Directors and Founders
The 2023 Officers, Board of Directors, and Staff
All of our officers and directors are volunteers, elected annually for three-year terms according to our bylaws. The Officers and Directors for 2023 are listed below. Use the Contact Us link at the top of the main page to direct an email to any of the current officers or directors listed below.
In 2023, EHLT hired our first staff person as a part-time Executive Director to work on the development of programs and fundraising. The Executive Director works closely with the Board Officers and Directors but does not have a seat on the Board.
Pete Govert, Executive Director
Pete moved to East Haddam in 1999 after 14 years of working as the Training Manager for the Peace Corps in Kenya and Uganda. He served as a Selectman in East Haddam for eight years. He has a BSc in Business Administration from the University of Illinois and an MSc in Organizational Behavior from the University of London. Pete retired as a Residential Dean at Franklin Academy, in East Haddam. When he is not riding his bicycle or paddling a kayak, he is either playing his guitar, participating in a civic meeting or hiking our many and varied trails. Pete and his wife June Plecan raised three daughters in town.
Joene Hendry, President, Chair of Communication Committee
Joene is a lifelong gardener and lover of nature. She has called East Haddam her hometown since 1978. She has volunteered with East Haddam Ambulance as an Emergency Medical Technician, on numerous school administrator search committees, on the East Haddam Board of Education, and with other local organizations. She is retired from her garden design and maintenance business and she and her husband, Ralph Chappell, currently enjoy retirement, their children and grandchildren, volunteering time to East Haddam Land Trust, and traveling.
Andrew Compagno, Vice-president, Chair of Membership Committee
Andrew came to East Haddam when he was young because his parents built a weekend house near Gillette Castle to simply get away from city life. He knew East Haddam called to him when he was willing to endure the long, painful trip from New York City. Andrew sees how this area remains connected to its original natural beauty and believes places like this are disappearing in our country. To live here is to be part of something special. East Haddam Land Trust plays a vital role in preserving this land for future generations to enjoy. Andrew and his family now reside full-time in the house his parents built when he was young.
Jennifer Rieber – Treasurer, Chair of Finance Committee
Jennifer moved to East Haddam from the Boston area about 20 years ago. She has earned a B.S. Biology and a B.A. Art History from the University of Saint Joseph, and is in her final MBA semester at the University of Connecticut. Jennifer cultivated a deep appreciation for nature having spent much of her early childhood sailing with her family on the Lake of the Woods in Kenora Ontario not far from their home in Manitoba. When the family moved to Cape Cod in the 80’s she spent much of her time exploring the beaches, dunes, kettle ponds, and woods of her new home. Jennifer chose East Haddam as her home largely due to the natural beauty of the area.
Barbara Pokorny, Secretary
Barbara holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Marquette University and a Master of Science in nursing from The Catholic University of America. She has practiced in CT as a family nurse practitioner for more than 35 years and is now semi-retired. Barbara has been active with East Haddam Land Trust since moving to East Haddam in 2007 and falling in love with the woods and waterways, the peace and sense of community here. She has served on several EHLT committees including fund-raising and membership and has served terms as both secretary and vice-president. Other volunteer activities include East Haddam Food Bank, Friends of Gillette Castle State Park, and the Medical Reserve Corps filling various pandemic response roles primarily assigned to Chatham Health District. She is an avid birder, often on local hiking trails peering through binoculars with her cocker spaniel at her side.
Cameron Beard, Director, Chair of Stewardship Committee
Cameron, a certified Master Woodland Manager, is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of Connecticut School of Law. He worked in international and maritime law for thirty-two years, and for a time also maintained a small commercial vineyard in East Haddam, growing wine grapes for sale to Connecticut wineries. He is currently retired but still grows various grape varieties, although no longer on a commercial basis. Cameron is a native of northwestern Connecticut but has made his home in East Haddam since 1994.
