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Staff & TerraCorps Members

Mount Grace Staff

Leigh Youngblood

Executive Director

Leigh’s tenure began in 1994. Since then, Mount Grace has grown from two to ten staff and has initiated and spun off the successful TerraCorps AmeriCorps program, which supports 20+ nonprofits working at the intersection of land conservation and urban agriculture. With its partners, Mount Grace has protected 35,000 acres since 1986, and actively manages 1,800 acres of land including forests, agricultural leases, and a commercial building lease with the Quabbin Harvest Food Co-op. Leigh’s application of a cooperative approach, both internally and externally, has led to many successful partnerships and innovative landscape-scale conservation projects with land trusts of all sizes, state agencies, and multi-level collaboratives. Leigh has served as an officer of the Mass Land Trust Coalition and was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to co-chair the Massachusetts Commission on Financing Forest Conservation in 2010. She played a key role in establishing the North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership in 1997, which continues to bring together diverse groups to protect strategic open space. Leigh has consulted on conservation projects in Oregon, New Hampshire, and Georgia. Since 2018, Leigh has served on the national Land Trust Alliance’s 16-member Conservation Defense Advisory Council.

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Emma Ellsworth

Deputy Director

Emma comes to Mount Grace as an avid hunter, angler, hiker, and outdoors woman. She lives at the base of Mount Tully, a Mount Grace protected property. Emma feels very passionate about protecting her “backyard” and grateful to be able to call it a job. Emma spent the last 20 years as a union organizer and negotiator, fighting for social justice, for working class people to have a voice on the job, and for a chance at a decent quality of life. She is thrilled to be applying those same collaborative skills to conservation. She believes deeply in our need to bridge differences, foster a culture of finding common goals, and stand up for what we believe in if we are to be successful.  She follows in the footsteps of her father, who was a Mount Grace board member, her brother who was the key note speaker at an annual meeting, and her parent Jay Lord, who helped found Just Roots, another Mount Grace project. Love of the land is in her blood. In this age of crazy storms, unprecedented weather, and bird population decline, conservation of our “backyard” is more important than ever.

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Sarah Wells

Conservation Director

Sarah oversees Mount Grace's conservation and stewardship programs, and specializes in putting together multi-landowner, multi-partner projects. She is also responsible for providing leadership for the North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership and for coordinating the conservation and stewardship staff. Before joining Mount Grace in 2012, Sarah was the MassLIFT-AmeriCorps Regional Conservationist with the Partnership where she was responsible for organizing the multi-partner/multi-landowner Quabbin to Wachusett (Q2W) Forest Legacy Project. Sarah is a wildlife biologist and conservationist with five years of experience working on ecological restoration and land protection projects, and holds a B.S. degree in Natural Resources Studies with a minor in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation from UMass-Amherst. Sarah is a native of Orange, MA and lives at Fox Hill Farm in Orange.

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Fletcher Harrington

Community Conservation Program Manager

Fletcher works with local partners and community leaders to identify important community conservation priorities and develop viable land conservation scenarios.  A lifelong New England resident, Fletcher grew up exploring the local forests and coastlines, eventually finding the mountains and wilderness of the northern states. These experiences left him with a strong desire to conserve and steward natural spaces and introduce them to others. After working in the tech sector, Fletcher completed his degree in environmental science and served two terms with Mount Grace as a TerraCorps Land Steward and Community Engagement Coordinator.

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Rocio Lalanda

Farm Conservation Program Manager

Rocio recently earned a Ph.D. in Geography and Environmental Science and Policy, focusing her dissertation on land conservation and, specifically, on the motivations of agricultural-land owners to protect their land in perpetuity from non-agricultural forms of development. She was born and raised in Spain, where she completed two master’s degrees in the fields of Sustainability, Corporate Responsibility and Rural Development Project Planning. Her professional background includes positions as management consultant for entrepreneurs in rural areas and director of human resources for a regional environmental nonprofit.

