Donald S. Strait, President of Connecticut Fund for the Environment and its program Save the Sound, ext. 103
Don has been Executive Director of Connecticut Fund for the Environment since 1992, and was Legal Director from 1990 to 1992. In 2004, Don guided the organization's merger with Save the Sound.
Prior to joining CFE, Don was a staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York. Don was one of the co-founders of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. He serves on the board of directors of Restore America's Estuaries and the State Environmental Leadership Program. He is a graduate of Amherst College (B.A. 1981) and Harvard Law School (J.D. 1985).
Curt Johnson, Executive Director of Save the Sound, ext. 111
Curt Johnson received his J.D. from University of Connecticut School of Law and was awarded a Masters in the Study of Law, Summa Cum Laude, focusing on environmental law from Vermont Law School. He was an attorney with the firm of Murtha, Cullina, Richter and Pinney for three and one-half years before joining Connecticut Fund for the Environment as an attorney in 1993.
As Program Director of CFE/Save the Sound, Curt led the team to achieve environmental results in protecting our rivers, Long Island Sound, and our air and water by bringing together people, groups and our elected leaders.
He serves as the Connecticut Co-Chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee to Long Island Sound's National Estuary Program, co-founded the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Connecticut School of Law, and recently served as President to the Hamden Land Conservation Trust.
Tom Andersen, New York Program and Communications Coordinator for Save the Sound, email
Tom joined Save the Sound on a part-time basis in August 2012, focusing on New York issues, after helping the organization form a strategy for its western Long Island Sound work. He is the author of This Fine Piece of Water: An Environmental History of Long Island Sound (Yale University Press) and spent three decades as a newspaper reporter and working for a land conservation organization in New York. He also serves as director of communications and community outreach for Connecticut Audubon Society.
Karen Baar, Director of Development, ext. 106
Karen Baar joined Connecticut Fund for the Environment as Director of Grants in January 2008. A former health care activist, educator and administrator, she has a B.A. from New York University and a Masters in Public Health degree from the Yale University School of Medicine.
Before landing at CFE, Karen was a freelance writer for more than 15 years. She has written hundreds of articles about women's issues, health, science and medicine, and social policy for magazines, newspapers and Web sites; she has also written or co-authored several books. The mother of two grown daughters, Karen loves gardening, hiking and travelling.
Karen Burnaska, Coordinator, Transit for Connecticut
The Transit for Connecticut Coalition is administered out of CFE.
John Champion, Director of Green Projects, ext. 101
John Champion joined the CFE team in September of 2008. John's extensive nonprofit experience includes five years as the Executive Director of the New Haven Ecology Project and three years at a Bridgeport charter school, where he established and maintained the school's business office. Prior to entering the nonprofit world, he owned and operated and residential and light commercial construction company. John has an M.S. in Political Science from Southern Connecticut State University.
Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator, ext. 127
Chris Cryder joined Save the Sound in May 2007 and is responsible for coordinating various outreach activities for CFE/Save the Sound, as well as implementing green infrastructure projects.
Prior to joining Save the Sound, Chris was a member of a citizen activist group, the Alliance for Sound area Planning (ASaP), which partnered with CFE in the fight to protect "The Preserve," a 1000-acre forest and wetland area in Old Saybrook. He has an undergraduate degree in biology, and a master's in health services administration.
Lois Greene, Development Assistant, ext. 102
Lois joined CFE as the Development Associate in April 2010. Prior to moving to Connecticut, she worked for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals as an IT Training and Documentation Associate. She graduated from The University of Iowa in Journalism and earned a M.A. (Social Science) from the State University of New York at Binghamton. She is the mother of an active 1st grader and they both love the outdoors, especially the beach!
Michelle LeMere, Assistant Director, Member Relations and Annual Fund, Ext. 104
Michelle came to CFE in November 1999. She attended Franklin Pierce College and Southern Connecticut State University. She is a past president of the Milford Jaycees and serves on the board of Bridges, the state-designated comprehensive agency providing mental health and addiction services to children and adults. Her interests include singing, kickboxing, crossword puzzles, gardening and spending time with her daughters, Kaylie and Sarah.
Gwen Macdonald, Director of Habitat Restoration, Ext. 123
Gwen holds a B.S. in Ecological Engineering from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry with post-graduate studies at Rutgers and the University of Massachusetts. Before joining CFE in June 2010, she was an environmental engineering consultant on such projects as ecological impact assessments, wetland and stream mitigation and restoration designs, and gained broad environmental engineering project management experience. At CFE, Gwen oversees all habitat restoration design, implementation, and monitoring activities. These often include marsh restoration, dam removal, and fish passage projects. Gwen is one of eleven representatives to the national organization Restore America's Estuaries, of which CFE is a member.
