Liz Edsall McLaurin has been announced as the new CEO of The Land Trust for Tennessee, a statewide nonprofit land conservation organization.
“I’m honored to assume the leadership of this organization at a time of unprecedented growth and interest in conservation,” Ms. McLaurin said. “When able, The Land Trust responds quickly if development threatens a special place. However, we also keep the big picture in focus.
We are called to protect our farms, wildlife habitat, land in critical watersheds and places that capture the spirit of rural communities before there is imminent threat. Thanks to great leadership and generosity, The Land Trust is increasing the pace at which it’s conserving land — forever protecting what makes Tennessee the place we love to call home.”
The Land Trust for Tennessee’s board of directors voted unanimously to appoint Ms. McLaurin at its May 5 meeting. Ms. McLaurin adds the duties of this position to her current role as president, an office she has held since July 1, 2015.
“Open landscapes have a way of connecting people and important stories,” said Aubrey Preston, the organization’s first conservation easement donor and an entrepreneur most recently known for saving the historic Studio A. “Liz gets it. It’s how her family lives here in Leiper’s Fork, and we’re excited about working with her. Our family continues to be grateful for the peace of mind that The Land Trust has brought to us and our community.”
Ms. McLaurin is a graduate of The University of the South and has been instrumental in a number of successful Land Trust initiatives, including the expansion of the organization’s work throughout the state, the revitalization of Glen Leven Farm, and the establishment of the Jeanie Nelson Conservation Legacy Fund. During Ms. McLaurin’s tenure as president, the organization surpassed the milestone of over 100,000 acres of protected land and began tenaciously implementing the new strategic plan — a plan she spearheaded with organizational leaders. The Land Trust also took on some notable projects over the last year, including an easement on part of the iconic Milky Way Farm; the first land protection projects in historic Lynchburg; the protection of a 1,400 acre wildlife preserve in Humphreys County; and numerous farmland and public open space projects in the rapidly-growing areas around Middle Tennessee.
The Land Trust for Tennessee’s founder, Jeanie Nelson, announced her plan to step down as CEO in April 2015, beginning a well-planned transition. The Land Trust was founded in 1999 by Ms. Nelson with Phil Bredesen — a former Tennessee governor and former Nashville mayor.
Ms. Nelson says that she is excited for the future of The Land Trust: “I am confident that the fabulous team at The Land Trust will take the organization to the next level and that they will continue to lead in the effort to preserve the unique character of the state’s natural and historic landscapes for future generations.”
The board of directors hosted a celebration honoring Ms. Nelson’s career in April, and she officially stepped down as CEO — assuming the title of founder and board member emeritus — at the organization’s annual meeting on May 5.
“I look forward to seeing the organization grow in the hands of Liz McLaurin and her team, seeded by the 16 years of Jeanie Nelson’s dedicated leadership,” said Mark Manner, chairman of The Land Trust’s board of directors. “In her time as president, Liz and the staff have laid the ground work for what promises to be the organization’s most productive conservation year on record. From where I stand, the future looks very bright.”