Former Ohio Governor Bob Taft teaches Legislative Politics and Education Policy at the University of Dayton and oversees the Statehouse Civic Scholars internship program. He served as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, Hamilton County commissioner, and Ohio’s Secretary of State. During his two terms as governor, Taft was a staunch advocate for the Great Lakes and negotiated a multi-state compact to protect the Great Lakes’ waters. Governor Taft is also passionate about education; he helped implement a Student Success agenda that created rigorous academic standards, improved student assessments, and generated accountability for schools. His OhioReads program, designed to help every child read at grade level by the end of the fourth grade, recruited more than 45,000 volunteer tutors. In 2017, Gov. Taft and wife, Hope, were inducted into the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Hall of Fame.
Brian Blair holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio State University School of Natural Resources. He has 32 years of professional experience in the environmental field primarily with Ohio EPA where he served under six Governors negotiating and overseeing the cleanup of toxic waste sites. He continues to serve on boards and advisory committees for a number of land trust and environmental organizations in Ohio, including Athens Conservancy, Arc of Appalachia, Buckeye Trail Association, and Moonville Rail Trail Association. Brian has expertise in conservation easements and conservation of natural areas through public and private partnerships. He created Forest Conservancy, Limited which buys and holds key parcels of land, including important “buffer” areas around parks and preserves, until funds can be secured for permanent preservation by a non-profit or governmental entity. Forest Conservancy, Limited has worked with Land Trusts, ODNR, and Wayne National Forest to acquired such key natural areas. Brian lives on his permanently preserved (Conservation Easement) woodland in the Hocking Hills area, a stone’s throw from several Ohio Parks and Preserves.
Fran Buchholzer is a conservation activist, a former director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), and a former Summit Metro Parks commissioner. In 2003, she was inducted into the ODNR Hall of Fame. Fran, the first female director of ODNR, was a driving force in creating and winning passage of the NatureWorks bond-issue program, which has invested more than $200 million in Ohio’s parks and natural resources facilities. More recently, Fran is championing biomimicry, a field that studies nature for solutions to human challenges. She is a board member of the nonprofit Great Lakes Biomimicry.
Fran is active in local, state, and federal issues dealing with conservation and public policy. Currently, she is a board member of Cleveland Museum of Natural History and a Commissioner of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission.
Additionally, she has served as a member of the University of Akron Foundation, a board member of the National First Ladies Library, and a board member of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute in Washington D.C.
Clyde Gosnell is a veteran (serving the U.S. Army from 1951-1958), a retired architect, long-time activist for conservation and environmental issues, and an Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame inductee. Clyde helped found the Appalachia Ohio Alliance and the Ohio Forest Coalition, advocated for the construction of the John Glenn Astronomy Park, volunteered with The Nature Conservancy and the Columbus Foundation, and served on the boards of directors for the Trust for Public Land as well as the Friends of Hocking Hills State Park.
Dr. Marcia Sloan Latta is the Vice President of University Advancement at the University of Findlay, where she oversees fundraising, alumni and parent relations, the nationally known Mazza Museum, and community outreach. A passionate advocate for education and philanthropy, Dr. Latta serves on the boards of many civic and professional organizations, including the Toledo Zoo Board Governance Committee, F&M Bank, and Bowling Green Community Foundation, for which she served as its founding president.
H.C. Buck Niehoff is a retired attorney (after 40 years with the law firm Peck Shaffer & Williams, four of those spent as a managing partner), a philanthropist, and an established author. As an advocate for education, Buck served on the board of trustees at the University of Cincinnati, co-chaired the university’s Proudly Cincinnati Capital Campaign to raise $1.1 billion, and helped establish the Niehoff Urban Studio at the university—a multi-disciplinary, experiential, academic center. Buck shows his love of the outdoors through volunteer work, such as his work with the Great Parks of Hamilton County. He has also given his time to the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal and the Mercantile Library.
David Pepper is a lawyer, writer, former elected official, and adjunct professor, and served as the Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party between 2015 and 2021.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, David is a fifth-generation Cincinnatian. David earned his B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, and later earned his J.D. from Yale Law School.
David finished first out of 26 candidates in his first run for political office, and served on Cincinnati City Council from 2001-2005. In 2006, he was elected to the three-member Hamilton County Commission; he served on the Commission from 2007-2010, including as its president in 2009-2010. Along the way, David served on the board of the Cincinnati Recreation Foundation, and was a major supporter of both the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Parks systems.
David teaches election and voting rights law as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
David and his wife Alana (originally from Adams County) live in Greater Cincinnati with their two boys Jack, 7, and Charlie, 4, and are frequent visitors to local, county and state parks.
Keith Shumate is a partner at the Columbus law firm of Squire Patton Boggs with significant healthcare litigation experience representing hospitals, health systems, health insurers, and managed care networks. He was named the 2020 Columbus Lawyer of the Year for Product Liability Litigation – Defendants by Best Lawyers. When not in the courtroom, Keith pursues his passion for animals and nature by serving on the board of trustees for the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds.
Lisa Daris is an outdoor enthusiast who previously coordinated the efforts of the Ohio to Erie Trail. She has a background in directing non-profits and has years of experience volunteering for organizations including FLOW (Friends of the Olentangy Watershed), Arc of Appalachia, and Stratford Ecological Center. She is a small business owner of Olentangy Paddle, a kayak touring company, and has experience as an educator with the Ohio River Foundation.