Anne Matist, Business Manager, Ext. 120
Anne joined Connecticut Fund for the Environment in August 2011. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in accounting at Southern Connecticut State University. Before joining CFE, Anne worked in the finance departments of small brands in the nutritional supplement industry and her own consulting business that offers outsourced accounting functions for small businesses. Anne is an active volunteer for the Girl Scouts of Connecticut and in her children's schools.
Laura McMillan, Director of Communications, ext. 137
Laura has been in outreach and communications at CFE since 2007 and currently coordinates the organization's strategic communications, media relations, website and social media, and activist communications. She holds a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University and previously worked at Cheney & Company, a design and marketing firm in New Haven, and at the Valley Conservation Council, an open space, river protection, and smart development organization in Virginia. She lives in New Haven and is a managing editor of Armchair/Shotgun literary magazine.
Jim O’Connell, Finance Manager
Ellen Peck, Director of Strategic Partnerships, ext. 109
Ellen has worked as a consultant on start-up nonprofits, capital campaigns and projects involved with resource development, partnerships and strategic planning. She worked for over 15 years with Save the Children as a Director of Resource Development, and the international Emergencies and Crisis Leadership Council. Ellen also serves in the role of producer and creative/content advisor to documentary film, music and other projects in the arts associated with social and environmental issues. Her projects have includded Born into Brothels, (USA/India 2005) Academy Award, Best Documentary; Valley of Saints (USA/Kashmir 2012) Sundance Winner; and La Camioneta (USA/Guatemala 2012).
Roger Reynolds, Legal Director, Director of Climate, Transportation and Land Protection Programs, ext. 105
Roger Reynolds directs the Legal, Climate, Transportation and Land Protection programs at CFE. He is also an adjunct lecturer at University of Connecticut School of Law where he established and teaches the Environmental Law Clinic and teaches Negotiation. Before joining CFE, Roger was an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Connecticut where he was lead counsel on numerous environmental, consumer protection and antitrust cases. He clerked for Justices Palmer and Callahan on the Connecticut Supreme Court and received his J.D. from NYU Law School.
Lauren Savidge, Staff Attorney, ext. 122
Lauren joined Connecticut Fund for the Environment in September 2012 as the Peter B. Cooper Legal Fellow. She received her J.D., Cum Laude, with a Certificate in Energy Law and a Masters in Environmental Law & Policy, Cum Laude, from Vermont Law School in 2012. While at Vermont Law School, she was a Head Notes Editor on the Vermont Law Review, which published her Note on Smart Grid technologies and privacy law issues, competed in the Emory Civil Rights & Liberties Moot Court Competition, and served as a Dean's Fellow teaching legal writing to first-year law students. A Connecticut native, Lauren graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross in 2009.
Leah Lopez Schmalz, Director of Legislative and Legal Affairs for Save the Sound, ext. 121
Leah joined Save the Sound as its staff attorney in 2001. She is responsible for Save the Sound's Advocacy Program, which includes legislative and legal work to address eminent threats to the health of Long Island Sound and to develop Sound-wise policies at the local, state and federal level. She also serves as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Connecticut School of Law, where she teaches the Environmental Law Clinic.
Leah earned her J.D. and Environmental Law Certificate from Pace University School of Law in 2000, and her undergraduate study in sustainable architecture and design culminated in a bachelor's degree in Industrial Design from the University of Louisiana in 1996.
Willow Ann Sirch, Development Writer, ext. 110
Willow returned to CFE in 2013 after an 8-year stint as Communications Director at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Prior to that, she worked as a grantwriter for CFE from 2001 to 2004. A former editor for The Humane Society of the United States for 15 years, she is the author of 6 books, including EcoWomen: Protectors of the Earth. She has an M.S. in Interactive Communications from Quinnipiac University and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Brown University. She is a board member of the Hamden Land Conservation Trust.
Evan Welsh, Green Projects Associate, ext. 116
Evan is currently working as the assistant project manager for the Quinnipiac River Project. Evan has a degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of New Hampshire and recently returned from spending 5 years in southern California, where he worked in outdoor education and managed land for a nonprofit land conservancy. He enjoys climbing mountains and exploring new landscapes and has found and recorded the largest oak tree in the United States.
Valerie Wormely-Radford, Administrative Associate, (203) 787-0646, ext. 100
Val joined CFE as its Administrative Associate in January 2008. She graduated from Albertus Magnus College with her Associate of Science in Business degree. She is a member of James Hillhouse High School PTO and a Mentor with the HOPE Program at Yale New Haven-St. Raphael’s Hospital, and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work at SCSU. She works within the community where she lives. For fun and relaxation, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends and grandchildren.