Nancy Stranahan : Executive Director

Nancy Stranahan

Executive Director

Nancy is the Director of the Arc of Appalachia, and was one of the non-profit’s founders in 1995. In the span of directing the organization over the last 20 years, Nancy has cultivated a vigorous citizen advocacy network in Ohio (what she likes to call a tree-roots organization) to support the purchase of over a dozen new natural areas in southern Ohio and expanding several pre-existing preserves.

Altogether, Nancy has personally led the charge to save over 4000 acres of new natural areas and has participated in 80 separate real estate closings. The Arc’s headquarters, the 2200-acre Highlands Nature Sanctuary, is the Arc’s largest preserve region, and the area that Nancy and the Arc’s fledging board first concentrated their land preservation efforts in the non-profit’s early years. A few of the signature species protected within the Arc suite of nature preserves have been Henslow sparrows, cerulean warblers, golden star lilies, northern long-eared bats and timber rattlesnakes – just to name a few. Under her guidance, the Arc has also been instrumental in not only saving Native American Indian legacy sites, including Spruce Hill Earthworks and Junction Earthworks, but also managing Fort Hill and Serpent Mound, working in partnership with the Ohio History Connection.

Nancy previously served as Chief Naturalist for Ohio State Parks with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; and operated Benevolence Café and Bakery in downtown Columbus’ city market for 20 years, where she promoted healthy and intentional food choices.

Jean Farkas : Board President

Jean Farkas

Board President

Jean first connected to the Arc when she became a Land Steward at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary in 2008 at Shellbark Woods, where she now lives part-time and helps steward the property’s plant and animal diversity. Here you can find her every spring actively and energetically removing non-native invasive plants from Shellbarks’ organic soils and rich understory. She takes pleasure in being part of a larger community of neighbors and stewards who are passionate about nature preservation.

Jean has provided extensive volunteer hours supporting the Arc’s education programs where she often performs the role of course facilitator. She is retired from a 30-plus year career as an administrator of health and wellness programs and non-profit organizations, most recently in Dayton, Ohio; and has served on several non-profit boards and professional organizations throughout her long philanthropic life.

Dave Todt : Secretary

Dave Todt


Dave Todt is a professor of natural science at Shawnee State University. He has served in various capacities at Shawnee since 1975, including the most recent seven years as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at SSU.

Dave’s love of the natural environment started at an early age with family camping trips around Ohio and summers in the mountains of western North Carolina. At Shawnee State he has taught a course called Ohio’s Natural Heritage, Field Ornithology, Ecology, and numerous other science and recreation courses.

Dave has been involved in the preparation of science teachers and environmental educators while at Shawnee. He also worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as a manager of the Youth Conservation Corps program. Dave served two terms on the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves Natural Areas Council and is currently active with the Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association.

Dave lives in Friendship, Ohio with his wife of 45 years, Patsy. He is currently developing and teaching an online course called Naturally Ohio which will explore Ohio’s five physiographic regions and natural history.

Martha Fikes : Treasurer

Martha Fikes


Martha Fikes has been a supporter and volunteer for the Arc since 2002. As a board member she works diligently to support education programming and to provide professional review in realms of insurance, contracts, and deed restrictions. She has an excellent eye for detail and brings accuracy and perfection to the Arc’s records and operating systems. She also has been very active in land stewardship, spending hours of her time removing non-native invasive plants.

Martha worked as a Zoology lab coordinator for 9 years at Ohio Wesleyan University. A resident of Delaware County, she has volunteered in past years with Stratford Ecological Center, primarily in school children’s outdoor education programming and development. Martha is particularly attracted to the Arc for its agility and speed in land acquisition and its commitment to biodiversity protection.

John Jaeger : Board Advisor

John Jaeger

Board Advisor

John F. Jaeger is a field naturalist and outdoor educator with interests in Ohio’s flora, fauna and natural and human history.  He retired as the Director of Natural Resources for the Metropolitan Park District of the Toledo Area where he also served as a Park Manager/Ranger and Naturalist/Historic Interpreter.  He currently is an active volunteer as a Board Advisor for the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System, and conducts educational tours for the public, performs preserve boundary checks and evaluates potential land acquisitions.

