Meet the team working hard to save land in Northwest Arkansas!
Executive Director and CEO
Terri Lane serves as the organization’s CEO, responsible for managing the overall operations and resources of NWALT, serving as the public face of the organization, coordinating with the board, and leading the short and long-term strategies of the land trust.
Terri was raised on a small farm on Kessler Mountain in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She spent much of her youth exploring the woods, where she developed a deep appreciation of nature. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Soil and Water Sciences from the University of Arkansas.
Terri’s career in conservation began in 1997 and includes several years as an outdoor environmental educator, program director and wilderness instructor, followed by small business ownership and non-profit management. With a passion for wildlife, she has been active in community conservation efforts, including involvement in local government and training as an Arkansas Master Naturalist, and earned recognition for her volunteer service in leading the city of Fayetteville to become the first certified Community Wildlife Habitat in the state of Arkansas and in helping to develop outdoor classrooms at local schools.
Terri joined the land trust as director in 2012 and continues to provide leadership for regional conservation, including the NWA Open Space Plan Advisory Council, vice-chair of the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association, and NWA Council Infrastructure Work Group. She is also active nationally, serving on the Land Trust Alliance Leadership Council, the Southeast Region Advisory Committee, and Land Trust Ambassadors. Terri completed the Land Trust Alliances’ Executive Director Leadership Training Program in 2014 and led the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust to achieve Accreditation, the first in the state of Arkansas, in 2015.
Terri has logged many miles hiking, backpacking, canoeing and running through the years, and continues to enjoy the outdoors through her work, and with her family and friends. She lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with her husband, Alan, a local attorney, and their two daughters, Eliza and Ivy.
Director of Land Protection and Stewardship
Marson Nance oversees NWALT’s land preservation and land stewardship programs. He is responsible for planning and executing strategies to meet the organization’s land protection goals, enrolling new properties into conservation, and ensuring effective stewardship of NWALT’s portfolio.
A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, Marson left his family business after 10 years to pursue his passion for biology and environmental science. After receiving his Bachelors of Science in Ecology and Environmental Biology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Marson served as a lead biologist and environmental project manager on large-scale energy and infrastructure projects in Las Vegas and the Desert Southwest. Marson worked as an environmental consultant in Nevada, California, and Florida with expertise in the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Marson comes to the land trust from Orlando, Florida where he served as a lake manager for Orange County Government. There he managed urban lake systems and over 2,000 acres of surface water for improvements in water quality and aquatic habitat. Marson worked directly with waterfront property owners to help restore shorelines and capture storm water runoff. Marson served as the government liaison to citizens’ advisory boards and as a divisional representative to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners. Marson is recognized as a Certified Lake Manager by the North American Lake Management Society for his experience and expertise in aquatic ecosystem, water quality, and storm water management.
As a biologist, Marson has worked to protect a variety of threatened and protected species including Desert Tortoise, American Black Bear, Red Wolf, American Alligator, Bald Eagle, and many endemic plant species. Marson has worked in the fields of horticulture and aquaculture, and was the Climate Change Adaptation Intern for US Fish & Wildlife Service on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Marson brings two decades of business, science, and political experience to the NWALT team.
He is a musician and photographer, and has logged thousands of miles across North America and Europe in search of birds and unique cultural experiences. Together with his wife Cheyenne, and two children Owen and Iris, Marson enjoys travel, birding, camping, live music, and artistic pursuits. Marson lives with his family in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Director of Communications and Development
Lauren Embree oversees NWALT’s marketing, outreach and fundraising efforts. She is responsible for planning and executing the organization’s comprehensive public relations and fundraising strategies to grow and maintain a diverse and strong base of community support.
Lauren grew up on the shores of Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas, fostering her love for the outdoors at an early age. Upon graduating from the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs, she moved to Fayetteville in 2003 to pursue a B.A. in Communication from the University of Arkansas.
She has spent the last decade serving the nonprofit community in various roles, most recently as Executive Director of NWA Creative Arts Network. Lauren is very active in our creative community, having founded many endeavors including Lauren Embree Jewelry, the performing arts festival Last Night Fayetteville, the Creative Exchange Conference, and the performance venue Stage Eighteen. She enjoys traveling with her husband David and daughter Lillian, and is most at home near the water, whether the lake, river or ocean.