Ralph Chappell, Director, Oversees the Trail Monitors and Invasive Species Subcommittees
Ralph is a lifelong Connecticut resident and has called East Haddam home since 1982. He has volunteered much of his adult life. He was an EMT with East Haddam Volunteer Ambulance, a soccer coach with East Haddam Park and Rec programs, East Haddam Soccer Club, and a trail stewardship with East Haddam Land Trust. He has a BA degree from the University of New Haven and is retired from a law enforcement career. Ralph is an avid photographer with publications in magazines and newspapers in sports, travel, portraits, and fine art photography. Ralph currently enjoys the stewardship work with EHLT and finds being out in nature to be rewarding and fulfilling.
Steve Dedman, Director
Steve was drawn to the outdoors as soon as he could walk. He has followed this path with education in plant biology and a career in horticulture and design. He has operated a garden design company for the past 25 years with a focus on working with nature, rather than trying to control nature. Steve and his wife reside in Hadlyme and are very grateful to live in a community with an abundance of open space.
Cynthia Deming, Director
Cynthia has lived in East Haddam for almost 25 years and also currently volunteers with the East Haddam Community Lions and the Music on the River committee. She is recently retired from the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch as a Court Services Officer, is a past member of the Appalachian Mountain Club, and previously served on the East Haddam Parks & Recreation Commission. Cynthia and her husband, Anthony Valentino, are proud animal parents to two dogs and two cats.
Nicole Govert, Director
Nicole has been a long-time resident of East Haddam since her family moved here in 1999. She graduated in 2021 with her master’s in Environmental Science. For the past two years, she has worked with the Long Island Sound Mapping and Research Collaborative which uses ArcGIS to map the bottom of Long Island Sound. She also worked with CT SeaGrant to create resources for educators to use to teach about the habitats of Long Island Sound. In her free time, she enjoys reading, kayaking, hiking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Doreen Jezek, Director
Doreen grew up in East Haddam Connecticut. She earned a bachelor’s of science in Natural Resources at the University of Connecticut and a master of science at Auburn University. After working 28 years in hospital laboratories supporting organ transplantation she has returned to East Haddam from Kentucky to retire. Doreen has served on professional boards in the role of a board member, treasurer, and currently as vice president of operations. In retirement, Doreen enjoys gardening, birding, kayaking, and hiking local trails.
Alan N. Ponanski, Director
Alan has been a resident of East Haddam since 1985. A Connecticut Assistant Attorney General approaching retirement after 30 years of public service, Alan has served for 20 years as moderator of First Church of Christ Congregational of East Haddam. His memberships include Friends of Gillette Castle, the Sierra Club, Appalachian Mountain Club, and Tanglewood. Alan holds a BA degree in history from Boston College; an MA in government from The College of William & Mary; an MBA from Western New England College and a JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law. He was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 1990. He is also admitted to the U.S. District Court, the U.S. 2nd Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar. Alan was attracted to East Haddam by its wealth of beautiful forests, open spaces, and hiking trails to share with his golden retrievers and its proximity to his home state of Rhode Island and the ocean. Passionate about travel, seafood, hiking wild places, and historic preservation, his outdoor interests include birding and fly fishing. He and his wife, Susan Kinsman, have two adult sons.
Kyn Tolson, Director
Kyn has lived in East Haddam for more than 40 years. She retired recently after working with nonprofits in Connecticut and Haiti and in journalism in Connecticut, New York City, and elsewhere. She has degrees from the University of North Carolina and New York University. She has been an avid rower and member of Blood Street Sculls in Old Lyme for almost 25 years. Hiking in East Haddam and other areas of the Lower Connecticut River Valley has become another passion. As an Army “brat,” Kyn moved and traveled throughout her childhood and college years. She and her husband, who raised their adult son in East Haddam, are delighted and fortunate to call it their home.
Many thanks to Founding Members, past Presidents, and past Directors.
Richard H. Goodwin
Judith L. Nicholas
Past Presidents 1979 - 2022
Richard H. Goodwin
Past Directors 1979 - 2020
Mary Beth Durland
Joe Parkos, Jr.