The Chesapeake Conservancy staff and some of its advisors during a planning session in Fall of 2013.


Joel Dunn photo

 Joel Dunn, Executive Director

Prior to joining the Chesapeake Conservancy, Joel conducted government relations and project management in the Chesapeake region for The Conservation Fund. His work helped establish protection for National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and National Trails, including the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Dunn also worked with David Burke, Senior Advisor to the Conservancy, to produce A Sustainable Chesapeake: Better Models for Conservation.

Joel received a Master of Environmental Management degree and a Master of Public Policy degree from Duke University, where he was a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow. In 2010, Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment gave him their Rising Star Award for his work in conservation. In 2012, Dunn was elected to serve as Chairman of the Partners for Open Space.


Jeff AllenbyJeffrey Allenby, Director of Conservation Innovation

Jeff is working on ways to leverage advanced remote sensing and geographic information systems to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Conservancy’s projects and is exploring new ways to use online engagement tools to disseminate data and increase public outreach.  Jeff worked with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources managing a competitive grant program that provided technical and financial support to local communities to plan for climate change and coastal hazards.  Jeff also ran the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Maryland Canoe Program, taking middle and high school students on day-long educational trips throughout the state. He has a Masters of Environmental Management from Duke University and a Bachelors of Science from the University of Richmond.



Paula Degen, Interpretive Specialist

 Paula serves as an interpretive specialist, bringing experience in writing, editing, and content development. She has worked as publications manager for the American Association for State and Local History, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and Parks and History Association, and was the first executive director of the Association of Partners for Public Lands.She comes to the Conservancy from the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office, where she developed content for, and for interpretive signage on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake and the Star-Spangled Banner national historic trails. She has a B.A. in American History and M.A. in American Studies.


Sarah ElderSarah Elder, Director of Operations

A native Annapolitan, Sarah brings more than 16 years of experience in development, marketing, communications and fundraising to support the Conservancy. She grew up on and around the Chesapeake Bay and spent time boating, crabbing, and hiking with her family. Previous to the Chesapeake Conservancy, Sarah led fundraising efforts for the American Urological Association Foundation, where she worked with national organizations such as the National Football League and Kimberly Clark Corporation. She also has worked with conservation/preservation organizations including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Historic Annapolis Foundation, and the National Aquarium. She has extensive experience in fundraising, public relations and management.


Sarah ElderEvelina Erickson, Director of Development

Born in Annapolis and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Evelina most recently served as the executive director of Prevention Connections. Her environmental nonprofit experience includes positions with the American Farmland Trust, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, and the Chester River Association, and she served as assistant to U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski and former Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening.



Emily MyronEmily Myron, Project Manager

Emily coordinates and facilitates landscape-scale projects and collaborative partnerships with  federal, state and non-profit partners across the Chesapeake watershed. She has a strong background in conservation, community-based environmental management, and geospatial analysis. As a native Marylander, she is excited to be back in the area tackling conservation issues in the Chesapeake. Emily has a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University and a B.A. in Biology from St. Mary's College of Maryland. 


Joanna OgburnJoanna Ogburn, Director of Programs

Joanna has extensive experience in stakeholder-driven conservation efforts, and has focused her career on the link between public involvement and land protection. An Easton, MD native, Joanna ran a county-wide land conservation program in Savannah, Georgia before joining the Chesapeake Conservancy. As the lead for the Chatham County Resource Protection Commission, Joanna gained experience in all aspects of conservation. Joanna has a Masters of Environmental Management (Duke University) and a Bachelors of Science (University of Richmond).


ConorConor Phelan, Conservation Analyst

Conor is providing further computational, geospatial, and community involvement support for the Conservancy through programs such as Envision the Susquehanna and large landscape analysis. Conor has experience with biological fieldwork conservation efforts through botanical research in Oregon and Alaska. Having spent the first few years of his life on the banks of the Susquehanna River, Conor is excited to be a member of a group dedicated to protecting such idyllic landscapes. He has a Bachelors of Science in Biology and Geography (University of Richmond).


Helen SierackiHelen Sieracki, Executive Assistant

Helen assists the Executive Director with communications, fundraising, and logistics. She has lived in Annapolis her whole life, and is proud to be part of an organization like the Conservancy that focuses on conserving the natural as well as cultural resources of the region. Helen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a minor in Dance from Ursinus College.



Colleen WhitlockColleen Whitlock, Director of Administration

Colleen manages the administrative responsibilities for the Conservancy. She is familiar with the John Smith trail having been Sultana Projects' Communications Director for the Captain John Smith 400 Project and 2007 shallop voyage around the Bay. She holds a B.A. in History from Washington College as well as an M.A.T. in Elementary Education from East Tennessee State University.



 Chesapeake Conservancy Advisory Staff 


David BurkeDavid Burke, AICP,
Conservation and Strategic Planning/ Senior Advisor

David is a planning consultant certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners with over three decades of private and public sector experience in the Chesapeake Bay region and beyond, developing and managing numerous coastal, wetland, watershed and land conservation programs and projects. During his 20+ year tenure with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, he developed and managed the state's award winning Non-tidal Wetlands regulatory program and was the principal architect and coordinator for a precedent setting statewide green infrastructure-based approach to land conservation.


Michael ShultzMichael Shultz, Public Relations Advisor

Michael leads the Conservancy's public relations effort. He is a communications consultant accredited by the Public Relations Society of America who has worked with regional and national groups to develop and execute their strategic and communication plans. He has played in and written about the Chesapeake during most of his career.