Board of Directors

Janvier Smith

Jan earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Duke University, and an M.A. from the Naval Postgraduate School. A former summer field ecology researcher and seasonal National Park Service ranger-naturalist, he served 22 years in the naval aviation, and first came to the area in 1982. Retiring from the Navy in 1994 after a number of diverse assignments including command of a recruiting district and service on the faculty of one of the Navy’s graduate schools, he and his family returned to Topsham. He owned an insurance and financial services agency for 13 years, and helped launch CREA’s long-standing relationship with the State Farm Companies Foundation. Since retiring from that role, he has held management and state government regulatory positions in the insurance and financial services field, and serves as a volunteer financial counselor for military retirees and other veterans. He has served as CREA’s treasurer, finance committee member, co-chair of the transition committee, and chaired the development committee.

Vice President
Ed Lovely

Ed holds a bachelor’s degree in both chemistry and biology from St. Anselm College, a masters in chemistry from Northeastern University, a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion from Drew University, and has done advanced work in marine biology at the University of New Hampshire.  He has held executive positions with several chemical manufacturing corporations, he is an active outdoorsman and advocate and practitioner of environmental education, and has taught at the university level.  He has served on the boards of directors of several nonprofits including the American Red Cross and the Episcopal Church, has also served as a community environmental director, and volunteers at the Maine Maritime Museum.  He and his wife Barbara live in Highland Green adjacent to the Preserve.  He is a multi-dimensional leader and “doer.”

Ellen Trout Bennett

Ellen brings experience as a middle school science teacher where she taught earth and environmental sciences. In addition, she directed partnership programs on a statewide and regional level, bringing together secondary and post-secondary faculty in the sciences to strengthen teaching and learning, as well as working directly with first-generation college students to encourage and facilitate post-secondary study. Committed to both understanding and protecting our environment, as well as community engagement, Ellen has served on the boards of the Cope Environmental Center, the United Way, and as chair of the Wayne County Foundation board in Indiana. Here is Maine she is a member of the Maine School Science Volunteers, and an outreach and stewardship committee of a local parish.

Chris Taylor

Chris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Southampton College, is a long-time resident of Topsham, has worked in many fields including accounting and sales, and is 25-year Bowdoin College official.  His work at Bowdoin has allowed him to bring energy efficiency and sustainability to an area that affects the entire campus. He has held volunteer positions on the board of other community and professional organizations and is eager to help CREA move forward.  Chris and his wife enjoy outdoor photography and have a deep appreciation for nature. In addition to Chris’ duties as treasurer he is a key member of a new committee formed to update and maintain CREA’s website.


Petey Ambrose

Petey is a graduate of the College of New Rochelle, and holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University and a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern Maine. She has worked as a language arts consultant, supervisor of instruction, elementary school principal, and standardized test developer. Her late husband was a Bowdoin professor of classics, and she resides in the Highlands Retirement Community, where she is very active in outdoor pursuits.

Tim Cox

Tim is our student representative from Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, where he is a member of the Class of 2017.

Lisa Durrell

Lisa received her BA in French from Mount Holyoke College and her MEd from Tufts University. She spent over 30 years teaching elementary math and science, and led numerous teacher workshops.  After retirement she was a field teacher for Massachusetts Audubon where she built and enriched curricula.  She has held many positions, including director, at summer camps, and continues to teach swimming. A gifted teacher who enjoys sharing her knowledge and love of nature with people of all ages, Lisa has been very active volunteering with CREA and leading walks on the Preserve.  She has many interests, including quilting, and enjoys living next to the Heath Trail at Highland Green.

Amber Grant

Amber received her Bachelor’s degree (cum laude) in communications from the University of Southern Maine, and has extensive experience in marketing, finance, and administration. She is a graduate of Mt. Ararat High School and her children attend Topsham schools. She has a lifetime love of nature. Amber is our liaison with John Wasileski’s business organizations.  She works in marketing at Highland Green.

Hadley Horch

Hadley earned her bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Duke University.  She is an associate professor at Bowdoin College, and teaches courses each semester in both the biology and neuroscience programs.  She is passionate about teaching and expands her teaching by doing outreach work with K-12 students to introduce them to science concepts.  Hadley has served on Bowdoin’s Sustainability Committee, and has also facilitated discussions among faculty about climate change and sustainability.  She and her family practice sustainable living at home.  They appreciate the outdoors, and enjoy a variety of activities including hiking, camping, kayaking, and biking.  Hadley values the conservation of outdoor spaces, ecosystems, and species diversity, and believes that CREA and the Cathance River can be important elements in expanding awareness of the natural world in local schools and in the community.

