Scott Dunakey | AICP
Community Planning & Policy Manager
As the Community Planning & Policy Manager, Scott Dunakey brings over 20 years of expertise to HeartLands Conservancy. A seasoned professional in urban planning, economic development, and transportation planning, Scott’s dedication fuels our mission. His collaborative approach and community engagement skills are instrumental in shaping sustainable solutions. When not immersed in his work, Scott enjoys exploring the outdoors and championing the cause of livable communities.
Jack plays a vital role in assisting our dedicated team in their mission to preserve and enhance our precious ecosystems. He is actively involved in various conservation initiatives, working closely with our team to implement sustainable practices and protect the natural beauty of our region.
618-566-4451 ext. 17
Director of Donor Relations
Mallory brings a wealth of experience to the development team. Her passion for conservation and connecting people drives positive change. With a bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership Studies, Mallory fosters connections and uncovers potential impact as stewards of the environment. In her free time, Mallory explores the Midwest’s natural wonders, fueling her commitment to preserving landscapes.
Denisha handles all digital and print communications and other special events for the organization. She ensures that HeartLands’ and our community partners’ stories are shared. Denisha ensures that communication in the organization is amplified through multiple mediums, including the website, social media, news media, and partnerships. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business/Arts Management from Christopher Newport University. Fun Fact: Denisha also speaks Korean!
Ed has been with HeartLands since the beginning. He is responsible for a variety of special projects, most notably the Mounds – America’s First Cities Project. As a former NRCS coordinator, Ed advises staff on natural resource issues and opportunities.
Land Conservation Program Manager
Eric manages HLC’s conservation program, including stewarding and monitoring conserved lands, invasive species removal programs, overseeing restoration projects, and working with conservation easements and regional conservation efforts. Eric previously worked for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and nonprofit conservation organizations. He earned a Bachelor Degree from Lindenwood University.
Director of Finance and Administration
Jamie coordinates the organization’s financial activities. She is an experienced accountant, working in the private and public sectors for over 10 years. In addition to her Master of Accountancy degree, Jamie is a lover of plants and has a Master of Science Degree in Plant, Soil & Agricultural Systems from SIU Carbondale.
Water Program Manager
As the Water Program Manager, John leads, plans, and manages a variety of water quality, quantity, and green infrastructure programs. He brings a wealth of experience gained in addressing non-point source water pollution through intensive monitoring, outreach, and education, and working on technological solutions. John earned a Master’s Degree in Public and Environmental Health from Tulane University.
Laura L. Lyon
Vice President of Program Strategy & Impact
Laura works with the CEO and board on the organization program strategy. Her decades of experience in community planning, urban design, conservation, and landscape and graphic design, as well as grant writing and branding, enable her to bring a multitude of perspectives to HeartLands. Laura also leads the Mounds – America’s First Cities, the effort to elevate and create the Cahokia Mounds Mississippian Culture National Historic Park. Laura has a Master of Architecture degree from Washington University St. Louis.
Mary Vandevord | AICP | LEED AP ND
President & CEO
Mary works with the board of directors, staff, community partners, and federal and state agencies to further the mission of HeartLands Conservancy. She brings 20 years of community planning experience together with the mission of conservation and healthy and thriving communities. Mary has a Master of Regional and City Planning degree from the Univ. of Oklahoma. She has as worked in multiple states and cities on land use and community development policy, watershed health, conservation, neighborhood vitality, trails, and public engagement.
Special Projects Coordinator
Mike coordinates and designs stormwater Best Management Practices, such as grassed waterways, wetlands, and sediment basins. He has worked on numerous facilities in Clinton County and Madison County and is a former NRCS employee with over 30 years of experience.
Steve is a wildlife biologist and retired after 23 years as a forest supervisor for the Shawnee National Forest. Steve works with HLC to protect the natural floodplains of the Middle Mississippi River and conduct asssessments of conservation areas.