Women in Conservation

Inaugural Terry Hershey Award Winners

Congratulations to Carol Dinkins, Mary Anne Piacentini, Susan Rieff, and Ellen Temple

Carol Dinkins

Environmental Practice Group Leader, Vinson & Elkins LLP

Carol Dinkins is an inaugural recipient of the Terry Hershey Award in Audubon’s Texas Women in Conservation program because of the landmarks in her exceptional career and her focus on conservation priorities while serving in positions of public trust. In 1979, Governor Bill Clements appointed Dinkins chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Coastal Zone Management, and in 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed her assistant attorney general of the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. She was the first woman to hold that post. President Reagan later appointed her Deputy Attorney General of the United States, which made her the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in law enforcement at that time. In 1997, Governor George W. Bush appointed her to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and in 2000 to chair the Governor’s Task Force on Conservation. She was the first Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner to visit every state park in Texas. She was inducted to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000. She was a member of the American Bar Association board of governors from 2005-2008. She held various officer positions, including chair, on the board of directors of The Nature Conservancy, an international conservation organization. Previously, she chaired the Texas Chapter’s Board of Trustees for three years, for which she remains trustee emeritus. 

Mary Anne Piacentini

Executive Director, Katy Prairie Conservancy

Mary Anne Piacentini is an inaugural recipient of the Terry Hershey Award and Audubon’s Texas Women in Conservation Program because of her tireless dedication in the trenches to making conservation a priority in the community she calls home. Piacentini became Executive Director of the Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) in 1999. At that time, the Katy Prairie Conservancy had just acquired its first 1,300 acres of preserve, rescued from rapid development plans that seri- ously threatened the integrity of the much larger coastal prairie landscape of the region. Since 1999, Piacentini and KPC’s Board of Directors have grown the Katy Prairie Conservancy from 1,300 acres to over 20,000 acres within the boundaries of one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing metropolitan areas. She has demonstrated unprecedented creativity in community-building around a conservation cause, innovative fundraising and partnership development strategies, and telling the conservation story in terms that are relevant to all. Piacentini has purposefully chosen to not make the Katy Prairie Conservancy just about landscapes and wildlife, but also about people – a strategy that Terry Hershey herself employed throughout her storied career. She is a past president of the Texas Land Trust Council and in 2005, received the Army and Sarah Emmot Con- servation award for environmental excellence from the Citizen’s Environmental Coalition.

Susan Rieff

Executive Director, Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Susan Rieff was chosen to receive a Terry Hershey award from Audubon’s Texas Women in Conservation program this first year because of the leadership highlights in her distinguished career and her advocacy of conservation best practices that is helping to transform how we think about native and sustainable landscaping in Texas and through- out the country. Rieff began the latest phase of her career as executive director of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in 2004, but that is only the most recent chapter of her notable conservation career.

She served as the first Director of the Resource Protection Division at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as Assistant Commissioner under Texas Agricultural Commissioner Jim Hightower, as Director of Environmental Policy for Texas Governor Ann Richards, and as Policy Director for Land Stewardship at the National Wildlife Federation. From 1995 to 1998, Rieff served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. In her tenure at the Wildflower Center, she has transformed the nation’s thinking and best practices of integrating native flora into public and private landscapes throughout the country. She has tirelessly advanced the reach of the Wildflower Center and it is now a department at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Ellen Temple


Ellen Clarke Temple is among the group of inaugural recipi- ents of the Terry Hershey Award in Audubon’s Texas Women in Conser- vation program because of her untiring advocacy, personal commitment and leadership of conservation initiatives throughout Texas for decades. She is passionate about conserving the Neches River and its designation as a Wild and Scenic River. Ellen has worked for many years to raise awareness of the value and beauty of the plants of the East Texas forests and the need to conserve them.

Besides her work in conservation, Ellen is a book publisher who has worked on behalf of public education at all levels and for libraries in Texas. She served as a member of The University of Texas System Board of Regents from 1991-1997, serving as vice chair from 1995-1997, and is currently a past president and member of the board of trustees of Angelina College. She served as pres- ident of the board of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin from 1997-1999 and is a past member of the board of the Nature Conservancy of Texas. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for South Texas Natives, a program of the Kleberg Wildlife Institute at A&M Kingsville, and on the Stephen F. Austin State University Pineywoods Native Plant Center Advisory Board. She was honored as East Texan of the Year in 2009 by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments. Ellen and her husband Buddy Temple have won numerous awards together for their conservation work in Texas, including the 2011 Aldo Leopold Conservation Award for Temple Ranch; the Lifetime of Conservation Achievement Award given by the Texas Conservation Alliance, 2012; and the R.E. Jackson Conservation Award given by the Big Thicket Association in 2014. 

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