:: About GIC :: Who We Are

          : Staff
          : Board of Directors
          : GIC Brochure [PDF]



Karen Firehock

Karen Firehock, Executive Director

Karen Firehock is the GIC Director and co-founded the center in 2006. She oversees green infrastructure planning and research projects. She is an environmental planner with more than thirty years of experience in planning and natural resources management. She is also an adjunct lecturer in green infrastructure planning and environmental ordinance development at the University of Virginia (UVA)'s School of Architecture in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning. Prior to her current position, Ms. Firehock was a Senior Associate at the UVA Institute for Environmental Negotiation for seven years and served as coordinator for community watershed and land use plans for localities. She also coordinated the national Community-Based Collaboratives Research Consortium, and conducted public outreach for the USDA Forest Service’s Roundtable on Sustainable Forests. Prior to working for UVA, she served as the Director of the Save Our Streams Program at the Izaak Walton League for 12 years where she directed a national stream and wetland conservation program.

Ms. Firehock has authored numerous handbooks, including her latest publication Green Infrastructure: Map and Plan the Natural World With GIS. Her other publictions include Strategic Green Infrastructure Planning: A Multi-scale Approach, A Local Government’s Guide to Stream Corridor Protection, Collaboration: A Guide for Environmental Advocates, A Handbook for Wetlands Conservation and Sustainability, A Citizen's Streambank Restoration Handbook, and Local Watershed Management Planning in Virginia, A Community Water Quality Approach.

She has won multiple awards for her planning work, including The Paul Revell Award for Urban and COmmunity Forestry from the Southern Group of State Foresters, a Renew America Award for the Nation's Best Water Protection Program, a National River Greenways Award, State Conservationist of the Year Award, and a Design Professional of the Year Award.

Karen was recently recognized as a national leader in Green Infrastructure Planning in the ESRI book, Women in GIS.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources Management from the School of Agriculture at the University of Maryland, and a Master of Planning degree from the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia.



Stu Sheppard, GIS Analyst

Stu Sheppard manages the GIC’s mapping and land planning and provides technical assistance to local governments, regional planning agencies, communities, land trusts and conservation groups.

Mr. Sheppard has a degree in Geography from George Mason University. While at the university, he started an internship at The Nature Conservancy where he spent 17 years as a GIS Specialist and Conservation Data Node Program Manager. He has been an independent contractor for groups such as Forest Inform Partners and was a senior faculty specialist at the University of Maryland, where he managed the university’s Carbon Monitoring System Ecometrica web mapping application.

At the GIC, Stu builds models to help states, regions, counties, cities and towns identify, conserve or restore their natural and cultural assets. He brings more than 23 years of experience in spatial planning to the GIC, having worked in developing countries around the world, with international conservation organizations, universities and government entities from the local to national levels. His skills include systematic conservation planning and associated data collection methods, including remote sensing, global positioning systems and training for field data management, as well as geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial data management. He specializes in helping local governments, academia, community members and non-government groups communicate and collaborate to create reality-tested datasets, maps and plans for landscape conservation.

Prior to joining the GIC, his focus had been on GIS program development and conservation planning in developing countries.


matt lee

Matt Lee, Community Landscape Forester

Matt Lee works with communities to determine protection and conservation strategies for natural resources, with a focus on community forests. He is also researching ways to incentivize tree planting and care, on both public and private property, as well as how to maximize landscape connectivity in developing areas. He also coordinates the GIC's Resilient Coastal Forest projects for Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.

Mr. Lee has a BSc degree in Horticulture, with a forestry focus, from Virginia Tech. For eight years, he worked as a field botanist for the National Park Service on diverse projects, from long-term monitoring of fire effects on natural systems and restoring degraded sites, to mapping native plant communities of the Pacific Northwest. This work inspired Matt to volunteer for an organization undertaking tropical reforestation projects in Costa Rica, where he learned about biological corridors and the importance of landscape connectivity for wildlife.

Matt conducted spatial analysis of natural resources in Eastern Oregon on juniper woodlands and sagebrush while pursuing a Masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University. While studying the urban landscape, Matt became interested in urban ecology and green infrastructure, as well as the interplay between the built and natural environments. Matt brought his passion for the natural world to the urban landscape, particularly focusing on connectivity and corridors. He then applied his science and planning knowledge to his next role as Stewardship Director for an urban watershed council in Portland, where he coordinated restoration projects, cleanups, rain garden installation and stakeholder collaboration for a five-year stewardship action plan. Matt is excited to bring his knowledge and skills back to his home state of Virginia and to the GIC.


Lauren Doran

Lauren Doran, Community Landscape Planner

Lauren Doran works with communities, local governments, state agencies and land trusts to help them locate and assess their natural resources, as well as assist in creating plans to enhance and conserve them.

