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Lori Paradis Brant Executive Director


As the new executive director at Steep Rock Association, Lori leads the staff in their efforts to conserve ecologically and historically significant landscapes as they enhance the community’s connection with nature. Lori’s collaborative nature supports her focus on community partnerships, environmental education, and volunteerism, as those efforts help increase engagement in and support of local conservation efforts. Prior to her new role, Lori was the Education Director and Project Learning Tree Coordinator for Connecticut Forest & Park Association. Lori currently serves community roles as the chair of the CT Urban Forest Council and chair of her town’s Conservation Commission.

Lori and her chef husband enjoy camping and hiking with their two energetic children.  The Brants’ two cats, one dog, and three Guinea pigs allow them to share their home with them in peace – as long as the cat allows the dog a seat on the couchEmail Lori Paradis Brant


Clark Gifford – Trails & Preserve Coordinator

Clark Gifford On the Trail 6.13.14Clark has been stewarding Steep Rock’s lands since 2003.  Clark takes pride in ensuring people have opportunities to enjoy the natural world around us and leaving little trace that he has ever been there.  It is Clark who is responsible for the condition of your favorite places, as well as the favorite places of so many birds, butterflies, amphibians, small and large mammals, fish, bugs, insects, plants, trees, etc.  He has led many projects to improve the quality of habitat for the wildlife of Steep Rock Associations preserve.  Projects like invasive plant removal, the Cedar Field Expansion Project, and the current, multi-year, project of creating field/forest ecotone by feathering the transition from field to forest.  He has worked hard to maintain trails and build new trails, like the trails and interior bridge at Macricostas in 2003 and the trails and boardwalk in the Bronson part of the Hidden Valley Preserve acquired in 2010, so that we can leave the hustle and bustle of our lives behind, even if it’s only for a short half hour hike.

On weekends, Clark can often be found hiking the preserves with his wife Amanda, their three children and two dogs.  He can also be found throwing pots, tending his small flock of chickens, and otherwise enjoying his family and home.  Email Clark Gifford.

Rory Larson – Land Steward, Conservation Easement Manager, Program Leader

Rory grew up on the banks of the Shepaug River and spent many childhood days exploring Steep Rock where an interest in its wild inhabitants took hold.  He obtained a BS degree in Wildlife Ecology and has since worked on several research projects for a variety of organizations.  Positions held have examined sea turtle nesting ecology in Florida, snowshoe hare and Canada lynx population dynamics in Maine, northern goshawk distribution and nesting preferences in the Colorado Rockies, southwestern willow flycatcher distribution on the lower Colorado River, California spotted owl population dynamics in the High Sierras, as well as native and recreational fisheries in Utah, Connecticut, and Vermont.

He returned to the Shepaug River valley to help start an organic farm and joined Steep Rock’s team shortly thereafter in 2013.  He has cherished the opportunity to tackle an array of projects and contribute to Steep Rock’s mission.  Responsibilities include assisting with land management practices, managing the conservation easement program, performing biological surveys, and leading programs.  Rory also serves as a director on the Washington Environmental Council.  After hours, you may find him satisfying addictions to nature photography, fly fishing, beekeeping, and beer brewing.  Email Rory Larson.

Kelly Anderson – Office Manager

Kelly joined Steep Rock Association in 2016 as their Office Manager and has been working to keep the SRA Office running smoothly. She assists with development and donation management, communications and various administrative tasks.  She is always available to answer questions about the preserves and encourages visitors to bring their dogs into the (dog friendly) office to meet her!

Kelly has her Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Marketing from Western Connecticut State University and comes most recently from Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and Davis Raines Design.  She enjoys seeing live music, doing yoga and hiking with her black lab Buddy.  Email Kelly Anderson.

Denise Arturi – Judea Garden Coordinator & Head Gardener

Denise joined the Judea Garden project at its inception and has been happily playing in the dirt growing vegetables with many community groups and individuals.

Denise is a graduate of Manhattanville College and the University of Connecticut’s Master Gardener Program.  A resident of Washington for over thirty years, Denise has been actively involved in town government, area schools and organizations, lending support where she can.  She currently helps run the Soldier Project sending support boxes to our troops in Afghanistan, is a member of the Gunn Historical Museum council, and manages and skates with the Northern Lights Women’s Hockey team.  Email Denise Arturi.

Meet Matt Minicucci of Watertown and Teddy Eichen of Washington as Judea Garden’s 2017 interns.

Matt attended The Gunnery and is going into his senior year at Union College. Teddy will be a sophomore at Shepaug this fall where he plays soccer, does indoor track and is a member of the golf team. Both Matt and Teddy applied for the position ready to learn more about vegetable gardening and eager to give back to the community. Stop by Judea Garden Monday through Friday between 8:00 and noon to meet them!


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