Kathy Behrens becomes conservancy president

Kathy Behrens enjoys a break at the Gateway Garden after a morning of pulling weeds.

For the 29 years of its existence, Redlands Conservancy has had only two presidents: Founding President and current President Emeritus Bob Clark, and Robert Dawes, who stepped down in late 2022. At the organization’s first 2023 meeting of the board of directors, the members elected Kathy Behrens to be the third president in the organization’s history.

Behrens, familiar to the Redlands community through her participation in the Redlands Service Club Council and other organizations, came to the town 20 years ago by way of Houston, Texas. She and her husband Roger Hardy purchased a historic home, what is now known as the A.E. Taylor House on West Olive Avenue.

“When I was in Houston, I served as a docent for tours of historic homes that reflected the heritage of the city,” Behrens said. “I always had a garden, I love to grow things, I appreciate the historic structures and sites, and I hike and cycle all over the region. When I came to Redlands, I found this organization that was a perfect fit for what I love to do.”

Behrens joined Trinity Episcopal Church and added her singing voice to the church’s St. Dunstan’s choir where she met the conservancy’s executive director, Sherli Leonard, who very soon after saw a potential for Behrens to contribute to the organization’s board of directors.

For 10 years, Behrens has served as the secretary for the board, and as coordinator for the membership data base. More than that, she has enriched the offerings that the conservancy makes to the community. She created the Emerald Necklace Grand Tour, which was last presented in 2019 and will be offered again later; she created the Fresh Air Challenge in 2021 and 2022; she helped bring the Mills Act to the city of Redlands and has the first such contract with the city; and she introduced conservancy event organizers to EventBrite’s system of making reservations.

She regularly volunteers in presenting the conservancy’s annual Social and Parties for the Necklace, and has hosted two or three Parties for the Necklace each year. With her husband, she regularly opens their historic home to events, activities, and meetings. Adding to her volunteering list, she is serving as an Outdoor Ambassador, and is one of the unofficial Goathead Wranglers, the trail care crew that relentlessly pursues removing the offensive invasive plants from the public trails.

“If volunteering for Redlands Conservancy is a requirement for serving as president, Kathy Behrens is eminently qualified,” said Leonard, adding that Behrens annually spends about 1,000 hours in various roles.

“As president I’m standing on the shoulders of Bob Clark and Robert Dawes, who have established the onservancy as a place where people can thrive,” said Behrens.

Noting the conservancy’s unusual practice of long-termed presidents, Behrens said, “Everyone on the board serves at will and as long as their ability holds.

“I believe this gives us a level of stability with less transition downtime that makes us very productive.”

The directors also agreed to extend the continuing service of Donn Grenda as vice president, Kristine Brown as treasurer, and Bob Clark as President Emeritus.