Board & Staff

Biographical Sketches – Officers

Gilbert High Jr., President
Mr. High is an attorney with the Norristown (PA) firm of High, Swartz, Roberts and Seidel, concentrating his practice in municipal law, land use, zoning, and estate planning. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He has been a frequent lecturer with Pennsylvania State University’s Agricultural Extension School on the liability of municipalities and arborists with respect to maintenance of street trees. He serves on the Board of Trustees of Abington Memorial Hospital Foundation and is an elder at Abington Presbyterian Church. He and his wife, Susan, reside in Upper Dublin Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Mr. High was elected to the Board of Directors in 2005.

Chris Carr, Vice President
Mr. Carr is a vascular / interventional product specialist for B. Braun Medical, Inc., where he has worked since 1991 in various sales and management positions. He is a 1990 graduate of Gettysburg College and is active in many of the school’s alumni efforts, including the Copula Society. He is an avid fisherman and sportsman who has lived in Lower Moreland Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania since 2001 with his wife, Julie, and their four sons.

Mr. Carr has served on the Board of Directors since 2005.

Louis “Tripp” Davis III, Vice President
Louis (“Tripp”) Davis III rose through the ranks to become the third-generation owner and president of L.D. Davis Industries, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of adhesive products. Tripp is a high-energy business executive who earned an MBA from Pennsylvania State University in 1991; his experience has made him in high demand for positions on the boards of business and nonprofit organizations, three of which he continues to serve. Mr. Davis enjoys participating in a wide variety of outdoor and racquet sports, playing guitar and piano, and traveling. Tripp, his wife Jennifer, their two children, and their Golden Retriever live in Abington Township.

Mr. Davis has served on the Trust’s board of directors since 2009, and currently serves as chair of the Membership Committee.

David B. Rowland, Secretary
Mr. Rowland is President and Chief Executive Officer of Second Federal Savings & Loan Association of Philadelphia located in Center City. He is a 1985 graduate of Bucknell University where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, Economics, and History.  In 1987 he received a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Center of Government.  Mr. Rowland serves on the board of various non-profit organizations and is most widely known for his involvement with the Old York Road Historical Society, where he has been president of the board since 1996.  David resides in Upper Dublin Township.
Paul Rutherford, Treasurer
Mr. Rutherford, a Chartered Financial Analyst, is Senior Portfolio Manager / Vice President for PNC Advisors in Philadelphia, a position he has held for 12 years. Paul earned a B.S. degree in Finance from Pennsylvania State University after graduating from Abington High School. He has been a community leader in Upper Moreland Township for nearly a decade, having served as a School Board Director, Assistant Treasurer of the Library Fundraising Committee, member of the Police Pension Fund, Vice President of the Education Foundation, and coach for the Upper Moreland Soccer Club. Paul, his wife Theresa, and their son Philip, have lived in Upper Moreland for 15 years.

In addition to his community service, Paul has been a member of the Pennypack Trust’s Finance Committee since 1997. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 2002.

Biographical Sketches – Board Members

Dick Brickman
Mr. Brickman is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Brickman Group, Ltd. Mr. Brickman graduated from the University of Illinois with a BFA in Landscape Architecture. He has received a number of awards, including recognition by Town & Country magazine, as one of the nation’s leading landscape architects. Dick and his wife, Sally, reside in Bryn Athyn.

Mr. Brickman served as President from 1996 to 1998 and has been a director since 1988. Mr. Brickman serves on the Board Development and Governance Committees.

Fredrik Bryntesson, Ph.D.
Dr. Bryntesson, Associate Professor of Biology at Bryn Athyn College, earned undergraduate degrees from Bryn Athyn College (B.A.) and the University of Greenwich, London (B. Sc.), and a Ph.D. from University College, London. He joined the faculty at Bryn Athyn College in 2001 where he teaches introductory biology, genetics, cell structure and function, molecular genetics, cancer biology and molecular biology laboratory techniques. He currently serves as the chair of the college’s Science Department. Since 2007, Dr. Bryntesson has been involved in the college’s ongoing white-tailed deer research, a collaborative project with the Pennypack Trust. Dr. Bryntesson, his wife and children live in Bryn Athyn Borough.

