Staff

Executive Leadership

Rebecca Jewett

PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Since 2014, Rebecca Jewett has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Palmer Land Conservancy. She leads a dedicated and passionate staff in the conservation of southern Colorado’s most iconic landscapes including working farms and ranches, waterways, and outdoor recreation spaces. 

Merging business savvy with nonprofit leadership, Rebecca brings a social impact lens to her work in both the nonprofit and private sectors. With over fifteen years of experience in the conservation and outdoor fields, she has guided and overseen significant regional planning initiatives and the strategic implementation of complex water and land conservation initiatives. Rebecca is also the co-founder of the tech startup, BoardSpot, which provides SaaS tools to improve the effectiveness of nonprofit boards. 

Rebecca’s broad range of experience includes growing the capacity and impact of community-focused nonprofits, strategic planning, and business and operational development. She has extensive leadership experience holding executive and board member positions at numerous organizations, including founding or restructuring multiple companies and nonprofits. She received her Master of Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy (MRLS) from the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Colorado College.

Rebecca serves as the founding chairman of the board for Keep it Colorado, as well as serves on the Land Trust Alliance's National Land Trust Leadership Council. She is the recipient of the 2022 City of Colorado Springs Mayor's Young Leader Award and has been recognized by the Colorado Springs Business Journal as a Woman of Influence and Girl Scouts of Colorado Woman of Distinction. She also serves as a mentor to students and young professionals interested in the conservation field. Rebecca is deeply passionate about strengthening the impact of the nonprofit sector. As a 5th generation Coloradan, she is also personally committed to protecting Colorado’s magnificent landscape and natural heritage. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and two daughters.

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Kristie Nackord

Vice President, external affairs

Kristie serves as a strategic advisor and lead on external affairs to the President and CEO, and oversees all brand, marketing, philanthropy, and new market development at Palmer. Since 2019, Kristie has led Palmer's communications and philanthropy team, ensuring the implementation of strategic marketing initiatives, funding growth, and community engagement programming.

Throughout her career, Kristie has honed her craft as an organizational, brand, and communications strategist. She has worked in the water, wine, agricultural, and nonprofit sectors as a consultant, staff, and board member, and for the last ten years, has focused on private land conservation throughout the West. Kristie is passionate about advancing policy, tools, and frameworks that support the health and wellbeing of people and nature.

Originally from California, Kristie received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Sonoma State University. She moved to Westcliffe, Colorado, in 2006 and for the last ten years has lived in western Fremont County on her small ranch a stone's throw away from the Arkansas River, at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. When she's not talking conservation, you will find Kristie out on the land with her daughter and horses.

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Staff

Amanda Bell

Communications Manager

Amanda, a California native, fell in love with the outdoors through summer camping trips to Yosemite Valley with her family. Throughout her life, she has continued with outdoor adventures moving throughout the West with her husband and Australian Shepherd, Indie. 

At Palmer, Amanda merges her skills as a multimedia design specialist with her love of outdoor recreation and experience within the agriculture industry. She received her degree in Art History from The University of Arizona and is proud to call southern Colorado home. In her free time, Amanda loves to cook, mountain bike at Ute Valley Park, and enjoy time in nature with her family, including her two daughters.

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Steve Harris

land stewardship DIRECTOR

Steve discovered his passion for protecting land, water, and wildlife while attending the Wake Forest University School of Law. During law school, he helped found the Environmental Law Society and won the prestigious James A. Webster Faculty Award for Property Law. After graduation, Steve moved to Colorado, intent on using his legal skills to benefit the environment. For nearly thirty years, he successfully represented conservation advocates, environmental organizations, and other concerned citizens seeking to leave the world a better place for future generations. Steve has also had the honor of teaching hundreds of Colorado College students about environmental policy, public lands, water law, and food and agriculture policy as visiting faculty.

In addition to his work as an attorney, Steve has served on nonprofit and governmental boards and commissions, including the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Advisory Board and the Trails Open Space and Parks Working Committee, and the boards of directors of Palmer Land Trust and Organic Seed Alliance. As Palmer’s Land Stewardship Director, Steve works with landowners to ensure their vision for their property and the terms of their conservation agreements are realized, forever. In his spare time, he enjoys attending and organizing concerts and music festivals, and hiking and birding with his wife and dog.

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Jeanine McColgan

finance DIRECTOR

Jeanine began her love with nature in her childhood years growing up in New Jersey.  Abundant wooded areas and deep-rooted family farmlands were prevalent. She received her degree at UNC Charlotte where she subsequently honed her career and worked for an Italian woodworking equipment manufacturer for 22 years. After spending an exciting sabbatical living and working in Yellowstone National Park, her professional career in accounting and HR ultimately brought her to Colorado.  Here, she has been living her dream amongst the beautiful landscape, abundant wildlife, and forests where she enjoys hiking, sight-seeing, and cross-country skiing. Jeanine and her family make it a point to visit America’s National Parks as often as life will allow, along with Colorado’s regional parks and fascinating historic areas. She enjoys music, playing the piano, singing choral music, and enjoys being the event and PR coordinator for a favorite local band. She has always been an advocate for land, wildlife, and environmental conservancy and is excited to be on the frontlines for southern Colorado as Palmer’s Finance Director. 

