Board President Larry Thomas to Pass the Torch at West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

With both sadness and gratitude, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy Board of Directors announces that Larry Thomas will resign as president. 

Thomas has served as the president of the Conservancy’s Board of Directors since 2018. He was first appointed to the board in 2007 and later as chairman of the renewable energy committee. 

Under Thomas’s leadership, the Conservancy has achieved remarkable milestones, forging strong partnerships with fellow conservation organizations and government agencies while expanding programming. His vision and dedication have been a testament to his exceptional leadership skills and genuine dedication to the cause we all hold dear. 

Throughout his tenure, Thomas has initiated many successful programs, such as the Dolly Sods Wilderness Stewards program, the hiring of the first staff member of the organization in its 50-year history, and the restart of its outings program to foster environmental stewardship in the highlands. Thomas has served on the boards or committees of WVHC partner organizations and successfully led the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the last two years alone, the Conservancy has significantly increased its bandwidth and outreach with the hiring of a program director, membership director, and communications director. With the hiring of the communications director, Thomas helped oversee the transition of the editorship of The Highlands Voice, the monthly publication of the Conservancy. 

Since 2018, the Conservancy has played an active role in the opposition of many environmental threats, most notably the now-defeated Atlantic Coast Pipeline, timbering of West Virginia public lands, and the issue of off-road vehicle use on public lands. Through the Atlantic Coast Pipeline opposition, the Conservancy formed a close partnership with the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, which has led to the development of a Conservation Hub Site and interactive map detailing the destruction of expanded off-road vehicle use.

More recently, the Conservancy published the first volume of “Making a Difference: Practical Actions That Individuals Can Take to Reduce Their Impact on the Climate.” The booklet, available online and in print, suggests ways that individuals can take advantage of the benefits of the historic Inflation Reduction Act and other attainable measures to reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Thomas will remain on the board as past president and play an active role within the organization as chairman of the finance, public lands, and renewable energy committees. 

We are incredibly grateful for Thomas’s direction and extensive contribution to the organization over the last five years. We have all benefited tremendously from his service and dedication to the Conservancy and his passion for protecting the highlands of West Virginia. 

Marilyn Shoenfeld will assume the role of president of the Conservancy. Shoenfeld, of Davis, West Virginia, is a longtime environmental champion and has served on the board for nearly two decades. We are confident that her leadership will continue to shape the Conservancy’s future and contribute to the preservation of the Highlands for generations to come. 

On behalf of the Board of Directors, we wholeheartedly support Shoenfeld and look forward to working collaboratively under her guidance to fulfill our mission of safeguarding the West Virginia Highlands. We extend our sincere gratitude to Shoenfeld for accepting the role of president of the board.

If you have any questions about the transition or organization, please get in touch with her at or by phone at 304-940-5737.