PERC Expands Leadership Team to Advance Creative Conservation

News for Immediate Release
December 20, 2021
Contact: Kat Dwyer, 406-587-9591, kdwyer@perc.org 

(BOZEMAN, MT) — The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), today announced several key staff and board additions as the Bozeman, Montana-based nonprofit conservation institute continues to expand its impact by tapping respected leaders spanning property rights, conservation, and local community. Building upon PERC’s 41-year legacy researching market-based solutions to environmental challenges, the new leaders will help PERC apply the innovative principles it has pioneered to further advance creative conservation efforts. The 

Jonathan Wood, Vice President of Law and Policy

One of the nation’s foremost thought leaders at the crossroads of conservation and property rights, Jonathan has litigated environmental and property-rights cases in the Supreme Court of the United States, and courts across the country. Most recently, Jonathan was a senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, where he litigated cases concerning the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Superfund, and other federal environmental laws. Notably, Jonathan was co-counsel for forest landowners in Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in which the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that private land could not be arbitrarily regulated as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. Creating a win-win for landowners and wildlife, he also led a successful effort to reform regulation of threatened species to better align the incentives of private landowners with the interests of rare species.

An adjunct PERC Research Fellow since 2017, Jonathan has helped lead PERC’s work on endangered species recovery and forest restoration, producing major reports including Road to Recovery, Fix America’s Forests, and Prospecting for Pollution. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and NPR, among many others. As Vice President of Law and Policy, Jonathan joins PERC full time to help expand PERC’s influence as a thoughtful and solutions-oriented resource to courts, federal and state policymakers, landowners, and other conservation partners.

Jack Wlezien, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

A passionate conservationist and skilled storyteller, Jack has helped high-profile brands and grassroots nonprofits alike grow their environmental impact through creative and strategic communications. Most recently, Jack was Head of Communications at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s at their headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, where he elevated the outdoor brand’s reputation as a nationwide conservation leader during a period of rapid transformation and growth. He also played a leadership role in establishing the company’s nonprofit foundation and grant-based giving efforts. Prior to Bass Pro Shops, Jack managed successful campaigns for dozens of conservation organizations at a national marketing and communications agency based in Chicago. 

Sarah Lutiger, Director of Operations

Community leader Sarah Lutiger has been ingrained in the fabric of Bozeman for two decades. Most recently, Sarah was Associate Executive Director at the Gallatin Valley YMCA where she led numerous programs while serving the needs of area families through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. An active member of the community, Sarah has served on the Montana Afterschool Steering Committee, Montana Afterschool Alliance Statewide Quality Standards Creation Workgroup, Southwest Montana Community Organizations Active in Disasters, and Bozeman Area Robotics and Training Summit. At PERC, Sarah will apply her leadership skills to serve as the head of board relations and support ongoing programs while upgrading the organization’s systems and processes.

Christopher Costello, PERC Board of Directors

Christopher Costello is a professor of Environmental and Resource Economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is research director of the Environmental Markets Lab and a Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is also on the board of Environmental Defense Fund and Global Fishing Watch and serves on the Council of Economic Advisors for California’s Governor. Costello received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2000 and conducts research on natural resource economics and policy concerning property rights, with a focus on decision making under uncertainty, environmental markets, asset values, and natural resource scarcity. His work combines theoretical microeconomics with modeling and empirical analysis, often to inform policy on fisheries management, biological diversity, natural resources, and marine policy. 

Costello partners with others to translate his research into on-the-ground action in several countries including Peru, Chile, Mexico, Cuba, Indonesia, China, and Cambodia. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers in journals such as Science, Nature, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and is the 2016 winner of the Peter Benchley Award in Ocean Solutions. Costello visited PERC as a Lone Mountain Fellow (2008, 2010, and 2016) and as a Julian Simon Fellow (2021). He is widely revered as a leader in environmental markets, fisheries management, and marine policy, and his expertise will deepen PERC’s work in market-based solutions to natural resource challenges.

Brad Levine, PERC Board of Directors

Brad Levine brings significant expertise informed by a successful career building software technology companies in multiple industries, in addition to a real estate and vacation company with properties ranging from Big Sky, Montana to the Florida Keys. Most recently, Brad founded and grew Tellus LLC, a leading Electronic Visit Verification provider. A dedicated civic leader, Brad served as Vice Chairman and Trustee at Florida Atlantic University and was twice appointed by the Governor to serve on Florida’s Board of Medicine. He also participates on the advisory board for Hatch, a Montana-based organization designed to find creative ways to make the world a better place. He and his family split their time and outdoor enjoyment between Florida and Montana, where he manages a ranch in Shields Valley for conservation. His passion for PERC stems, in part, from his degree in agricultural economics from the University of Florida. 

A new era of growth

The new leaders will help PERC realize its five-year vision to conserve land, water, and wildlife through incentives, property rights, and partnerships. Key areas of focus include:

  • Championing interconnected healthy public and private lands;
  • Positioning wildlife as an asset instead of a liability;
  • Fostering healthy, resilient forests;
  • Advocating for sustainable funding for public land management, and;
  • Promoting innovative water conservation.

“We are tremendously excited to be expanding our team and capabilities with such a talented group of leaders that draws from the best of the property rights, conservation, and our local community,” said PERC CEO Brian Yablonski. “This new era of growth represents a major milestone for PERC as we drive our research into policy and practice to secure greater wins for conservation through market-based solutions.”

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