Our Team

Joel Dunn, President & CEO

Joel Dunn is president and CEO of Chesapeake Conservancy, a non-profit organization based in Annapolis, MD dedicated to protecting Chesapeake landscapes that are vital to the health of the Bay and its cultural heritage.  With a regional population approaching 18 million and growing and with tens of thousands of acres of open space vanishing each year, the Conservancy strives to restore the health of the Bay and its rivers by preserving working farms and forests and protecting the region’s rich history and character, ensuring a brighter future for the Bay for generations to come. Read More…

Mark Conway, Executive Vice President of Programs

As executive vice president of programs, Mark oversees the organization’s programs, partnership with the National Park Service, and the work of the Conservation Innovation Center. He works closely with the president and CEO and the board of directors to provide strategic direction and help the team accomplish the organization’s mission.

Previously, Conway was the executive director for Baltimore Tree Trust where he was responsible for expanding the programs at the Baltimore Tree Trust along with securing $2.7 million from grants, corporations, individual funding and earned revenue. Read More…

Susan Minnemeyer, Vice President of Technology

Susan joined the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Conservation Innovation Center as a Geospatial Program Manager in February 2019. She manages projects that aim to improve the health of Chesapeake Bay watershed through precision landscape conservation utilizing high resolution datasets and analysis.

Before joining the Conservancy, Susan Minnemeyer was the GIS Manager for Global Forest Read More…

Meet the full programs and

Jody Hedeman Couser, Senior Vice President of Communications

A native of Annapolis, Jody oversees Chesapeake Conservancy’s public and media relations. Previously, Jody was principal of River Bay Communications, LLC and press secretary for a Maryland gubernatorial candidate.  She served on the cabinet for Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens as director of communications; as public information officer for the American Medical Association (AMA); director of communications and development for the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO); and as production manager at The Kamber Group. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Roanoke College and a Master in Political Management from The George Washington University. Jody lives in Annapolis with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys traveling, boating on the Chesapeake Bay, and has a knack for finding arrowheads.

Melissa Ehrenreich, Senior Vice President of Development and Business Strategy

As Sr. VP of Development and Business Strategy, Melissa leads our fundraising efforts and outreach to foundations, corporations and individuals. She brings years of development and partnership expertise to our team, with a background in conservation. Most recently, Ehrenreich served as the executive director of the D.C. Social Innovation Project, a social enterprise and innovation incubator focused on tackling the root causes of poverty in Washington, D.C. She also served in numerous roles with the Ocean Conservancy from 2006 to 2013, including capital campaign manager, director of program effectiveness, and acting director of the Trash Free Seas initiative. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland at College Park and spent her college years researching on the Choptank River. Ehrenreich lives in Greenbelt, MD and enjoys hunting edible mushrooms, native plant gardening, and forest hikes with her husband and three sons.

Reed Perry, Manager of External Affairs

Reed Perry serves as Chesapeake Conservancy’s Manager of External Affairs, helping the organization to garner support for its conservation initiatives on the federal, state, and local level. Reed began his career on Capitol Hill as an intern for the U.S. House of Representatives and then as a staff member with former U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski. After serving as a Fellow for Chesapeake Conservancy in 2017, Reed studied environmental economics and policy at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment where he completed his Masters of Environmental Management. Reed’s longtime love for the Chesapeake began as a kid swimming, paddling, and sailing on the Severn River.

Learn about our External Affairs work.

Ellen Gardner, Senior Vice President of Finance/Chief Financial Officer

As Sr. VP of Finance/Chief Financial Officer, Ellen is responsible for the financial operations and reporting of the Conservancy. She is a certified public accountant with over three decades of not for profit leadership experience in organizational strategy, financial forecasting, budgeting, and grant accounting. Most recently, Ellen was the CFO at Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global membership association. Previously, she held positions of COO and CFO for Community Connections Inc., a non-profit organization providing comprehensive mental health care and residential services. And earlier in her career she worked at the University of Maryland Baltimore County as the Associate Director of the Bookstore and adjunct Accounting faculty. Ellen earned her B.A. in Economics & Management from Goucher College and earned her MBA from Loyola College.

Ellen met her husband Wes on a sailboat in Annapolis and they have lived in the area for over 40 years. They raised their children to be responsible stewards of the Chesapeake as they enjoyed camping, sailing, kayaking, fishing and wakeboarding. Ellen and Wes have been active volunteers in the community including the USNA Midshipmen Family Sponsor program and the Montessori International Children’s House. Ellen currently serves as a board member for SECU and the Co-captain of three USTA tennis teams.