The RCP Network is guided by two Highstead staff members as well as a steering committee and a dedicated team of RCP Coordinators.

Bill Labich, RCP Network Coordinator; Senior Conservationist, Highstead

Bill has led Highstead’s Regional Conservation Program since 2007, helping to develop the capacities of Regional Conservation Partnerships (RCPs) and regional partners to conserve more land collaboratively and in the service of more resilient communities and regions. Bill coordinates the RCP Network and the Northeast Forest Network and co-coordinates the Northern Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership–all three of which he co-founded. 

Trained as a professional forester (University of Maine at Orono) and a regional land use planner (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Bill came to Highstead with twenty years’ experience engaging forest landowners, municipal officials, RCPs, and the public in the elements of whole landscape conservation and stewardship, working for Connecticut Audubon Society, New England Forestry Foundation, and the Franklin Regional Council of Governments. 

With Highstead, Bill has co-authored papers on Regional Conservation Partnerships, on Wildlands and Woodlands, and on cross-boundary collaboration. Bill’s RCP Handbook serves as a reference for emerging RCPs throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, and he advises peers on collaborative landscape conservation, nationally. 

Since 1993, Bill has worked as a volunteer to increase access to nature by urban youth of color from across Massachusetts. Bill likes to garden, hike, fish, and bicycle.

Katie Blake, Conservationist, Highstead

Katie supports Regional Conservation Partnerships (RCPs) across the Northeast and eastern New York in their efforts to increase the pace and scale of conservation by way of capacity building, network coordination, and leadership of various landscape-scale initiatives. Katie also serves as the coordinator of the Hudson to Housatonic RCP, aiding partners in collaborative and strategic conservation planning. 

As a trained Conservation Biologist, Katie has over 15 years of experience in landscape ecology, environmental outreach, conservation planning, and scientific research. She got her start with RCPs as the Coordinator for the emerging MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership, where she led partners through a strategic planning process and developed an innovative approach to woodland owner outreach. Before joining Highstead, Katie managed urban bird initiatives for Audubon Connecticut, where she led the New Haven Harbor Watershed Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership. Katie has a Master’s degree in Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Mount Holyoke College. 

Katie is a member of the Boards of the CT Urban Forest Council and the Canton Land Conservation Trust.

Weaving together a love of birds and gardening, Katie enjoys experimenting in the garden and attracting birds to her yard with native plants. She also delights in tending to her homestead and farm animals with her husband Jeremy and daughters Tziporah and Tahlia.