114 Woodland Avenue
Lexington KY 40502
Contact Information
Address 114 Woodland Avenue
Lexington, KY 40502
Phone (859) 259-9655
Fax 859 259-9678
Contact Name Cathy Galante
Web and Social Media
Protecting the Green River is just one example of our conservation work
At A Glance
Other ways to donate, support, or volunteer We also accept donations via mail, phone or online.  There are many ways of giving to TNC, including in-kind, through an estate gift or via donations of cash, stock, etc.
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expenses - All Years
Expense Breakdown - Recent Year
Mission Statement

The mission of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.  Founded over 40 years ago by a group of Kentuckians dedicated to preserving Kentucky's natural lands and waters, The Nature Conservancy, Kentucky Chapter is now one of Kentucky's leading environmental conservation organizations.  We manage over 40 nature preserves across the state and with the help of our natural partners, maintain an additional 100,000 acres with private landowners through land easements.


Background Statement

Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy is an international non-profit conservation organization with more than 60 years of on-the-ground conservation success. The Conservancy works in all 50 states in the U.S. and over 35 countries. The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 119 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide.

The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky was formally chartered in 1975 by a group of Kentuckians (including Mrs. Sally Brown) concerned with the rapidly disappearing natural lands and waters of our state. Since then The Nature Conservancy's Kentucky Chapter now has over 5,000 members, employs a professional staff of 15 and has directly protected more than 49,500 acres of diverse habitat throughout the state. We have also assisted in conserving more than 100,000 additional acres in partnership with corporations, government agencies, conservation organizations and private landowners. The Conservancy owns more than 8,000 acres and holds conservation easements on another 6,500 acres across the Commonwealth. 

Impact Statement

The Nature Conservancy’s Global Challenges, Global Solutions Conservation Framework provides a guide for the Conservancy through 2020 by tackling 4 areas: Place - protect and restore natural systems; Policy – Use nature sustainably; People – Broaden the constituency; and Performance – Strengthen our organizational effectiveness. It defines our strategic direction which is “To solve critical challenges, The Nature Conservancy will significantly improve the health of globally important natural systems that enhance the lives of people around the world.” In Kentucky, we are implementing this framework through our projects and programs.

Needs Statement
The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky currently has six projects listed at the top of its priorities for the upcoming year.  The projects are: Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, Central Apps. Whole System, the Davis Bend Nature Preserve Project, the Kentucky River Palisades Project, the Urban Conservation Program, and the Prescribed Fire Project.
Service Categories
Secondary Organization Category Environment / Land Resources Conservation
Tertiary Organization Category Environment / Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation & Management
Geographic Areas Served
We serve the entire state of Kentucky, from our work in the Central Appalachian eco-region in eastern KY to our work on the Mississippi River in western KY.
Impact Questions
GoalsHelpWhat is the organization aiming to accomplish? This is the organization's ultimate goal for intended impact.

The Nature Conservancy uses science to direct our work on places and projects that yield the greatest benefit to Kentucky’s lands, waters, and wildlife, and people. In many of these places, our local work advances national, and even global, objectives. We work on more ambitious projects and at larger scales than ever before and focus our efforts in five key areas:

1. Conserve thousands of acres of vital, connected lands to ensure these natural habitats can withstand global environmental challenges and continue to provide irreplaceable benefits to nature and people.

2. Protect the health of the Ohio River, the Mississippi River, and their key tributaries to secure clean and abundant water for people, wildlife and communities downstream.

3. Engage Louisville's neighborhoods in implementing nature-based solutions to deliver cleaner air and water, healthier citizens and places for children to safely run, play, and experience the outdoors.
4. Launch projects that increase the ability of Kentucky's forests and working farms to capture carbon emissions and reduce the effects of a changing climate. 
5. Expand and diversify our network of supporters, members, partners and volunteers by providing more opportunities to engage, participate, and advance our work.  

CapabilitiesHelpWhat are the organization’s capabilities for doing this? What resources, capacities, and connections support its progress towards long-term goals?

The Nature Conservancy’s Kentucky Chapter brings the following strengths to every project:

We have a staff presence and strong connections in communities throughout Kentucky – from the Mississippi River bottomlands and the Green River watershed, to the Kentucky River Palisades and the Cumberland Mountains, and even in downtown Louisville.

We join colleagues in every state and over 40 countries to leverage our conservation work in Kentucky to benefit larger natural systems that reach beyond our borders, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Central Appalachian Mountains.

We draw expertise and advice from our network of more than 600 Nature Conservancy scientists to ensure that our actions are based on sound science and tested on-the-ground techniques.

We work with all stakeholders to develop thoughtful, balanced and lasting solutions to conservation challenges.

We work collaboratively with communities, companies, government agencies and other non-profit organizations to expand our collective impact.

