The Land Trust Alliance is excited to announce Jennifer Miller Herzog as our new chief program officer. Miller Herzog has spent 22 years working in conservation on local, regional, national and binational projects. She was initially hired by the Alliance in 2016 to help launch the Chesapeake Bay Land and Water Initiative and was later promoted to Eastern regional director.
In her new role as chief program officer, Miller Herzog will oversee three of the Alliance’s key program areas — education, conservation initiatives and community-centered conservation — and provide strategic coordination across these departments to help advance land trusts’ ability to protect land and meet the needs of their communities.
Read on to learn more about her.
What first drew you to the Alliance, and what has kept you here?
Early on in my career I remember learning about private land conservation and the idea that easements are forever — it blew my mind, and I knew that someday I wanted to work on durable and lasting conservation. What keeps me here are the people — both the amazing and talented colleagues I get to work with every day and our land trust members, who are deeply committed and always have new ideas, questions, suggestions and inspiring stories to share.
How have previous experiences influenced your outlook on conservation?
I’ve worked in various types of geographies, and I’ve learned that conservation is most successful at the scale of what people value — whether it’s a park, a woodlot, a forest or the creeks on either side of my childhood neighborhood, where I caught crabs in one and guppies in another. I’ve had the amazing privilege of paddling, backpacking, hiking and skiing in some beautiful wilderness areas, but playing in those two creeks probably had at least as much influence on who I grew up to be. Ultimately, conservation is about people, even though we often define our goals by nature or ecology.
Speaking of people, as CPO you’ll be overseeing the Alliance’s community-centered conservation work. Tell us more about this.
I’m thrilled that the Alliance has been committed to community-centered conservation for many years already and is now expanding its commitment. Community-centered conservation is a people-focused approach that starts by listening. It embraces and respects local cultures and ways of life, including those built around working lands such as farms, ranches and forests. By taking a community-centered conservation approach, our sector creates the opportunity for land conservation to be undertaken more equitably, inclusively, strategically and authentically — and for land to meet the needs of more people than ever before. I see this work as absolutely essential and it will be transformative for us as a land conservation community.
What excites you most about this work?
The experiences I have had working in community-centered conservation have been among the most challenging and rewarding of my career and produced some of the most enduring and transformational conservation outcomes. I know this work can be done successfully and I’m looking forward to the path ahead. My hope is that we will learn together, as a community, how to better understand and meet the myriad needs of all people in the places we live and work, using what we collectively love, protect and steward — the land.