The St. Simons Land Trust is governed by a dedicated, talented, and generous group of volunteer community leaders. The Board of Directors and staff of the Land Trust work together to ensure they are following nonprofit organizational best practices and rules of good governance. This includes conducting annual board self-evaluations, adhering to terms of service and board rotation, maintaining confidentiality, and signing annual conflicts of interest statements. The SSLT Board of Directors has fiduciary responsibility for the organization, leads strategic planning, sets organizational priorities, approves policies, provides policy oversight, and assists with fundraising.
The Land Trust is fortunate to have been led over the years by Boards of Directors that are committed to land conservation and nonprofit excellence. We are truly grateful for their investments of time, expertise, and resources in helping to preserve and protect St. Simons Island.
James “Greer” Brown is a partner of Brown-Rose Wealth Management Group. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of the South and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business in 2000. Greer serves on the Board of the St. Simons Land Trust, is a member of its Executive Committee and previously served as the board’s Chairman. Greer also serves as Chairman of Frederica Academy and Immediate Past Chairman of the College of Coastal Georgia Foundation. Greer and his wife Laura reside on St. Simons Island where they attend Christ Church Frederica with their three children, Maidee, McKenzie and Joe.
Jim Barger, Jr. is a nationally recognized trial lawyer who handles complex government investigations, particularly qui tam whistleblower litigation under the False Claims Act. In less than a decade, Jim has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients and the United States. He served as lead counsel in the largest home health Medicare fraud case in U.S. history and in the largest Medicare hospice fraud case in U.S. history. Jim is one of very few attorneys in the country to be tapped to serve as a private attorney general for the United States in a jury trial as part of a Department of Justice trial team. Jim’s pro bono work includes representing death row inmates on appeal where his appellate advocacy and post-trial cross-examination exposed juror misconduct. Jim regularly receives the highest designation by multiple peer-review organizations and since 2012 has consistently been named by his peers as among Alabama’s top 50 plaintiff lawyers. A long-standing adjunct professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, Jim teaches a popular advanced-level course and is published in leading academic law reviews. Together with other members of his firm, Jim has been asked to co-author the forthcoming update of the longstanding treatise: Healthcare Fraud, Enforcement, and Compliance. Jim grew up on St. Simons and he and his wife Burch have chosen to raise their family on the island as well.
Robert (Jay) Buchert, a Cincinnati, Ohio native, is President of American Heritage Properties, Inc. His construction and real estate development experience spans more than 55 years. He is a Past President of the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), the Greater Cincinnati Homebuilders Association, and the Ohio Homebuilders Association. He was inducted into the National Housing Hall of Fame, Washington D.C. in 1998 and has also served on the Board of Directors of the Housing America Foundation, the Fannie Mae National Advisory Council, and the Freddie Mac Mortgage Products Advisory Board. Mr. Buchert served President Ronald Reagan on the Private Sector Initiative Committee, as well as both Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council. He also served President Bush on the Commission on Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing and as a Director and Chairman of the Fifth District Federal Home Loan Bank. He was appointed by three of Ohio’s governors to the Board of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency where he served for fifteen years, ten as Chairman of the Housing Finance Sub-Committee. In 1999 and 2000, Mr. Buchert served as Chairman of the Building Homes in America’s Cities Task Force, a partnership between the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Association of Homebuilders. He and his wife Linda have been married for 51 years, have four grown children, four grandchildren, and currently reside in Naples, Florida, Bellevue, Kentucky, and St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Before selling his company and moving to St. Simons Island as a fulltime resident, David Wright was the co-founder and vice president of Elite Foam, Inc. and senior vice president of Elite Comfort Solutions in Newnan, Georgia. He and his wife Deborah are active members of the island community and in addition to serving on the board of directors of the St. Simons Land Trust (where he is a member of the development and communications committee). David has been involved with the Coastal Georgia Historical Society, Glynn Visual Arts, and Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association.
Dialo Cartwright, Area Manager for Georgia Power Company. In his 20 years in the electric power industry, Dialo has held Management positions in the fields of Distribution Engineering, Transmission Design, Construction, and External affairs. In his current role as Area Manager, his focus is on external effectiveness for Camden, McIntosh, and Glynn counties. Dialo serves as the liaison in the communities for external engagement with key community leaders, elected officials, and key decision makers. He and his wife, Cherise, have both been active in various community organizations in the area. During this time, he has become a solid supporter of the St. Simons Land Trust and has significantly increased corporate sponsorship to the Trust from Georgia Power. Dialo and Cherise have two children: Dawson, 12 and Olivia Jane, 7. Dialo enjoys family activities, college football and serving his community. Cherise, who he met on a blind date set up by his brother and her sister, is a mom-entrepreneur.
