With a degree in environmental studies from Wesleyan University, Larry began work at Manomet Center for Conservation Science, studying marine mammal and seabird populations.  Then, he relates, “….armed with reams of data, I watched repeatedly as decisions about fishing quotas and mineral extraction were made almost in spite of the science. The two big heavyweights - politics and money – would fight it out and inevitably, one or the other would rule the day.  I realized that science alone wasn’t enough.” 

Larry set out to learn the principles of business in order to better position himself to influence decisions about natural resource use and conservation.  While earning his MBA, Larry met Patrick Noonan, founder of The Conservation Fund.  Larry took a position to help establish the Fund’s Freshwater Institute and from that groundbreaking work, went on to create several enduring conservation ventures. He created an organizational framework the Fund still uses today – Sustainable Programs; programs that promote sustainable economies in balance with land conservation.  Sustainable programs focus on the people, economy and communities affected by land use issues.  Under Larry’s leadership, an organizational culture of entrepreneurship and calculated risk-taking evolved, and the Fund has become a leader in entrepreneurial approaches to conservation challenges. 

What do you think have been the biggest impacts the Fund has made in its 30 years?

I think there are two. The first is that we’ve protected 7.6 million acres of land. That’s an enormous amount of conservation by any standard. It is a significant and tangible addition to the land legacy of this country. The second is less tangible but equally as important. I believe The Conservation Fund has more than any other organization contributed to the evolution of the definition of conservation in this country. Conservation used to be purely about preservation - setting aside land for parks for recreational and habitat purposes. The Conservation Fund has broadened the definition of conservation to include all types of landscapes – natural, cultural, historic - and to include the people and communities on those landscapes. This has not been easy. We often found ourselves quite far out ahead of the field and have had to sustain our belief in what we were doing without much support. But the rest of the movement has moved in our direction and I think that’s the best validation that one can have, that the ideas and vision that emerge out of this organization are the right ones and are the ones that hold the most promise for the future.

What do you see as The Conservation Fund’s role over the next thirty years?

First, I think we will continue to lead the cutting edge of conservation innovation – I don’t see any other organization with the skills, the culture, or the willingness to take risk that we have here at The Conservation Fund.

The traditional methods of conserving land are insufficient for the challenges we face. Climate change, demographic shifts, asset transfers between generations, all of these things are going to have major implications on what our lands will look like. We’re going to have to think differently about what it means to protect working lands, such as, forests, ranchlands, and farms. What conservation in America over the last 40 or 50 years has accomplished is amazing, but too much of what we have done has been in a piecemeal way; we need landscape-scale cohesion and ecological and economic effectiveness in the future. One of the great challenges going forward will be how to bring to scale some of the technologies and approaches that we have perfected over the last few decades.

What have you been most proud of in your tenure at TCF?

I think I am most proud of the willingness of the organization to take risks. It’s a very hard thing to do. Nonprofits, in general, and those who fund nonprofits, have become risk averse. This is not a time to play it safe. It’s not a world where the timid will make a difference. The US is changing in profound and fundamental ways and The Conservation Fund has proven again and again that it is able to manage risk and address big challenges in a way no other organization can. Out of our culture and skill set come the most exciting, the boldest, the most innovative, and ultimately I hope the most successful, ideas. Above any particular project or thing that we have done it’s about the culture and the can-do mindset that I think are the most rewarding.