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Moving from the Midwest to New York for college, Ann Hausmann was treated to some stunning new scenery: the Adirondack Mountains. It fueled a love of nature that began as a child and continued with her study of historic preservation at the University of Pennsylvania, where she focused on land conservation.

In her nearly 28 years with Natural Lands, Hausmann has grown the development department to an eight-person team that focuses on everything from individual and planned giving to grant-based fundraising. In the process, the Media-based nonprofit has conserved over 125,000 acres in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, offering residents free access to over 100 miles of trails across 44 nature preserves. “There was no development department when I joined Natural Lands—I was the first fundraiser,” Hausmann says. “As we decided to grow more purposefully to advance our mission to save open space, care for the outdoors and connect people to nature, we had to bring in philanthropic revenue.”

In the past few years alone, Hausmann’s team has raised over $20 million. “We live in a time when the challenges—human, environmental, social, political—feel so overwhelming,” she says. “It’s a gift to be able to shape a career in service of a cause. Nature needs us, but we need nature.”

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