Staff

Denise Schlener

Interim Executive Director

Denise is a non-profit executive with extensive experience in building sustainable and impactful organizations. Over a four-decade career in land conservation and environmental advocacy, Denise has served in a variety of leadership roles from community organizer and lobbyist to chief development officer and executive director. She co-founded the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and led The Nature Conservancy Connecticut Chapter. More recently she served as national director of the Land Trust Alliance and was chief of staff at the Humane Society of the United States. She serves as chair of The Wilderness Land Trust board of directors and is also on the board of the Tregaron Conservancy, an urban land trust in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of Middlebury College and received her master’s degree from Yale University.

Nancy Appel

Development Director

Nancy Appel joined the Coastal Conservation League in July 2014. A Minnesota native with more than 20 years of fundraising experience, Nancy previously worked as the director of philanthropy at The Trust for Public Land and director of development at the Hazelden Foundation and at several nonprofit organizations in Baltimore, Maryland.

Bobby Bernatavitz

GrowFood Carolina Driver/Warehouse Associate

Bobby was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He came to Charleston in 2016 to attend the College of Charleston and never left. He applied to GrowFood after learning about the positive impact of small-scale agriculture and the extraordinary effects fresh produce has on the mind, body, and overall attitude. In his free time, he enjoys surfing at Folly Beach, gardening, and taking care of his dog, Lady, and his two cats, Mia and Teddy!

Emily Cedzo

Land, Water & Wildlife Senior Program Director

Emily joined the Coastal Conservation League in 2016. She's a North Carolina native with a Master of Environmental Management and certificate in Community-Based Environmental Management from Duke University's Nicholas School. Emily often works on policy related to climate impacts, water quality and withdrawal, plastics, and natural resource protection.

Nancy Caraballo-Guerra

Executive Assistant

Nancy is a native New Yorker, who came to visit her family in South Carolina with her husband and now they have made it their final home destination. She has over 15 years of administrative experience in a variety of industries. She loves interior designing as a hobby and has a creative sense of style. She shares her time in South Carolina with her husband, family and two dogs—Delilah & Hercules.

Jason Crowley

Communities & Transportation Senior Program Director

Jason has a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Charleston and a Masters in Historic Preservation from Columbia University. Before joining the League, he was the Preservation Director for the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities in New York, supporting communities from the East River to Montauk to protect and preserve the cultural heritage of the region.

Deborah Davidson

Human Resources Officer

Deb is a Michigan native who has been with us since 2020. She is a human resources professional with more than 20 years of experience who graduated from Michigan State University. After retiring last year and spending time catching up on home improvement projects and traveling, Deb realized how much she missed working. So, she joined us part time. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, camping, working in her yard rearranging pine straw and planting flowers, and walking her dog.

Riley Egger

Land, Water & Wildlife Project Manager

A native Texan, Riley came to the Conservation League in 2020. She previously worked at the Southern Environmental Law Center where she focused on regional clean water campaigns for two years. Before relocating to the Lowcountry, she earned a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Animal Behavior at the University of Texas at Austin. Outside of work you can find her falling down on rollerblades, brewing kombucha, or at the beach.

Trapper Fowler

North Coast Project Manager

Trapper is a Horry County native. He holds a B.S. in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from Colorado State University as well as an M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Clemson University. Working as a field biologist instilled a great appreciation for the less charismatic species such as reptiles, amphibians, and carnivorous plants, as well as the management tools used to maintain their habitat like prescribed fire. Trapper hopes to use his field-based knowledge to make positive change in the North Coast. He loves spending time with his family including his dogs, collecting vinyl records, grilling out, paddling, and camping.

Ben Garris

Public Utility Analyst

Ben joined the Conservation League with a background in utility regulation, climate policy, and environmental justice, including professional experience working with cases before the South Carolina Public Service Commission. He is passionate about ensuring a just transition to a safe, reliable, and clean energy future for all South Carolinians. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina Honors College with a B.S. in Geography and a B.A in Environmental Studies. At home, Ben has two cats, Bartholomew and Rosalind, and enjoys writing and acting.

Kevin Gilly

GrowFood Carolina Warehouse Ops & Distribution Associate

Kevin grew up on the Jersey Shore in the Manasquan area. He came to Charleston in 1995 to attend the College of Charleston, fell in love with the Lowcountry and never left. After graduating with a degree in art history, Kevin moved into product distribution for local food and beverage purveyors.

Paul Haire

GrowFood Carolina Inventory Control/Quality Assurance Specialist

Paul is originally from upstate South Carolina but has called Charleston home since 2001. His deep passion for connecting people and food led him to work in the food and beverage industry and grocery retail for over 20 years before joining the team at GrowFood Carolina. In his spare time, Paul enjoys listening to and playing music, exploring new recipes and restaurants, and spending time with his family.

