Thomas Nelson - The Leelanau Conservancy

Thomas Nelson - Executive Director

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Tom joined our staff in 2004. In January 2015, he took over as executive director when longtime director Brian Price retired. Until then, Tom served as our Director of Farm Programs. His focus was conserving farmland, in addition to working to protect other important landscapes. He understands that farmland preservation is an extraordinary tool for farm families today and to protect Leelanau County’s agricultural resources for future generations of farmers and all of us who will depend upon them.

Tom spent his early childhood growing up in farm country in northern Ohio. The complete loss of agriculture in his hometown resulting from poorly planned development underscores his belief that a strong community connection with agriculture is integral to our economic health, retaining our heritage and quality of life, and living sustainably. He finds a great deal of satisfaction in forging partnerships with farmers who wish to keep their land in farming.

Tom acquired his law degree in 1987 and graduated magna cum laude with a Master of Laws in environmental law and policy from Vermont Law School in 2003. His career has taken him to from Ohio to Washington D.C. to Lansing and finally to Leelanau County. Learn more about Tom in this article which was published when the Board announced his appointment. Tom lives in Cedar with his wife and four daughters.