Photo by Noah Shatzer
The Leadership Committee operates to provide strategic direction and oversight of the South Mountain Partnership. The Leadership Committee was convened in 2011 to ensure direct partner engagement in the Partnership’s work; the Committee represents the diversity of partners and interest areas of the broader South Mountain Partnership, and also reflects the region’s geography.
The Leadership Committee is currently comprised of the following individuals:
Janet Pollard - Communications Committee Chair
Franklin County Visitors Bureau
Janet Pollard is the Executive Director of the Franklin County Visitors Bureau, a position she has held since 2007. Prior to joining FCVB, Janet worked for the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce for ten years, and has been a freelance writer for over thirty-five years. Working as a freelancer has afforded her the opportunity to research and learn about a variety of topics of which local history is one. Since 2000, she authored two Arcadia Images of America Books—one on Chambersburg and one on Franklin County. Not a native of Franklin County, Janet has called Franklin County home since 1980 and has four children. The South Mountain Landscape is personally important to her because she lives less than five minutes from Caledonia State Park and was married at Kings Gap.
Stephanie Williams – Organizational Development Committee Chair
Greenway & Open Space Coordinator
Cumberland County Planning Department
Stephanie Williams is the Senior Planning Manager for the Cumberland County Planning Department. She has worked for Cumberland County for over 20 years and has a degree from Penn State University in Environmental Resource Management. Ms. Williams is responsible for developing and implementing countywide programs designed to promote farmland preservation, natural resource protection, parks and greenways and development of more livable communities. Stephanie is the Cumberland County representative on the SMP Leadership Committee.
Elizabeth Grant - Program Committee Chair
Cumberland County Planning Department
Elizabeth Grant is a Planning Specialist at Cumberland County Planning Department, where she has served since February 2019. She conducts Subdivision and Land Development reviews, assists municipalities with Comprehensive Planning and Ordinance updates, supports the county’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and is working to develop the Countywide Action Plan for the Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan. She currently chairs the South Mountain Partnership Program Committee and is the Cumberland County alternate on the Leadership Committee, as well as South Central Assembly’s Regional Connections Committee, and serves on the Program and Executive Committees for Capital Resource Conservation and Development. She has worked closely with community organizations connecting physical activity initiatives with healthy community design such as Healthy Franklin County and Mercersburg Area Council for Wellness. She earned her American Institute of Certified Planners certification in 2019, completed training in 2017 with the PA Master Naturalist program, and conducts monthly stream monitoring on the Yellow Breeches Creek. Her passions include gardening with native plants and training her rescued cattle dogs in agility and obedience.
District Forester – Michaux State Forest
DCNR-Bureau of Forestry
Roy is the district forester of for the Bureau of Forestry’s District 1, encompassing the more than 85,000 acres of Michaux State Forest in the South Mountain region of Adams, Cumberland and Franklin Counties. As district forester, Roy oversees management and operations of the Michaux State Forest. Prior to moving to the Michaux, Roy worked out of the Bureau of Forestry’s central office in Harrisburg as part of the Planning and Ecological Services Section, focusing on state-wide forest management policy and planning issues. Roy additional owns and operates a grass-based livestock farm in southern Juniata County.
Bryan Van Sweden
Community Preservation Coordinator, Susquehanna Region
PA Historical and Museum Commission
Bryan Van Sweden works for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in the State Historic Preservation Office. Serving communities in central Pennsylvania, Bryan provides technical assistance to planning and conservation organizations and to local governments that are working to preserve their community’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, and rural landscapes.
Franklin County Planning Department
Steve Thomas is the Planning Director of the Franklin County Planning Department. He oversees the daily operations of the department which include site plan reviews, agricultural preservation, transportation planning, comprehensive planning, housing, and grant administration, among many others. Steve graduated from Shippensburg University in 2004 with dual degrees in History and Geography. He currently resides in Mercersburg, PA with his wife and two children. Steve is the Franklin County representative on the Leadership Committee.
Adams County Office of Planning and Development
Rob Thaeler holds the position of Principal Planner with the Adams County Office of Planning and Development, Adams County, Pennsylvania. He has conducted community planning, comprehensive planning, current planning, and related planning functions for Adams County since 1992. Rob’s professional interests include environmental and landscape conservation, land use policy development and implementation, public recreation provision, spatial analysis, and community and economic development. His personal interests include camping, hiking, travel, sailing, and kayaking. Rob holds a Masters of City and Regional Planning degree from the Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography (Planning and Applied) from the Pennsylvania State University. Rob is the Adams County representative in the SMP Leadership Committee.
Susan Richards is Executive Director of Capital RC&D, a regional nonprofit organization that serves seven counties in south central Pennsylvania with the mission of networking people, resources, and projects to promote responsible use and conservation of our region's resources. In her role, Susan seeks opportunities to support projects that protect natural resources, working cooperatively with county, state, and federal agencies and other organizations, including the South Mountain Partnership. Susan has over 25 years of experience working to support natural resource protection with an emphasis on agricultural land, she believes that natural resource protection and profitable farm management are very compatible goals. Susan also has experience selling local produce for her husband’s produce sales business. She has lived in the South Mountain region for over 30 years and is proud to call it home.
