Our Team

Joel Dunn, President & CEO

Joel Dunn is president and CEO of Chesapeake Conservancy, a non-profit organization based in Annapolis, MD dedicated to protecting Chesapeake landscapes that are vital to the health of the Bay and its cultural heritage.  With a regional population approaching 18 million and growing and with tens of thousands of acres of open space vanishing each year, the Conservancy strives to restore the health of the Bay and its rivers by preserving working farms and forests and protecting the region’s rich history and character, ensuring a brighter future for the Bay for generations to come. Read More…

Susan Shingledecker, Vice President and Director of Programs

Susan runs the Conservancy’s programs, which include community-based conservation initiatives throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. She also provides leadership to the organization as a whole, working with the Annapolis-based nonprofit’s president and board of directors to determine and administer the organizations strategic direction in accomplishing its mission. Susan brings over 15 years of professional experience in consulting, public policy, state government and nonprofit management. She has worked in a number of positions for Boat U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety & Clean Water since 2005. Read More…

Patty Allen, Director of Administration

Patty has more than 25 years of administration and human resources experience. During that time, Patty served as employee policy coordinator and human resource director for several companies. She specializes in employment law, employee policy, compensation and performance management design and administration. As a resident of Annapolis, Patty has always supported efforts for the conservation of the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding areas.

Working for the Conservancy gives her the chance to take these efforts a step further and to help educate people about challenges facing our environment.

Jody Hedeman Couser, Director of Communications

A native of Annapolis, Jody oversees Chesapeake Conservancy’s public and media relations. Previously, Jody was principal of River Bay Communications, LLC and press secretary for a Maryland gubernatorial candidate.  She served on the cabinet for Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens as director of communications; as public information officer for the American Medical Association (AMA); director of communications and development for the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO); and as production manager at The Kamber Group. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Roanoke College and a Master in Political Management from The George Washington University. Jody lives in Annapolis with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys traveling, boating on the Chesapeake Bay, and has a knack for finding arrowheads.

Susan Minnemeyer, Acting Director of Conservation Technology

Susan joined the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Conservation Innovation Center as a Geospatial Program Manager in February 2019. She manages projects that aim to improve the health of Chesapeake Bay watershed through precision landscape conservation utilizing high resolution datasets and analysis.

Before joining the Conservancy, Susan Minnemeyer was the GIS Manager for Global Forest Watch (GFW), an initiative of the World Resources Institute (WRI) that provides data and tools for monitoring forests. Susan led the development of novel online mapping applications for GFW and WRI’s Forest Program, including GFW Fires, an application for monitoring and responding to forest and land fires using near real-time information. Previously she developed Southern Forests for the Future, a mapping application for forests of the Southeastern US, and was the lead GIS project manager for WRI’s Forest Atlas Series, leading mapping for five Congo Basin countries and for Indonesia.

She earned a Master’s of Environmental Management from the Nicholas School at Duke University, concentrating on Resource and Landscape Ecology. She earned a BS in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, cooking and spending time outdoors with her family.

Melissa Ehrenreich, Director of Development 

As director of development, Melissa leads our fundraising efforts and outreach to foundations, corporations and individuals. She brings years of development and partnership expertise to our team, with a background in conservation. Most recently, Ehrenreich served as the executive director of the D.C. Social Innovation Project, a social enterprise and innovation incubator focused on tackling the root causes of poverty in Washington, D.C. She also served in numerous roles with the Ocean Conservancy from 2006 to 2013, including capital campaign manager, director of program effectiveness, and acting director of the Trash Free Seas initiative. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland at College Park and spent her college years researching on the Choptank River. Ehrenreich lives in Greenbelt, MD and enjoys hunting edible mushrooms, native plant gardening, and forest hikes with her husband and three sons.

Ellen Gardner, Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer, Ellen is responsible for the financial operations and reporting of the Conservancy. She is a certified public accountant with over three decades of not for profit leadership experience in organizational strategy, financial forecasting, budgeting, and grant accounting. Most recently, Ellen was the CFO at Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global membership association. Previously, she held positions of COO and CFO for Community Connections Inc., a non-profit organization providing comprehensive mental health care and residential services. And earlier in her career she worked at the University of Maryland Baltimore County as the Associate Director of the Bookstore and adjunct Accounting faculty. Ellen earned her B.A. in Economics & Management from Goucher College and earned her MBA from Loyola College.

Ellen met her husband Wes on a sailboat in Annapolis and they have lived in the area for over 40 years. They raised their children to be responsible stewards of the Chesapeake as they enjoyed camping, sailing, kayaking, fishing and wakeboarding. Ellen and Wes have been active volunteers in the community including the USNA Midshipmen Family Sponsor program and the Montessori International Children’s House. Ellen currently serves as a board member for SECU and the Co-captain of three USTA tennis teams.