We are guided by a dedicated staff, loyal members and our Kentucky Board of Trustees representing business, academic, government and nonprofit sector experience.

Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Kris Sirchio
Company Affiliation nabreweries
Term Oct 2013 to June 2017
Board Members
Betty Dabney Brown RetiredVoting
Dottie Cordray Community VolunteerVoting
Mr. Larry Cox Kentucky Department of AgricultureVoting
Jennie Garlington Community VolunteerVoting
Marc Hindorff Brown-FormanVoting
Jeri Isbell Lexmark International, Inc.Voting
Dr. Woodford Van Meter M.D.Community VolunteerVoting
Mr. D. Bruce Orwin D. Bruce Orwin Attorney at LawVoting
Kris Sirchio Brown-FormanVoting
Mr. Bob Wade Jr.Farmer, Owner of Back Forty FarmsVoting
Marianne Welch Community VolunteerVoting
W. Plumer (Buck) Wiseman Greenebaum, Doll & McDonald PLLCVoting
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 12
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 8
Female 4
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 4
Board Meeting Attendance % 72%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 3
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
CEO/Executive Director
Executive Director Mr David Phemister
Term Start Aug 2014

David Phemister joined The Nature Conservancy in Virginia in November 2002 working on land protection issues, first as Land Protection Specialist and then as Associate Director of Land Protection. From May 2006 through June 2014 he worked as Director of Government Relations for the Virginia Chapter, with a focus on policy development, agency relations and lobbying efforts with Virginia’s congressional delegation. He started as Kentucky’s State Director in July 2014. David has a M.S. from the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment and a B.A. from Brown University. He enjoys spending time outside with his family and friends. He will work out of Kentucky's main office in Lexington.

Full Time Staff 15
Part Time Staff 0
Volunteers 15
Contractors 0
Retention Rate 79%
Management Reports to Board? Yes
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 15
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 6
Female 9
Unspecified 0
Senior Staff
Title Director of Land Management/Fire Manager
Title Western Kentucky Project Director
Title Office Manager
Title Director of Protection
Title Director of Operations
Title Associate Director of Philanthropy
Title Director of Conservation
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
NonManagement Formal Evaluation Yes
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually

The Green River gives life to more species of plants and animals than any other Ohio River tributary – especially in an unhindered 100-mile stretch that flows from the Green River Reservoir Dam through Mammoth Cave National Park. This stretch harbors one of the most diverse assemblages of fish and freshwater mussels in the United States.


Like geese migrating with the change of seasons, rivers ebb and flow across the months. The Green River is no different. Late summer and fall bring just a trickle, while winter and spring bring periodic floods. These seasonal flow patterns orchestrate a cycle of life for the plants and animals residing in and around the Green, cuing fish to migrate and spawn and floodplain trees to drop their seeds. Even cave-dwelling species such as blind freshwater shrimp depend on the river’s natural pulse. This pulse changed in 1969 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a dam at its headwaters to control flooding and provide public recreation.

Almost thirty years later, TNC approached the Corps about operating the dam in ways which better mimic the river’s natural flow patterns in order to support native wildlife while meeting human needs. The Conservancy’s plea came after a scientific analysis revealed that while water releases from the Green River reservoir reasonably mimicked natural flows during much of the year, they were up to six times higher and significantly colder than historic natural flows during the fall, a critical spawning time for many fish and mussels.

The result has been a ground-breaking partnership. For more than a decade, the Conservancy and the Corps have worked together on a plan which includes releasing water later in the year to avoid the spawning period and more closely mimic natural flow and temperature patterns. Since then, there has been enhanced mussel reproduction below the dam without any loss of flood protection or recreation for human populations downstream.


Category Environment, General/Other Water Conservation
Population Served , ,

Located in rural central KY, the Davis Bend Nature Preserve protects more than a mile of beautiful frontage along the south bank of the Green River. Although TNC has owned property here since 2000, it has only recently begun polishing up this “diamond in the rough.” Together with partner organization, the KY Wild Rivers Program, TNC has initiated the development of a new conservation center that establishes the Davis Bend Nature Preserve as a base of operations for conservation throughout the Green River project area & destination for nature-lovers everywhere.

While work only began in 2011, over time the property will showcase best practices in agriculture, forestry, native plantings & sustainability while welcoming visitors seeking to study & experience the unique flora, fauna, geology & cultural elements of this spectacular area. Currently the preserve features wooded areas interspersed with old agricultural fields & relics of human history – old barns, a farmhouse & a Civil War era family cemetery.

For more than a decade, the Conservancy has worked with landowners, farmers, non-profit organizations & government agencies to achieve several milestones related to improving water quality & habitat.

