Staff & board of Trustees
Steep Rock Association is a nationally accredited land trust whose mission is to conserve ecologically and historically significant landscapes and riparian corridors in and around Washington, CT, and to enhance the community’s connection to nature through outreach, education, and passive recreation.
Christine AdamsDevelopment Coordinator
Christine Adams, a writer who volunteers for several area not-for-profit organizations, joined the Steep Rock team as Development Coordinator in 2023. She earned a BA in English from Gettysburg College and a Grant Writing Certificate from New York University School of Professional Studies. Christine began her career as Recruiting Manager at the New York law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where she planned events for legal staff, a conduit to her favorite part of the job: making professional connections between students and colleagues. For the past twelve years, she has worked tirelessly toward the protection and preservation of Lake Waramaug and its watershed, what she considers her ancestral home. She has spent a lifetime hiking what has become the Macricostas Preserve and is grateful to work with SRA to continue this important work: preserving open space. A published poet, Christine is currently working on a local history of New Preston, a piece of creative non-fiction that has the working title of Homespun: A Biography of a Connecticut Cottage. When she isn’t hungrily researching the previous occupants of her little mill house and their accompanying social history, she is reading novels, gardening or hiking with her friends, family and a goofy rescue hound named Bert.
Dan ShermanLand Steward
After spending many years in Brooklyn, where he studied photography, anthropology and worked in home renovations, Dan returned to his home state of Connecticut and joined the Steep Rock staff in 2023.
As Land Steward, he appreciates the unique opportunity to care for the woodlands, fields and trails which comprise the preserves; where he considers every walk through the woods a chance to make observations, draw connections, and find creative inspiration.
In his spare time he enjoys birdwatching, art, and film.
Merlin EnnisTrails and Preserve Manager
Merlin joined Steep Rock Association as Trails and Preserve Manager in 2023. A native to Simsbury, CT he grew up with 400 acres of town open space accessible from his backyard. He has had a connection with the outdoors since he can remember. Merlin earned a BA in Environmental Science and German Language and Culture from Franklin and Marshall College. During his time at F&M, Merlin conducted a full year independent study on the effects of erosion on tree growth on dam fill terraces and completed a semester long internship with the state forestry department in Baden-Württemberg Germany. Merlin also brings experience in property stewardship and invasive management to SRA. When not at Steep Rock, Merlin can be found exploring trails around Connecticut, working in his backyard garden, drumming, or playing hockey.
Monica RobertoDevelopment Director
Monica is a marketing and development innovator who is fiercely passionate about the environment, fundraising and engaging the community in the Steep Rock Association (SRA) experience. She would love to meet up with you on the trails, for coffee, or over Zoom to learn more about how you personally connect with our land trust, as well as to share with you SRA’s inspiring vision. Monica brings more than 20 years of experience in Development and Marketing for both non-profit and for-profit businesses. She lives in Woodbury, CT and spends most of her free time outdoors on her mountain and road bikes. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.A in English, magna cum laude.
Brian HagenbuchExecutive Director
A good day for Brian is a day in the woods. Raised on a small truck farm in Pennsylvania, he spent most of his childhood exploring fields and forests where he fell in love with the natural world. Passionate about environmental conservation, Brian has found working with the Steep Rock team to be both a joy and a privilege. He brings broad leadership experience to Steep Rock, with a background in place-based environmental education, community conservation, invasive species, and the influence of ecological disturbances on forest ecosystems. He’s earned degrees in entomology from Penn State and the University of Florida as well as a PhD in environmental studies from Antioch University-New England. When not on the trails or in the community, Brian can be found hiking with his four-legged field assistant (Cody), bicycling backroads, kayaking local streams, enjoying local foods and beverages, or relaxing with a good crossword puzzle!
Rory LarsonDirector of Conservation
Rory grew up on the banks of the Shepaug River and spent many childhood days exploring Steep Rock. It was here where an interest in its wild inhabitants took hold, driving him to obtain a degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine. Since, Rory has worked for several conservation organizations, researching a wide range of species and conserving natural communities throughout the country. Joining Steep Rock’s team in 2013, Rory has cherished the opportunity to study and steward the lands and waters of Washington for over a decade. Before or after hours, chances are he’s on the trail with his dog, in the water casting a fly, or enjoying his home and family in Warren.
Denise ArturiVolunteer Coordinator & Judea Garden Manager & Head Gardener
Denise joined the Judea Garden project at its inception and has been happily playing in the dirt growing vegetables with many community groups and individuals. Denise is a graduate of Manhattanville College and the University of Connecticut’s Master Gardener Program. A resident of Washington for over thirty years, Denise has been actively involved in town government, area schools and organizations, lending support where she can. She currently helps run the Soldier Project sending support boxes to our troops in Afghanistan, manages and skates with the Northern Lights Women’s Hockey team, and is a Registrar of Voters for Washington.
Johanna MachesOffice Manager
Johanna Maches joined Steep Rock as Office Manager in late 2021. Johanna brings with her management and hospitality service skills developed in over 20 years in hotel accounting. An avid amateur cook of all things vegan and a lifetime Litchfield resident, Johanna can often be seen on the trails running and hiking.
Thomas M. Rickart, President
Peary Stafford, Secretary
John Santoleri, Treasurer
Howard Barnet Jr.
Joseph J. Hanggi Jr.
John Herrmann Jr.
Alan G. Mnuchin
Leslie Rubler Warner