TNC welcomes five new trustees to its Tennessee board; Aaron Barrett, Larry Blythe, Lisa Calfee, Matt Jernigan and Philip Fieler will each serve a three-year term

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October 26, 2023 (press release) –


The Nature Conservancy announced that Aaron Barrett, Larry Blythe, Lisa Calfee, Matt Jernigan and Philip Fieler have been elected to its Tennessee board of trustees. Each new trustee will serve a three-year term. Neil Johnson is serving as a board intern through the Young Leaders Council until June 2024.

“We are excited to welcome this exceptional group of leaders to our board,” said Laurel Creech, TNC's state director in Tennessee. “Each individual brings unique knowledge and diverse perspectives that will play a crucial role in guiding us as we address local and regional conservation challenges and strive to achieve TNC’s goals for 2030.”

Aaron Barrett © Courtesy/Aaron Barrett

Nashville, TN

Aaron Barrett is the COO of Ingram Barge, previously holding several positions within the company including VP, Ingram Logistics, multiple positions in vessel and fleet operations, customer service and logistics, and barge maintenance and repair. He oversees all of Ingram’s vessel operations, Barge M&R, Motor Vessel M&R, Custom Fuel operations, barge logistics and customer service and ST&E activities. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in human and organizational development from Vanderbilt University with a focus on leadership and organizational effectiveness.

Larry Blythe © Courtesy/Larry Blythe

Robbinsville, NC

Larry Blythe served as the Vice Chief and Cherokee Agency Forester of the Cherokee Agency Forestry Department for 20 years. He implemented the first Forest Management Plan for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians as well as trained hundreds of local tribal members in fire fighting for local and national dispatch.

He served on the Intertribal Timber Council’s Board of Directors for the past 27 years. During this time, he served as chairman of various committees and became president of the organization in 2013. He was involved in passage of the Native American Forest Resource Management Act in 1990. He has been involved in the past three Indian Forest Management Assessment Team efforts which analyze the condition of tribal forests and make recommendations to Congress for staffing and funding needed to support the United States Trust responsibility to Indian tribes.

“I am pleased to join The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee as a member of the board of trustees. With my background as a forester and my deep understanding of indigenous regional tribes, specifically the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, I look forward to bringing a unique perspective to this passionate team as we work to protect cherished places in Tennessee and the region.”

Lisa Calfee © Courtesy/Lisa Calfee

Nashville, TN

Lisa Calfee serves on the boards for the Nashville Chinese School and Jewish Middle/Upper Schools. In addition, she has hosted international exchange students for the past three years, was a homeschooling parent and previously taught for STEM Scouts (a branch of the Boy Scouts of America). Recently, she has combined hosting exchange students with her love of teaching, science, teens, travel and international cultures. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a Master’s degree in plant sciences from The University of Tennessee. In addition, she holds a PhD in horticulture and urban forestry from Virginia Tech University. She was an assistant professor at Queens University and taught plant physiology and botany classes at UNC Charlotte and Vanderbilt.

Matt Jernigan © Courtesy/Matt Jernigan

Tullahoma, TN

Matt Jernigan is the President/CEO of Ascend Federal Credit Union. Prior to being in this role, he spent 20 years in the banking and credit union industry with roles in accounting, finance, audit, operations, lending and technology. This unique blend of exposure to a variety of disciplines has fostered a knowledge and passion for the industry that is coupled with the satisfaction he gains from serving the community he has always called home. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Middle Tennessee State University and entered the public accounting profession at Housholder, Artman and Associates in Tullahoma.

“The Nature Conservancy is doing great work to protect our land and water, explore ecosystem sustainability, and promote practical solutions in these areas. I am very excited to join TNC’s Tennessee Board of Trustees and help advance their crucial conservation efforts to protect our state’s rich biodiversity for future generations.”

Philip Fieler © Courtesy/Philip Fieler

Memphis, TN

Philip Fieler serves as Director of Property Management for First Horizon Bank and is responsible for the corporate-wide maintenance program and capital repairs. In 2022, Philip collaborated extensively with the bank’s ESG team to prepare the bank’s first carbon calculation and GHG emissions report which was included in the bank’s publicly disclosed Corporate Sustainability Report. Philip serves on the bank’s Environmental Task Force and is a member of the Eco-Champions Associate Resource Group. Philip holds a Bachelor’s degree in architecture from North Carolina State University.

“I am excited about the opportunity to support TNC in Tennessee, add value to the organization where possible, all while learning and exploring nature together.”

Neil Johnson © Courtesy/Neil Johnson

Nashville, TN

Neil Johnson is the Product Development Innovation Manager at ITW Dynatec. Prior to this he was a supplier quality engineer with YAPP USA Automotive Systems. In addition to his volunteer board intern role with TNC, Neil is active with the local Trout Unlimited chapter and helps with stream cleanups on the Harpeth River. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology from Michigan Technological University. For his first two college summers, Neil enjoyed working and exploring the Northwest as a bellhop in the lodges of Grant Village in Yellowstone National Park.

“The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee continues to make mission-focused progress through science-based solutions. I'm delighted to join TNC's Tennessee Board of Trustees and wish to invite others to join me in donating time or resources as we work to protect the habitat and biodiversity of our state." 

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