Philip R. Wenger, President & CEO
Philip R. Wenger, a local business owner and community leader, became the Lancaster County Conservancy’s new Chief Executive Officer in 2016. Phil retired from active leadership at Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches in 2014. His success as an entrepreneur, his passion and proven track record for helping organizations grow and his vision and leadership capabilities will enable him to move the Lancaster County Conservancy forward. He will build on the Conservancy’s proven ability to protect natural lands, preserve clean air and fresh water, provide educational programs for our children and adults, and make our precious natural lands accessible for Lancastrians to enjoy.
Over the last 30 years, Phil has successfully led numerous community organizations, serving as Board Chair of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Lancaster County Community Foundation, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, and Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness, among others. He currently serves as Chair of Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine. Phil leads a Conservancy that protects and manages over 6,000 acres and in recent years has transformed the former Camp Snyder in Pequea, PA into the Susquehanna Riverlands Research & Education Center at Climbers Run Nature Preserve.
We are delighted that Phil is with us. During his first year at the Conservancy, we preserved an additional 570 acres and re-energized our primary focus around protecting those special places we need to set aside for future generations to interact with wild places.
Read the Lancaster Online article here that announced Phil’s hire a year ago… Isaac’s founder to lead Lancaster County Conservancy
Photo Credit: DAN MARSCHKA Staff Photographer Lancaster Newspapers
Kathie Shirk-Gonick, Director of Land Protection and In-House Counsel
As Director of Land Protection, Kate works with landowners, businesses, funders, and local and state government to identify and protect Lancaster County’s most vital natural lands. Kate, a native of Lancaster County, previously held a position at the Brandywine Conservancy in Chadds Ford, PA, drafting subdivision and land development, and zoning ordinances, and working on general land use and historic preservation planning. Kate also held the position of Cultural Resource and Environmental Planner/Archaeologist for the Pinelands Commission, New Lisbon, N.J. and developed a program in archaeology for Cheyney University teaching several courses and establishing a laboratory and University guidelines.
In-House Counsel serves as legal advisor to the Board and senior leadership team. As a member of the senior leadership team this individual answers to and is directly supervised by the CEO. In-House Counsel provides legal guidance on all aspects of operation of the Conservancy and secures outside counsel as required.
Kate practiced land use law for over 25 years before receiving her M.A. in Anthropology/Archaeology from Temple University where she is a doctoral candidate. Kate holds a B.A. from Sweet Briar College and a J.D. from Penn State University Dickinson School of Law. Kate enjoys all types of winter activities, including downhill and cross country skiing and hiking. Other hobbies include gardening and writing. Kathie and her husband, Jeff, live in Manheim Township.
Fritz Schroeder, Director of Urban Greening
Fritz has been responsible for developing residential and institutional greening programs since 2007. He has an extensive background in landscaping and tree management, and has overseen the design and installation of various stormwater capture and infiltration techniques from rain gardens to green roofs. Prior to joining the Lancaster County Conservancy, Fritz was the Director of Economic Development for the East King Improvement District, a job that included bringing the Historic Eastern Market building back to life as a seasonal farmers market, serving diverse communities in Downtown Lancaster. Fritz has served in a leadership role with several non-profits including the Little Conestoga Watershed Alliance, Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network, Lancaster Buy Fresh Buy Local and the Lancaster County Conservation District Foundation. Fritz was born and raised in Lancaster County where he graduated from McCaskey High School. He now lives in Manor Township, with his wife Mary and son Ezra. He received his B.A. from The College of Wooster in Ohio.
Lydia Martin, Director of Education
Lydia Martin joined the Lancaster County Conservancy in 2012 as the Land Steward. Her extensive knowledge of native plants and and conservation landscaping, combined with a strong work ethic and strong public speaking skills led to an expansion of her role at the Conservancy. In April 2015, she accepted the position of Director of Education putting her passion for educating children and adults on the benefits of conserving natural landscapes to use. Her certification as a PA Master Naturalist makes her ideally suited to providing outdoor education opportunities for students that encompass active recreation, observation, and free play. Her passion for education finds Lydia frequently giving presentations and workshops in schools and the community on a variety of subjects including native plants, pollinators, invasive species, school gardens, conservation landscaping and stewardship, and preserve highlights throughout the region.
Lydia’s training through the Penn State Master Gardener program and her previous work as a landscape design consultant support her role as site manager and guide her restoration activities and sustainable landscaping projects at the Susquehanna Riverlands Research and Education Center at Climbers Run Nature Preserve in Pequea, PA. Prior to working for the Conservancy, she worked at, Highmark Construction for ten years and with Manheim Township Parks and Recreation where she implemented conservation landscape design projects and and coordinated their volunteer stewardship education activities.
Lydia lives in Conestoga Township with her husband and four children where they are restoring their seven acre property. In her free time, she can be found helping others to improve their landscapes, trail running, gardening, reading, writing, photography, and native plant propagation.
Brandon Tennis, Director of Stewardship
As the Director of Stewardship, Brandon works to protect, restore, and enhance the ecological function and experience
of all of the Lancaster County Conservancy’s nature preserves and conservation easements, while continually developing the Stewardship Program with professional staff and volunteers.
Raised in Lancaster County and holding a Master of Science Degree in Ecological Design from the Conway School of Landscape Design, Brandon’s experience includes an array of land planning, environmental restoration, trail work, organic farming, permaculture design, outdoor education, and social work.
Jennifer Tran, Director of Development
Jennifer joined the Lancaster County Conservancy in February 2016. She loves nature and is passionate about conserving natural lands in Lancaster County. She is thrilled to be able to share her skills in fundraising, communications and marketing for the Conservancy’s mission.
Throughout her career, she has gained experience in both business and non-profit organizations. She graduated from Drexel University, magna cum laude, with a B.S. in Communications and Applied Technology.
Since starting at the Conservancy, she has been making an effort to visit all of the nature preserves. So far, her favorite is Homewood Nature Preserve. Although Homewood is not very large, it feels aptly named because it reminds her of hiking through the property her grandparent’s formerly owned in Mifflin County.
Jerry Fulmer, Finance Administrator/Consultant
Jerry Fulmer started working as a consultant for the Conservancy in 2000. In 2011, he was hired as Vice President of Finance and Administration, working closely with Ralph Goodno, former President and CEO, to help shape the overall management and direction of the organization. He is responsible for overseeing the day to day internal operations of the Conservancy, including finance, audit, budgeting, human resources, information systems, general administrative functions, special projects, and works closely with our internal Directors and respective Board committees.
In 2012, Jerry assumed additional responsibilities as Acting President & CEO. In 2014, he returned to a consulting position with the Conservancy as Finance Administrator/Consultant. Jerry previously held the position of Project Manager, Information Services at High Industries and also served as Manager of Information Services for Champion Aviation in South Carolina, Cooper Tools in North Carolina, Campbell Chain in York, Pennsylvania and Trojan Boat in Lancaster.
Jerry loves nature, especially walking in the woods, and is committed to the Conservancy’s mission to protect natural lands and open space in Lancaster County. As a child, he recalls receiving a large picture book on Trees, and has fond memories of camping and staying in cabins along the Susquehanna. Jerry serves on the Resurrection Catholic School Board as Finance Chairperson and volunteers at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lancaster. He lives in Lancaster with his wife, Barbara, and enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, outdoor photography and family genealogy research.