Thanks to Outgoing GVLT Board Members

November 30, 2023

As 2023 comes to a close, we want to recognize GVLT’s three outgoing board members: Susan Dana, Mike Ellig, and Lawrie Lieberman. All three have generously served two three-year terms.

We are grateful for the time, expertise, unique perspectives, and support Susan, Mike, and Lawrie have contributed to the organization and our community. As they complete their service, we asked each of them to reflect on their experience as GLVT board members to give you a glimpse of the past six years through their eyes.

Susan Dana, Outgoing Board Chair

Read Susan’s bio

What is your biggest takeaway from your experience as a GVLT Board member?

Serving on the board of a community-supported, professionally-run nonprofit is incredibly fun and rewarding. I have never before experienced the close teamwork among staff, board, volunteers, and donors that I’ve been privileged to be a part of at GVLT. An organization is only as good as its staff, and GVLT’s staff members are the most extraordinarily talented and committed group imaginable. They work hard, they are passionate, they care deeply about the land, and they have fun together. Such a great team can accomplish anything they set their minds to.

I’ve also come to appreciate more than ever how important GVLT is to the health and happiness of this place we all love so much, and how many people deeply value what we do. I am proud that GVLT partners with so many people and both private and public organizations to improve everyone’s quality of life. Our community couldn’t function without so many nonprofits providing so many essential services.

How has the organization changed during your tenure with the board?

In the six years I’ve been on the board, GVLT has experienced extraordinary growth in every way. We’ve grown our staff in order to respond to the increasing demand for open space and trails, which in turn is supported by growing levels of financial and volunteer support from the community. We’ve also grown in ambition for both our lands and trails programs.

Additionally, I think we’ve grown in maturity as an organization and our awareness of our responsibilities to all members of our community. For example, we are committed to increasing the accessibility of our trails. Most recently, we made improvements to the walking loop at the top of Peets Hill to invite more people of all abilities into this space. I am very proud of this. It has been exciting to be a part of so much growth and I can’t wait to see where GVLT heads next.

What words of wisdom do you have for incoming board members?

As great as GVLT is, we don’t have the resources to do everything we’d like. We need to follow our strategic plan and be deliberate in choosing which projects to lead and which are better left to others with more experience or expertise in a particular area.

Mike Ellig

Read Mike’s bio

What is your biggest takeaway from your experience as a GVLT Board member?

When I first joined the board, I thought it would be hard to find landowners who would want to put a conservation easement on their property. However, I quickly learned that there was significant interest, and the question was whether GVLT had the capacity to meet the demand. During the past six years, we have nearly quadrupled our assets, which has enabled us to expand the Lands team and get more done. We need to ‘strike while the iron is hot,’ and we are in a place to do that.

I have really enjoyed being on the board and felt like we were accomplishing important things to help this community and preserve what people love about this place. It’s rewarding for me to do that.

How has the organization changed during your tenure with the board?

We have more people to accomplish our goals and have increased the speed at which we are getting things done. We conserved 50,000 acres in our first 30 years and will conserve another 25,000 acres within the next five years. That’s something I am really proud of because when it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

What words of wisdom do you have for incoming board members?

We all have different skill sets. Having people with different perspectives is good. If you put in the effort and aren’t afraid to speak up, you can make a big difference.

Lawrie Lieberman

Read Lawrie’s bio

What is your biggest takeaway from your experience as a GVLT Board member?

It’s been an honor and privilege to have served on the GVLT Board these past six years. I have been involved in many nonprofits as a board member and this is one of the most impressive boards I have experienced—it’s respectful, detail-oriented, and strategic.

I’m most proud of the impact that we’ve had on important land conservation and expanding trails for Bozeman and Gallatin County, and soon extending into neighboring areas including Paradise Valley. I am so grateful for the support that our extraordinary community has provided for GVLT projects, protecting our special environment for generations to come.

How has the organization changed during your tenure with the board?

Our finances and organizational strength are infinitely stronger thanks to our supporters. We went from being in ‘good shape’ to ‘great shape.’ There is also greater awareness of what we’ve done and what we can do. We have a strong strategic vision and a proven ability to implement our plans.

What words of wisdom do you have for incoming board members?

Speak your mind and don’t be afraid to dissent. I am a rebel only because I care about the organization.


Thank you, Susan, Mike, and Lawrie for your commitment and service! We are glad you’ll always be an important part of the GVLT family.

New board members will be introduced in our next e-newsletter, which will hit your inboxes in January 2024.