Lisa Schott ’80, managing director of the Philander Chase Conservancy, will retire on June 30, after 37 years working at Kenyon.
Schott graduated from Kenyon with a degree in anthropology, and then went on to earn a master’s degree in history and museum studies from Case Western Reserve University. After working for several years as a museum docent, she returned to Gam-bier in 1985 to work as director of volunteer programs in the Office of Alumni Engagement.
Schott said it was the rural area that drew her back to Gambier, and she has been attracted to the natural environment surrounding the Village since her time as a student. “For me, the way I kept my sanity when I was here as a student in the 70s is I escaped to the outdoors,” she said. “If I was stressed with exams, I went to have quiet time by myself and be out in nature somehow.”
Three years later, Schott assumed a new role as director of the Office of Alumni Engagement, which she held for 22 years. During this period, she also oversaw annual funds and major gift fundraising for a number of years.
However, Schott noted that her passion was always for the environment. In 2010, she took over as managing director of the College’s land trust, the Philander Chase Conservancy (PCC). The PCC protects the
land surrounding Kenyon’s campus to maintain the rural “viewshed,” the area visible from campus. So far, the PCC has protected almost 5,000 acres of land and 18 miles of rivers and streams.
During her time as managing director, Schott oversaw the founding of the Kenyon Farm and the Kokosing Nature Preserve, a green burial ground offering natural interment options. Schott explained that her position has been uniquely meaningful to her. “To be able to translate my passion for this setting that I’ve always loved since I was a student into being able to protect it is profoundly meaningful to me,” she said.
Schott went on to say that the people she’s worked with have been one of the best parts of her job — the land trust’s board of directors and the local landowners and farmers.
“That’s a pretty good mix, to have meaningful work and then to work with good people,” Schott said. “I will always be grateful to Kenyon that they gave me these opportunities.”
As for the future, Schott said she will be staying local but is looking forward to the opportunity to slow down and spend more time with family. Still, though, she plans to stay involved with Kenyon. She’d like to continue to help at the PCC, and is also interested in getting involved with Kenyon’s other green efforts — including the Brown Family Environmental Center — after giving the new director time to settle in.