Scott Coleman is a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Warnell School for Forestry and Natural Resources with a degree in Wildlife Biology. He is the Ecological Manager for the Center for Coastal Conservation at Little St. Simons Island, where he works with staff and conservation partners to maintain, enhance, and restore the natural ecological communities and wildlife populations on the island. Scott is also actively involved in the broader Georgia coastal conservation community, serving on the Board of Directors of One Hundred Miles and the Stewardship Committee and Cannon’s Point Conservation Task Force for the St. Simons Land Trust. He also helped to create Stewards of the Georgia Coast, an informal donor affinity group focused on coastal conservation, and he is a steering committee member for the Coastal Georgia Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, a member of the Georgia Shorebird Alliance, the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative, the living shoreline working group, and the past board chair and now advisory committee member of Coastal WildScapes. He lives on St. Simons with his wife Ann, an educator at St. Simons Elementary School, and their two children – Daniel and Mary Remington. They are active members at First Baptist Church, St. Simons.
Nancy P. Dorn served as the Vice President for Government Affairs for General Electric Company from 2003-2017, leading government affairs, policy and regulatory for all facets of the company. She retired from GE in October 2017. She came to the position from senior US Government roles, including Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush and Assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney. She had previously served as Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Inter-American Affairs) and Deputy Secretary of State (Legislative Affairs) as well as Special Assistant to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Ms. Dorn currently serves on the Board of Governors of Argonne National Lab and is a member of the Board of Brookfield Renewable Partners. She serves as Secretary of the Saint Simons Land Trust’s board of directors, is a member of the board’s Executive Committee and co-chairs the Development and Communications Committee. She lives in Saint Simons Island, Georgia, and in Washington, D.C.
Valerie Hepburn was president and CEO of the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation from 2014 through 2016. Prior to that, she served for more than 30 years in senior public policy and educational leadership positions across Georgia. From 2003 until 2014, Valerie served as the president of the College of Coastal Georgia, leading its transformation to a senior college; during this time she was also an administrator and faculty member in health policy and management and public administration at both The University of Georgia and Georgia State University. Prior to her academic service, Dr. Hepburn spent over two decades in senior leadership positions with state health, finance, and regulatory agencies. She and her husband, David Hayes, live on St. Simons and are members of the Land Trust.
Elizabeth (Beth) Holder served on the Board of Trustees of Agnes Scott College (of which she is a graduate) for 13 years and served as the board’s Chairperson for five years. Under her leadership, the board received the John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership, navigated a global pandemic and, most recently, affirmed a new strategic plan – Pathways to Success – that will provide direction for the college over the next five years. She and her husband Tommy are longtime supporters of the Land Trust, and for many years have lived primarily in Atlanta with visits as often as possible to their home on Sea Island. Most recently Beth’s parents made the move from Cashiers, NC, to St. Simons. Beth and Tommy’s daughter Kelsey Robinson has become Executive Director of the Holders’ KELIN Foundation, making support of the Georgia coast a true family affair.
Mary Jenrette has nearly 30 years of experience in banking, including 12 years in private wealth management. She began her career in Charlotte, NC before moving to St. Simons Island, Georgia in 2007. In October of 2008, Mary joined SunTrust in their Private Wealth Management group, and in 2014, she moved to Synovus as a Private Wealth Advisor where she received the Chairman’s award in 2016 and 2017. Today she serves as a Senior Vice President – Private Wealth Advisor for Synovus Bank. Mary holds her series 7, 66, annuity, insurance and long-term care licenses. She was the 2018 recipient of the United Way of Coastal Georgia Community Impact Award. Today she serves as Chairman of that Board of Directors. Mary also serves on the Board of Directors for The Gathering Place, Centered For Life and NewCity Brunswick. Jenrette attended Saint Mary’s School, received a BS in Business Administration from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC and holds a graduate certificate in Banking and Finance from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She and her husband, Jon have been married for 29 years and have three sons, Harris (25), Hampton (22) and Cooper (19).
Bill Jones III is currently Senior Advisor, Sea Island Company and a Director of the Broadmoor- Sea Island Company. He is past Chairman and CEO of Sea Island. He represents Georgia’s 1st congressional district on the Board of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and chairs the Law Enforcement Committee. He is former Board Member and Chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority, the Georgia Research Alliance, The Georgia Cancer Coalition, the Georgia Historical Society and served on the board of the Jekyll Island Authority. Mr. Jones’ personal recognition includes Entrepreneur of the Year award for Principled Leadership from Ernst and Young, the Rock Howard Award for outstanding environmental achievement given by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award for distinguished service, and the NAACP Freedom Award. Georgia Trend named him “Georgian of the Year” in 2004 for bringing the G8 Summit meeting to Sea Island. He and his wife Sally reside on Sea Island and are members of Wesley United Church at Frederica.
Gayle McAlister spent over 20 years developing a national marketing strategy and legacy branding for Security Central, one of the top five wholesale monitoring facilities in the security industry. During her tenure, she expanded the reach of the company to over 250,000 customer accounts throughout the country. Since retiring, Gayle has transitioned to philanthropic efforts in the community. These include volunteering at Safe Harbor in the Donation Center and assisting in the Backpack Buddies program at Christ Church Frederica. She also assists her husband with the McAlister Foundation, founded in 2000, which provides four-year college scholarships to seniors in Laurens County, SC yearly, in addition to providing financial assistance to many organizations within the county. Gayle studied Industrial Relations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a member of Christ Church Frederica. She and her husband, Albert, reside in St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Tom Regan has lived in coastal Georgia for seven years. He graduated from Penn State University with a degree in chemical engineering followed by a successful career working for fertilizer and chemical companies. His most recent position before retiring was as President of the Pot Ash Corporation in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Regan has served on numerous nonprofit boards and has been an involved member of the St. Simons community. As a board director of the Land Trust, he participated in the organization’s 2018 organizational review and has served on the Finance Committee.