Ms. Doran has worked at landscape architecture firms in North Carolina and Virginia for the last ten years, where she has done master planning, commercial design, residential and garden design, as well as design for public art projects. She has created and presented conceptual designs to clients, government officials and community groups. She has researched design sites, conducted site anaylysis, led community engagement workshops for public art projects, created sets of construction documents and managed projects through to construction. In graduate school, she investigated the intersection of culture, art and landscape, as well as ways to engage communities in placemaking. She studied abroad for a summer in Tanzania learning about Tanzanian architecture and culture alongside local architecture students. In school and after graduating she worked with the Community Design Assistance Center at Virginia Tech, engaging with and providing design services to community groups in Virginia.

Ms. Doran has a BA degree in Anthropology from the University of Delaware and a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from Virginia Tech. In addition, Ms. Doran is a photographer and artist with a love for research and writing. She is excited to bring all of her skills to bear at GIC.

In her free time, Lauren enjoys the beauty of Central Virginia with her husband and children: paddling the rivers, hiking the mountains or running up and down the hills of Charlottesville.

Contact Lauren to learn more about how GIC can assist your community.


Christian Schluter

Christian Schluter, GIS Landscape Planner

Christian Schluter supports the GIC’s mapping and land planning work and provides technical assistance to local governments, regional planning agencies, communities, land trusts and conservation groups. He is currently supporting GIC’s statewide green infrastructure strategy for South Carolina, mapping urban tree canopy for multiple cities, towns and counties and developing communication tools such as story maps and web maps.

Born in Virginia, Christian moved to Massachusetts as a child and grew up in a small town north of Boston. One of his first summer jobs, which he started at age 14, put him knee-deep into the salt marsh abutting his family’s backyard working on a habitat restoration project. From that point on, he knew he would pursue a career in environmental conservation.

Christian’s first post-college job was as a Mapping Technician for the Maponics branch of Pitney Bowes where he worked with the Schools Team. He subsequently worked in the GIS department of the South Carolina Adjutant General’s office as an Environmental GIS Analyst where he pursued his love of nature, assisting with bird-banding, trail delineation, endangered species monitoring, and related work at Fort Jackson's McCrady Training Center. During the summer of 2021 he served as a Directorate Fellow with the US Fish and Wildlife Service where he utilized data collected on Palmyra Atoll (a Pacific Remote Island), to perform a suitability analysis for the new introduction of the critically endangered Guam Kingfisher.

Christian received a BS in Geography from Salem State University in 2018 and earned his Master’s Degree at the University of Michigan in Environment and Sustainability with a specialization in Geospatial Data Science. His Master's project used machine learning to classify the street and forest trees of Ann Arbor, Michigan, down to the level of species. Christian is an avid reader whose hobbies include kayaking, snowboarding, weightlifting, and cooking. He has always felt drawn to the state of his birth and is thrilled to have returned to Virginia to work and live.


Nancy Kliewer

Nancy Kliewer, Senior Accounts Manager

Nancy has been with GIC since March 2019 and serves as GIC's Senior Accounts Manager, tracking all federal, state and private grants and contracts. She brings accounting experience from other nonprofits, from George Mason University, and from Cox Newspapers' Washington bureau. Nancy and her husband Rob moved to Charlottesville in 2010, along with their three (now adult) sons. Nancy has an MBA in Economics from George Washington University and a BA in Business Economics from Willamette University in Salem, OR. In her spare time, you can usually find Nancy somewhere with knitting in her hands.




Tim Lewis, Marketing Director and Web Master

Tim works with GIC's clients to promote their work and develops new relationships and partnerships with land trusts, local and state governments, and conservation organizations. He is also edits GIC's publications and guides. Tim has worked with GIC since its founding, much of that time as a volunteer. Prior to coming to GIC he worked for Microsoft, Adobe Systems, Sun Microsystems, Netscape, Hewlett Packard, Xerox and other software companies. He is also the author of several books including histories, novels and a travel book set in the Western USA.

Born in southern Africa, he grew up in Southampton, England, and has travelled the world but now calls Central Virginia and its rivers and hills his home.


Board of Directors

The Center’s Board of Directors meets quarterly in Virginia. Center board members are listed below with their positions and professional affiliations. Click on the board member's name to read their bio. For 2013, the Center’s board members are as follows:

Chris French
Regional Regulatory Manager, Contech Engineered Solutions.

Jeff Corbin
Senior Vice-President for Water Quality Markets and Mitigation at Restoration Systems, LLC.

Richard Roth
Professor of Geography, Radford University
Friends of the New River, Blacksburg, VA

Ralph Jones
Managing Director and Co-Founder, The Cadmus Group, Inc.

Jonathan Jones
At-Large Member
Chief Executive Officer of Wright Water Engineers, Inc. (WWE) in Denver, CO.

Deborah Gillette Nagle
At-Large Member
Federal employee.

William (Bill) Pan
At-Large Member
Elizabeth Brooks Reid and Whitelaw Reid Associate Professor of Population Studies and Global Environmental Health at Duke University.

If you are interested in joining the board, attending a board meeting, or have other questions, please contact Karen Firehock. The center’s corporate documents are available for inspection.

:: Primary Contacts

Karen Firehock