Staff &board of Directors

Steep Rock Association is a land trust whose mission is to conserve ecologically and historically significant landscapes in and around Washington, CT and the Shepaug River Valley and to enhance the community’s connection with nature

Kelly Sarandrea

Office Manager

Kelly is the latest addition to the Steep Rock Staff. She lives happily in Thomaston with her family and plethora of pets. She is incredibly excited to come on board and help with some of the amazing work that is done at Steep Rock Association as our new office manager. Before taking the job here at Steep Rock, Kelly was an office manager at an autobody shop for 10 ½ years and before that worked in customer service for food distribution. Kelly does an amazing job treating all people with kindness thanks to her training in customer service and is already picking up new skills here at an incredible pace. Outside of work she loves to spend time with her family outside, whether it’s tackling a new trail at one of the Steep Rock preserves, going to the beach, or relaxing by the pool at her house. Her kids are a huge part of her life with her 17-year-old son and the two daughters she has been blessed with from her fiancé. Kelly also loves to cook courtesy of her background in the culinary arts and does charcoal drawings. Email Kelly Sarandrea

Denise Arturi

Judea Garden Coordinator & 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, is a member of the Gunn Historical Museum council, and manages and skates with the Northern Lights Women’s Hockey team.  Email Denise Arturi.

Mike Giapponi

Trails & Preserve Coordinator

Mike joined Steep Rock Association in 2018 as the Trails & Preserve Coordinator. He keeps our preserves safe, accessible, and sustainable, as well as organizes and leads volunteers in trail maintenance projects. If you spot him out on the trails, be sure to say hello and ask him what he is working on. He loves to tell stories. Mike earned his BS in Agriculture and Natural Resources and BA in History from the University of Connecticut. He is a lifelong backpacker and served as an AmeriCorp volunteer building trails in the Sierra Nevadas. For the past four years, he has worked on organic vegetable farms in Connecticut and New York. When he is not out hiking with his dog Kedike, you may find him swing dancing or reading a good book. Email Mike Giapponi.

Rory Larson

Conservation & Program Coordinator

Rory grew up on the banks of the Shepaug River and spent many childhood days exploring Steep Rock where an interest in its wild inhabitants took hold.  He obtained a BS degree in Wildlife Ecology and has since worked on several research projects for a variety of organizations.  Positions held have examined sea turtle nesting ecology in Florida, snowshoe hare and Canada lynx population dynamics in Maine, northern goshawk distribution and nesting preferences in the Colorado Rockies, southwestern willow flycatcher distribution on the lower Colorado River, California spotted owl population dynamics in the High Sierras, as well as native and recreational fisheries in Utah, Connecticut, and Vermont. He returned to the Shepaug River valley to help start an organic farm and joined Steep Rock’s team shortly thereafter in 2013.  He has cherished the opportunity to tackle an array of projects and contribute to Steep Rock’s mission.  Responsibilities include assisting with land management practices, managing the conservation easement program, performing biological surveys, and leading programs.  Rory also serves as a director on the Washington Environmental Council.  After hours, you may find him satisfying addictions to nature photography, fly fishing, beekeeping, and beer brewing.  Email Rory Larson.

brian hagenbuch

Executive 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! Email Brian Hagenbuch

Ehrick K. RossiterFounder

From the Collection of the Gunn Memorial Library and Museum

Board ofDirectors

Thomas M. Rickart, President
Peary Stafford, Secretary
John Santoleri, Treasurer
Linda Allard
Howard Barnet Jr.                                  Jim Brinton, ex-oficio
Barbara Brown                                      Sara Carter
William Coleman

Sally Cornell                                        William Fairbairn                                  Kathy Guttman
Joseph J. Hanggi Jr.
John Herrmann Jr.
Gregory Heyman
Rachel Jacobellis
Eliot Johnson
Michael Lloyd                              

Robert Micheletto                                      Alan G. Mnuchin
Reese Owens
Raymond Reich
Allison Rubler
Jodi Schwartz                                    Joanna Seitz
Kasia Smith
Stephen Solley    

Denise Trevenen                                    Leslie Rubler Warner
Lynn Werner

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