Getting to Know TLC’s New Executive Director

May 5, 2015

SandySandy Sweitzer joined TLC back in 2013 as the Director of Development and officially became the organization's Executive Director in early April. The Triangle Business Journal featured Sandy in their “People on the Move” section on April 24th. We are sharing the whole profile here on “The Dirt” to help you get to know Sandy as she takes on this new role. (Photo of Sandy by Caroline Gilmore, April 2015)

Question: Tell me a little about Triangle Land Conservancy.
Sandy's Answer: Since 1983, Triangle Land Conservancy has been protecting the wild and working lands that make our region a great place to live, work, and play. We have helped conserve over 17,000 acres of land, including five public nature preserves and a canoe access area that are open year-round, free of charge. We strive to create a healthier and more vibrant Triangle region by safeguarding clean water, protecting natural habitats, supporting local farms and food, and connecting people with nature.

What are your responsibilities as executive director of TLC?
As Executive Director, I am responsible for leading the organization in the implementation of our strategic plan (a nonprofit’s “business plan”), board and staff development, outreach and advocacy, financial management, and donor relations. Together with the Board, I will work to provide vision for the organization as it continues to grow and develop as the regional leader in conservation. I also want to spend plenty of time hiking each of our preserves!

How many people does TLC employ? How many in the Triangle?
We employ 11 full-time and 2 part-time people in the Triangle.

How much land does TLC oversee? How far does the geographic footprint stretch?
TLC has helped conserve over 17,000 acres of land across the Triangle, including in Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Lee, Orange, and Wake counties. Currently, TLC owns over 4,600 acres and we hold conservation easements, which are permanent legal agreements with landowners that we are required to monitor annually, on another 7,000 acres.

What’s one thing you wish people knew about your job?
Whether or not you like to spend time outside, TLC is here for you. The special places we protect are not just for outdoorsy types: TLC has protected the iconic Maple View Dairy with its amazing ice cream and gorgeous farmland to drive through; Horton Grove, land that was part of the Historic Stagville Plantation which now provides grassland habitat for the pollinators that help make our food; and Swift Creek Bluffs which offers a green respite for hundreds of its neighbors in Cary. We protect lands that people need and love.

Where were you born and raised?
Richmond Indiana, across the street from Earlham College, but I went to high school outside Philadelphia and lived in Santa Cruz CA for 10 years before moving to NC in 1993.

Where did you attend college? What was your degree in?
Earlham College, Political Science

What was your position prior to your current one?
I’ve been with TLC since 2013 as the Director of Development. Previous to that I did development work for Durham and Orange County Habitat for Humanity affiliates, spent five years with the NC Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and helped start and fund the Durham Library Foundation.

Why the jump to this position?
As TLC’s Director of Development, I got to know and really appreciate TLC’s dedicated and loyal supporters, board members, and staff. It was an easy decision to apply for the opportunity to build on TLC’s strong history by working with them to implement the organization’s new ambitious strategic plan.

What are some of your major goals for your new role at TLC?
1. Finalizing plans to open two new public nature preserves in the next few years: Brumley Forest in Orange County and the Bailey and Sarah Williamson Farm at Walnut Hill in Wake and Johnston Counties. My goal is to make sure we engage the public in that process so we meet the community’s needs for hiking and biking trails, clean water and connectivity to other regional spaces. I’m excited to be part of designing the preserves for long-term sustainability and raising the funds necessary to make these dreams a reality.

2. Connect with individuals, businesses, and organizations throughout the Triangle who benefit from open space protection, maybe without even realizing it. The strong partnerships we have with businesses like Wells Fargo, Duke Energy, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC, Merck, and REI powers the work we do across the Triangle which in turn provides the companies with the natural places and amenities that help them attract and retain employees.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People who don’t recognize all the amazing opportunities we have in the Triangle – not just the great outdoors, but the diversity of food, cultures, arts, sports and music.

What’s your biggest worry?
That we’ll “kill the goose that laid the golden egg,” i.e. most of us moved here because this region is so beautiful, so how can we also protect that beauty and natural resources that support us?

Name a Triangle area businessperson you most admire:
There are so many! Several TLC board members come to mind – John McAdams, Jack Clayton, Sepi Saidi to name a few. In addition to being a good business people, they are genuinely kind and thoughtful to everyone, clearly care about their families, have a good sense of humor and work and play really hard. They are deeply engaged in supporting TLC’s work (and that of several other nonprofits), which is particularly impressive given their “day jobs!”

Are you married? Any children? Names?
I’ve been married to Rob Lamme for 25 years this June (and we’ve been together for 31 years!), but we’re not THAT old! Rob and I both love to read, bicycle, hike and hang out with friends. And to laugh.

We have two amazing kids (aren’t they all?): Jon graduated from Haverford College last May and starts graduate school in Library Science at U of IL at Champaign-Urbana this fall.  Maddy is a freshman at Carolina with a passion for travel and food . When we’re together we are a big, loud, energetic family.

What’s the last book you’ve read?
I’m in two book clubs so have a couple going all the time. The last one I finished was All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. And I loved it BEFORE it won the Pulitzer!

Many thanks to Sandy for sharing a little bit about herself and her hopes and dreams for TLC! Have additional questions for Sandy or for TLC in general? Share them with Diana Hackenburg, TLC Communications Manager at [email protected] and she will work to find you an answer!

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