Dr. Bryntesson has served on the Board of Directors since 2013.

Kathleen Ernst
Ms. Ernst, a long-time supporter of the Trust, is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at Temple University Hospital and a former professional singer.  She grew up in Huntingdon Valley, graduated from Lower Moreland High School, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Temple University, a BSN from Thomas Jefferson University, and an MSN from La Salle University.  She is an avid gardener, hiker, bird watcher, and swimmer.  She lives in Abington Township with her husband, Max, and their twin daughters, all of whom have logged many hours enjoying the trails.

Ms. Ernst joined the Trust’s Board of Directors in 2013.

Hyland Johns
Mr. Johns was employed by the Asplundh Tree Expert Company, serving as Senior Vice-President and Director when he retired after 50 years. He attended Academy schools in Bryn Athyn and, after service during World War II (including several years overseas) he graduated in Forest Management from Purdue University, followed by a Masters degree from Michigan State University in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry. He has been a life-long volunteer in numerous organizations, continuing to serve on boards and committees of Holy Redeemer Health System, the Tree Research and Education Fund, various church organizations and the Borough of Bryn Athyn, where he served as President of Council and as Mayor for 38 years. Mr. Johns served as the borough’s representative to the Trust’s board from 2002 until 2009.

Hyland and his wife Beth are long-time residents of Bryn Athyn.

Alexis Dillett Isztwan
Ms. Isztwan is an attorney and member of the law firm of Semanoff Ormsby Greenberg & Torchia in Huntingdon Valley, concentrating her practice in intellectual property and technology law. She is a graduate of Harvard University and the Fordham University School of Law. She also serves on the Board of Trustees at the Meadowbrook School. Having been raised in Huntingdon Valley, Alexis and her family have for many years been avid users of the trails of the Trust. She currently lives with her husband, Andrew, and their two boys on a property abutting the Pennypack Preserve in Upper Moreland Township.

Ms. Isztwan joined the Trust’s Board of Directors in 2015.

Gregory Odhner
Mr. Odhner graduated from the Academy of the New Church High School and College. He serves on the Bryn Athyn School Board and the Board of Directors of the Bryn Athyn Marksmen’s Association.

Mr. Odhner has served as a director since 1997, and is chair of the Stewardship Committee.

David Oyler
Mr. Oyler is manager of Finance and Administration for the Faulkner Auto Group. He graduated from Davison College with a B.A. in history followed by an MBA from Penn State Smeal College of Business. He also holds a J.D., having graduated from University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2011 with honors. David and his wife Megan, along with their young son, reside in Lower Moreland Township.

Mr. Oyler joined the Trust’s board in 2015.

Clair Raubenstine
Mr. Raubenstine graduated from Rider University with a BS in Commerce in 1963. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Management Accountant, and a Certified Financial Planner, and was a partner with PriceWaterhouse-Coopers LLP until his retirement in 2002 after 39 years of service. Mr. Raubenstine is a member of the Board of Directors of Stonebridge Financial Corporation and of the Accounting Advisory Council of Rider University. He is also the volunteer president of the Bucks County Economic Development Corporation. He and his wife, Jeanne, who have three children and four grandchildren, are both very active in their local parish and in the Catholic Charities Appeal of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. They live in Lower Moreland Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Raubenstine, a member of the Finance Committee, has served on the Trust’s board since 2005.

Robert J. Riethmiller Jr
Mr. Riethmiller is the Chairman of the Board of the PTR Baler and Compactor Company.  He has been a member of several industry boards including the Environmental Research and Education Foundation and the Material Handling Institute of America.  He was inducted into the Environmental Industry Association Hall of Fame in 2006.  He currently serves on the boards of the Abington Memorial Hospital Foundation, Chestnut Hill College, and the Iron Worker’s Pension Fund.  Bob and his wife, Anne, reside in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and have four children and eleven grandchildren.
Kenneth Schauder, Municipal Representative
Mr. Schauder was appointed as Municipal Representative from Bryn Athyn Borough and has served on the Trust’s board since 2014.
Sam Valenza, Municipal Representative
Mr. Valenza, an Upper Moreland Township commissioner, has served as the township’s representative to the Trust’s board since 2007.
Walter Van Buren
Mr. Van Buren was involved in the insurance industry for more than 30 years. When he retired, he was Senior Vice President of CBIZ, the ninth largest accounting firm and twelfth largest insurance broker in the nation. Mr. Van Buren graduated from Abington High School and then from La Salle University with a B.A. in Economics. He serves on several boards, including the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross. Both Walt and his wife Diana are life-long resident of Abington.

