Leadership

A life long Griswold CT resident Ryan Snide wakes up everyday inspired to help others. He is a self employed Plumbing and Heating Service Professional with a life long passion for the outdoors. Raised in the Pachaug Forest, he is the founding President of Friends of Pachaug Forest. Ryan has also joined the Connecticut Forest and Park Association as a Trail Manager for the Quinabaug Trail and works with the various other trail building groups in the State.  He is a strong community advocate with a very positive perspective on life who works hard to instill the same attitude in the volunteers he leads. ” If we all did things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

Ted, whose home adjoins West Rock Ridge State Park, is director of research and development at Dexsil Corp., a Hamden business that makes environmental test kits. Ted earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Vermont and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Yale University. Ted did three years of post-doctoral work at the Technical University in Berlin, West Germany, before returning to Hamden.

Ted has been a member of West Rock Ridge Park Association since 1996.  He became association vice president in 2002 and president in 2008. Ted is a member of the West Rock Ridge State Park Advisory Council.  He enjoys hiking the trails, bicycling on Baldwin Drive and cross-country skiing in the park with his wife, Amy, and their three children.

Ted is grateful to Bill Doheny, Steve and Barrie Collins, and all the others who had the vision and long-term energy to create West Rock Ridge State Park, and to preserve this valuable and unique landscape for future generations to enjoy, and to the past and present leaders of the Friends of Connecticut State Parks. He looks forward to working with FCSP to ensure the continued success of Connecticut’s wonderful and valuable state parks.

secretary@friendsctstateparks.org

Raised in the shadow of Talcott Mountain, state parks and forests have always been a part of Michelle’s life and have inspired her love and fascination with the natural world. Her childhood memories are full of fishing trips to Haystack Mountain, exploring Kent Falls and People’s Forest, investigating Gillette Castle and riding the Essex Steam Train, just to name a few.  The park holding the most memories is Hammonasset Beach State Park, where she has camped every summer of her life.  Still camping there each summer with her mom, sister and other extended family, she has passed the tradition down to her four children and was thrilled to introduce her grandchildren to the park as fifth generation campers. Michelle started giving back to the park as an early member of Friends of Hammonasset (FoH) after its establishment in 1999.  She joined the Board of Directors in 2009 as the Garden Committee Chair to complete her UConn Master Gardener Certification.  Her roles on the FoH Board have also included grant writing, Social Media & Communications Chair and Hammonassett Festival Committee and some advisory roles. She currently serves as Vice President.

Michelle earned a BA from Connecticut College in New London, CT (major in Mathematical Sciences and minor in Computer Science) and a Master Gardener Certificate from UConn.  She brings her extensive tech and business background, from both her career and many years of philanthropic work, to FCSP.  She is currently the Advancement Administrator of a private high school and lives in West Hartford with her husband, Bob.

Pam was born in Norwich, CT and currently resides in Colchester. She is an active volunteer, currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Friends of CT State Parks and the Board of Directors of the Thames River Heritage Park Foundation. In recent years, she served on the Mystic Country (Eastern CT Regional Tourism District) where she served as the Chairperson and, Friends of Harkness Memorial State Park. She was also a member of the CT State Park Centennial Celebration Committee-2013-14 which helped to raise nearly $50,000 for the Centennial Celebration and the CT State Parks Centennial Commemorative Book. In her leisure time, Pam is a member of the Norwich Power Squadron (US Power Squadrons), a boating education organization and the West Highland White Terrier Society of CT. Ms. Adams was elected as a Justice-of-the-Peace in 1981 and continues to serve in that capacity. Prior to her retirement in 2009, Pamela served as Director of the Connecticut State Park system for 12 years and was a dedicated public servant with the CT Department of Environmental Protection; retiring after 33 years with that agency. Other Information: BA, Wittenberg University, MS University of Connecticut. Married to Thomas.

Judy Benson has been communications coordinator at Connecticut Sea Grant, based at UConn Avery Point, and editor of its biannual magazine Wrack Lines since 2017. Before that, she was a newspaper reporter and editor, concluding her journalism career at The Day of New London covering health and the environment, and received numerous awards for her articles. Her creative nonfiction essays and opinion articles have been published in Appalachia, Connecticut Woodlands, Connecticut Hearst newspapers, the Connecticut Mirror and The Day. She is the author of a book created in collaboration with artist Roxanne Steed: Earth and Sky: Nature Meditations in Word and Watercolor, published in 2021 by New London Librarium. She earned both a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a Master of Science in natural resources from UConn. A longtime resident of New London, she values public outdoor spaces in urban and rural areas alike, and greatly appreciates the many opportunities Connecticut affords to enjoy both.