Rachel Hawes

Land, Water & Wildlife Project Manager

Rachel is a Charleston native with her B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from the University of Georgia and her M.S. in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston. After spending some time overseas, Rachel came home and put to work her passion for conserving South Carolina’s marine resources. Prior to joining the Conservation League, Rachel worked for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources as well as for The Nature Conservancy in South Carolina. When away from work, Rachel enjoys traveling, surfing, fishing, camping, and hiking.

Diane Knich

Communications Manager

Diane joined the Coastal Conservation League in June 2018, after working for more than a decade as a journalist at The Post and Courier. A Wisconsin native, she holds a B.A. from the University of Minnesota and an M.A. in Journalism and Public Affairs from American University.

Betsy La Force

Communities & Transportation Senior Project Manager

Raised in South Carolina and a graduate of the College of Charleston, Betsy joined the League in 2017. She previously worked in the composting industry educating local businesses & institutions on the importance of waste reduction, diversion & nutrient recycling. Before finding her passion in the environmental field, Betsy worked in France teaching English & broadening her perspectives on environmental & social policies. A Permaculture Design Certification in 2015 inspired Betsy to get involved with local politics, and earning a Master Naturalist certification in 2021 solidified her commitment to conservation. In her spare time, Betsy enjoys riding her bike, spending time in nature, supporting local farmers, & working in the "yarden" at her home in North Charleston.

Kim Larson

Accountant

Kim has been with the Conservation League since 2020. She grew up in Virginia and moved to South Carolina to attend the College of Charleston, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Education. In Charleston she became involved in a number of community projects including co-founding the Carolina Youth Action Project. She worked in education for several years, then went back to school at Trident Technical College, where she earned an associate degree in accounting. She also worked at Spade and Clover Gardens, where she both harvested vegetables and kept the books. On the weekends, Kim can be found exploring the beauty of the Lowcountry with her family.

Austin Lucas

GrowFood Carolina Sales & Marketing Associate

Austin is originally from Hagerstown, Maryland. He attended Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina. After a decade in the Outer Banks and working with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms in Hawaii, he moved to Charleston to further his culinary aspirations.

Catie Lucey

Creative Manager

Catie is a Charleston native with her B.F.A. in Graphic Design from Auburn University. She moved back to Charleston in 2019 and began working for the Coastal Conservation League. Catie enjoys traveling, paddle boarding, hiking, live music, and exploring the Lowcountry with her dog outside of work.

Amy Meola

Development Associate

Amy is a Jersey Shore native with a B.A. in Print and Video Communications and minor in Art from Arcadia University. After gaining experience in journalism and social media/website management, she relocated to Charleston to join AmeriCorps and fell in love with the Lowcountry. She came to the Conservation League in 2021 and enjoys traveling, eating local food, and spending time in nature with her soon-to-be husband and her dog, Poppy.

Taryn Mason

Assistant Director of Development

Taryn grew up in Southern Wisconsin and has degrees from Georgia Southern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to moving to Charleston she worked for organizations in Chicago gaining experience in event fundraising, annual and major giving, and planned giving. She is excited to be back working and living in the Lowcountry.

Robby Maynor

Berkeley County Project Manager

Robby joined the Coastal Conservation League in 2020. He grew up in Berkeley County, on the edge of the Wassamassaw Swamp, where he developed a love for rural living and a deep kinship with the natural environment. After graduating from Lander University with a B.A. in English, Robby obtained an M.A. in English from the joint program at the College of Charleston and The Citadel. An avid reader and a fiction writer, Robby is dedicated to utilizing his affinity for stories by listening to the individual histories of residents and working alongside them to shape the future of Berkeley County.

Kati McArdle

Grants Manager

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Kati attended Michigan State University to earn a BA in Professional Writing and a BS in Environmental Studies & Agriscience. She worked at the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, then bookended an MS in Natural Resources from NC State University with the National Park Service, working as a park ranger at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site and Yosemite National Park. Kati loves the Carolinas—from the mountains to the sea and everything in between, including the local food, parks and music.

Grant McClure

South Coast Project Manager

Grant McClure is from Charleston, South Carolina. He holds an undergraduate degree from Wofford College in English & Environmental Studies. He received his Master's Degree in Wildlife & Fisheries Resources from Clemson in May 2022. Grant currently resides in Beaufort, SC where he enjoys fly fishing and spending time outside with his family.

