About Palmer Land Trust

© Greg Frozley


Rebecca Jewett

Executive Director
Rebecca Jewett has led Palmer Land Trust as Executive Director since 2014. She leads a dedicated and passionate staff in the conservation of southern Colorado’s working farms and ranches, outdoor recreation, and iconic scenic landscapes. With over a decade of experience in the outdoor and conservation fields, she has overseen the planning, management, and implementation of countless environmental restoration, stewardship, and conservation projects working with government agencies, stakeholders, and the public. Her project experience includes permanent and largescale land conservation, recreation management, post-fire burn restoration, watershed health, habitat recovery, environmental education, and public engagement. Prior to joining Palmer Land Trust, Rebecca served as the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, a land conservation and stewardship organization based in Colorado Springs. Rebecca received her Master of Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy (MRLS) from the University of Denver and a BA in Political Science from Colorado College. As a 5th generation Coloradan, Rebecca is deeply passionate about protecting Colorado’s magnificent landscape and natural heritage. Her soul lives in the alpine and she is working on summiting Colorado’s 100 highest summits.

Anais Spitzer

Director of Operations
Anais was raised in the rural Texas Hill Country. She has a deep-seated appreciation of the formative role land plays in communities and of the critical importance of its conservation. Prior to joining Palmer Land Trust, Anais worked at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, growing their TrueSport initiative to change the culture of youth sport into a community-based organization reaching over 1.5 million people. In addition to her experience in developing operational and strategic plans, programming, assessments, budgets and partnerships, Anais’s background as a former college professor drives her passion for bringing to life the core narratives that shape our communities. When not at work, she can be found riding the local trails on her mountain bike, upside down in yoga, gardening, or playing with her three children.

Stephanie Thomas

Director of Land Stewardship
Stephanie came to Palmer with broad experience working as an advocate, a policy analyst, and an attorney. She grew up sailing on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and playing outside as much as possible. Her education includes an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in International Environmental Studies and a law degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Stephanie worked with Earthjustice, Western Resource Advocates, and a small water law firm while in law school. She practiced law for a few years before moving over to the nonprofit environmental sector in Denver, where she spent six years working on land and water policy issues and increasing her knowledge and skills in conservation and natural resource issues. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys spending time exploring the outdoors with her family, including the newest additions- Miles and Anaya.

Matthew Heimerich

Lower Arkansas Valley Conservation Director
After moving to Crowley County in 1987, Matt and his wife Karen purchased their first irrigated farm. The operation today has 320 acres of deeded and leased ground. Matt served three terms from 1999-2011 as one of Crowley County’s Commissioners. Upon leaving office, he accepted the position of land use administrator for the county. As a farmer, an elected official, and land use administrator, Matt has confronted the effects of large-scale dry-ups of irrigated lands firsthand. The present landscape is plagued with blowing dirt problems, weed proliferation, wildland fire concerns and small acreage management challenges. It is Matt’s hope that his association with Palmer Land Trust will facilitate creative and financially rewarding options for landowners who wish to keep their water rights on the farm forever. Matt and Karen enjoy spending time with friends and family at a family home in Vail Valley skiing and hiking.

Amber Shanklin

Pikes Peak Region Conservation Director
Amber brings many years of experience in the natural resource and conservation fields to Palmer Land Trust. Her experience includes restoration ecology, botany, and GIS systems. Born and raised in the Midwest, Amber found an early love for the outdoors; hiking, camping, and visiting the area’s many lakes sparked her initial ecological passion. After receiving a BS from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point in Wildlife and Biology, she moved to Nevada to work for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and eventually transitioned to The Nature Conservancy. In 2009, Amber moved to Colorado to pursue a Master’s degree in Ecology from Colorado State University. She held a temporary position with the Bureau of Land Management in Meeker, Colorado, followed by an offer from the Rocky Mountain Field Institute to become their new Program Director. This position revealed to her the unique beauty of the Pikes Peak region. Amber now joins Palmer with a strong dedication to helping conserve our unparalleled natural resources.

Erica Oakley-Courage

Development Director
Prior to joining Palmer Land Trust, Erica was the Corporate Market Director at the American Heart Association, overseeing the Go Red For Women Education Day & Luncheon and the Heart & Stroke Walk. The Seattle native earned a degree from Western Washington University in Journalism/Public Relations and spent six years working in professional sports before transferring to the world of non-profit. Erica serves on the Peak Vista Community Health Centers Board and the Colorado Springs Osteopathic Foundation Engagement Committee. She spends as much time outside as she can – hiking, running, mountain biking, and gardening – and also loves playing trivia and hosting friends for dinner.

Darcie Hannigan

Communications and Community Outreach
Darcie is a fourth generation Coloradan, born and raised in Colorado Springs. Her family ties run deep in the state - all the way back to her great grandfather who raised Herefords and owned a 5,000 acre ranch in the Greenhorn Valley. Her love for the outdoors started as a child exploring the wild and camping with her family. She left Colorado after high school to travel and study. While away she developed a passion for connecting people with the causes and actions that truly make a difference. After university, running her own media company, and traveling extensively, she returned home to the shadow of Pikes Peak where she is dedicated to the success of the city and the region. She believes Colorado's intrinsic value lies in the untouched beauty, the thoughtfully stewarded and protected public space, and the longterm vitality of local farmland.

Leah Valentine

Office Coordinator
Leah is a champion for the Pikes Peak community with a deep veneration for Colorado’s wild rooted by her grandmother, who brought the family to the front range from the San Luis Valley during the mid century. Weekend road trips, hiking and camping in the deep mountains were not uncommon during Leah’s childhood, and after a few years living in Oklahoma near her husband’s family, she returned to Colorado Springs where her heart lies. Along with an upbeat and warm personality, Leah brings extensive office and project management experience to the Palmer team. When she’s not working, she spends most of her time in any place she can take her two basset hounds.