Contact: Rebecca O’Connor
Co-Executive Director
951-788-0670 ext. 1005


March 24, 2022

New Leadership at Rivers & Lands Conservancy

Rivers & Lands Conservancy's Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Nicole Padron and Rebecca K. O'Connor will lead the organization as Co-Executive Directors. Rebecca and Nicole stepped up to share leadership on an interim basis bringing stability and assisting in moving the organization forward following the unexpected passing of Executive Director, David Brunner. Nonprofit organizations are increasingly turning to the Co-Executive Director Model and Rivers & Lands Conservancy sees numerous benefits to embracing it. As Co-Leaders, Rebecca and Nicole bring the strength of their collective experiences, a passion for the organization, and a shared vision for its growth and success.

“Together Nicole and Rebecca bring the history of RLC to their new roles along with ideas and experience from other organizations,” Rivers & Lands Conservancy’s Board President Dusty Williams said. "Together they possess the knowledge of someone who understands fundraising, the intricacies of leading a non-profit land trust, and the complexities of the conservation world. Together they are greater than the sum of their parts and will serve this organization well."

Nicole Padron joined Rivers & Lands Conservancy in 2013 as a land steward and was promoted to Stewardship Director in 2017. During her tenure at the Conservancy, she co-founded and secured grant support for our Acorns to Oaks environmental education program which has grown to serve over 300 high school students annually. As Stewardship Director, she oversaw the growth of the stewardship team while managing the acquisition and ongoing stewardship of our conservation easements and land holdings, which has grown to 58 properties. Nicole holds a B.S. degree in Environmental Biology and a M.S. degree in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona.

“Over the last 8 years I have seen incredible growth at RLC both in the acres conserved and community members reached through our ever-growing outreach and education programs. Thanks to the support of our community, dedicated staff, and steadfast Board, we are poised to bring RLC to the next best place. It is my great joy and honor to lead the Conservancy alongside Rebecca,” Nicole said.

Rebecca K. O’Connor joined Rivers & Lands Conservancy in 2017 as Development Director, formalizing the organization’s fundraising program, tripling individual support, and creating stronger communications with our community. She began her career working with wildlife and creating/presenting environmental education programming at zoos, ultimately moving into the field of development. She has over 15 years of experience in fundraising and marketing for conservation organizations, an MFA in Creative Writing, has been a falconer for 25 years, and is the author of several books on the natural world.

“As a young woman who grew up in Riverside, I found my life’s passion hiking through the Delhi Sand Dunes and the chaparral hunting with hawks,” Rebecca said. “I am so honored to help lead my hometown Conservancy, contribute to the conservation of land for the benefit of our community and with the hope that other young girls will find their life’s passion there as well.”

Working with the Board of Directors, staff, and supporters, Rebecca and Nicole look forward to increasing the organization’s capacity, land holdings, educational programming, and connection to the community.

For more information visit:

Rivers & Lands Conservancy

Rivers & Lands Conservancy was established in 1989 as an all-volunteer organization committed to conserving open space in Riverside and surrounding areas. It has grown into a robust, accredited and esteemed land trust holding over 2,700 acres in a four-county region. Over its history, RLC has partnered in conserving over 14,500 acres throughout southern California.