Steffney Thompson, an attorney with expertise in environmental law and policy, was ORLT's first staff person, and has served as executive director since 1999.
She claims Missoula, Montana, where she lived for eight years, as home, but also has fond memories of living in places as diverse as the Mogollon Rim in Arizona, and White Pine in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Living in remote and beautiful areas planted the seed for her commitment to protecting land. Steffney earned her law degree, as well as undergraduate degrees in history and economics, from the University of Arizona. Following graduation, she worked as an environmental practice lawyer with a law firm in Tucson, Ariz. Steffney moved to Athens in 1993 with her husband, Todd Rasmussen, a University of Georgia professor of hydrology. They are the parents of two adult children who also enjoy hiking and exploring.
Laura Hall joined ORLT as the land steward in 2014, a position that includes monitoring the protected properties and identifying and documenting the important ecological, cultural and historic resources to be preserved on future projects.
Laura brought more than 15 years as a land conservation professional to ORLT. She has a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Georgia and, as part of her degree work, studied permaculture and sustainable design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.
In addition to her conservation work, Laura has practiced landscape architecture for more than 20 years, including having her own practice and working with the Jaeger Company. Her work has concentrated on sustainable landscapes, native gardens, community gardens, and planning of community pedestrian and bike paths and open spaces.
Laura is a native of Athens and has two sons in high school. She and her family enjoy spending time hiking and camping on the coast and in the mountains
The outdoors have played a pivotal role in Crescenzo’s life. After showing an aptitude for identifying woody plants during an undergraduate dendrology course, a professor tried to persuade him to switch majors from philosophy to forestry. Instead, Crescenzo stuck with philosophy – earning his PhD in December 2016 at the University of Georgia – while focusing his research on questions about what makes species and ecosystems valuable and how ecosystems can be conceived of as subjects of justice. “As I studied the philosophy behind our relationship with our environment, I longed to be doing something more hands-on, more in the trenches, than academic writing and teaching,” he says. “I began to look for ways to get involved in protecting local ecosystems in Georgia.”Crescenzo joined ORLT part-time as a stewardship coordinator in fall 2016 while still working on his dissertation. After graduation, he was named to a full-time position working closely with ORLT Land Steward Laura Hall. In his current position, Crescenzo assists Hall in completing the annual monitoring requirements of existing easements, including creating maps and compiling statistics, such as the number of river miles and acres of granite protected, and a variety of other follow-up documentation. During the latter part of each year, when all staff members focus on completing new conservation easements, Crescenzo reviews and proofreads baseline documents. “My work at ORLT has felt like coming home to something I love,” Crescenzo says. “I learned a lot during my time working on my philosophy degree, but my passion has always been for protecting the land and for work that puts me into regular contact with it – that is, for putting philosophy into practice.”
In her role as Conservation Coordinator, Margaret assists the land trust with its conservation and stewardship work. Margaret grew up in Iowa where she developed a love and appreciation for nature spending time at her grandparents’ farm. She is a graduate of Drake University, and earned a Master’s Degree at the University of Georgia. After graduating from the University of Oregon School of Law with a background in environmental and natural resource policy she returned to Athens as an environmental policy analyst at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, UGA. During this time, Margaret was involved in issues concerning land use, sustainable development, water quality, and climate change. She also works at the Georgia Coastal Research Council, where she facilitates interactions and communication between coastal researchers and natural resource managers. Margaret enjoys camping, time at the beach, walking with her dogs, and spending time with friends.
Hadrien graduated from the American University of Paris in 2008 with degrees in both Global Communications and Film Studies. Since then he has worked many jobs in the music industry as well as emerging tech. However, his interest in and passion for the outdoors led him to ORLT where he began working in February as Stewardship Assistant. He now spends hours walking properties that have conservation easements, completing the annual requirements of existing easements. In his free time he enjoys skateboarding, fishing, and hanging out with his dog, JB.
Caroline J. Hall
Development and Outreach Director
Caroline is a West-side Athens native, and went to the University of Georgia for her dual bachelors' degrees in Psychology and Sociology. She earned her masters' degree in Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University.
Caroline has a variety of experience in land stewardship and environmental outreach in Georgia. Her previous positions have included connecting refugee farming families in Clarkston, GA to land and market access, leading biodiversity tours in Costa Rica, and leading entomology after-school programs in Athens. Her professional passions include sharing her love of the outdoors with others, building community through events, and creating new partnerships with other local organizations. Caroline enjoys backpacking, rafting, gardening, and creative writing. She lives with her husband and two cats in Athens.To reach her, or to request a scheduled group hike, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benji is an Environmental Economics and Management major at the University of Georgia pursuing an Environmental law minor and a Certificate in Sustainability.
He plans to one day collaborate with entertainment companies to achieve environmental compliance such as providing methods to divert waste from landfills, implementing efficient transportation strategies, and reducing the overall footprint of high-density events.
In his free time, Benji enjoys long-boarding with his dog, going on hikes, and making music in his local Athens band - Underground Springhouse.