Philip R. Wenger

Phil Wenger 2Philip R. Wenger, a local business owner and community leader, became the Lancaster County Conservancy’s new Chief Executive Officer effective December 1, 2015.  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 Vice Chair of Lancaster General Health. Phil inherits a Conservancy that protects over 5,474 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. Children from community organizations including Milagro House, The Mix at Arbor Place, the Lancaster Recreation Center, Head Start and others, elementary, middle and high schools, and university students are connecting with and benefiting from nature at this wonderful environmental education and research facility.

We are delighted that Phil is with us. We invite you to join the Conservancy Board in welcoming Phil and help make 2016, Phil’s first year as our CEO, a time of momentum and excitement for your Lancaster County Conservancy.

Read the Lancaster Online article here …  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 Schroeder 2Fritz has been responsible for developing residential and institutional greening programs since 2007.  Born and raised in Lancaster County, Fritz has an extensive network of contacts and relationships within the community. As a community organizer, he has been successful in leveraging these relationships to accomplish the mission and goals of LIVE Green. 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 barrels to green roofs.

Prior to joining LIVE Green, Fritz was the Director of Economic Development for the East King Improvement District and has volunteered with Little Conestoga Watershed Alliance, Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network, Buy Fresh Buy Local, and the Lancaster County Conservation District Foundation. Fritz received his B.A. from The College of Wooster in Ohio. 

Nancy Beachler, Administrative Assistant

Nancy jNancyoined the Conservancy in January, 2012, as the new Administrative Assistant to Jerry Fulmer, after initially calling about volunteer opportunities. Joining a small group after many years in large companies, Nancy claims her initial nervousness was immediately put to rest by the strong work ethic and professionalism that she witnessed. Nancy would like to extend a thank you to everyone for welcoming her so warmly.  She thoroughly enjoys learning about the Conservancy and all things environmental.

Nancy handles a variety of functions such as ongoing server cleanup, Landview and Annual Report publications and Constant Contact eView communications, hardware and software technical issues, scanning paper documents to an electronic form and posting information to our website/Facebook. She also serves as the ‘Recording Secretary’ for the Board.

Nancy is married, with one grown daughter who has ‘flown the coop’.  Scrapbooking, reading, photography and traveling are some of her favorite pastimes and she is looking forward to visiting and photographing some of the Conservancy’s properties and incorporating them into a scrapbook.  

Lydia Martin, Director of Education

Lydia Martin - DOHM 2013 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 

Bio Photo

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, Office Manager, Executive Assistant 


Jennifer joined the Lancaster County Conservancy in February 2016 as the Office Manager and Executive Assistant. She graduated from Drexel University, magna cum laude, with a B.S. in Communications and Applied Technology. She has worked in both businesses and non-profit organizations. Throughout her career, she has gained experience in business administration but also has experience in marketing, communications and fundraising.

Jennifer is passionate about conserving natural land in Lancaster. We love that her experience and many, varied skills will contribute to the momentum of the Conservancy and we are delighted she is part of team.


Jerry Fulmer, Finance Administrator/Consultant

Jerry Fulmer worked as a consultant for the Conservancy since 2000 when he had his own business providing Accounting Services and Business Systems Consulting, specifically for non-profit organizations.  He was hired as the Vice President of Administration and Finance in 2011 and worked closely with Ralph Goodno, the President and CEO, to help shape the overall management and direction of the organization.  He was responsible for overseeing the day to day internal operations of the Conservancy, including finance, audit, budgeting, human resources, information systems, general administrative functions and special projects, and worked closely with our internal Directors and respective Board committees.

Jerry became the ‘Acting President & CEO’ in 2012 and took on many additional responsibilities while still handling his administration and financial duties.  In January of 2014, he returned to a consulting position for the Conservancy. 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 and Campbell Chain in York Pennsylvania.

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, building model railroad layouts, outdoor photography and family genealogy research.

Lancaster County Conservancy

Did you know? Only 16% of land in Lancaster County remains forested, just a vestige of what used to be here. Help us save the County’s natural lands!
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