Merrill McGregor

Director of Government Relations

Merrill joined the League in 2009 after working in fields of International Healthcare Policy Investment and Executive Recruiting. She is a graduate of the College of Charleston, where she focused her studies on International Business, Spanish and Portuguese.

Anthony Mirisciotta

GrowFood Carolina General Manager

Originally from Pittsburgh, Anthony’s agricultural curiosity led him to work with farmers from coast to coast. Anthony brings with him years of experience in the agriculture world, and his track record of success indicates his commitment to furthering local food systems and the communities he's lived and worked in.

Benton Montgomery

GrowFood Carolina Director of Operations

Hailing from Newberry, SC, Benton is a proud USC graduate, veteran of the music industry, WWOOFer in Costa Rica, and the hardest working man in local produce. Benton is committed to supporting local growers and providing high quality products to our customers.

Mike Mistler

Controller

Mike has worked with Carolina Youth Development Center and the South Carolina Aquarium where he held senior financial positions.  Mike has an MBA from the UNC Charlotte, an MA from the University of North Carolina, and a BS from University of Missouri. 

Eddy Moore

Energy Senior Program Director

Eddy joined the Conservation League from the Arkansas Public Service Commission, where he served as an Administrative Law Judge and helped implement an expansion of public utility-funded energy efficiency programs. He holds a B.A. from Yale, an M.A. in U.S. History from American University, and a J.D. from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In his free time, he likes to cook, bike, brew beer, play Frisbee and collect fossils.

Rikki Parker

Senior Program Director – Legal and Program Support

Rikki began her time at the Conservation League in the South Coast office in 2016. In 2020, she relocated to New Orleans and now works to support the North and South Coast offices while also providing legal analysis for the organization.

Claire Quinn

Customer Relationship Management Administrator

Claire is a Pennsylvania native who holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Pace University. She has a as volunteering background with AmeriCorps-VISTA where she worked with Hunger Free New York City networking communities with food banks. In her free time Claire enjoys spending time at the beach, hiking, and exploring Charleston.

DeAnna Ridley

Bookkeeper

DeAnna Ridley assumed the role of Bookkeeper in November 2018. She worked in the accounting field and customer service for more than 15 years. In her free time, she enjoys baking, biking, kayaking, planting flowers, and spending time with her family.

Jamie Roschal

Office Coordinator

Jamie lived many different places growing up in a military family but has spent the majority of her life in the Lowcountry. She held various administrative and logistical management roles before joining the Conservation League team in 2018. Outside work, Jamie loves spending time with her 3-year-old daughter. She also enjoys painting, attending local festivals, and spontaneous adventures.

Becky Ryon

North Coast Office Director

Becky grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida and was fortunate to be surrounded by natural beauty. Unfortunately, like South Carolina, the diverse wildlife and habitats were constantly threatened by unrestrained development. Her childhood in Florida, young adulthood in North Carolina, and previous environmental advocacy work in Richmond with the Virginia League of Conservation Voters have instilled a limitless appreciation for the wild wonders of the Southeast and a desire to preserve them for future generations. Becky is working to build a more resilient South Carolina and to protect our natural resources.

Deirdre Tanner

GrowFood Carolina Supply Chain Wizard

Deirdre is originally from Lexington, South Carolina and has lived in the Charleston area since the mid-1990s. She grew up working with local farmers through her family’s grocery business in Pelion and is happy to be able to continue to support local farmers and businesses through GrowFood Carolina. 

Becca Watson

GrowFood Carolina Farm Coordinator

Becca holds a B.A. in Political Science from Clemson University. After graduation, she returned to her family's farm, Watsonia Farms, to manage its food safety program before accepting a position at GrowFood Carolina. Outside of work, she likes to try new restaurants in town, play tennis and go to the beach.

Brita Van Fossen

Growfood Carolina Sales & Marketing Director

Originally from a small town in Vermont, Brita moved to Charleston in 2014 after earning a B.A. in Communications and Business from Northeastern University, in Boston, MA. Prior to joining GrowFood Carolina, she helped build and lead a support team at a local tech company, but wanted to get back to her roots by pivoting to conservation, with a particular passion for supporting and encouraging sustainability in our food systems. She loves to travel, enjoy all the amazing restaurants in town, and try new recipes and newfound produce with her soon-to-be husband and hound dog!

Jessie White

South Coast Office Director

Jessie joined us in March 2020 after seven years with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project. She grew up in Charlottesville, VA and attended the University of Virginia, where she obtained bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Thought and Practice and Psychology before pursuing her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She enjoys cooking, traveling, kayaking, spending time with her dog, and enjoying the great outdoors.


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[email protected] · 843.723.8035

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