He worked for 20 years as a technical writer for Bell Labs. After retirement, he went on to serve on the Environmental Commission of Morris Township and as a board member of the New Jersey Environmental Lobby. He is currently the president of a family foundation which focuses on awarding grants to local environmental organizations. Lee resides in Morris Township and owns a farm in Pohatcong.

Sara Webb, Ph.D., is a forest ecologist, environmental scientist, and Professor emeritus of Biology and Environmental Studies at Drew University, where she was founding director of the Environmental Studies and Sustainability program and previously served as Biology Department Chair.  She continues as director of the Drew Forest Preserve and its ecological restoration project.  She has taught courses and given presentations on Environmental Science, Forest Ecology, Plant Identification, Ecology and Evolution, Biological Invasions, and Restoration Ecology.  Her areas of research expertise include forest disturbance by wind and fire, paleoecology of postglacial tree migrations, the extinct passenger pigeon, the invasive Norway maple tree, forest fragmentation, and old growth forests.  She received her PhD in Ecology and M.S. in Ecology and Forest Resources from the University of Minnesota, with a B.A. from Macalester College.

Hiking Trail Jenny Jump State Forest, Warren Co, Nicholas_T CC BY 2