Nationally-recognized conservation leader takes the helm of prominent statewide land trust.
LINCOLN, Calif. (September 28, 2016) – Wildlife Heritage Foundation (WHF) announces that its board of directors has selected Darla Guenzler as the organization’s new Executive Director. After 12 years, Guenzler leaves her role as founder and first Executive Director of the California Council of Land Trusts to join WHF.
“Darla brings an unparalleled level of leadership, knowledge and experience in conservation tools, mitigation, funding, policy, nonprofit management, and in cutting-edge work on the future of conservation,” said Robert Weygandt, President of the Wildlife Heritage Foundation’s board of directors. “We are excited to have Darla continue our important work of habitat protection, agricultural conservation and outdoor education, and to expand our work to connect people and natural lands.”
Founded in 2001, the Wildlife Heritage Foundation is a leading statewide land trust in California. WHF has conserved 64,000 acres of wildlife habitat through 104 conservation easements, and it is about to close on another 30,000 acres. With these additions, its holdings will be nearly equally distributed between the northern and southern California. WHF was the second land trust in California to create an outdoor education program for children, and was the first nationally accredited land trust with a specialty in environmental mitigation. The leader in achieving these remarkable accomplishments is Dr. Patrick Shea, WHF’s first executive director, who is retiring after twelve years at the helm.
“I am honored to be selected to lead Wildlife Heritage Foundation, an excellent land trust that has conserved wildlife habitat and working farms throughout California,” stated Guenzler. “I look forward to building upon Pat Shea’s incredible legacy and working with WHF’s board, staff and partners to deepen its work to conserve and sustain land and water resources, and to expand accessible nature and outdoor experiences to enrich the lives and well-being of Californians – especially our youth.”
“WHF is incredibly fortunate to have someone with Dr. Guenzler’s knowledge, experience, and expertise take over the leadership of the Foundation,” stated Shea.
Guenzler has worked in the land conservation field for nearly twenty years, and her leadership is recognized throughout the state and nation. In 2005, she founded the California Council of Land Trusts, a statewide association of nonprofit land trusts. She built a strong record of legislative and policy wins, including building a body of laws that improved the use and effectiveness of mitigation and associated endowments. Her creative and thoughtful approach, strategic acumen, ability to build relationships, and indefatigable persistence earned widespread respect. She conceived and launched Conservation Horizons, an initiative about the future direction of conservation, and Take It Outside, California! to connect all Californians with great outdoor places and experiences. Her other accomplishments include creation of the Conservation Law Forum, a tri-annual educational forum for attorneys and senior practitioners. Her early work materially improved the use, management, stewardship and defense of conservation easements. She holds Ph.D. and Master degrees in City and Regional Planning, and a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Studies, all from the University of California, Berkeley.
About Wildlife Heritage Foundation
The Wildlife Heritage Foundation’s mission is dedicated to preserving California’s rich heritage of open spaces, agricultural land, and diverse wildlife. Central to its long-term vision for the future of these natural places is the need to pass on an appreciation of the outdoors to the youth of California. For this reason, WHF provides educational opportunities for hundreds of students every year to experience and appreciate the abundance of plants and animals living on its protected open-space preserves. For more information, please visit www.wildlifeheritage.org.