Alden E. Stoner
Chief Executive Officer
As CEO, Alden brings over 20 years of experience in building and marketing social impact organizations. Her expertise is rooted in creatively bringing together private, non-profit, academic and governmental entities to effectively change attitudes, behaviors, and policy.
Prior to joining Nature Sacred, Alden mobilized organizations and the public around social issues, films, Fortune 500 brands, and start-ups. Most recently, she served as the VP, Marketing and Operations at Quantified Ventures, an outcomes-based capital firm, leading company-wide initiatives such as the creation of their first-ever impact report and B-Corp certification. Prior to that, she ran Social Impact at Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media. There, she led a team to develop and execute award-winning campaigns to proactively address social issues, including the environment, health, and social equality.
Alden’s history with Nature Sacred runs deep. She served on the organization’s Board for nearly 15 years, contributing to the strategic planning and overall operations of the organization. She also co-directed and produced several short films about the organization’s National Nature Sacred Award winners.
Alden graduated with a B.A from the University of Southern California, Phi Beta Kappa, and holds a dual Masters in Global Media and Communication from USC and the London School of Economics. She lives in Annapolis with her husband and son where she gets her 20 minutes a day of nature by paddle-boarding on the Chesapeake Bay, forest walks with her kiddo, and Japanese wood carving.
Chief Programs Officer
Erin joined Nature Sacred in 2015, and has since created the Nature Sacred Network, a thriving coalition of Firesouls who convene, share, learn, and grow from each other. It was from this Network and its collective strength that the potential to scale the organization’s outcomes was born.
Inspired by the power of nature to transform individuals and communities, she believes that bonded together, Sacred Places can have a real impact on a city’s health and prosperity. As Chief Programs Officer, she continues to work to place a spotlight on the way these greenspaces can foster thriving and resilient cities in lasting, meaningful ways.
Prior to joining Nature Sacred, Erin was with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s development department. She also previously served as Legislative Director for the Majority Leader of the Maryland State Senate.
Erin is a graduate of Washington College in Chestertown, MD, and currently resides in Annapolis with her husband and four children. Erin gets her 20 minutes a day of nature by walking with (chasing) her children and golden retriever through the many beautiful parks in Maryland, coaching youth sports, and connecting with Firesouls and communities in Nature Sacred’s vibrant and growing Network of Sacred Places.
Director of Operations
Serving as Nature Sacred’s Director of Operations, Elizabeth supports our everyday activities, efforts and strategies. A true believer in the healing powers of nature and a lover of the outdoors, Elizabeth embodies the Nature Sacred ethos quite wholly. Further, she’s got the organizational chops from over 15 years experience working for fast-paced employers: an impeccable attention to detail, clear communications, a penchant for planning.
At Nature Sacred, Elizabeth keeps our processes humming—enabling us to meet our goals— and to nurture and support our Sacred Places in the name of urban well-being and unity.
A native Marylander, Elizabeth lives in Annapolis with her husband, 2 children and Chocolate Lab Griffin. Elizabeth gets her 20 minutes a day of nature by running with her dog and attending her kids sporting events.
As a master gardener and expert horticulturalist, Ron Ammon been an integral part of Nature Sacred since our origin. His fingerprints are all over the organization: from the Nature Sacred model and process, to bench design, and overall ethos. We joke that Ron is truly like the sun—his presence alone uplifts and warms a room, and fortifies us with the nutrients our organization needs to thrive: horticulturally and spiritually.
Holly Moring is a marketer with roughly fifteen years’ marketing agency experience working with nonprofits, associations and cultural institutions. She’s a brand builder, storyteller and strategist. At Nature Sacred, she is helping strengthen our voice, model and message, across multiple mediums, and helping us discover innovative ways to empower communities to create Sacred Places of their own.