Mr. Van Buren was elected to the Trust’s board in 2003.

William B. Weihenmayer
Mr. Weihenmayer is a self-employed real estate investor and consultant. He previously served on the boards of the Golf Association of Philadelphia, Germantown Academy, Willow Financial, and Huntingdon Valley Country Club. Mr. Weihenmayer graduated from William Penn Charter School and received a BS in accounting from the University of Delaware. Bill and his wife, Libby, reside in Lower Moreland Township.

Mr. Weihenmayer served as President of the Pennypack Trust from 1998 – 2004, and as 1st Vice President from 1995 to 1998. Mr. Weihenmayer is Chair of both the Land Acquisition and Nominating Committees. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 1992.

Biographical Sketches – Directors Emeritus

Owen O. Freeman
Owen O. Freeman was one of the original incorporators of the Pennypack and served as its First Vice President for ten years; he became the organization’s second Director Emeritus in 1981.
William Greenhouse, Jr.
Mr. Greenhouse is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with an Architectural Engineering degree and is associated with the firm of Larry Snyder, Inc., Realtor. Bill resides in Cheltenham Township. Mr. Greenhouse, a director from 1973 to 2000, served as the Trust’s Treasurer and Vice President.
Natalie Elkins Gribbel
Natalie Elkins Gribbel was a member of the Pennypack from the time of its inception, and was a member of the Board of Directors from 1971 until 1983, when she was elected as its third Director Emeritus. She was elected Vice President and Coordinator of the Environmental Management Center’s Development Committee in 1974. She gave freely of her time in many of the organization’s activities.
Bruce B. Henderson
For many years, Mr. Henderson served as the Editorial Page Editor of the Bucks County Courier Times, during which time he twice received the Golden Press Award for editorial writing. He left the Courier Times to become the Director of Development for Bryn Athyn College. Mr. Henderson is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and is a member of Sigma Delta Chi, the professional journalistic society, as well as a member of the Bryn Athyn Church Board of Trustees and Board of Directors of the Academy of the New Church in Bryn Athyn.Mr. Henderson, one of the original incorporators of the Pennypack Trust, served on the Trust’s board from 1970 until 1997. For many of those years, he served as the board’s secretary.
Brenda Lyons
Mrs. A. Basil (Brenda) Lyons served on the Board of Directors beginning in October 1972 and became its first Director Emeritus in 1977. She was a conservationist and enthusiastic gardener who served as president of the Huntingdon Valley Garden Club. She graduated from Wellesley College and continued to serve her alma mater through her participation on Wellesley’s President’s Resources Council. Ms. Lyons lived on Huntingdon Road in Huntingdon Valley and then, later in life, moved to Vermont. Upon her death, the Trust received a bequest exceeding $100,000 from her estate.
J. Ross Pilling II
Mr. Pilling is owner of the Conservation Development Partnership. He serves as Board Secretary of the Montgomery County Lands Trust. Mr. Pilling is a graduate of the University of Denver and has a Masters degree in regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Pilling served as a director of the Trust from 1989 to 2002, and served as Chairman from 1990 until 1999.
Feodor U. Pitcairn
Feodor Pitcairn was one of the original founders of the Trust. He served as the organization’s president and “guiding light” for the two decades between 1970 and 1990. During that same period, Mr. Pitcairn served on the Bryn Athyn Planning Commission and the Montgomery County Planning Commission, including one year as its chair. Mr. Pitcairn is an accomplished photographer with two books of underwater photographs to his credit. More recently, he has been pioneering the use of digital videotape in undersea photography. A series of five films that he produced, The Ocean Wilds, were seen on PBS ion 2001. Mr. Pitcairn photographed the Pennypack Preserve for two years to produce the images in Dreaming Wild in the Heart of the Pennypack, a photographic essay about the Pennypack Preserve published by the Pennypack Trust in 2003.
Raymond Synnestvedt
Mr. Synnestvedt is the former president of the George Synnestvedt Company, a position from which he retired to practice as a private consultant. He graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. Mr. Synnestvedt lives in Bryn Athyn. Mr. Synnestvedt, an original incorporator of the Trust, was Vice President for many years, was a member of the Trails Committee, and was responsible for planning and developing the Crossroads Wetland at the intersection of the Creek Road and Papermill Road Trails. He was elected an Honorary Director following the completion of his term in office in 1984.

