Grania “Binti” Ackley
Binti is a longtime member of Avalonia and has served as both the Stonington Town Chair and Town Director. She was a nature kid growing up and, after time spent as a theater stage manager and later a nurse, she is happily back to nature.
Richard Davis Conant Jr.
Richard “Dick” Conant has a Masters degree in Marine Science and is recently retired from a 33 year career with the Federal government working as a marine biologist for the National Park Service, a freshwater wetland biologist for USDA, a wetland regulatory biologist for the Corps of Engineers and finally as the Environmental Director at the Naval Submarine base in New London. Dick has lived with his wife Catherine in Mystic for over twenty years and has three sons. Dick is an avid hiker and skier and has recently completed the AMC’s 100 highest peaks of New England and a quest to ski all 89 alpine ski areas in New England.
Scott Dawley has a degree in Forest Technology from Unity College in Unity, Maine. He has worked for State of Connecticut, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for 34 years and currently holds the position of District Operation Supervisor for Parks an Forest for the Eastern District.
Russell “Rusty” Morrison is a former U.S. Navy submarine officer who currently works in the pharmaceutical industry. He is a longtime member of the Stonington Town Committee and an avid hiker.
Dennis S. Main has an MBA, with a concentration in Finance and Accounting, from the University of CT and is a retired Financial Manager with the State of CT. Dennis is also a CT Licensed Real Estate Broker and is a contractor for forestry management projects with USDA. He and his wife Renee reside at Mainagery Farm in Bozrah. They have two grown daughters Carrie and Rachel. He has served on the Inland Wetlands Commission and Board of Finance and is currently the Chair of the Bozrah Board of Assessment Appeals. He is also a Norwich Golf Course and Audubon Society member, enjoying forestry, gardening and golf in the north and kayaking and bird stalking in Florida in the wintertime.
Michael Pernal has a Ph.D with a major in higher education administration from the University of Connecticut. He recently retired from Eastern Connecticut State University where he served as Executive Vice President from 1998 to 2013 and, in 2006, as Interim President. During his years at Eastern, he was also active as a member of the Windham area United Way Board of Directors and as co-chair of the March of Dimes walk. In addition to Avalonia, Mike volunteers at the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center and is on the board of the Friends of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony.
He and his wife, Maureen, summer on Cape Cod and there spend time with their favorite hobby, grandparents to five grandchildren.
Sue has an MBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame and is a retired financial executive and corporate treasurer for a multibillion dollar global manufacturing company. She has over 30 years’ experience negotiating financial transactions for sales, debt, foreign exchange, leasing, real estate, insurance, etc.
Since 2007, she has identified, negotiated and teamed with other volunteers, the State and Federal Government to preserve over 1,000 acres of environmentally rich land now open to the public. Recently, numerous landowners have contacted Avalonia to preserve their land. A capital plan has been formed to accomplish this which will add to greenways in Southeastern Connecticut. Sue enjoys hiking, mountain biking, boating and growing native plants.
Chuck Toal – Director of Development and Programs
Chuck moved to Noank, CT in 2013 with his wife Deb after living in Colchester, CT the previous 30 years. He retired as Eastern Director of Sales for Wigwam Mills, Inc. in 2015 in order to spend time with family and pursue his passion for land conservation. Chuck is a founding board member of the Colchester Land Trust, serving as its vice president for six years and chairing the Accreditation and Funding Committees. He currently serves as vice chair of the Steering Committee for the Connecticut Land Conservation Council, a statewide guidance association for Connecticut’s 130+ land conservation groups. Chuck is an avid fly fisherman, having fished the rivers of 30 states. He and Deb have two grown sons and four grand kids.
Maureen grew up in Stonington and spent much of her childhood exploring many of the Avalonia preserves and is delighted to give back by volunteering to serve on the Board. She lives in RI, working as the Education Coordinator for the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve based on Prudence Island. Connecting people of all ages with nature has been at the heart of her career and she hopes to continue doing that through her work with Avalonia. When not working, you’ll probably find her gardening, kayaking, hiking, birdwatching, and taking photographs throughout New England.
Robert (Bob) Leuba has lived in Mystic since 1960. He graduated from URI and UConn Law School. He recently retired as a Superior Court Judge. He has a horse farm with his wife, Hope and spends lots of time on the water in his boat. He and his wife have made donations of land and easements to Avalonia over the years.
David is in the closing chapter of a 50 year career in investment management, corporate finance and venture capital. In the 90’s he served as Chief Investment Officer of Progressive Insurance and has been a Partner of CCP Equity Partners since 2001. He has served on several corporate boards and chaired a non-profit homeless shelter in Brooklyn in the late 80’s. He has a degree in Art History from Rutgers University and is a veteran of the Vietnam war. David has done volunteer work with Avalonia for several years. He is an outdoorsman and can be found most days managing the natural resources of their properties, gardening, hiking with his dogs or sailing.
Julie has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Delaware and is the Quality Assurance Officer of a CT Certified environmental analysis laboratory. She lives in Ledyard with her husband and daughter. She has served on the Town of Ledyard’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission and is currently the vice chair of the Conservation Commission where she is actively engaged in various trail and conservancy projects. When not working, she is renovating and rehabbing her 200 year-old colonial home with her husband. She is a triathlete and spends winter weekends cross country skiing in Lake Placid, NY.
Mark is a life-long resident of the Mystic-Stonington area, and recently retired from Millstone where he worked as a senior financial analyst. He loves the outdoor life, and is an avid boater, fisherman, golfer, and hiker. He also enjoys landscaping, gardening, and has been a Avalonia Stonington Town member for several years.
Rick has lived in Mystic for 59 years and he has a MBA in finance. Rick worked in a management position in retail sporting goods and since then has been a financial analyst for a major defense contractor managing engineering contracts. Rick enjoys wildlife photography and his photos may be seen on Avalonia, Connecticut Land Conservation Council and The Nature Conservancy (Connecticut) websites. Rick is the coordinator of the Project Limulus horseshoe crab tagging and is a volunteer for Frogwatch and OspreyNation. Rick currently serves on Avalonia’s development and stewardship committees and the Avalonia Stonington Town committee. Rick is also the chairperson of Town of Stonington Climate Change Task Force.
Gerry lives with his wife Linda in Hanover. Gerry, a licensed land surveyor, has spent much of his adult life rooted in musty land record vaults and archival centers, squinting at old maps and ancient deeds in pursuit of understanding the origins of title and land ownership in Connecticut. He has successfully warded off all attempts by Avalonia members to educate him as to flora and fauna. He claims, however, to be able to distinguish between a New England Cottontail and an Eastern Cottontail at a distance of 100 yards.