Andy Bicking is the Executive Director of Connecticut Forest & Park Association, the state’s oldest non-profit conservation organization that conserves Connecticut for today and tomorrow by connecting people to forests, parks and the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails to ensure their protection for future generations.

Prior to coming to Connecticut, Andy worked for nearly 26 years in New York State for Scenic Hudson. He began his career supporting volunteers and communities on river and park stewardship issues, including the award-winning Great River Sweep litter cleanup before transitioning into government relations and public policy. He was instrumental in leading coalitions and advocating for passage of New York’s $4.2 billion Clean Air, Clean Water and Green Jobs Bond Act, local ballot referenda, and many local, state and federal policies related to watershed and open space protection, park creation, climate resilience, agricultural stewardship and soil health, climate resiliency, greenways and land-use planning.

Tanya was born and bred in CT and is a lifelong resident of the state, with the exception of a few years spent in Colorado attending Colorado State University.

She started her first conservation advocacy organization back in elementary school. After receiving a pin maker for Christmas, she recruited her friends to form a group to sell the pins, baked goods and branded pencils and donated the proceeds to national wildlife causes. In high school, she and a few close friends founded a school-wide organization to promote diversity, tolerance and inclusion long before most people were thinking about such issues. At the age of 6, she helped her grandmother raise an orphaned baby squirrel, and in 1998 she attained her wildlife rehabilitation certification.

Tanya is the President of the Friends of Machimoodus and Sunrise State Parks which she co-founded in 2016. Additionally, she serves on the executive board of WCNI Radio, a non-commercial listener-supported station in New London and is currently the acting chair of the Sierra Club of CT’s Wildlife Committee. When she’s not in a meeting, she likes to be outdoors with her husband, dogs, ducks and goats.

Margot Burns is the Senior Environmental Planner for the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments where she currently focuses on land conservation and forest stewardship, natural hazard mitigation, and aquatic invasive species. In 2015 she was awarded Planner of the Year by the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association and in 2016 the Environmental Professional Award by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District for her work with the Lower Connecticut River and Coastal Region Land Trust Exchange. She is responsible for the development of the Menunketesuck / Cockaponset 6 town Regional Greenway and its 2012 designation as a natural resource based Connecticut State Greenway.  Margot earned her MS in Geography/Environmental Protection and holds a BA in Environmental Geography. She currently serves on the Advisory Council for the Connecticut Land Conservation Council, as Secretary for the Eastern Connecticut Resource, Conservation, and Development Area, and is a member of the Chester Conservation Commission.

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Eileen served as FCSP President in the years 2018-2022 and also in the years 2007-2014. She deepened the FCSP partnership with DEEP and CFPA, and led a successful multi-year campaign to raise awareness of the lack of funding for and staffing of the State Park System. The establishment of the Passport to Parks Fund and the adoption of the Constitutional Amendment to Protect CT’s Conservation Lands were the fruits of strong collaborative work with CFPA and the Friends groups’ network of advocates.

Eileen is a landscape designer and sole proprietor of Latin Roots Garden Design in Madison, CT. Her interest in historic gardens led her to Harkness Memorial State Park in 1996. She has volunteered there since that time assisting with the restoration of the renown Beatrix Farrand and Marian Coffin gardens. She co-chaired the Friends of Harkness horticulture committee for 20 years and organized the Friends’ Annual Plant Sales. She served as the President of the Friends of Harkness for four years (2000-2003) and subsequently on its Board of Trustees for sixteen years.

She joined the FCSP Board in 2004 and has focused her efforts on legislative issues pertaining to Parks.

In September of 2014, Eileen was nationally recognized for her efforts on behalf of Connecticut State Parks; she received the 2014 Presidents Award by the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). The award is given annually to an individual or organization that has made an extraordinary contribution, innovation, and/or best practice at a state, regional or national level, furthering the goals of a system of state parks.