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Astrid Monar

Membership & Events Manager

Having spent her childhood on her grandparent’s farm husking corn and digging up turnips in North Carolina, Astrid has long felt connected to the land. After graduating from University of North Carolina - Charlotte with a degree in Public Health, Astrid headed west for Colorado Springs, sight unseen. For nearly a decade, she has worked in nonprofit development, helping to raise awareness and funds for the causes she cares deeply about in her community. As Palmer’s events and membership manager, Astrid is responsible for creating exceptional experiences for our members and helping them to connect with what they love most about Colorado. Out of the office, you can find Astrid biking the trails, boating on the Arkansas River, reading, or simply playing outside.

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Dillon O'Hare

Community Conservation Manager

Dillon, an Alabama native, joined Palmer Land Conservancy after working for the Salazar Center for North American Conservation. As the Pueblo-based community conservation manager, he is responsible for helping to advance critical agricultural, and community-building projects that are of local, state, and national importance. Receiving his Masters of Business Administration from Colorado State University, Dillon is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys exploring wild places with a camera, bow, or fly rod in hand. When Dillon does have cell service, you can find him in the kitchen connecting his experiences from the field to his table. 

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Savannah Robar

Land Stewardship Manager

Growing up in the southern part of the U.S, Savannah spent much of her childhood enjoying the Appalachian Mountains. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Berry College in Georgia and has worked and lived on multiple ranches across the West, including Chico Basin Ranch, where she gained valuable hands-on experience in ranching and holistic land stewardship and management. Before Palmer, Savannah was with the Rocky Mountain Field Institute and studied holistic land management through the Quivira Coalition. Savannah resides on a ranch off Fountain Creek in eastern El Paso County and enjoys helping with vegetable harvests and livestock brandings, hunting for rare fossils, and romping around with her dog.

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Emma Troller

Conservation and Recreation program manager

Emma is a lifelong nature lover who brings a passion for open spaces and a professional background in real estate consulting to Palmer. Emma began her career as an environmental planner in Boston, where she interpreted and secured complex regulatory approvals on behalf of diverse public, private, and institutional clients. Coming from a long family history in agriculture, she also gained firsthand experience in local food production as a field crew member at Appleton Farms, one of the oldest continuously operating farms in the country. Emma has a Bachelor of Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture and a Graduate Certificate in Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Ecosystems from Harvard’s Extension School. She is an avid hiker, gardener, and enthusiast of all things outdoors.

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Land Stewards

Lee Derr

Contract Land Steward

Lee has always loved natural landscapes. His early years were influenced by the rich soils of the Pennsylvania Piedmont and the ancient craggy pinnacles of the Appalachians. Wanderlust and the expansiveness of the West, as well as skiing western powder, enticed Lee to complete a Bachelor of Science from the College of Forestry and Natural Resources, CSU-Fort Collins, and a Master of Arts in Teaching in Integrated Natural Sciences, Colorado College. He has spent more than thirty years in private and public science education, most recently working as a science curriculum specialist at Colorado College. He has visited conservation easements for Palmer Land Conservancy for 15 years and served on the Board of Trustees for four years. Lee vividly remembers his first Palmer property visit, sharing a property walk and stories of the land with 4th generation rancher, Robert. Currently, he is also a board member of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute.

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Ken Hanes

Contract Land Steward

A Colorado native, Ken has a life-long love of the outdoors. The grandson of a Cripple Creek miner, he was born and raised in Colorado Springs. Ken skied and hiked as a child and developed a passion for mountain biking as a student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Later, he became a private pilot like his father. Ken returned to Colorado Springs to start a business—AGL Drone Services, which provides "Solutions With Altitude"—and to raise his own family.  In 2017, he began working with Palmer Land Conservancy to explore the potential of drone technology and its effectiveness for “visiting” conservation easement properties. As a licensed drone professional and technologist, Ken has pioneered “aerial solutions” that give Palmer Land Trust unique and comprehensive perspectives of conserved properties.

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Melissa McCormick

Contract Land Steward

Prior to beginning her career as a park ranger, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from St. Mary's College of Maryland and a Master of Science in Natural Resource-Based Recreation from Virginia Tech. As a college student, she spent five summers working for the Boy Scouts of America in New Mexico and developed a love for the Front Range of the Rockies. In 2013, she and her family moved to Colorado Springs, and she took a full-time position as a natural resource specialist for the City of Colorado Springs Parks Department from 2014-2017. Today, Melissa currently balances her conservation work with "mom duties" and volunteer jobs and serves on the Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute. In 2019 she served, for her first time, as a contract land monitor in the Pikes Peak Region. She is a certified interpretive guide and a Leave No Trace trainer who brings weed management expertise to the Palmer team. As a seasoned professional and a parent, Melissa recognizes the importance of conserving land to protect southern Colorado’s scenic backdrop, recreational opportunities, and clean water.

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Rick Romano

Contract Land Steward

For 44 years, Rick’s professional career was focused on conserving soil and water resources as a Soil Scientist, Soil Conservationist, and District Conservationist. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources and a major in Soil Science. He began his career at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension, moved to a Michigan Soil and Water Conservation District, and finished with a long stint with the USDA Soil Conservation Service/Natural Resources Conservation Service in Colorado. Based in southeastern Colorado, he learned of the work Palmer was doing—its efforts to conserve working agricultural lands, wildlife habitat, majestic scenery, and properties of historical significance—and resolved to inquire about part-time opportunities with Palmer when he retired from the NRCS.  Rick joined Palmer to serve as a contract land monitor in 2015 and returns every year for the privilege of visiting the exceptional properties that Palmer protects and their owners who share his love of Colorado.

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