Meet the team working hard to save land in Northwest Arkansas!
Executive Director and CEO
Grady Spann 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.
Grady comes to the land trust from Arkansas State Parks where he served for 28 years. Grady joined Arkansas State Parks in 1993 and in 2016 was promoted to director of Arkansas State Parks. He also served as a park ranger after graduating from the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy in 1995.
Grady is the past president of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), past president of the Association of Southeast State Park Directors, and formerly the Chairman of the Board of Regents for NASPD State Park Leadership School.
Prior to working for Arkansas State Parks, Spann served in the U.S. Army for nine years as a military tactical intelligence and counterintelligence officer. He was stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and in Washington D.C.
Director of Land Stewardship and Research
Marson Nance oversees NWALT’s land stewardship program. He is responsible for planning and executing strategies to meet the organization’s land stewardship goals, 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 Land Protection
Pam Nelson is a key member of NWALT’s land protection team, managing 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.
Director of Engagement and Giving
Robert Hopper serves as our Director of Engagement and Giving, overseeing NWALT’s communication and fundraising efforts to grow awareness and support of our mission to protect land, water, and wildlife for all in Northwest Arkansas.
Before joining the land trust, Robert served as an Assistant Director of Development in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences’ Office of Development and External Relations at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. In this role, he focused on growing the culture of giving within the Department of Music, University Bands, the School of Art, the School of Journalism and Strategic Media, and the college’s diversity, equity, and inclusion programming.
Prior to his time in the Fulbright College Dean’s Office, Robert served as the Associate Director of Band Finance, Marketing, and Operations for the Department of Music. He was responsible with the administration of a scholarship budget drawn from more than 50 general and foundation accounts with over 500 individual awards disbursed each year. Through practical budgeting and a redesign of the scholarship offer process, the department was able to offer more awards than any time in its history. Robert also led the Razorback Band’s marketing and recruitment efforts by partnering with graphic designers, product vendors, and internal team members to create a unified engagement plan fueled by the history and mission of the program.
Robert lives in Fayetteville and enjoys roaming the city’s parks and trail systems with his two dogs, cheering on the Hogs, and striving to become a better gardener.
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 Manager
Renee Sniegocki serves as the boots-on-the-ground land manager for NWALT’s nature preserves as well as chief monitor of conservation easements. She also helps place lands into permanent conservation through field data collection and preparation of baseline documentation reports.
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. 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.
Administrative and HR Manager
Mikayla Alderson manages the daily administrative needs of NWALT, including financial processes, record keeping, and maintaining our office systems and supplies.
She grew up in Conway Arkansas, but spent most of her weekends at Greers Ferry Lake in Clinton Arkansas where she would spend most Saturdays out on the water with her family. She later graduated with a bachelor's degree in Sociology and a minor in Marketing. Mikayla is passionate about helping others and has experience in nonprofits and serving under-privileged youth.
Mikayla loves going on walks with her dog Banjo, singing and playing guitar with her father and brother, doing yoga, making any kind of craft, and traveling and exploring new places.
Community Engagement Manager
While growing up in Fayetteville, the most common place you could find Evan would either be on the White River or deep into Ozark National Forest exploring with his family. Evan has deep roots within the state of Arkansas and has decided to move back to his home state.
While away, Evan earned his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Management and Policy at UNC-Asheville. Evan was able to intern with the Defenders of Wildlife as a Programs Intern when he was still in school. After graduating in May of 2021, Evan joined the Blue Ridge Service Corps, where he was partnered with Habitat for Humanity as a Volunteer Coordinator and Deconstruction Specialist. He also worked alongside Lake Logan Retreat Center by helping to build the foundational curriculum for the new Outdoor School. In the summer months, Evan worked at Camp Kanuga as a Camp Counselor where he would lead outdoor education activities. Evan is excited to bring his skills and experience from working with non-profits and outdoor schools to the Ozarks Region.
Evan loves to play disc golf in his free time and is always aspiring to bring his game to the next level! If he is not disc golfing, you will find him rooting for the Charlotte Hornets from afar, or trout fishing in the Ozarks
Creative and Marketing Manager
Ryder Snell serves as the Creative and Marketing Manager and is responsible for ensuring Northwest Arkansas Land Trust's visual identity, branding, publications, and online presence are consistently professional and integrated within our mission to save the land, water, and wildlife that make NWA a special place to call home.
He is an Arkansas native and has called NWA home for the past four and a half years. While here, he attended the University of Arkansas where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Marketing. During his time at the UofA, Ryder was Firm Director for the Advertising Club as well as a member of both the Real Estate Club and Kappa Sigma fraternity. He also hosted a show for KXUA, the university's radio station.
Ryder has always had a passion for nature and the outdoors. He grew up hunting, fishing, biking, camping, etc. and is excited to mix his passion for marketing with his love for nature and NWA here at the Land Trust.
Ryder enjoys living a healthy lifestyle by working out, eating right, and meditating. He also has a love for making music, watching sports, and most recently, mountain biking. When not doing one of these, you can find Ryder enjoying quality time with friends and family.