Staff Biographical Sketches

Christopher Mendel, Executive Director
David J. Robertson, PhD, Executive Director Emeritus
Dr. Robertson has been employed by the Trust since 1988.  As chief executive and scientist, Dr. Robertson is responsible for the overall administration of the Pennypack Trust and its 828-acre natural area preserve.  He serves as the staff liaison for the Executive, Governance, and Land Acquisition committees. Dr. Robertson holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh  (biology, PhD, 1981) and from Ohio University (zoology, BS with honors, 1974).  He is an Adjunct Professor in Temple University’s Department of Landscape Architecture where he teaches restoration ecology; he held a similar adjunct position at the University of Pennsylvania for two decades. Dr. Robertson is originally from Cleveland, Ohio.  He and his wife, Mary, reside in the Executive Director’s residence on the Trust’s headquarters property.
Christopher Dartley, Stewardship Assistant
Chris graduated with a BS in Horticulture from Temple University in May 2003.  Before joining the Trust, he was an Urban and Community Forest Intern at the Morris Arboretum where he worked on restoration projects in Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Valley Park.Chris lives in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two children.  He is an active member of the Upper Dublin Township Shade Tree Commission.  In his free time, he enjoys bicycling and skiing.
Kirk Laule, Groundskeeper
Mr. Laule has been employed by the Trust since 1978.  He is responsible for maintaining the grounds of the preserve including the Trust’s 10-mile trail system, the tree plantings, and the Raytharn Farm fields. Mr. Laule graduated from George Washington High School in Philadelphia and has studied landscaping at the Morris Arboretum.  Kirk and his wife, Debra, reside in the Trust’s farmhouse at the Creek Road entrance to the preserve in Lower Moreland.
Brad Nyholm, Director of Stewardship
Mr. Nyholm has been employed by the Trust since May 1998.  He is responsible for the stewardship and ecological management of Pennypack’s 828-acre natural area preserve.  He is the staff liaison for the Stewardship Committee. Mr. Nyholm earned a BS in Geography from Radford University in Virginia.  He is originally from the Richmond area. Brad resides in the Trust’s farmhouse on Raytharn Farm with his wife, Heather, and their children Sara, Andy and Jake.
Kevin Roth, Stewardship Assistant/Environmental Educator
Mr. Roth graduated in May 2015 with a BS in Early Childhood Education from Bryn Athyn College. He joined the Trust’s staff in 2013 as a part-time Stewardship Assistant. In addition to his responsibilities in the preserve, Kevin runs the Pre-School Nature Club, offers guided walks in the preserve, and coordinates the activities of the Trust’s group of volunteer StreamKeepers.
Lauren Steele, Member Services Coordinator
Lauren Steele joined the Trust’s staff in September 2001.  In addition to her main responsibility of keeping the Trust’s more than 1,100 memberships up-to-date, Lauren gathers and publicizes upcoming events and oversees the gift shop.  Lauren has many years of work experience, mostly in administrative assistant and customer service related jobs.  She is a 1999 magna cum laude graduate of Chestnut Hill College with a degree in marketing. Born and raised on Long Island, NY, Lauren lives in Maple Glen.  In her spare time she enjoys gardening, tennis, and bike riding.
Paula Coyle, Controller (Part-time)
Paula joined the Trust’s staff in 2016.  As the Controller, Paula is responsible for administering the overall financial and human resource functions for the Trust.   She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the Pennsylvania State University and is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in Pennsylvania.  Paula began her career in public accounting, subsequently transitioning to private industry, holding various financial positions.  She comes to the Trust after many years of self-employment, during which she provided accounting, tax and consulting services to small businesses.  Paula lives in Langhorne with her husband and enjoys various outdoor activities, especially in our national parks.