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.

Karen Askins

Karen Askins is a former Peace Corps Volunteer, biology teacher and software trainer. A 30-year resident of Ledyard, she is a passionate gardener with a special interest in native plants. Birding, hiking, and fiber arts round out her interests.

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.

Avalonia Land Conservancy

Scott Dawley

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 Morrison

Russell “Rusty” Morrison is a retired U.S. Navy submarine Commander who currently works in the pharmaceutical industry.  He is a longtime member of the  Stonington Town Committee.

Dennis Main

Dennis S. Main has a 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. Their two daughters Carrie and Rachel reside in Boston with grand-dogs Miles and Amelia. 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 gardening and golf in the north and kayaking and bird stalking in Florida in the wintertime.

Claude Pellegrino

Claude R. Pellegrino is a retired vice president from J.P. Morgan Chase where among various roles he developed analytical methods to measure financial risk and created a bank risk management software product that sold worldwide. He chairs the Sprague Board of Finance where he has been a member for over 20 years. He is also a member of the Uncas Health District Board and past chair of the Integrated Day Charter School Board in Norwich. Claude who has a degree in mathematics & computer science from Brooklyn College is married with two adult children, a US Army veteran, and a member of Mensa. He enjoys reading non-fiction, writing about government, doing the math of municipal finance, playing bridge, and stewarding his 40 acre homestead.

Avalonia Land Conservancy

Mike Pernal

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 Sutherland

Sue has an MBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame and is a retired finance 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 and the State to preserve four parcels of land aggregating 660 acres of open space.  Other significant properties are in the works to add to greenways in Southeastern Connecticut.  Sue greatly enjoys hiking, biking off road, boating and growing native plants.

Heather Milardo Executive Director

Heather became Avalonia’s Executive Director in December of 2013.  She has an extensive background in non-profits as an employee, a consultant, and a volunteer.  Originally from western Pennsylvania, she  grew up thinking vacations meant camping trips and that there was no better playground than the woods.  She and her husband moved around for several years – with stops in South Carolina, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania – before permanently settling with their son in Connecticut.  When not working or volunteering, Heather enjoys reading, exploring with her son and their dog, and refinishing old furniture.