The mothers, the millennials, and the mavens. Changing our communities.
This is our seventh annual unveiling of 50 amazing women who are raising the bar in their communities, serving as beacons of light in their industries, and forcing change for the greater good. Meet this West Virginia Wonder Woman, Nancy Ailes, and many more that are creating a better West Virginia with their can-do attitudes and Mountain State spirit.
In It for the Turtles and Snakes
Hampshire County is in Nancy Ailes’ blood. In fact, nine generations of her family have lived there, and many years of her life have been dedicated to its conservation. She was appointed as the Cacapon and Lost Rivers Land Trust executive director—the organization’s first paid employee in 2002—already intimately familiar with conservation efforts in the region since joining as a board member in 1999. It was Ailes’ devotion of time and energy that allowed the Trust to take on more conservation easements and to draw buy-in from foundations willing to fund its important work. Membership also grew during her tenure, as did countless critical relationships with landowners.
“I was really proud of where we took the organization,” Ailes says. “I was in it for the turtles and snakes. My mother taught me to love animals. I wanted to make permanent homes for
those animals that didn’t have a voice.” During her tenure, conservation easements held by the Trust grew from protecting 300 to 14,000 acres. The organization was successful in connecting high-priority parcels with ecological goods and services, making them large conservation hubs and corridors. And after 15 years at its helm, Ailes left the Trust in the capable hands of a new executive director so that she could finally get out in the region and enjoy the things she’s spent so many years protecting.