People

“Conservation is humanity caring for the future.”
Nancy Newhall

Our Board of Directors is community-based and represent agricultural, urban, business and environmental concerns in the five county region of Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Manatee counties. Our board members have more than 100 years of cumulative experience in conserving lands and water resources in the Tampa Bay region.

Board meetings are held every other month and an annual meeting is held in November each year. Please visit our News & Events page for exact dates.  All community members are welcome to participate in meetings.  Please contact us at info@tampabayconservancy.org for location and times.

Board of Directors

Officers*

Heidi McCree, President   

Heidi McCree of Tampa is an attorney who has been involved in water and land conservation policy throughout her career.  Heidi is a member of Leadership Florida, Class XXV.  She is the honored recipient of the 2009 Audubon of Florida, Women in Conservation, Special Places Award.

She is a founding Board member and President of the Tampa Bay Conservancy.   In 2008, she served as President of Preserve Hillsborough, the successful campaign to renew Hillsborough County's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP).  

Heidi served on the Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board from 2000 through 2008.  In 2005, she was unanimously elected the first female Chairperson of the Governing Board.  She served as liaison to the Florida Greenways and Trails Council and to the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.  Additionally, McCree was Chair ex officio of the Hillsborough River Basin Board. 

McCree served as Executive Director of the Hillsborough River Greenways Task Force from 1996 to 2000. She is a member of the Alliance of Florida Land Trusts, was a delegate to the Florida Water Congress and member of the Tampa Bay Partnership Vision 21 and One Bay efforts.  She was Chair of the Cone Ranch Advisory Committee.  Other involvement has included the Hillsborough County Bar Association, Hillsborough Association of Women Lawyers, Hillsborough County League of Women Voters and the Water Issues Coalition. 

Heidi is on the boards of Audubon Florida,  the Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation, the Children's Campaign and the William A. Gregory Scholarship Foundation.  She has also served the Hillsborough Education Foundation, supporting Nature's Classroom and the Foundation's fundraising efforts.  She is a Junior League member and has served on various Boards and committees for her children's schools and church activities.

 McCree received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Vanderbilt University in 1986 and a juris doctor from George Mason University School of Law in 1992.   She received certification from the Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium in 1996 for negotiating and resolving public disputes.  Prior to serving as Executive Director of the Greenways Task Force, she worked for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.  Prior to moving to Florida in 1995, she worked for two governors of Maryland in their Chesapeake Bay and Save Our Streams programs.  Prior to law school, Heidi was Director of Membership Services for the T. Boone Pickens United Shareholders Association in Washington D.C.

Ann Paul, Vice President          

Ann Paul has worked for Audubon’s Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries (FCIS) since 1991 and is the Tampa Bay Regional Coordinator. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Cornell University in New York and Master of Science degree in biology from Trinity University in Texas. She worked for the Texas Nature Conservancy as Assistant Land Steward and Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation managing conservation lands. Ms. Paul is an expert in waterbird populations and management of coastal habitats for wildlife, and an active participant in the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Reddish Egret, American Oystercatcher, and Wood Stork Working Groups. She currently serves on the board of the Tampa Bay Conservancy and is past president of the Tampa Audubon Society.

Laura Starkey, Secretary    

Laura Starkey is a third-generation Floridian, born to a cattle ranching family in Odessa, north of Tampa. She holds a B.A. in music from Maryville College in Tennessee, an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from USF Tampa, and various professional certifications, from grassroots community organizer to Adult ESL teacher to Certified Prescribed Burn Manager. Since 2006, she has been Director of Conservation Lands for Starkey Ranch, managing roughly 1000 acres of woods. Laura is the founder of Heartwood Preserve Conservation Cemetery, blending her love for natural Florida and for people into the region’s first natural cemetery and nature preserve, expected to open in late 2015.

 

Jan Smith, Treasurer  

Jan Smith was born in Williamsport, PA.  Her father's business took her family to Michigan for a couple years and then they moved to Melbourne Beach, Florida.  She came to Tampa to attend the University of South Florida and earned a BA in Business with a major in Accounting.  Jan met her husband Earl at Tampa General where she worked as an accountant and Earl was an intern.  They moved to Philadelphia where Earl was a pediatric resident at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.  The US Navy called and they were assigned to Whiting Field in Milton, Florida for two years. At the end of his tour in the Navy, they returned to Philadelphia to complete his residency and then moved to Tampa. 

 For more than 35 years, Jan managed Earl's pediatric practice.  During that time, she was a member of the Lutz Civic Association, serving as Treasurer and President.  The BOCC appointed her to The Planning Commission and she served in various capacities, including Chair for three terms.  Following that Jan was appointed to HART and was chair for two years.  Jan has served on the General Committee of The Jan K. Platt Environmental Land Acquisition and Protection Program and she is the current Chair.  Currently, Jan is the Treasurer of Saddleback Lake Association, The Ybor City Saturday Market and The Tampa Bay Conservancy. 

Her hobbies are gardening, playing the piano, reading, tracking the stock market, and spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren.