Jane Littlefield

Jane grew up in Brunswick, received a BS in Home Economics from the University of Maine at Orono. She spent many years as an Army wife and mother while her four children were growing up. She received her Masters in Early Childhood Education from the University of Southern California. She worked for the US Army in the Children and Youth Services program, directing centers and training staff in providing quality child care for soldiers and civilian employees. In retirement, she is furthering her education at Bowdoin in environmental studies and resides in Topsham on the banks of the Androscoggin.

Isabella Pols

Isabella is our student representative from Brunswick High School. She is a member of the Class of 2018. She runs cross-country, track, and she Alpine skis. She’s also a pole vaulter during the indoor and outdoor track seasons. Isabella is also interested in art and music and is a member of the BHS Treble Choir. She also enjoys her academic classes at the high school. She plans to go to college when she graduates but doesn’t yet know what field she wants to study. When Isabella was in elementary school she participated in summer camps and after school activities with CREA. She is excited to be a student representative for the Board.

Carla Rensenbrink

Carla came to Topsham in 1965 with her husband, John, and their three children. She taught elementary school in Freeport for many years before deciding to attend graduate school. She received her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and then taught prospective teachers at the University of New Hampshire. After retiring from teaching, Carla has renewed and expanded longtime interests in the out of doors and in land conservation. She is a director of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and a founding member of the Topsham Conservation Commission and of CREA.

Liz Rensenbrink

Liz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is Human Resources Director for Tyler Technologies in Yarmouth, Maine.  She grew up in a household that values the environment and practices conservation. Believing in developing opportunities for students, she recently convinced her company to become a sponsor of Project>Login, which aims to double the number of graduates in computer science and information technology college majors. She has organized student receptions at schools around the state, bringing together students, faculty, school administrators and area businesses to talk about the importance of these majors and the internship and career opportunities for Maine students. She enjoys working with people and the public. She enjoys writing, planning and organizing, and looks forward to helping CREA preserve and expand her parents’ legacy.

Pat Tison

Pat has always loved being outdoors enjoying and exploring nature even while growing up in New Jersey.  With a BA in Psychology from Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania and a strong desire to make a positive difference in life, she enjoyed living in the beautiful Mt. Washington Valley in New Hampshire and many years of raising her daughter, learning to ski and teaching skiing, teaching at several preschools and teaching a mixed-age grade 1-8 class and serving as teaching director at New Country School in W. Baldwin, Maine, and volunteering with several non-profit organizations.  Drawn by an opportunity to live on the Androscoggin River at the head of Merrymeeting Bay, Pat and her husband Ty recently moved to Brunswick where she is now enjoying semi-retirement, kayaking, swimming, biking, and hiking the amazing trails of CREA and the mid-coast, and still striving to make a positive difference.

Executive Director Matt Dubel


John Rensenbrink

Professor Emeritus of Government, Bowdoin College. Resident of Topsham since 1965. Helped organize Topsham’s Future in 1999 and took a lead in the negotiations with John Wasileski that resulted in the establishment of the Cathance River Preserve and the subsequent formation of the Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA). He initiated the Environmental Education Project for Bowdoin students in Brunswick/Topsham Area Schools. He is co-founder of the U.S. Green Party and the Maine Green Party; former President (2005-2007) of the Society for Universal Dialogue; and author of three books, including Against All Odds: the Green Transformation of American Politics (1999).

John Wasileski

CREA and Highland Green were locally founded by Maine resident John Wasileski. A respected Maine businessperson who studied in environmental science at McGill University, John has a reputation as a visionary who has exhibited an extraordinary commitment to preserve and protect the environment. His commitment to residents, his employees and to local cultural and charitable organizations helped him earn the Maine Governor’s Award for Business Excellence.

Advisory Council

Dana Cary, Retired (Topsham)
Louisa Edgerton, Business Manager (Bath)
Jim Howard, CEO, Priority Real Estate Group (Topsham)
Barry Mills, Former President, Bowdoin College (Harpswell)
John Rensenbrink, Professor Emeritus of Government, Bowdoin College (Topsham)
Barbara Snapp, Retired Educator (Brunswick)
Karin Tilberg, Deputy Executive Director, Forest Society of Maine (Topsham)
John Wasileski, Owner, Highland Green in Topsham, Oceanview in Falmouth (Lyman)