Robert Sattelmeyer is Regents’ Professor Emeritus at Georgia State University, where he taught American literature and served in various administrative roles, including Chair of the Department of English and Director of the Honors College. Since retiring in 2012, he and his wife, Leigh Kirkland, have been active in local activities including Glynn Visual Arts, 100 Miles, the St. Simons Community Garden, and, of course, the Land Trust, where Bob has been a volunteer at Cannon’s Point Preserve since its opening. He is especially interested in the conservation of birds and the sensitive habitats they require on the Georgia coast. He is President of the Coastal Georgia Audubon Society, and frequently leads birding field trips.
Susan Shipman worked for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division, for 30 years, during which she served as its Chief of Marine Fisheries for 17 years and Division Director from 2002 through 2009. As Division Director, she directed Georgia’s Coastal Management Program, habitat protection, and permitting as well as marine fisheries management. She was the State agency appointee to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Now retired, Susan spends the majority of her time as a hobbyist beekeeper and community volunteer. She chairs the Stewardship Committee for the Land Trust as well as the Cannon’s Point Preserve Advisory Committee and Conservation Task Force. Susan is an advisor to Georgia SeaGrant, represents apiarists on the Glynn County Farm Bureau Board, serves on the One Hundred Miles Board, and several other community boards and foundations.
As Sea Island Company’s President and CEO, Scott Steilen oversees all of the company’s resort operations, membership, real estate development and brokerage, and owner services. Steilen joined Sea Island in 2011 after spending 10 years as a Principal of Warnick + Company (now CHMWarnick), a strategic advisory firm to hospitality industry clients worldwide. Prior to Warnick + Company, he spent nearly 10 years with Ernst & Young as the Central Region Practice Director for E&Y’s Hospitality Services Group. Steilen grew up in the business as a hotelier’s son and is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Hospitality Business. Scott resides on St. Simons Island with his wife, Marybeth. All three of their children attend or attended the University of Georgia. Scott and Marybeth are very active in the community. Scott is the Chairman of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau and is a member of several boards, including the College of Coastal Georgia Foundation, the Alumni Board of Directors of the MSU School of Hospitality Business, and the Board & Executive Committee of the St. Simons Land Trust. He is also a past Ambassador for the United Way of Coastal Georgia, and he and Marybeth are the incoming Chairs of the University of Georgia Parent’s Leadership Council.
Frances Parker McCrary is an active community volunteer who has been involved with the St. Simons Land Trust since its inception. She, along with friends Ben Slade, Jeanne Kaufmann, and Jim Manning were the forces behind the founding of the organization, and she has served it faithfully and enthusiastically since those early days. Over the years, Frances served on nearly every standing committee of the Land Trust’s Board of Directors and held leadership positions including Board Chair, Secretary, and Chair of the SSLT Advisory Council. She has also served in leadership roles of numerous other local organizations including those involved with conservation, education, gardening, music, hunger action, disaster relief, and church mission work. Originally from Macon, Georgia, Frances has lived on the Georgia coast for nearly 60 years, with more than 45 of those years on St. Simons Island. She and her husband, Dennie, have three grown children and seven grandchildren.
Ben Slade was born in Savannah, Georgia, and lived in several coastal communities during his childhood before moving to Atlanta as a teenager. Ben returned with his family to Brunswick in 1961. Since then, he has been very active in community affairs throughout his time in Glynn County. He has served as chairman of the United Way, chairman of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Brunswick-Glynn Economic Development Authority, and President of the Boys and Girls Club of Glynn. He was the founding President of Habitat for Humanity of Glynn and is past chairman of the Okefenokee Council of Boy Scouts of America. He is a former trustee of the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation, and the College of Coastal Georgia Foundation.
The community work for which is probably best known is that with the St. Simons Land Trust. In 2000, the St. Simons Land Trust was founded, and Ben served as founding Board Chairman of the organization. He returned in 2011 to help chair the $20-plus million capital campaign for the purchase of Cannon’s Point and to serve as the Land Trust’s Executive Director. He was selected as Conservationist of the Year by the Georgia Conservancy after the successful completion of the Cannon’s Point Preserve campaign in 2013.
The St. Simons Land Trust was grateful that Ben returned to serve as its Interim Executive Director in July 2019. In this capacity, he worked closely with the SSLT staff and board on multiple projects until his retirement (for the third time!) in mid-October. Ben is a member and former Senior Warden of Christ Church, Frederica. He lives on St. Simons Island. He has four children and eleven grandchildren. He is married to the former Carol Parks who has a daughter and a son, a former marine infantryman.