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Directors and Founders


The 2024-25 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 current Officers and Directors 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 here.
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.

Nicole Govert, Vice-president

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.  NIcole is currently a Community Resilience Planner for the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation. For the previous two years, she 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.

Catherine Denmeade – Treasurer, Chair of Finance Committee

Catherine grew up in East Haddam exploring the backyard woods, camping, hiking and biking, and rolling down the now-gone dune hill at Town Beach. She headed off to explore the world, spending her University years in NYC before spending 11 years in Australia. Coming back to the US in 2015 brought her right back to East Haddam. Catherine has a BBA from Hofstra University and a Master of Strategic Marketing from the University of Wollongong, Australia. That East Haddam is continuing to value and preserve open and natural spaces was a big reason to return. She currently works from home, getting to enjoy the conserved land beyond her yard while watching the wildlife outside her window every day.

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.  

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.

Monika Kahlenbach, Director
Monika is a psychotherapist in private practice in Glastonbury and West Hartford, CT. She is a long-time resident of East Haddam and member of EHLT, an avid hiker, and life-long learner interested in our natural world. Monika hopes to share her organizational skills and friendly outlook with the land trust board.

Gaynell Meij, Director
Gaynell is a life-long learner in the realms of natural history, creative expression, and human compassion. Sharing this learning has included work in groundwater public policy education, participating in a food and development project led by Bread for the World, and encouraging ecologic awareness through creative expression retreats and workshops.  Since moving to East Haddam in 1998, Gaynell continued to immerse in natural sciences field courses and studio arts at Wesleyan University.  She feels very fortunate to live in this bio-region, with its diverse niches and a community that expresses care in creating land trusts, conservation easements, and preserves as she enjoys and cares deeply for the wetlands, woods, estuarine, and riverine ecosystems that combine to make this place lively.

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.

Patrick Yackovetsky, Director
Patrick has lived in East Haddam with his wife, Bonnie, and 2 daughters since 1996.  He worked for SNET / AT&T for 38 years and currently works for Unlimited Technology as a Fiber Design Engineer, overseeing the construction and testing of a fiber backbone for the security upgrades for Avangrid. He is a past president and treasurer of East Haddam Soccer Club, as well as a coach. Patrick enjoys being outdoors in nature and has been part of EHLT’s stewardship volunteers for many years.


Many thanks to Founding Members, past Presidents, and past Directors.


Founding Members

Anita Ballek

Alan Birmingham

Martha Tonucci

Stephen Gephard

Richard H. Goodwin

Art Merrow

Judith L. Nicholas

Peggy Wilson

Frank Wolcott


Past Presidents 1979 - 2022

Frank Wolcott

Richard H. Goodwin

Stephen Gephard

Marilyn Gleeson

Arthur Merrow

Lesley Olsen

Pat Anderson

Greg McHone

Jonathan Modica

Maureen VanDerStad

Joel Ide

Barb Bloomberg

Rob Smith

Shannon Hawkins

Jane Zirlis

Pete Govert


Past Directors 1979 - 2020

Dean Anderson

Jane Anderson

Pat Anderson

Noelle Avakian

Allison Ballek

Anita Ballek

Alan Birmingham

Gordon Bishop

Matt Budzik

Peggy Carlson

Noel Cherubino

Joe Clark

Logan Clarke

Mary Colpoys
Andrew Compagno

Hugh Crowley

Steve Dedman

Vickie DeNicola

Donnie Donner

Susan Dowling

Mary Beth Durland

Bruce Elfstrom

Matt Elgart

Heidi Fellner

Judy Fiala

Roberta Fusari

Stephen Gephard

Kathy Golec

Don Goss

Sarah Gworek

Shannon Hawkins

Wickes Helmboldt

Joene Hendry

Nel Herbst

Joan Holbrook

Joel Ide
Doreen Jezek

Tim Johnson

Gary Kania

John Kashanski

Anne Kilpatrick

Gary Laskowski

Hans Lohse

John Matthew

Lee May

Greg McHone

Jean Meredith

Art Merrow

Dot Millen

Jonathan Modica

Matt Montano

Hank Montrose

Jonathan Morris

Jamie Murphy

Roger Nemergut

Leslie Olsen

Roy Parker

Joe Parkos, Jr.

Deb Piez

Barbara Pokorny

Kathy Reynolds
Jennifer Rieber

John Rozum

Pietrina Saxton

Gail Sharkey

Sarah Thurmond

Martha Tonucci

Maureen VanDerStad

Brian Warman

Lynn Wilkinson

Charles Wolf

Jane Zirlis



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