Dave Minney : Board Member

Dave Minney

Board Member

Dave Minney has worked in the conservation field all of his life. Much of his career was spent working as the Southern Ohio Preserve Manager for The Ohio Nature Conservancy. He has also updated rare plant records for the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, conducted a SILVAH Oak Inventory at Zaleski and Shawnee State Forests, censused breeding birds at Crane Hollow Nature Preserve, undertook a botanical for Wayne National Forest, and took a floral inventory at Tranquility Wildlife Area. Dave is a well-trained field naturalist with a broad variety of interests and skills. He is well trained in fire ecology, and has an abiding interest in the moundbuilding cultures of Ohio and other Native American Indian legacies.

Martin McAllister : Board Advisor

Martin McAllister

Board Advisor

Martin McAllister is a twenty-six year veteran of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Twenty-one of those years were spent overseeing land management on state nature preserves in southern Ohio. Martin retired from ODNR in 2014 as the Southwest District Manager for Ohio State Parks and Nature Preserves, administering 13 state parks and 14 state nature preserves. In that position he administered a peak summer staff of 220 employees, oversaw a $9 million dollar budget and helped steward 122,000 acres of land.

Martin currently works with The Nature Conservancy as their Appalachian Forests Project Manager. In this position he is responsible for conserving forestland by working with policy makers, government agencies, land owners and non-profit organizations to ensure the long-term health of Ohio’s forests.

Martin is the seventh of nine generations of McAllisters to live in Pike County, one of the Arc’s prioritized preservation regions. Martin holds a degree in Recreation and Parks Management from Shawnee State University. His hobbies include canoeing, kayaking, and blacksmithing.

Michael Rigsby : Board Member

Michael Rigsby

Board Member

Michael Rigsby has been an avid naturalist ever since he was a young child. He currently works as an independent writer and content developer for museum exhibit designs – bringing natural and cultural history stories to life for the visiting public. His work can be seen, among other locations, at the Utah Museum of Natural History, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, and California Academy of Sciences.

In earlier years, Michael was employed as a biologist and science writer for the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. Michael holds a degree in English Rhetoric from the University of Illinois and studied for a masters in Biology at Northeastern Illinois University. His favorite pursuits include being in nature and exploring new landscapes. Michael discovered the Arc of Appalachia not long after moving to southern Ohio in 2005 and was attracted to the innovative ways the Arc buys and preserves land.

Jim Silver : Board Member

Jim Silver

Board Member

W. Jim Silver, and his wife Emily, have been engaged supporters of the Arc of Appalachia since 1998. He first visited the area as a child going to Seven Caves. A lifelong hiker and camper, Jim is dedicated to helping preserve land and habitat.

Having majored in Anthropology at Grinnell College in Iowa, Jim is excited about the Arc’s successful efforts to preserve Earthworks and other American Indian heritage sites.

Jim is a broker/dealer with Ross, Sinclaire & Associates in Cincinnati, joining RSA in 2000. He has 30 years experience  specializing  in fixed income securities, primarily municipal bonds. He comes to the board with past and present non-profit board appointments in the Cincinnati area.

Roy Willman : Board Member

Roy Willman

Board Member

Roy Willman has enjoyed nature all his life, having been a hiker, backpacker and camper since Boy-scout days. Among Roy’s many accomplishments, he built and resided in an off-grid home, living on solar power for three years. As one of six working-owners at a wood products manufacturing firm for over twenty years, Roy developed extensive knowledge of business.

Currently, Roy is the mind behind Willman Facilitation, where he assists groups with communication, mediation, and negotiation. He brings these excellent skills to the Arc of Appalachia’s board, helping to bring meaningful dialogue to the organization’s many decisions.

Based on his belief that community involvement is both a responsibility and a pleasure, Roy has been active in his community for decades. Roy is also a seasoned board member, having served for several other non-profit organizations. He encourages an interactive board relationship with the organization’s management, convinced that greater board involvement results in a more balanced organization.