Western Reserve Land Conservancy Announces New Chairman of Board of Trustees

Cleveland attorney Craig Owen White becomes the organization’s 10th chairperson

Western Reserve Land Conservancy – Ohio’s largest land trust – is excited to welcome Cleveland attorney Craig Owen White as its newest chairman of the Board of Trustees. Craig succeeds real estate developer and private equity manager Mitchell Schneider, who served as chairman since 2018.

White, a graduate of Williams College and the University of Virginia School of Law, is the partner in charge of the Cleveland office of Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP, a Cleveland-based law firm. White focuses his law practice on representing and counseling established and growth-oriented companies in mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, enterprise governance, and financing and licensing issues, both domestically and internationally.

“It is both a privilege and honor to accept the chairmanship of Western Reserve Land Conservancy,” White said. “Our staff’s on-point, on-time and on-budget execution of projects has earned our conservancy team the status of nationally-recognized experts in conservation matters as well as the role of honest brokers able to bring diverse parties together to strengthen our communities through promoting healthy environments.”

Schneider – the immediate past chair – will remain on the Board of Trustees and continue working on important projects such as the Euclid Beach Neighborhood Plan and bolstering the work of the Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities program. During his term as Chair, the Land Conservancy added an additional 15,000 acres of permanently conserved lands (bringing the total to nearly 70,000 acres), created and expanded 35 public parks and preserves, and opened urban greenspaces such as the Garden of Eleven Angels, Brighton Park, and the Derek Owens Memorial Park. Schneider also led the organization through the Covid-19 pandemic with no employee layoffs or reduction in conservation programing.

“I’m so honored to have had the opportunity to work alongside the staff and Trustees of the Land Conservancy and be a part of all that we have accomplished,” Schneider said. “Our organization is strong. We are making Ohio a better place for everyone who calls this region their home. I know that Craig will build upon our success and take us further towards our vision of thriving, prosperous communities nourished by vibrant natural lands, working farms and healthy cities.”

White, who lives in Russell Township, lectures internationally on issues of global commerce and enterprise governance, delivering an annual series in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) including Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. He also is the immediate past Chair of the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa, a Congressionally mandated committee advising the United States Trade Representative on United States-SSA trade policy, and is the immediate past Vice Chair of the International Senior Lawyers Project, an internationally acclaimed provider of pro bono legal services in developing countries around the world in support of the rule of law and equitable economic development.

“Craig brings a wealth of knowledge and tremendous passion for our conservation mission,” said Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “He understands the important role our organization will play in the coming years on many major conservation, restoration and construction projects that will make our region greener, healthier and safer. I am very excited that Craig has accepted this role with such positive energy and look forward to partnering with him in the years to come.”

“Our chairs have traditionally inherited a strong organization but have somehow found a way to make it even stronger for the next chair,” White said. “So, I thank all of our past chairs and Mitchell for their collective efforts and pledge to carry on their tradition of service.”

New Faces for the Land Conservancy Board of Trustees

The Land Conservancy also welcomed new trustees who joined the Board July 1.

Zach Guren is the director of real estate development at GBX Group, which specializes in preserving and operating historic real estate in urban markets throughout the country. He also serves as a director for the Hershey Foundation, dedicated to providing Northeast Ohio with opportunities for personal growth and development.

Tania Menesse is the current CEO and president at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and the former Director of Community Development for the City of Cleveland where she started the Middle Neighborhoods initiative and was an active participant in establishing the Lead Safe Home Fund and kicked off the City’s Ten Year Housing and Investment Plan. Born in Mumbai, she and her family moved to Shaker Heights when she was 4 years old.

Tim Ryan formerly worked for Swagelok Company in Solon, Ohio where he most recently served as a Regional Director for the Asia Pacific region. In 2011 he started a hydroponic greenhouse lettuce and herb growing business called Great Lakes Grower and sold his interest in the business in 2018.

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