On June 20, 2017, the Capital Region lost a passionate and devoted supporter of health care, conservation, the arts, women’s rights, and programs for children, families and the disadvantaged. On this day Lisa Evans—business owner, philanthropist, and MHLC Board Member—passed away at her home after a courageous battle with cancer.
Lisa joined the Conservancy’s Board of Directors in 2008, after supporting the organization for more than 10 years prior. During her time on the board, Lisa wholeheartedly advocated for MHLC’s conservation efforts and spoke fervently about the threat of development and loss of open space in the region. She immersed herself in the workings of the board and gave generously of her time and talents, serving as a committee chair for our fundraising efforts and our 25th Anniversary celebration, as well as serving as Board Chair from 2012-2015.
It is no coincidence that the exponential growth of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy of recent years coincided with Lisa’s tenure as Board Chair. Lisa’s inspirational and tenacious efforts on behalf of MHLC sparked our growth and fueled our efforts. As a lifelong resident and beloved business leader, Lisa put her talents to use guiding staff, making connections to the Capital Region community, recruiting others to the cause, and finding funders to support these efforts. Her leadership, gentle good humor, and can-do attitude inspired confidence in our success, if in some cases, it was only because she wouldn’t accept anything but. She is sorely missed.
When I joined MHLC as Executive Director in 2013, what began for me was not just a new job, but a cherished friendship and partnership with a truly outstanding individual. Lisa devoted hours to planning, teaching and listening to make my transition successful. Lisa seemed to know everyone in the Capital District, and those she didn’t know were just a phone call away. Need a contact in the arts? Call Phillip Morris of Proctors. Need a press contact? Call Rex Smith at the Times Union. Want to partner with the Albany Symphony? Call David Alan Miller. If the person didn’t know Lisa and MHLC already, they would become a new friend. Her approach was never pushy or demanding, but friendly and determined, and her passion for conservation was contagious. She made it so.
As Lisa’s illness progressed and her involvement necessarily declined, I wondered: how would we continue without her? But of course, Lisa would never accept such sentiments. She would demand that we move onward and upward and never hesitate to share our passionate belief in the value of conservation–with this approach, success was certain to follow.
My deepest sympathy is with her husband Tom, who is also a former MHLC Board Member, and her business partner Suzanne Smith, both of whom loved Lisa dearly and were fortunate to spend many years experiencing Lisa’s passion, compassion and commitment for the world we all share.
Lisa leaves us better for having had her in our lives. She continues to inspire my efforts every day and the success of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy will always be her success. Lisa’s legacy will live on in the land that we preserved with her and thanks to her.