Meet Our Team
Tom Kay (Executive Director)
Tom was named the Executive Director in June of 2013. He holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Environmental Policy & Behavior from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment and a Juris Doctor from Florida State University’s College of Law.
A licensed Florida attorney, Tom has worked as a staff attorney for a large not-for-profit health care organization and a public housing authority. For seven years, he worked as a litigator in civil, criminal, and real estate matters. He has volunteered on local and national political campaigns and interned in U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s Tallahassee office during law school. He currently serves as the President of the Alliance of Florida Land Trusts, the umbrella organization for state's 22 land trusts. He also serves on the Executive Committee as Treasurer on the Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation, a coalition of more than two dozen local, regional and national conservation organizations that work to increase the pace, quality and permanence of voluntary land and water conservation within the five state Gulf Coast region.
Ivor Kincaide (Land Stewardship director)
Ivor Kincaide, a lifelong birder and self-described longleaf enthusiast, received his Bachelor's of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Florida. Ivor is leading the Ocala Region Longleaf Pine Implementation Team (OLIT) which is focused on getting more fire and longleaf restoration completed in North Central Florida. He is a State Certified Prescribed Burn Manager with a keen interest in freshwater marsh and pineland restoration.
Grace Howell (conservation programs coordinator)
Grace is a North Florida native and lifelong nature lover. She graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Natural Resource Conservation and worked in the City of Gainesville’s nature parks for 9 years, first as an environmental educator and then as a land manager and biologist. She is a native plant enthusiast, amateur botanist, fire ecology advocate, and Certified Prescribed Burn Manager. Grace coordinates conservation easement documentation, environmental assessments, and land management plans. She also works with land management staff to plan and carry out restoration and natural resource management goals on ACT’s conservation properties. Having been inspired and encouraged by a number of passionate conservationists, she enjoys sharing land stewardship skills with young professionals through ACT’s Women in the Woods internship program. Grace also serves as Chair of the Land Management Partners Committee on the board of the Florida Native Plant Society.
Lesa Holder (Office Manager)
Lesa Holder is a life-long resident of Alachua County, and has worked as ACT's Office & Finance Manager since 2007. Her background in administration encompasses work in both the public and private sectors, including program development and delivery at an eco-tourist facility and organic/biodynamic demonstration farm, executive staff support posts in state and local government, and as Assistant Editor with the State of Florida's official administrative law reporter, for whom she still contracts as an associate editor.
Melissa Hill (Santa fe river basin project coordinator)
Melissa is a lifelong Florida resident and has been involved with ACT since 2014. She has her master’s in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Florida with a certificate in Environmental Education and Communication. From 2016-2018 she collaborated on a project at ACT focused on understanding the biophysical and social intersections needed for conservation easements on the coast to protect sea turtle nesting. The following year she served as the Community Outreach Coordinator. Currently she works to conserve land in the Santa Fe River Basin watershed through conservation easements and acquisitions. On an off day she can be found catching a sunrise or out paddling.
Byron Flagg (Conservation Land Negotiator)
Byron Flagg is a third generation Floridian with deep roots in Alachua County. As an employee of ACT, Byron serves as lead negotiator for the Alachua County Forever program under a contract between ACT and Alachua County. A licensed Florida attorney since 2005, Byron started his legal career as a criminal prosecutor for the 8th Judicial Circuit, State Attorney's Office with special experience working with the Alachua County Environmental Crimes Task Force. He returned to the University of Florida College of Law in 2011 to earn an LL.M. Degree in Environmental and Land Use law and since then has worked in the private and public sectors across the state, including for the St. Johns River Water Management District as an Assistant General Counsel. He is experienced in land use, environmental, real estate, local government and coastal issues throughout Florida. In addition to his work with ACT, Byron is also closely affiliated with the University of Florida's Conservation Clinic and has worked on grant projects addressing coastal resiliency planning and environmental permitting related to natural shoreline preservation. Byron is also a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard.
STEVE WASP (LAND MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST)
Steve Wasp originally hails from New York, but has found a home in the sandhills of Florida. His talents in prescribed fire run deep having served as a Corps Member for the AmericCorps National Civilian Community Corps, Crew Member and Crew Lead for the Nature Conservancy, as an Assistant Team Lead for Wildland Restoration International, and even on a crew out west to fight wildfire. Steve’s skills expand beyond prescribed fire and land management skills through his work training interns and volunteer groups to restore and maintain ACT’s preserves.
Barry Coulliette (Private Lands Stewardship Specialist)
Barry comes to Alachua Conservation Trust from 36 years at the Florida Forest Service where he focused on instructing prescribed fire training, working with private landowners and most importantly, actually conducting burns at various state forests and private lands in the north Florida region. His focus is assisting private landowners and helping them get prepared to implement their prescribed burning goals.
Erica hernandez (Statewide land acquisition specialist)
Erica joined ACT in spring of 2019 as the new Statewide Land Acquisition Specialist after spending a year camping across the western U.S. and Canada. Erica has spent her career researching flora and fauna across the state of Florida and earned her master’s in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the H.T. Odum Center for Wetlands at the University of Florida. From deep interior swamps and estuarine ecosystems to sandhill and rare communities like Florida dry prairie, Erica loves to be neck deep in mud or crawling around saw palmetto looking at Florida’s rich ecological heritage. Erica has been a public servant for state agencies and public universities for over 20 years, often collaborating on complex projects requiring large stakeholder participation. She has published reports and peer reviewed literature studying wetland restoration and loves analyzing long term data sets to understand how natural communities respond to disturbance and applying these insights to management planning. When not daydreaming about science, Erica can be found foraging for wild fruit or blacksmithing.
HEATHER OBARA (COMMUNITY OUTREACH COORDINATOR)
Heather comes to ACT with over nine years of experience working with Florida non-profits. She is a native Floridian and grew up on the Gulf Coast. Heather received her B.A. in English Literature in 2010 from Florida State University and her Juris Doctor with Honors in Environmental and Earth Law in 2013 from The Dwayne O. Andreas Barry School of Law.
Heather started her career in environmental conservation with the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, where she worked to help communicate the results of scientific research and educate the public about the importance of protecting Florida’s freshwater springs and aquifer. As ACT’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Heather works to promote ACT and its programs to donors, community partners, and the public. Heather also serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Springs Council and is an advisor to the Florida Springs Institute.
In her free time, Heather enjoys paddling Florida’s rivers and springs and running.