Angela Walseng has more than a decade-and-a-half experience in communications, and has spent the past several years working with nonprofits and academia, and focusing largely on advocacy. On behalf of Nature Sacred, Angela is working to tell stories of the power of nature to help heal and strengthen individuals and communities, and to forge new creative partnerships and alliances that help further our mission of connecting people and nature throughout the US.
Kitty and Tom Stoner
Co-Founders, Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board
Tom Stoner is a co-founder, with his wife Kitty Ellsworth Stoner, of the TKF Foundation, now Nature Sacred. They are Honorary Members of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Additionally, they have received recognition for their work from the American Horticultural Society and the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council.
Tom has served as chairman of the board of trustees of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and as Founding director, chairman of the Conflict Clinic associated with George Mason University, and founding president of the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation. He co-founded Stoner Broadcasting System, Inc. and American Radio Systems (NYSE) which were sold in the mid-to-late 1990s.
American Tower spun out of American Radio Systems (NYSE), which he also co-founded. Tom developed and produced the radio program “Worldtalk” the first talk radio connection between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War.
Tom and Kitty co-founded the TKF Foundation in 1996. They live in Annapolis, MD.
Serving as Executive Director of the Bernstein Family Foundation, Ms. Aronson oversees the Foundation’s governance, ﬁduciary management, grant making and communications. She has played a leadership role in taking this historic family foundation into the 21st century through strategic planning, estate liquidation, mergers and acquisitions.
In addition, she remains visible in the community by engaging with community leaders in the Foundation’s three focus areas: Jewish causes, American democracy, and arts & culture.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Ms. Aronson worked on global and national public health issues such as women’s health, adolescent health, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, violence prevention and nutrition education. She has more than 18 years of experience in designing, developing, implementing and evaluating health communications programs. Her areas of expertise include entertainment-education, public-private partnership, special event production and materials development (print and video). Ms. Aronson has extensive international experience, having worked in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Ms. Aronson is a native of San Francisco, but resides in Washington, DC, area with her husband, two children and two dogs. She is active in her community serving on Advisory, Honorary and General Boards including Sixth and i Historic Synagogue, Global Advisory Council for World Learning, Environmental Working Group (EWG) and S&R Foundation.
Since June 2013, Nichole Battle as served as the Chief Executive Officer at Govans Ecumenical Development Corporation (“GEDCO”). She originally started her career with GEDCO in 2006 as the Director of Real Estate Development. As CEO, Nichole oversees the senior services, community services, and homeless and supportive services lines of business.Read More
She also manages and staffs the real estate development and consulting business of the organization identifying new business opportunities, growing the real estate development consulting business, addressing financing and capital needs of existing portfolio, and completing the Stadium Place community—an affordable senior housing complex located on the former Memorial Stadium site.
As CEO of GEDCO, Nichole is leading the organization on a path of sustainability, accountability, and growth as GEDCO is embarking on their 3rd strategic plan, rebuilding their organizational infrastructure, improving their service delivery to residents and clients, while building partnerships and serving the needs of the community. Ms. Battle has 20+ years of professional real estate and management experience in promoting and addressing community affordable housing needs in Ohio, Maryland and the District of Columbia. In her career, she has managed the development of over 500 rental and homeownership units in urban communities. Ms. Battle has extensive experience in community and master planning as well as experience in managing the land development process for urban residential communities.
With her affordable housing and community development background, Ms. Battle holds a Master of Business Administration from Loyola University of Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business, Masters degrees in City and Regional Planning and Public Policy and Management from The Ohio State University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from The Pennsylvania State University. She currently serves on the following boards: Arlington Housing Coalition of Baltimore, the Community Leadership Board of the Y of Central Maryland, University of Baltimore Real Estate and Economic Development Program Advisory Board, Secretary, Central Maryland Ecumenical Corporation, Waverly Main Street, Secretary and Chair of the Membership Committee of Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition, and Vice Chair of Baltimore Community Lending and Baltimore Business Lending.