Farmland Preservation Manager
Susan Koehler manages NWALT’s farmland preservation efforts, including oversight of “FarmLink”, working with area farmers, assisting new or beginning farmers, and designing and implementing strategies and initiatives to actively protect local farms and local food supplies.
Susan grew up in South Eastern Michigan and developed an appreciation for nature during outdoor adventures with her father Henry Stallworth, an architect and sporting artist. She also enjoyed exploring open spaces on horseback and often led fellow pony clubbers on trail rides. Susan earned a B.S. in Business from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI.
She has worked in several industries and in the urban centers of Chicago and Denver. In 2006, Susan joined Sam’s Club to lead corporate communications where she had broad responsibilities including developing campaigns for Fair Trade products, private label wines, Sam’s retail food donation program with Feeding America, showcasing diverse suppliers and launching the availability of international artisan cheeses — where she traveled to Italy to interview cheesemakers, and to tour farms and production facilities.
In 2011, Susan joined the Walmart Foundation to lead a strategic philanthropic initiative to support small business owner access to education resources, and capital. Susan has served on the board of Horses for Healing, the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust and is currently on the board of the NWA Hunter Jumper Association. Most recently, Susan has been consulting for nonprofits in a few capacities including managing the Benton County Fair. Susan and her husband Bob live on a small horse farm west of Centerton, AR. They enjoy entertaining there and offer work to ride opportunities for youth and young adults.
Land Stewardship Coordinator
Born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, Renee spent her childhood exploring the Ozark and Ouachita mountains with her family, and has since dedicated her life to protecting wild lands. She earned a bachelor's degree in Biology at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina and worked as a volunteer coordinator for the college’s service-learning office.
During her summers in undergraduate and in the 10 years following, Renee worked as a seasonal Biological Science and Forestry Technician for the National Park Service at park units in Colorado, Tennessee, and Alaska. Her roles there included: forest management, invasive species eradication, ecosystem restoration, search and rescue, and wildland firefighting. During her seasons off, she worked in outdoor retail and also traveled to 13 countries in Central and South America and Southeast Asia. In Spring of 2020, Renee earned her Master's Degree in Biology at the University of Arkansas which focused on the effects of land use change on soil microbial diversity and carbon cycling in the tropical forests of Borneo.
In her free time, Renee enjoys backpacking, canoeing, fly fishing, and van camping with her husband. Together, they backpacked the lengths of both the Ouachita and Ozark Highlands Trails.
Land Protection Coordinator
Pam Nelson is a key member of NWALT’s land protection team, coordinating detailed real estate due diligence and conservation easement drafting, and serving as in-house GIS specialist. In addition, she organizes special projects on behalf of NWALT, including landowner outreach and climate awareness.
Pam grew up in Dallas, Texas. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from University of North Texas and a master’s degree in Applied Geography with a focus on Environmental Studies from Texas State University. For her master’s research, she completed a greenhouse gas emissions inventory for Texas State University and analyzed strategies to reduce emissions at the University. Pam’s work in environmental education began as an intern for Siuslaw National Forest on the coast of Oregon where she became a Certified Interpretive Guide.
While pursuing her master’s degree, she worked as an environmental educator for The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment in San Marcos, Texas. After completing her degree, she accepted a position as a Teacher Naturalist with the Richardson Bay Audubon Center in Marin County. She later moved back to Texas with her family and worked as Program Manager for Texas Alliance for Geographic Education.
Pam loves hiking and canoeing with her husband, two sons, and dog. She also enjoys gardening, cooking, and volunteering with the Washington County youth garden explorers club.
Leah Saffian manages the daily administrative needs of NWALT, including financial processes, record keeping, and maintaining our office systems and supplies. She also coordinates the use of the Kessler Outdoor Classroom and provides support for our education and outreach programs.
In addition to her role at the land trust, Leah runs Counterpart Studio, a graphic design and visual arts business. Leah received her BA in Art & Performance from the University of Texas at Dallas before relocating to Fayetteville, Arkansas to become a member of the 2012 Energy Corps. She was subsequently offered a full-time position as Deputy Director and Education Coordinator for Washington County Environmental Affairs where she worked for over 6 years. Leah also served as President on the Arkansas Environmental Education Association (AEEA) Board of Directors.
Her artwork has been featured in the NWA Upstream Art contest as part of an effort to educate citizens about storm water best management practices. In her free time, Leah prefers being outdoors, preparing healthy foods, drinking tea, playing piano, making art, and seeking out new adventures.