Blair Calvert Fitzsimons, Executive Director
A native Texan, Blair Fitzsimons serves as TALT’s founding executive director, bringing with her a strong combination of experience in non-profit management, public policy, and conservation issues. Previously, as consultant to American Farmland Trust (AFT), Blair facilitated the start-up of TALT, which was created by leaders from the state’s leading agricultural and landowner organizations. She also worked on legislation establishing the Texas Farm & Ranch Lands Conservation Program, which provides state funding to purchase conservation easements, and commissioned the 2009 Texas A&M/American Farmland Trust Texas Land Trends study.
An avid hunter and horsewoman, Blair’s love of the land began on her grandfather’s ranch in Frio County. Since 1989, she has been actively involved in the operations of her husband’s ranch, winner of numerous awards including from the Texas Society for Range Management and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The mother of three grown children, she says: “Our ranch is the anchor and touchstone for my family. It has shaped our values and principles. Being involved with TALT is my way of ensuring that other families have the opportunity to protect and pass their cherished lands down to future generations.”
Blair was honored in June, 2010 by the Texas Wildlife Association Foundation as a “Woman of the Land.” Watch as she discusses why land stewardship is important to her and her family.
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Mike Petter, Land Transactions Director
As a child in West Columbia, TALT Land Transactions Director Mike Petter was surrounded by rich agricultural land and even richer history; his hometown served as the Republic of Texas’ first capitol. “When it comes to our heritage, of which land is an integral part, Texas is unique,” says Mike, who holds a forestry degree from Texas A&M. “Working to protect open space and keep our ag lands productive is the best way I know to keep our heritage close.”
From 1987 to 2011, Mike ran his own consulting company which helped landowners maximize the productivity of their agricultural and forest lands. In October, 2011, he joined TALT, bringing with him diverse experience that includes certifications in forestry and real estate, and tenure as past president of the Texas Alliance of Land Brokers. This experience provides insights into the issues that are shaping land ownership throughout Texas. “I respect the commitment and sacrifice that it takes not only to improve the land, but to pass it along to the next generation,” says Mike.
A graduate of the Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership (TALL) program, Mike volunteers with the Texas Brigades and Texas Wildlife Association’s Conservation Legacy programs. His awards include 2010 Man of the Year in Texas Agriculture by the Texas Agricultural County Agents Association and 2010 Presidential Field Forester, awarded by the Society of American Foresters.
Loudell Young, Office Manager
Loudell Young’s Great-Great-Great Grandfather settled in Gonzales County on the Guadalupe River in 1830 as part of the Dewitt Colony. Col. John Gladden King farmed, raised cattle, and was known for both his fine thoroughbred racehorses and his rapport with the local Indians. His oldest son, William Phillip King, was one of the “Immortal Thirty-two” and the youngest soldier at the Battle of the Alamo. King County, Texas is named in his honor.
Every succeeding generation has worked in the cattle industry with interests ranging from ranching and cattle brokering to auction markets and livestock hauling. After WWII, Loudell’s father established an office at the Union Stockyards in San Antonio.
Prior to joining TALT, Loudell spent more than 28 years as a manager for a corporation that owned and operated several ranches, the majority of them being in Texas. She was drawn to TALT by its mission.
“If you’ve ever had to part with family land, then you know how vital it is to have options that allow you to keep it. TALT provides those options and that speaks to me. I can relate to the landowners who call wanting to learn what they can do to protect their land. We’re partnering with landowners to accomplish something that will last forever –that matters to me.”
Ashley House Jones, Development and Communications Manager
Ashley’s love of wide open spaces brought her to TALT in May, 2010. A graduate of Texas Christian University, Ashley started as an intern. Today, she coordinates all development and communications activities, and assists the Executive Director with special projects.
Because she grew up on a ranch in Live Oak County, TALT’s message and mission resonate with Ashley. “My fondest memories are of combing our piece of South Texas coastal with my father and learning about the natural landscape, wildlife, archaeology, and cattle, “she says. “ As a child, it was the best type of classroom.” Today Ashley has a different understanding of her family’s ranch, calling it her “refuge.” “It reminds me of those wholesome values taught to me by my grandparents and parents. I cannot think of a better environment to grow up in, and it’s important to me that future generations have those same opportunities I did.”
Arthur Uhl, Uhl Fitzsimons & Jewett, San Antonio
After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law and receiving his Texas law license in 1984, Mr. Uhl began practicing law with Matthews and Branscomb, P.C., San Antonio, where he became a shareholder in 1990. Mr. Uhl began his own law firm in 2004, which has since expanded to become Uhl, Fitzsimons & Jewett, PLLC. Since 1984, Mr. Uhl has specialized in representing clients in a broad range of commercial real estate matters, with focus on land acquisitions, dispositions, financing, entitlement and development. His clients have included governmental entities, utility authorities, homebuilding companies, development entities, lending institutions, land trusts investors and other users of real estate. Mr. Uhl also has significant experience with farm and ranch real estate transactions including acquisitions, dispositions, financing, conservation easements and conservation programs.