Document / Saving Land

Transformations: Land trusts share the Alliance "spark" that led to change

Posted June 15, 2022
Summer 2022 Saving Land, Land Trust Alliance
Marc Smiley
About This Saving Land

Since 1982, the Land Trust Alliance has been making a lasting, significant difference in the conservation landscape. There have been high-profile accomplishments over these past 40 years — from developing Land Trust Standards and Practices to protecting and extending the conservation easement tax incentive to launching the Terrafirma insurance program — but many of the Alliance’s most meaningful contributions take the form of behind-the-scenes support of emerging leaders and organizations nationwide.

In this quiet but catalytic role, the Alliance has been a coach and capacity-builder, developing networks, empowering change and growing conservation impact in every corner of the country. Such support ranges in size and scope, from deep investment in an organization’s leadership to simply offering a sympathetic ear or shoulder to cry on. Altogether over 40 years, these individual investments of time, energy and caring have added up to profound and often community-wide impacts.

Here, three conservation leaders share their stories of how Alliance support has made a difference within their organizations and across the land trust community. 

Forty years ago, Marc Smiley walked into the offices of the Land Trust Exchange in Boston, MA, and asked for a job. He got it, and as the first publications director, started the journal Exchange, which has since morphed into Saving Land. For the ensuing forty years, Marc has worked as a land trust executive director, board member, founding accreditation commissioner and consultant to more than half the land trusts in the United States. As a principal at Solid Ground Consulting, he continues to be a strong partner with the Land Trust Alliance.