Established in 1961 by Jacob W. and Terese T. Hershey, The Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation is a private philanthropic grant-making foundation dedicated to the defense and conservation of our natural world, parks and open space, animal welfare, and family planning. The Foundation’s geographic areas of giving are primarily centered in Houston, Austin, and southwestern Colorado. The board of directors, composed of professional associates and family members, governs the foundation.
The Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation’s areas of interest mirror the values and lifelong work of its founders. As owner of an inland marine transportation business and former competitive sailor, Jake Hershey was vitally interested in the health of Galveston Bay and area waterways. Terry Hershey began her activist conservation work in the early 1960s when Buffalo Bayou was threatened with channelization as a means to prevent flooding. Their foundation continues to support efforts to protect the natural world with sustainable solutions for environmental and societal problems that accompany modern technological development and expanding human populations.
Jeffrey Hershey, President has been a director on the Foundation’s board since 2001 and has served as its President since 2017. He is the grandson of Jacob Hershey and is the owner and manager of a 2000-acre rice and grain farm in Wharton County Texas. He has worked for the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Stormwater Research Group, Lower Colorado River Authority, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Adjutant Generals Department in various capacities, including as Manager, Natural Resource Specialist, Wildlife Biologist, and Park Specialist. He is a graduate of Fort Lewis College with a degree in Environmental Studies.
Dr. Andrew Sansom, Treasurer has served on the Foundation Board since 2007. He is one of Texas’ leading conservationists, having served as Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Executive Director of the Texas Nature Conservancy. Under his leadership at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Dr. Sansom spearheaded a number of significant programs, including founding the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, which has raised over $150 million for conservation in Texas to date, and adding over 500,000 acres to the State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas. He is a recipient of the Chevron Conservation Award, The Chuck Yeager Award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Pugsley Medal from the National Park Foundation, the Seton Award from the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nature Conservancy. Dr. Sansom is a Distinguished Alumnus of Austin College and is a graduate of Texas Tech University. His published works have appeared in such publications as Texas Monthly and The Texas Observer and he is the author of eight books, including recent publications Of Texas Rivers and Texas Art and Seasons of Selah. He now serves as Professor of Practice in Geography and is founder of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University.
Amie Rodnick, Secretary has served on the Board of the Foundation since 1995. She is a cousin of Terry Hershey and a practicing attorney in Austin. Amie has served as a past president of Meals on Wheels, the Eanes Education Foundation, Verde Valley School, and as chair of the City of Rollingwood Planning and Zoning Commission. In addition, she has served on the Rollingwood City Council, the board of directors of Jane’s Due Process, Travis County Lawyer Referral Service, and the State Bar Grievance Committee (including as panel chair). She is current president of the Travis County Women Lawyers Association Scholarship Fund, Collaborative Divorce Austin, and the Verde Valley School Foundation. Prior to opening her private practice in Austin, Amie served under Mark White in the Charitable Trusts Section of the Attorney General’s Office. She is a graduate of UT Austin and UT Law and is board certified in family law, a credentialed distinguished mediator, and a Texas Super Lawyer. Her specific interests are reproductive rights and population control.
Dr. Kimberly Baker is the Director of the Office of Public Health Practice and Engagement at UTHealth School of Public Health (UTSPH) and serves as an Assistant Professor. Her research interests include reproductive and sexual health, health disparity elimination and the impact of racism on health. She manages We Can Do More, a multi-partner, system-level intervention to increase access to contraception for women in Harris County. She has also developed sexual health interventions informed by community needs targeting males, faith institutions and health providers. She is the co-founder of Full Circle Strategies Consulting Group, a firm that works with agencies across the nation to lessen the impact of racism through strategic planning, training and coaching. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Hampton University, a Master of Public Health from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and her Doctorate of Public Health from UTHealth School of Public Health.
Dr. Olive Hershey, the Foundation’s longest-serving Director, has been a member of The Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation’s board since 1993. She is the daughter of Jacob Hershey and aunt of Jeffrey Hershey. Before she joined the Foundation Board, Olive was an early member of the Board of Directors of the Sierra Blanca Legal Defense Fund, and currently serves on the Board of Save Buffalo Bayou. She is the author of the novel Truck Dance and is a graduate of the University of Houston creative writing program, where she studied under Donald Barthelme, among others. Her most recent book project Ay, Que Vida!, a biography of Houston artist and activist Gertrude Levy Barnstone, is nearing completion. She has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. She is very active in Houston environmental issues and works continually to learn of new efforts to improve the air quality in Houston.
Elizabeth Love became CEO of the Jacob & Terese Hershey Foundation in December 2020. Prior to that, she served as Senior Program Officer at Houston Endowment, where she led environmental and health-related initiatives for 11 years. Before joining Houston Endowment, Elizabeth served as Director of Harris County Public Health’s Office of Policy and Planning, overseeing the department’s strategic planning, legislative affairs, community-based assessment processes and outcomes evaluation framework. In the late 1990’s, Elizabeth served as a fellow for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Elizabeth received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rice University and a master’s degree from the University of Texas School of Public Health. Elizabeth currently serves on the boards of LINK Houston, Commission Shift and The Funders Network, a national philanthropy-serving organization, and is a past president of the Junior League of Houston. Elizabeth received the 2020 Gregg Cook Award for Excellence in Environmental Leadership from the Texas Energy Summit.
Deborah Mueller, the Foundation’s Director of Operations and Grants Management, has worked on behalf of the Foundation in a variety of capacities for nearly 25 years. She first met Terry and Jake Hershey in 1996 while volunteering for Urban Harvest, an organization that Terry helped to establish. When Terry learned that Deborah was using her computer and organizational skills to help transfer Urban Harvest’s books from a paper-based system to a computer-based one, Terry immediately recruited her to do the same for the Foundation. Deborah has a BA in Art from Rice University, and has spent her career working for both for-profit and non-profit organizations in various management capacities, primarily focused on systems development, project management, and corporate governance.
Hilda Macías Hendrix, Director of Finance, joined the Foundation in 2018. In her role, Hilda coordinates accounting and human resources for the Foundation. Hilda is a Certified Public Accountant and brings years of experience in the nonprofit arena. Hilda received her BBA, with a concentration in accounting, from the University of Houston. She counts it a privilege to be an active part of an organization focused on improving the world. In addition to her work with the Foundation, Hilda currently serves on the boards of several neighborhood-based affordable housing properties, including Independence Heights Inc.
Julia Gutierrez, Executive Assistant, joined the Foundation in 2021 after almost five years at the Houston Zoo. Having worked in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds, Julia brings years of experience in management and administrative roles. A native Houstonian, Julia received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Houston. She maintains a passion for Houston’s native flora and fauna and is an avid fan of the trails along Buffalo Bayou.