GATES MILLS — The Western Reserve Land Conservancy honored Gates Mills resident Betsy Juliano in June for her contributions to the organization. Ms. Juliano, 63, was given trustee recognition after serving as a board member for the conservancy for 12 years.
In 2005, Ms. Juliano bought 348 acres of property near her horse farm in Mesopotamia, which is outside of Middlefield. As she was riding her horses through the woods, she noticed surveyor stakes in the ground. After Ms. Juliano bought it, she put that land in a conservation easement with the WRLC so it can only be used for agriculture or education.
She said that she has always loved land, and her affection for nature began when she took riding lessons at Red Raider Camp as a child.
“For me to be on land like mine, which has forests and fields, is very peaceful and provides me with a sense of well being,” Ms. Juliano said. “I feel strongly that this kind of land and experience should be available to others long after we are gone.”
She served as board chairwoman for WRLC from 2015 to 2018 and made various contributions. The conservancy launched a capital campaign last year to sustain the organization, but first needed to complete a feasibility study. Ms. Juliano helped select the firm to complete the feasibility study and ensured that all board members were in agreement before embarking on this campaign. The Angeletti Group was chosen for the study, and Ms. Juliano said she felt confident in the board’s decision.
She also said the board chair is responsible for supporting CEO Rich Cochran with tasks such as answering questions and brainstorming on a variety of topics.
“The big thing is guidance,” Ms. Juliano said. “I am a strategist and that’s an aspect of work that is comfortable for me. I add to a great body of strategic thinking that the board has.”
Ms. Juliano described herself as a consensus-builder. She said that she likes to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to major decisions. For board members of a nonprofit organization, Ms. Juliano said that it is necessary to make informed decisions.
She also mentioned a few items that she instituted to keep the board organized. For example, she helped create a master calendar so all board members would be aware of meetings. In addition, Ms. Juliano helped enhance the organizational structure of the board.
“She’s been instrumental for many years,” Mr. Cochran said. “She’s very strategic, and helped us develop our urban programs. Her leadership is very effective.”
The conservancy had the opportunity to look into the Red Line Greenway, a concept for a 3-mile multipurpose trail and greenspace corridor that would run parallel to the Regional Transit Authority’s red line. Ms. Juliano said that she helped guide Mr. Cochran through the exploration stage of that project.
She was also involved in the land bank initiative. Jim Rokakis directs Thriving Communities, an initiative that works with the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to restore old houses or to tear down abandoned houses.
Ms. Juliano was recognized for her efforts at the Conservation Celebration on June 4.