Director of Health Promotion
Partnership for Better Health
Gail Witwer has been employed by the Partnership for Better Health for over thirteen years. As the Director of Health Promotion, Gail manages, coordinates and leads grant making, grant reviewing, and foundation initiatives with the focus on building healthy communities. Prior to her work at the foundation, Gail devoted over 18 years to working in the anti-violence movement, with specific focus on sexual violence. Gail’s first nine years in the anti-sexual violence movement began at Women In Need/Victim Services in Chambersburg, PA. Her experience in providing direct services and managing activities of the sexual assault prevention program led to a technical assistance position with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR). While working at PCAR for over nine years, Gail extended her programmatic-focused activities to include contract management at the state level and eventually program planning and evaluation at PCAR’s National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Gail holds a BA in Social Work from Shippensburg University.
CLUS - Shippensburg University
Antonia Price is the Project Manager for Shippensburg University's Center for Land Use and Sustainability. Throughout her career, she has supported various research initiatives, largely focusing on administrative and communication efforts. Antonia received an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Utah, with Undergraduate Research Scholar designation. Antonia has a background in community outreach and science education, and enjoys communicating science to diverse audiences. Antonia is the academic lead representative for the Leadership Committee.
Land Conservation Coordinator, Adams County Land Conservancy
Sarah Kipp is the Land Conservation Coordinator at the Land Conservancy of Adams County. She joined the Land Conservancy in 2009 after completing her master’s degree in City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, where she focused on land use and environmental planning and received a certificate in land preservation. Sarah has served on the board of the Watershed Alliance of Adams County, as a member of the Gettysburg Borough Planning Commission, and on Main Street Gettysburg’s Baltimore Street committee. She is still on her quest to bicycle every road in Adams County.
Franklin County Planning Department
Nicole Boling is the Senior Planner within the Franklin County Planning Department. She focuses on coordinating the implementation of various programs and activities within the department in addition to facilitating municipal and public outreach initiatives. Nicole received her Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Shippensburg University in 2012 and her Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech in 2018. Nicole is the Franklin County alternate on the Leadership Committee.
York County Planning
Mike Shaffer has been employed by the York County Planning Commission since 1987 in the Municipal Planning Division. His main duty at the Planning Commission involves the review of subdivision and land development plans. He also reviews zoning ordinance and subdivision and land development ordinance amendments for various municipalities in York County. Mike was involved for many years with the Codorus Creek Watershed Association and is a past president of the organization. He became involved with the South Mountain Partnership Leadership Committee in 2020. Mike received a BA in Geoenvironmental Studies in 1986 from Shippensburg University and lives in York with his wife and three sons. Mike is the York County alternate on the Leadership Committee.
Chief, Municipal Planning
York County Planning Commission
Kurt Leitholf is the Chief of Municipal Planning for the York County Planning Commission. In that role he coordinates the activities of the division and its planners, reviewing subdivision and land development plans, zoning ordinances, and amendments, for 72 municipalities in York County. Prior to this role Kurt spent more than 15 years as Executive Director for the Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council (CNRAC) within the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), where he planned, developed, and conducted research and investigations related to conservation and resource management issues, then provided recommendations involving policies, procedures, plans, goals and objectives for effectively managing the Commonwealth’s natural resources. He joined the South Mountain Partnership Leadership Committee in 2020 as an Alternate for York County and is excited to be a part of this organization.
Dr. Claire Jantz
Professor, Geography & Earth Science
Dr. Claire A. Jantz is a Professor in the Geography-Earth Science Department and Director of the Center for Land Use and Sustainability (CLUS) at Shippensburg University. While earning her PhD in geography from the University of Maryland, she worked as a full-time research associate at the Woods Hole Research Center in Woods Hole, MA. In 2005 she joined the faculty at Shippensburg, and in 2015 became the director of the CLUS. Dr. Jantz has spent nearly 20 years engaged in the interdisciplinary field of land use science and is recognized as a leader in land use and ecosystem change modeling. She also serves as the chair of the Friends of Michaux State Forest. Claire is the academic alternate on the SMP Leadership Committee.
White Rock Inc.
Patti Nitterhouse and her husband Dennis Zimmerman are the owners and developers of Penn National Golf Course Community in Franklin County, which is rated one of America's top 50 master planned communities. The community borders 85,000 acres of Michaux State Forest. Patti embraced the vision of the South Mountain Partnership in its early years and was attracted to it by the spirit of cooperation with a public/private partnership that spanned geographic and political boarders. Patti serves on several boards including the Franklin County Visitors Bureau, the Stop Transource Leadership Committee, and the South Mountain Partnership. She also supports MACWell (the Mercersburg Area Council on Wellness), where she facilitates and hosts whole food, plant-based educational healthy eating programs. She was the driving force for the TK Nitterhouse & Mary Steel nursing scholarships. Patti is an alternate on the SMP Leadership Committee.
Project & Outreach Manager
Cheryl Burns is the Project and Outreach Manager for Capital RC&D, where she provides support for regional projects that help achieve the organization's mission of, "...networking people, resources, and projects to promote responsible use and conservation of our region's resources." In addition to general project management, her work includes development of communications materials, project focused videos, and hosting the Capital RC&D Conservation Podcast. Cheryl has a B.A. in Management from Wichita State University but has enjoyed working to support conservation in the region for more than 10 years. She was raised in Lancaster but now resides with her family in Cumberland County, who all feel a strong connection to the South Mountain landscape. Cheryl is an alternate on the SMP Leadership Committee.