Eileen holds an Honors B.A. and an M.A. in Literature from the University of Connecticut.

eileencgrant@gmail.com

Shortly after moving to Westport CT in 2004 with her late husband, Liz-Ann retired from her position as Chief Counsel, Market Surveillance of the New York Stock Exchange and became an active volunteer, initially in the League of Women Voters of Westport (where she was a member of its Board for over six years, including two years as President). Her neighbor, a Founder of the Friends of Sherwood Island State Park, recruited Liz-Ann to be on its Board where she soon became Co-President and then President which she is currently. In 2019, she joined the Board of Directors of the Friends of CT State Parks, an organization she came to admire for its role in the establishment of the Legislator Honor Roll – Adopt A Park and the enactment of the Passport to Parks program. She is also currently on the Board of the Greens Farms Association. Other information: BA, University of Colorado; JD Georgetown University Law Center.

Chris has been an avid supporter and member of the Friends of Hammonasset (FOH) since 2005.  She was elected Vice President in 2015 and has been President since 2016.  FOH works to protect, enhance and preserve Hammonasset Beach State Park through environmental education.  Chris has been a member of the Friends of Connecticut State Parks since 2013 and joined the Board of Directors in 2017.

Chris spends as much time as camping at Hammonasset Beach State Park with her husband Pete.  Growing up camping with her family she spent half of her summers camping on Fire Island and traveling to other parts of the USA.  She has visited forty-eight states, including many National and State Parks.

Chris has over 25 years of financial services experience.  Starting her career in Southampton, NY she moved to New England in 1994 where she continues building relationships with business clients.

 

Born and raised in Waterbury, Shaun has been visiting Connecticut state parks since the earliest days of his youth. Parks like Harkness, Gillette Castle, Black Rock, Devils Hopyard, Wadsworth Falls, and numerous others, shaped Shaun’s love of both the natural world and of the human stories of our state’s past. These places are part of the reason Shaun attended Central Connecticut State University and majored in history. After finishing his B.A. and M.A. degrees, Shaun worked for the National Park Service as a ranger at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in Oyster Bay, New York for more than six years. In 2011, Shaun accepted a position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was happy to return to Connecticut. He now works on the shoreline and owns a home with his wife in the Middletown area. Shaun joined FCSP in 2015 to advocate for our state lands and raise awareness so more citizens will enjoy them.

Jay joined the FCSP board in 2013. He started his tenure with the state parks simply by offering his services in the visitors book at Heublein Tower. He joined the Friends of Heublein Tower board of directors in 2002. In 2009 accepted the position of Co-president and in 2014 Jay became President of the board. As an architect, Jay brings his interest in restoring buildings back to their original integrity. His ability to gather support, secure materials and labor have led to many successful restoration/recreation projects at the tower. He, other members of the board and the Park Manager have collaborated on many projects together, relying on their individual strengths and talents to accomplish daunting tasks. Jay’s never afraid to be hands on, from bending copper for light fixtures to climbing up to the cupola to change the light bulb in the beacon. Jay lives in Simsbury with his wife Tara and daughters Taylor, Maggie and Maeve.

Tom is the Director of the State Parks and Public Outreach Division of the DEEP, and serves on the FCSP Board as an Ex-Officio member. Tom began his career working for DEEP in the early 80s in the State Parks Division. For 5 years, Tom worked at several parks in the greater Hartford area, including Penwood, Stratton Brook, and Talcott Mountain State Parks. Tom then worked for 10 years in the private sector, doing legislative advocacy for a number of clients, several focusing on environmental issues. He returned to the DEEP in 1997 to direct the legislative program for the DEEP working for each of the past five Commissioners representing the DEEP before the General Assembly on a wide range of issues, including significant collaboration with the Friends in their legislative work. Prior to becoming Director of Parks, Tom’s other duties for the DEEP have included leading the Land Acquisition and Management Program, as well as the Indian Affairs program.

Mike is Chief of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation for the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection.  In this role, he oversees the administrative, operational and managerial functions of the State Parks, Boating, and Environmental Conservation Police Divisions.  Mike’s career in state parks began with North Carolina State Parks, where he started as a Park Ranger and worked through the ranks to become Park Superintendent working in five different state parks throughout western North Carolina.  He eventually became Chief of Operations for North Carolina State Parks where he planned, organized and managed 41 operational units within the state parks system overseeing interpretation and education programming, law enforcement, emergency services and park maintenance and operations.  He left North Carolina for his current position in Connecticut where he works to provide outdoor recreation opportunities consistent with the long term protection of the state’s natural resources.  He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Earth Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.