Chief Executive Officer
Heath has more than 15 years of senior leadership experience in Austin’s nonprofit sector. He has helped raise millions of dollars over the course of his career at organizations like Equality Texas, Texas Advocacy Project, the Long Center for Performing Arts, and The Hispanic Alliance. He has worked as a director at Elizabeth Christian Public Relations and served on the boards of the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival, The Hispanic Alliance and Waterloo Counseling Center. Heath is passionate about Austin’s green space and believes Pease Park represents all that makes Austin great. He is honored and humbled to be part of the Pease Park journey.
Chief Operating Officer
Chuck Smith is a fifth generation Austinite, who understands the importance of Austin's park system as an important component in what makes Austin special. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to manage the Kingsbury Commons Project and related programming for Pease Park. Chuck comes to PPC from a 15-year stint at the LGBTQ advocacy organization Equality Texas, where he served as the CEO. He enjoys the hike & bike trails and shares his home with two Great Danes, Honey & Cleo.
Director of Development
Marianne DeLeon joins Pease Park Conservancy with nearly 20 years of experience in resource development for mission-driven nonprofit organizations. Marianne has worked at a variety of nonprofits including: at a reproductive health clinic in the former Soviet Union; resettling refugees at the Dallas Regional Office of the International Rescue Committee; and empowering people facing issues related to HIV and AIDS at AIDS Services of Austin. Today, she is so excited to work alongside her Pease Park colleagues to revitalize Kingsbury Commons.
Director of Community Engagement
Casey hails from North Carolina by way of New York, settling in Austin for the past decade. With her roots based in her parents’ small farm, Casey has a deep love for the outdoors and the play it inspires. For over seven years, she was the Public Relations Director for lookthinkmake, a local agency. Prior to that, Casey worked at I Live Here, I Give Here, where she helped launch the inaugural year of Amplify Austin, as well as the operations and events of the organization. Casey and her husband Will have a young son who is an avid nature lover and it has given even more reason and purpose to her support of Austin’s parks and places of community.
Kyle grew up on a 100-acre farm, 30 miles outside of Small Town, Texas (Bellville). When he arrived at UT, he felt disconnected from nature, spending entirely too much time huddled in a dark room counting 1s and 0s, studying computer engineering. To give his eyes a break, he created a student organization built around playing sports. Because of its proximity to campus, its sand volleyball courts, the open fields and picnic tables, the group held a lot of its events at Pease Park. The park became an important part of Kyle’s college life and he’s thrilled to now be working for the Conservancy.
Nick is a 4th-year Sustainability Studies student at The University of Texas at Austin. He recently spent two months in Botswana researching the effects of climate change, fire, and grazing on woody vegetation and its implications to sustaining wildlife and livestock. He also studied the dynamic relationship between humans and the environment and assessed how pressures from climate change, urbanization, and population growth amplify the conflict between them. In addition to being a member of Green Greeks, a student-run organization that works to bring sustainability and environmental awareness to greek life at UT, Nick is also a research assistant who is developing a digital method of tree mapping through drone captured 3D models of landscapes.
Board of Directors
Lisa Zapalac is an educational leader in Austin and currently runs the innovative Long-View Micro School, which serves as an optimistic example of new possibilities in education and also provides a laboratory for teachers studying mathematics education. Lisa is passionate about the importance of urban parks, outdoor play for children, and protecting local ecosystems. She loves Pease Park for its history, wild beauty, old oaks, and because its 84 acres are a part of the daily rhythm of her life.
Adam works in wealth management as a Partner at AdvicePeriod. He advises a select group of high net worth individuals and family offices, helping them steward their wealth through intentional planning for their financial, tax, estate and investment needs.
Laura Bryant is a landscape architect, with project experience ranging from large urban parks and national historic sites to post-industrial sites, streetscapes and residential design.
Kathleen is the VP of Human Resources for the YMCA of Austin and is an avid volunteer, primarily focusing her energy on social justice and equity in education as well as topics related to green space. She has been an advocate for investing in green space in Austin and helped create the Barton Hills Community Park Master Plan. Kathleen and her husband Brent have resided in Austin for 21 years and enjoy the outdoors with their three children.
Immediate Past President
Dirk Jordan has been a member of the Pease Park Conservancy Board since 2011. Formally a member of the Nature Conservancy Advisory Board and currently on the Board of Trustees of the American Inns of Court Foundation, he is active in promoting open space in urban communities. A practicing attorney, he also serves as adjunct faculty at the University of Texas School of Law.
University of Texas Representative
Jack is a full time student at the University of Texas Cockrell School of Engineering pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He began working with Pease Park as a weekly volunteer during his freshman year and hopes to help continue the progress the beautiful park is making.
Nick is the Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5 (central Travis County). He enjoys spending time at Pease Park with his wife, Kathryn, and newborn daughter.
John Philip Donisi is an attorney and civic volunteer. He has served in leadership roles for various nonprofits, including Preservation Austin, Envision Central Texas, and the Heritage Society of Austin. He and his family reside in the Snead-Rieck House, overlooking Shoal Creek and Custer’s Meadow.
Morgan owns and manages a portfolio of rental properties in Austin. After moving to Austin, she immediately understood the importance of the city's green spaces. She has been an advocate for Pease Park since 2010.
Pease Park has been part of Chase's life since he lived on 29th Street 20 years ago. Today, he and his wife live in Bryker Woods with their two young children, who are especially fond of the park's paved pathways which make stroller naps so very comfortable. Chase is a lawyer at Richards Rodriguez & Skeith, and also serves the Austin community through the Dell Children's Trust and Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas.
Charles has been an architectural historian at the Texas Historical Commission for many years. He is very active in the community in preservation and the arts and serves on several boards and committees including the Austin History Center Association, Preservation Austin and Old Austin Neighborhood Association.
Audrey Ponzio is the CEO and founding partner of APC Collective, where she and her team develop marketing communications and social programs to help clients simultaneously grow their reach, relevance, and relationships with desired audiences. Prior to launching APC Collective, Audrey led Edelman’s multicultural practice in New York City as Senior Vice President. Audrey is an advocate of education and empowerment for underserved communities, and has served as counsel to nonprofits across the U.S. and Latin America; including Blue Engine, Voto Latino, Alaska House, American Indian College Fund, Mi Sangre Foundation and The Maureen Orth Foundation.
Jonathan Ramirez made Austin his home in 2005 where he lived just a few minutes' walk to Pease Park. He comes with a background in commercial aviation, technology and nonprofits and currently works at a local startup combining drones with robot brains that fly themselves. His lovely wife, Lauren Ramirez is a brilliant designer and they have two little girls -- Adelaide (7 - very tender) and Elouise (5 - firecracker) and seven healthy chickens (at the time of publication that is). He is passionate about leaving the world better than he found it and takes stewardship seriously.
Kate was born and raised in Austin prior to graduating from UT. She worked in Information Systems and is a co-owner of Thompson Farms. Kate also sits on the HorseLink board.
Richard Craig, Founder
Amy & Michael Deane
State Representative Gina Hinojosa
Lynda Young Kaffie & Harris Kaffie
Rita & Matthew Kreisle
Christy & Ray Langenberg
Andrea & Dean McWilliams
Jennifer & Ronnie Skloss
Dow & Henry Steen
Eliza Thomas & Ted Young