Advisors

Ken Grudens Executive Director

Ken Grudens

Since 2004, Ken has worked with the Board of Directors to develop and implement a variety of programs which protect and conserve the natural resources and special places of Indian River County. Ken has a Master's Degree in Landscape Architecture from the State College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York and a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture from the University of Buffalo. He previously managed the New York State Farmland Protection Program. Ken recently served on the Citizen's Advisory Committee of the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program. Currently, he serves on the Executive Committee of the Alliance of Florida Land Trusts, where he served as President for two years, and on the Indian River County Chamber Government Issues Committee.

Melissa DePriest Director of Philanthropy and Marketing

Melissa DePriest

Melissa DePriest is a lifelong Florida resident. Having grown up on the Treasure Coast, nature conservation has been an important matter for Melissa and her family. Melissa holds a Bachelor's Degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University. She has worked for 18 years in the non-profit sector in philanthropy and donor relations. She and her husband Lonnie relish spending their free time enjoying the great outdoors by paddle boarding, cycling, hiking, and more.

Dave Fuss Director of Land Stewardship

Dave Fuss

Dave joined the Land Trust in February 2019. He has a strong environmental ethic and has an extensive background in environmental and natural resources. He has worked in fisheries science, wetland restoration and management, watershed planning and management, and water and environmental quality control. He relocated from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with his family. He holds a B.A. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia and a M.S. in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University. A Florida native, Dave is excited to play a strong role in natural resource conservation as part of the IRLT team.

JD Hart Land Steward

JD Hart

JD Hart grew up in Vero Beach, FL and is a graduate of Vero Beach High School. After obtaining his B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from Florida Atlantic University, he worked as a Biological Scientist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute where he contributed to valuable research on water quality and seagrass health in the Indian River Lagoon. JD and his wife live in Vero Beach where they enjoy such activities as boating, fishing and spending time at the beach. He joined the Land Trust in February, 2020, and brings with him an excitement to participate in the important functions of the IRLT to preserve our natural resources for current and future generations to come.

Elizabeth Betts Office Associate

Elizabeth Betts

Elizabeth (Liz) Betts is a native of North Carolina and moved to Florida to be near family in 2019. Liz holds a Bachelor's Degree in History from Appalachian State University and has worked in the education and non-profit sectors for 17 years. In her prior roles, Liz has served as a Community/Youth Education Volunteer for the United States Peace Corps, a Study Abroad Advisor for The George Washington University, taught English in China, and owned a small mountain bike shuttle business in Pisgah National Forest. Liz has always loved the outdoors and is excited to join the Indian River Land Trust family. She is looking forward to using her administrative skills and talents to assist in the conservation of our local resources in the Indian River Lagoon area.

Cindy Hatfield Database Coordinator

Cindy Hatfield

Cindy and her husband Ed moved to Florida in 2012 from Omaha, Nebraska after Ed's retirement. After living in Nebraska with a full acre vegetable garden, Cindy thought it would be easy to grow veggies in Florida - she is still trying! Professionally, Cindy has worked as a paralegal and, most recently, as the donor relations coordinator with Indian River Habitat for Humanity. Her love of nature and helping others makes her a valuable member of the Indian River Land Trust team.