 

Jeff Steinsnyder, At Large Member  

Jeffrey Steinsnyder has served as the County Attorney for Pasco County, Florida since 2008 and is a Board Certified City, County and Local Government Law Attorney.  Previously Jeff spent two years as Attorney for the Florida Department of Community Affairs; fifteen years in the Office of the County Attorney for Manatee County leaving as the Chief Assistant County Attorney and three years as shareholder with the firm of Kirk Pinkerton, PA.  He graduated with a B.A. degree from the University of Miami, School of Arts & Sciences in 1983 and received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami, College of Law in 1986. Jeff is a member of the U.S. District Court of Florida, Middle District; U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the Florida Association of County Attorneys and is on the Advisory Board for Mote Marine Laboratory. Jeff has been a Board member of Tampa Bay Conservancy since 2005.

 

Other Board Members

 

Steve Blashka

Steve is a native of Maitland, Florida, and has called the Tampa Bay area home since 1989.  He is married and has two sons.  Steve is a graduate of Florida State university where he completed his B.S. in Political Science.  Steve holds a Florida license as a State Certified General Appraiser RZ0001411 and is declared to be an Appraisal Expert as a Court Witness in Hillsborough, Polk and Desoto County, Florida. Steve is a former President of the Florida Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers,

 Steve has been employed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District for more than 15 years as the Real Estate Services Manager.  His other public employment includes 5 years as the Real Estate Appraiser to the Board of County Commissioners of Imperial Polk County, Florida and as a Real Estate Coordinator for the City of St. Petersburg, Florida.  Steve’s first employment out of college was as a staff then as a Senior Appraiser with the appraisal firm of Pardue, Heid, Church, Smith & Waller in both their Orlando and Tampa offices (1986 to 1994).

 

Robert G. Heath                       

Rob Heath, a native of New Orleans, LA, received his MS in Environmental Biology from Tulane University in 1977, and moved to Florida in 1978. From 1978-81, he worked as a park ranger for the Florida Park Service, before being hired by Hillsborough County to develop environmental education displays and programs for new regional parks. Rob served as the County Naturalist for the Parks and Recreation Department throughout the 80’s, training park rangers to give guided walks and nature programs, developing natural history interpretive literature and displays, and operating an award winning summer nature program for school-aged children. From 1988 through early 2002, he played an important role in the Hillsborough County Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP), a voter approved local land preservation program. Duties included environmental site assessments, and supervision of County staff responsible for management of the natural lands acquired through ELAPP. In February of 2002, Rob retired from Hillsborough County in order to start the Wildlife Fellowship, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental stewardship, with the mission of providing support for the protection and management of publicly-owned natural preservation lands through public education, volunteer coordination, environmental activism, and fundraising. Most recently, he has worked as a Seasonal Warden and Bird Monitor for Audubon Florida’s Coastal Islands Sanctuaries and as a Senior Ecologist for Wildlands Conservation, Inc.

Mike Kelley                            

Mike Kelley attended West Point, obtaining a B.S. in Engineering and continued his education completing his M.S. in Engineering Management from the University of Florida.  Mike brings 38+ years of experience as a project manager and principle engineer to the table.  After serving as an active duty office in the United States Army, Mike worked for Florida Engineering and Design.  In 1993, Mike established Point West Engineering and has since completed numerous projects around the Tampa Bay region.  Mike servers on a number of committees and boards throughout Tampa Bay such as the Housing Finance Authority of Hillsborough County and The Citizen Advisory Committee to the East Tampa CRA.  Mike is a Charter Board Member of the Tampa Bay Conservancy and is also a past president. 

Jeff Steinsnyder                            

Jeffrey Steinsnyder has served as the County Attorney for Pasco County, Florida since 2008 and is a Board Certified City, County and Local Government Law Attorney.  Previously Jeff spent two years as Attorney for the Florida Department of Community Affairs; fifteen years in the Office of the County Attorney for Manatee County leaving as the Chief Assistant County Attorney and three years as shareholder with the firm of Kirk Pinkerton, PA.  He graduated with a B.A. degree from the University of Miami, School of Arts & Sciences in 1983 and received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami, College of Law in 1986. Jeff is a member of the U.S. District Court of Florida, Middle District; U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the Florida Association of County Attorneys and is on the Advisory Board for Mote Marine Laboratory. Jeff has been a Board member of Tampa Bay Conservancy since 2005.

Sally Thompson                          

Sally Thompson has lived in Florida since she was nine years old. She received her B.A. in English from Hollins University in Virginia and her Master of Public Administration (MPA) from USF Tampa. She is retired from the City of Tampa, and has taught Environmental Resource Management as an Adjunct Professor at USF.

Sally served on the Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District for over ten years. She chairs the City of Tampa Greenways & Trails Citizens Advisory Committee and is a member emeritus of the Florida Greenways & Trails Foundation, She also serves on Jan K Platt Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection (ELAPP) Selection and General Committees, the Florida Aquarium’s Board of Trustees, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful Board of Directors, and is one of the founding members of the Tampa Bay Conservancy.

 

 

Staff Members

  • Rene Wiesner Brown, Program Director
  • Helen Scott, Admin Assistant

Advisory Committee

Dick Eckenrod

Pamela Jo Hatley

Fritz Musselmann

Dave Sumpter

Legal

Carlton Fields Jorden Burt
Pro-Bono Law Firm

 

*Officers also serve on the Board of Directors