Nichole resides in Baltimore with her teenage daughter Kayla and dog Cocoa.
Richard Blackburn brings over 40 years experience in scaling organizations through a career handling the sale of media and communications properties. He met Tom Stoner, co-founder of Nature Sacred, through dealings with Stoner Broadcasting and worked with him through the sale of American Radio.Read More
Richard brings a strong business background to the board and the efforts to expand Sacred Places to more communities in need nationwide. He has followed the Nature Sacred journey for two decades and in 2018 became a Firesoul for Nature Sacred’s Barton Park in Alexandria, VA.
Eddie is a strategic advisor with Brown Advisory—a leading investment firm—lending investment guidance to private and institutional clients. Prior to joining Brown Advisory, Eddie practiced law with the Baltimore law firm of Piper & Marbury. For Nature Sacred, Eddie lends executive insights and thoughtful acumen to help guide our organization forward.
Chuck brings over 30 years experience in conservation, education and nonprofit executive management. A lifelong Chesapeake Bay lover, Chuck served as the Chief of Staff at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Chuck has been a long-standing advisor to Nature Sacred, lending strategic organizational direction and guidance on future growth.
Michael D. Hankin
Mike is a partner of Brown Advisory, a member of the Executive Team and serves as president and chief executive officer. He is a director of both Brown Advisory Incorporated and Brown Investment Advisory & Trust Company.Read More
As chair of the Baltimore Healthy Harbor Project and executive committee member of the Baltimore Waterfront Partnership and Management Authority, he has challenged the city to achieve a goal of making Baltimore’s Inner Harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020. He is a trustee of the Johns Hopkins University, trustee and vice chair of Johns Hopkins Medicine and chair of the board of managers of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. He also serves as chair of Land Preservation Trust, is a trustee of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, and is a director for the National Steeplechase Association and Associated Black Charities. Mike also serves on the board of directors of Stanley Black & Decker Inc. (NYSE: SWK) and on the boards of directors of three private companies, Tate Engineering Services, Inc., The Wills Group, Inc. and 1251 Capital Group, Inc.
Mike earned a B.A. and M.A. from Emory University in 1979 where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and he received a J.D. from The University of Virginia.
Healthy ecosystems and thoughtful, collaboratively designed places improve people’s lives. This is the central tenet that drives Lauren Marshall’s career as a professional landscape architect, certified arborist and a national leader for Urban & Community Forestry with the U.S. Forest Service.Read More
She helps people weave natural infrastructure into the fabric of their communities, connecting them to the natural world from the tree outside of their front door that shades their sidewalk to the National Forest that provides their drinking water. To accomplish this aim, Lauren has taken on design and planning challenges across scales, ranging from designing vacant properties to maximize nature’s benefits, to building artisan and construction markets for salvaged and sustainably harvested wood products, to increasing landscape scale collaborative planning of our Nation’s forests. She received a Bachelor of Science in Plant Sciences from Cornell University, and her Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Michigan.
Pascal Mittermaier is the Global Managing Director for Cities at The Nature Conservancy, a US based conservation NGO active in over 35 countries. He leads a new team at the Conservancy focused on transforming how the world’s growing cities manage their natural resources.
Most recently, Pascal served as the Head of Sustainability, Europe and Managing Director for London’s Elephant & Castle Regeneration at Lend Lease, a global property and construction company. In this role, Pascal was responsible for embedding innovative environment and social approaches across all of Lend Lease’s businesses. Pascal also led the Elephant & Castle regeneration project in central London, a 10-year project to develop 3,000 of the UK’s most energy efficient homes, including an on-site clean energy plant, a cycle-walk-public transport infrastructure and the largest new park in Central London in 70 years. The project incorporates many green innovations and is part of the C40 Cities Climate Positive Development Program, a network of leading cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate- related policies and programmes.
Pascal was also a Board Director of FSC UK, and a frequent lecturer at Cambridge University’s Programme for Sustainable Leadership.