One milestone TNC successfully completed recently, which is considered the largest conservation project ever put on the ground in KY, was the Green River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). The program was completed ahead of schedule after reaching the acreage cap less than halfway into the timeline. Approved in 2001, CREP was authorized to enroll up to 100,000 acres with funding contributed by federal and state government, and the Conservancy, over a period of 15 years to establish natural buffers around sinkholes within the karst plain & along the tributaries and main stem of the river to reduce by 10 % the amount of sediment, pesticides & nutrients entering the watershed from agricultural sources.

Category Environment, General/Other Environmental Education
Population Served , ,

In June 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced $14.4 million targeted at 19 projects in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi & Missouri. Through the new Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), NRCS is working with partners like TNC in these states to provide technical & financial assistance to landowners promoting water quality, restoring wetlands & enhancing wildlife habitat in ways that still preserve what equates to the nation’s most productive agricultural landscape. MRBI funds have been directed to priority small watersheds through the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative & the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP).

Since this new source of funding became available in 2011, TNC has engaged in a strong & productive partnership with NRCS & the local Conservation District to educate & assist with the process & paperwork, review sites and enroll landowners in order to secure additional natural buffer & productive farmland for those working and residing in this unique area of the Bluegrass State. The efforts have paid off. By 2013, landowners accepted offers on 3,748 acres to be enrolled into the WREP. Additional MRBI funding dedicated through 2014 will assist landowners with restoring & protecting wetland habitats for wildlife & improving water quality locally & throughout the Mississippi River basin.

Category Environment, General/Other
Population Served , ,

The Kentucky Chapter launched an Urban Conservation program in Louisville – one of 13 cities included in the Conservancy’s new North American Cities program. Louisville’s work on air quality and urban heat already serves as a model for others in the Cities program.

This program is designed to improve the health of the city’s tree canopy, promote green infrastructure designs, and forge partnerships to improve air quality, reduce the city’s urban heat island, benefit the health and wellbeing of city residents, and provide a blueprint for similar efforts around the world.

In 2015, staff and volunteers worked with partners to plant nearly 900 trees around Louisville to increase the extent and health of the city’s tree canopy, therefore improving air quality, adding beauty and shading the city in an effort to reduce the urban heat island effect – a tendency for cities to be hotter than the surrounding countryside.

The Conservancy continues to forge new partnerships with private organizations, city government, local businesses and medical and academic institutions interested in exploring the connection between nature and human health.

Category Environment, General/Other
Population Served , ,
Plans & Policies
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Date Strategic Plan Adopted Jan 2016
Management Succession Plan? No
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the Government? Yes
Revenue vs Expenses - All Years
Expense Breakdown - Recent Year
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Start July 01, 2016
Fiscal Year End June 30, 2017
Projected Revenue $2,001,032.00
Projected Expenses $2,242,785.00
Endowment Value $2,822,777.00
Spending Policy Percentage
Percentage 5%
Detailed Financials
Revenue and ExpensesHelpFinancial data for prior years is entered by foundation staff based on the documents submitted by nonprofit organizations.Foundation staff members enter this information to assure consistency in the presentation of financial data across all organizations.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Revenue$914,539,673$958,808,662$949,990,421
Total Expenses$810,283,620$796,011,941$748,695,565
Revenue Less Expenses$104,256,053$162,796,721$201,294,856
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available). Revenue from foundations and corporations may be included in individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$102,248,686$86,366,748$110,849,784
Individual Contributions$619,798,369$627,782,675$589,364,132
Investment Income, Net of Losses$22,086,183$23,249,994$26,321,865
Membership Dues--$0$1,744,905
Special Events$3,134,839$1,573,008$6,459,322
Revenue In-Kind--$144,602,514$91,831,026
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$549,683,495$564,228,371$529,509,734
Administration Expense$150,897,502$142,254,032$127,436,862
Fundraising Expense$109,702,623$89,529,538$91,748,969
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.131.201.27
Program Expense/Total Expenses68%71%71%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue15%12%13%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$6,697,479,313$6,712,500,146$6,503,755,176
Current Assets$40,780,333$407,657,737$469,816,828
Long-Term Liabilities$599,911,964$746,315,779$690,961,506
Current Liabilities$182,325,600$42,215,456$50,492,727
Total Net Assets$5,915,241,749$5,923,968,911$5,762,300,943
Form 990s
2016 990
2015 Form 990
2014 Form 990
2013 990
2012 990
2011 990
2010 990 Form
2009 990
2008 990
2007 990
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
State Registration Yes
Foundation Staff Comments Financial information entered is from consolidated tax returns for the national organization: Nature Conservancy, Inc. Nature Conservancy of Kentucky is a program within the national organization.
Address 114 Woodland Avenue
Lexington, KY 40502
Primary Phone 859 259-9655
Contact Email
CEO/Executive Director Mr David Phemister
Board Chair Mr. Kris Sirchio
Board Chair Company Affiliation nabreweries