(PRINCETON, NJ) -- As D&R Greenway celebrates its 315th property preserved since its founding in 1989, Peter J. Dawson of Pennington, owner of Leigh Visual Imaging Solutions, enthusiastically takes the reins as the new Chair of the Board of Trustees. Peter takes over from Co-Chairs Wendy Kvalheim of Princeton and Christopher DeGrezia, Esq. of Montgomery who completed their terms after a collective 18 years of volunteer service and leadership. Both former Chairs will continue to use their passion to assist D&R Greenway’s mission. Kristen S. Appelget, Director of Community and Regional Affairs, Princeton University, completed her term on the Board of Trustees and will continue her service on the land trust’s Community Conservation Committee.
Peter has been involved with D&R Greenway since the year 2000, joining the Board of Trustees in 2013. A businessman, Peter recognizes the economic and strategic value of preserving land, “We have all heard the expression, ‘Land – they’re not making it anymore’... which is why it is so important to work strategically to preserve acres critical to the protection of the overall environment, --emphasizing clean water and, of course, establishing greenways.”
Michael R. Bramnick, Esq., Senior Vice President of NRG Energy, joins the land trust’s Executive Committee as Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trustees. He brings legal skills and knowledge from his position as Chief of Staff & Chief Compliance Officer of a $13 billion, Fortune 250 integrated energy company, informing D&R Greenway’s efforts to mitigate climate change through land preservation and stewardship. A resident of West Windsor, Michael asserts “D&R Greenway is important to me because it acts with urgency and integrity to preserve fragile, even dwindling natural resources.”
Three counties, -- Hunterdon, Mercer and Somerset – and six communities are represented in the residences of D&R Greenway’s new officers. The nonprofit land trust preserves land throughout central New Jersey, and occasionally in surrounding areas of Pennsylvania and South Jersey. Rounding out the land trust’s officers are Vice Chair Adrian Huns of East Amwell, Co-Vice Chair James Fiorentino of Flemington, Treasurer Michael Kunst of Franklin Twp. in Somerset County, and Secretary Johan Firmenich of Montgomery.
Over the past year, D&R Greenway’s leadership was expanded with seven new trustees:
Heather Eshelman McCusker, Esq. serves as Co-Head, NJ Estates and Trusts Practice, at Stevens & Lee; concentrating her practice in wealth planning and estates. “The beauty of nature and its wildlife” have been crucial to Heather since her own childhood. Her daughter’s increasing skill at naming birds confirms to Heather and her husband that “We are on the right track. I am truly inspired by the natural resource and land preservation work that D&R Greenway Land Trust has accomplished. I look forward to advancing the organization’s mission, furthering its impact and promoting a conservation legacy.”
Alanna Jameson Papetti, Assistant Director of Communications, NJ Board of Public Utilities, works closely with its leadership and agency heads. Interacting with press and social media, Alanna has brought fresh ideas for reaching central New Jersey residents with D&R Greenway messaging. She joined the Board because of the land trust’s “diligent efforts to make nature in all seasons, and fresh local food, accessible to all. The organization’s thoughtful work on ensuring equity in environmentalism is what I think is truly powerful.”
William C. Martin, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer, Raging Capital Management, remembers childhood in describing his reasons for serving D&R Greenway Land Trust: “I was lucky enough to grow up traversing the rural woods, streams and landscapes of Central New Jersey. Thanks to the great work of D&R Greenway, these increasingly endangered tracts are being preserved forever, enabling my children (and hopefully their children) – and others like them – to enjoy and benefit from the same natural pursuits that I did.” Bill and his wife Geniva are long-time Taplin Circle donors to D&R Greenway Land Trust. Bill’s parents live in Monmouth County near land preserved by D&R Greenway.
Patrick L. McDonnell, syndicated cartoonist, author and playwright, could be said to have joined the D&R Greenway team simply because it has saved over 21,000 acres of habitat since its 1989 founding. “In my comic strip, MUTTS, I try to see the world through the eyes of animals. It is my firm belief that there is nothing more important than saving and preserving the natural world. D&R Greenway is a model for what can be done to keep our planet green. We are blessed by and grateful for their vital work as are all our fellow beings.” Patrick is best known for his daily comic strip, Mutts, syndicated since 1994. His work appears in more than 700 newspapers in 20 countries. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz deemed Mutts “one of the best comic strips of all time.” In 2009 McDonnell collaborated with author Eckhart Tolle to create the philosophical book, Guardians of Being, on nature and the present moment. In 2012, McDonnell’s children’s book, Me…Jane, based on Jane Goodall’s childhood, earned the prestigious Caldecott Honor. The story was later staged as a children’s musical for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. For 18 years, Patrick served on the Board of Directors of the Humane Society of the United States. In addition to D&R Greenway Land Trust, Patrick is a trustee of The Fund for Animals and The Charles M. Schulz Museum.
Laura Napoli, retired environmental scientist, ExxonMobil, has devoted her professional life to land restoration, ecosystem services and land preservation transactions. As a corporate member of the national Land Trust Alliance, Laura facilitated conservation of corporate land throughout the United States. She has the know-how to protect land and the motivation, “There is nothing that can feed the soul, calm the mind and restore the spirit as Nature can. No land? -- no Nature! Save it and we save ourselves and every living creature.”
Ian Snyder, in his mid-twenties is the youngest member of D&R Greenway’s Board. A former Princeton resident who now lives in New York City and works for J.P. Morgan, he is passionate about the impact D&R Greenway is making on our planet. “A land trust focused on preservation is most important, given the accelerating and consequential pace of global climate change.” Ian explains, “D&R Greenway provides me the perfect opportunity to have a direct impact on this exact issue, in this town where I grew up and which I love dearly. D&R Greenway holds a special place in my heart through its construction and maintenance of the Iron Mike Trail, [across Rosedale Road from the land trust’s offices], honoring the passing of my father.” Annually, Ian brings a group of his former high school and college friends to care for the Iron Mike Trail.
Peter Tucci, Esq., was the impetus for D&R Greenway’s recent preservation of the world renowned Point Breeze in Bordentown, the former estate of Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte. Peter is a partner at Fox Rothschild, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Pennington School. Key treasures from his Joseph Bonaparte collection will be exhibited in the museum to be created in the Gardener’s House on land once owned by the former King of Spain and of Naples. The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, London Times and London Daily Mail recently featured the completion of this land’s preservation, a partnership of the New Jersey Green Acres Program, the City of Bordentown and D&R Greenway Land Trust. Peter was awarded the title of Chevalier (Knight) of the French Legion of Honor by President of the Republic of France, Jacques Chirac.
D&R Greenway Land Trust, an accredited nonprofit, has saved over 21,000 acres of New Jersey land since its 1989 founding. Preserving land for life and creating public trails grants everyone the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. The land trust’s preserved farms and community gardens provide local organic food for neighbors—including those in need. D&R Greenway’s strategic land conservation and stewardship combat climate change, protect wildlife, and ensures clean drinking water for future generations. D&R Greenway's mission is connecting land with people from all walks of life. D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, home to its art galleries in Princeton, is currently closed to ensure health and safety due to COVID. Our outdoor trails and labyrinth are open. Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages and www.drgreenway.org to learn about the organization’s latest news and virtual programs. D&R Greenway Land Trust, One Preservation Place, Princeton New Jersey.
PHOTO: (L-to-R) Adrienne-Rodewald,-Kristin-Dawson,-Peter-Dawson,-Linda-Mead,-Cindy-Taylor-@-Trails-To-Table-Event