Julia Somers, Chair
Julia Somers is Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, which represents a diverse network of organizations—small and large, local, regional, and statewide—and individuals. Its mission is to represent their common goal to protect, enhance and restore the resources of the New Jersey Highlands and to preserve the quality and quantity of drinking water both for the 850,000 people who live in the Highlands as well as the more than four million people living elsewhere in the state who depend on Highlands water. Prior to 2006, Julia was Executive Director of the Great Swamp Watershed Association, a membership-based organization working to protect the land and water of the ten towns of the Great Swamp watershed in Morris and Somerset Counties. Julia serves on the Boards of the Coalition for Affordable Housing and the Environment and the New Jersey Environmental Lobby. She also serves on her community's Open Space Committee. Julia, her husband and family live in Green Village.
Joseph Basralian, Vice Chair
Joe spent his early childhood exploring nature in the brook and wetland bordering his back yard in Franklin Lakes, and along the coast at his grandparents’ home in Lavalette. These imprints stayed deep within him during his young adult years, when he received a BA from Cornell University, earned an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business, and worked in Equity Research at DLJ/Credit Suisse and Banc of America Securities.
On the eve of the “Great Recession,” he resigned from the financial world to become engaged in conservation, a period that began with a 2008 stint as a volunteer for NY LCV in Manhattan. In 2009 and now with young children, he moved back to New Jersey and worked for the NJ Audubon Society, reporting to Kelly Mooij during the successful statewide campaign for $400 million in open space funding. He then worked for three years as a fundraiser for The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey, another formative and inspiring experience.
He recently returned to the financial world full-time in New Jersey while remaining active in conservation causes. He has chaired the Chatham Township Open Space Advisory Committee since 2010, volunteers in the school district and his parish church, and is a 2016 member of the Conservation Council of The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey.
Carleton became the second executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance in 1998. An attorney by training, he practiced law at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in its Washington, D.C. office for nearly 12 years, the last four years as a partner in the firm’s litigation practice. Since joining the Alliance, Carleton has worked with his colleagues to strengthen both its advocacy and its education initiatives, with the goal of ensuring the New Jersey Pine Barrens ecosystem will survive, and its regional conservation and sustainable development will succeed, in the nation’s most crowded state. Carleton has a BA from Harvard University and an MPhil from University College London, both in philosophy, and a JD from Harvard Law School. In addition to serving on the board of New Jersey LCV, he serves on the boards of the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, the Coalition for Affordable Housing and the Environment, and New Jersey Future.
Bill Leavens, Secretary
Bill Leavens grew up as a free range kid in a section of New Jersey blessed with open space and a stream. His environmental awareness was nurtured by a stint at farming in Western New Jersey. Dumping fertilizer and pesticide on fertile ground made farming seem like an extractive industry. The farm is now an organic CSA, operated by a professional farmer.
He was tapped as President of Musconetcong Watershed in 2000 and remained in that position throughout a decade that saw the Musconetcong given Federal designation as New Jersey’s third ‘Wild and Scenic’ river. Also on Mr. Leavens watch, the MWA demolished two dams in Hackettstown and constructed a LEED Platinum headquarters from a donated, abandoned building. He attributes those achievements to the excellent board and staff he works with. Mr. Leavens serves as Chairman of the Washington Township (Morris) Planning Board and is a member of the Township's Environmental Commission. Bill kayaks in and flies an antique Luscombe over the Musconetcong Valley, photographing the Association's dam removal and riparian restoration projects.
Tom directs the statewide Rethink Energy NJ campaign that seeks to transition the state away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable sources of energy. Tom leads a team of staff and consultants that defeated the proposed 116-mile interstate PennEast gas pipeline after a nearly seven-year battle, strengthened the NJ Global Warming Response Act, helped pass the landmark Clean Energy Law and revised state solar policies to reduce costs and ensure sound siting. Tom serves on the Steering Committee of the NJ Climate Change Alliance and co-chairs the work group on natural and working lands strategies.
Prior to joining New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s staff in June of 2015, Tom served as Senior Conservation Finance Director with The Trust for Public Land where he helped to design and pass eighteen successful county and local ballot measures in seven states generating over $270 million to finance parks and land conservation. He also served as Chairman of the NJ Keep It Green Coalition and led successful campaigns to secure approval of a $400 million bond measure in 2009 and constitutional amendment in 2014 that will generate more than $2 billion over the next twenty years for New Jersey's land, water, and historic preservation programs.
Prior to joining TPL, Tom served as Director of Eastern Forest Conservation for the Wilderness Society, where he directed eastern-wide efforts to increase federal funds for land conservation, and Executive Director of the NY/NJ/PA/CT Highlands Coalition, where he led successful campaigns to pass both federal and New Jersey state legislation to protect critical lands and waters in the Highlands region. Tom earned his M.S. in Natural Resources Planning from the University of Vermont. He was a founding board member of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters and currently serves on Board and the Political Committee.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Randy Jones is the co-founder and Managing Director of The Brunswick Group, an Information Technology Consulting and Executive Search firm based in New Brunswick, NJ. Randy is an avid fly-fisherman and triathlete. He has served for nearly two decades on the Franklin Township Open Space Space Advisory Committee and over the past decade as a Board Member and Chair of the New Jersey Audubon Society. He is also a member of the Somerset County Open Space Advisory Committee and the Board of Advisors for the Rutgers University Zimmerli Art Museum. Randy resides in Franklin Park, NJ with his wife and daughter.
Scott Rotman, Treasurer
A longtime active member of the environmental community, Scott Rotman’s career started in general law practice, and quickly focused on environmental law when he enrolled in the PhD program in Natural Resources Management at SUNY-ESF.
He has managed or contributed to projects in the transportation, energy, and research sectors in widely divergent ecosystems, from Alaskan tundra to Death Valley. His focus for the past decade has been transportation, and particularly transit. He also spent one legislative session with the Vermont State Legislature, drafting legislation in the Natural Resources and Transportation sectors, particularly for the House Transportation Committee. Over the course of his career, he has saved hundreds of homes, unique natural features, important wildlife habitat and culturally significant places from destruction by working with agencies and engineers to develop more appropriate solutions to transportation problems.
He has also served on the boards of Save Our Shores (Santa Cruz, CA) and the Glens Falls Area Youth Center (Glens Falls, NY). His passions include skiing, running, climbing, and pretty much anything that gets him on top of a mountain.
Arnold has a BS in Environmental Science and was a NJ licensed Registered Environmental Health Specialist. He retired in 2018 from his Union County position of 30 years in which he coordinated and supervised the County’s Environmental Health Compliance and Enforcement programs enforcing NJDEP regulations. Arnie’s responsibilities included preparing and signing off on violation, settlement and discovery documents as well as conducting settlement hearings with responsible parties upon their compliance. Prior to working for the County Arnie worked for 12 years as an Associate Toxicologist and Regulatory Affairs Coordinator for Revlon Research in New York and then New Jersey. He was appointed to the NJ Noise Control Council by Governor Corzine in 2006 and has been the chair since 2016. He lives in Franklin Township (Somerset County) with his wife and is an appointed member of several township committees including the Environmental Commission, which he chaired for 3 years, the Open Space Advisory Committee, and the Shade Tree Commission. In 2018 he was inducted into his High School Sports Hall of Fame.