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KimLynn Nguyen

Stewardship Manager

KimLynn returns to Mount Grace as a new staff memebr after two years of service with our TerraCorps team.  A graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in wildlife ecology and conservation, KimLynn aided monitoring programs focusing on threatened and endangered species at St. Marks and St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuges, an experience which taught her the importance of conserving the land for the benefit of wildlife and people. She has also served as a park ranger conducting environmental education at Merritt Island NWR where she taught youths to embrace the joy and understand the importance of conservation.

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David Kotker

Major Gifts and Grants Manager

David joined Mount Grace in 2007. He is responsible for managing major gifts fundraising, foundation grants development, and the annual and spring appeals. He has worked in fundraising for nonprofit environmental and conservation groups for over ten years, including four years with Greenpeace and four with the Citizens Awareness Network. He has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College.

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Marielena Lima

Communications and Engagement Coordinator

Marielena is responsible for engaging our members and the general public through events, newsletters and other outreach. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida and was awarded a Posse Foundation scholarship to attend Mount Holyoke College, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. Marielena has experience working in diverse environments with low-income community members, local nonprofits, and state government agencies. When she is not working, you’ll find her trying out new cooking and baking recipes, as well as exploring the various hiking trails New England has to offer with her dogs, Carrot and Bogui.

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Carol Mayer

Administrative Assistant

Carol joined Mount Grace in 2014. She previously worked as an Office Manager and Assistant Project Manager for many years in the construction world and for three years as Administrative Coordinator for the Town of Orange. Carol has lived in Athol since 1985 with her husband, Bob, and has two grown children, Andrew and Alexandra. She simply loves nature, the outdoors, walking, hiking and motorcycling with her husband in all parts of New England. In the summer, you will find her on the beach with a book in hand whenever possible.

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Liz Wilson

Administrative & Development Assistant

Liz is originally from Rehoboth, a small farming town in southeastern Massachusetts. When she wasn’t out fishing with her father, she usually spent her childhood getting lost in the woods with her sisters, riding her bike, or exploring her neighbor’s farms. After graduating with a master’s degree in History from the University of Connecticut, she moved to her husband’s childhood home of Winchendon in 2012 and worked as an operations supervisor in the financial sector prior to joining Mount Grace in 2019. She loves to read, swim, try new restaurants with her friends, and explore local trails and parks with her husband Deric, her one-year old son Isaac, and her dog Stormy.

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2019-20 TerraCorps Team

Valerie Cedrone

Regional Collaboration Coordinator

Valerie is originally from Newton, Massachusetts and attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, for her undergraduate degree. After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Public Health, she decided to stay close to the Pioneer Valley because she loves the community, the mountains, and all the farmland! She spent her time in college driving buses for UMass Transit, which left her with many interesting stories. She is passionate about food and educating others about healthy, fresh, and sustainable food choices. Her favorite thing to do in her free time is go on hikes with her dog, cook, and learn about building a van to live in. She is excited to be serving with the Mount Grace this year and learning more about land protection!

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Corey Wrinn

Land Stewardship Coordinator

Corey is very excited to be joining Mount Grace. Having grown-up in Rockport, MA, the ocean ecosystem has been at the forefront of his life and education. Corey graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2018 with a B.S. in Natural Resource Conservation and Marine Sciences. After spending a season as a naturalist in Homer, Alaska and a year sailing education tall ships in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, his passion for experiential and environmental education lead him to this program where he looks forward to engaging with Massachusetts communities. He is an advocate for environmental justice, Leave No Trace principles and environmental decision-making. You can most likely find Corey playing his guitar on the street, at a venue or sauntering in local forests.

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Jessica Tierney

Youth Education Coordinator

Jessica is a former elementary school teacher who loves taking children outdoors. In the past, Jessica worked with children in various capacities, including three years as a public school teacher in Springfield, staff roles in therapeutic settings, and as an environmental educator and summer camp co-director. Having spent childhood in the Adirondacks, Jessica has always had a deep appreciation for wilderness and has been waiting for the right time to pursue a career that celebrates this. She is ecstatic to be serving as Mount Grace’s Youth Education Coordinator.

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