Prior to finding his career path in sustainability, Pascal worked at the Swiss healthcare company Roche, where he was Managing Director of Roche in Canada and Italy. Whilst in Italy he met Marco and Enea Roveda, working with LifeGate on optimising Roche’s sustainability performance. The partnership with Lifegate helped Roche Italy reduce its carbon footbprint by 45%. This includ- ed optimization of logistics, energy procurement and planting new trees on the Monza campus.Roche also built a 1.4 MW photovoltaic covered parking lot on its site, one of the largest in Italy.
He studied Economics and History at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and completed his MSc. in Climate Change and Sustainable Development from DeMontfort University.
He is now based in Boston, Massachusetts where he lives with his family. Along with nature conservation, his lifelong passions are kitesurfing and drumming.
Fred Smith is the Director of Grants and Partnerships at the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. He has an Associate of Science degree from Southern Union Community College, Bachelor’s degree in marketing and a Master’s degree in Public Administration—both from Jacksonville State University.Read More
Fred is also a graduate of the Alabama Association of Not for Profit Executive Leadership certificate program. He is a recent appointee to the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama Roundtable, a group that gives young civic and business leaders the opportunity to study issues and government policy in Alabama in conjunction with the research conducted by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama. The group meets with public officials and other leaders to learn about and discuss issues currently affecting the state and local governments while also seeking solutions to the state’s problems.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, he served as an Instructor for Gadsden State Commu- nity College and previously served as, the Director of Jacksonville State University’s Community Wellness program which received several local and state commendations for its contributions to community programming. He completed the Essential Skills & Strategies for New Grantmakers in 2016 and has also participated in Foundations on the Hill held in Washington D.C. Fred also has a previous connection to the Foundation. He has written grants to, received grants from, and suc- cessfully managed grants for the Foundation and has served as a volunteer grant reviewer. In ad- dition to managing the Stringfellow Health Fund competitive grants program, Fred also conducts grantee site visits, manages our poverty project to align our grant making with the Community Needs Assessment, and is coordinating the 100th anniversary celebration of Susie Parker Stringfel- low’ s will in 2020.
Fred met his lovely wife Rochelle while they both attended Jacksonville State University. They have two daughters, Eden and Zion, and they reside in Jacksonville Al.
Board Member Emeritus
Chelle Stoner is a true renaissance woman, working as a independent film producer, entrepreneur, and real estate professional. Chelle brings her vast experience of writing, producing and filming documentaries, as well as her creative problem solving skills to Nature Sacred.
In Memoriam 1931-2015
As a leading architect, art enthusiast and editor, Jack Bloodgood embodied the concept of “design thinking” long before it became a trend as in recent years. He innately understood how architecture and landscape should be designed to serve its users—its people and communities—in meaningful, impactful ways. Jack always fought for those in the greatest need—and played a leading role in helping craft, articulate and build what Nature Sacred is today.
Lead Design Advisor
Jay Graham, founder and principal at Moody Graham Landscape Architects and Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, has partnered with Nature Sacred for many years, serving as our design advisor for the Nature Sacred Awards program and landscape architect for our Sacred Place at the Light House Shelter in Annapolis.
Principal and Founder of Floura Teeter Landscape Architects, Joan Floura brings nearly three decades experience working with public and private clients. For Nature Sacred, Joan has served as landscape architect for the Sacred Places at the Intersection of Change in Baltimore and the Baltimore Community Mediation Center garden.
Co-author of Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces, founder of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network and associate professor at the University of Maryland, Dr. Naomi Sachs has influenced much of the Nature Sacred design ethos and processes. It was used extensively by Dr. Fred Foote (Firesoul) to inspire the design of the Green Road, for example.
Serving as Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and associate professor at the University of Maryland, Jack Sullivan led the design process for the Sacred Place at the University of Maryland, and the design of the Sacred Place at the Green Road, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.