The Virginia Outdoors Foundation is governed by a board of seven at-large trustees appointed by the Governor for four-year staggered terms. The Governor appoints a chair from among the seven trustees. The Board of Trustees meets at least three times per year to review easement projects and policy matters.
Trustees may be contacted through the VOF Warrenton Office:
39 Garrett Street, Suite 200
Warrenton, VA 20186
Eleanor Weston Brown, Chair
Eleanor Brown is a 13th generation Tidewater Virginian. Her love of the outdoors began sailing, crabbing and fishing on the Chesapeake Bay and its many rivers and creeks. She spent time in her youth with her great-grandfather, an oysterman on the Lynnhaven River, and with her father sailing the Chesapeake. Today Eleanor lives on Sunset Creek in her hometown of Hampton with her husband, Bill Brown, and their Boykin Spaniel, Sister. Eleanor is a practicing tax attorney with over 30 years of experience in complex estate planning and administration. In addition to law practice, Eleanor taught law for 13 years, where her academic interest was environmental taxation. She is the author of several scholarly articles including a book chapter in Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation, International and Comparative Perspectives: Vol. VI (Oxford University Press, 2009) entitled “Transferable Conservation Easement Tax Credits, the Virginia Experience.” Eleanor is keenly interested in land conservation and historic preservation. She served on the Foundation for Virginia’s Natural Resources Board of Trustees and most recently as a member of the Virginia Board of Historic Resources.
Viola O. Baskerville
Viola Osborne Baskerville is a native Virginian, a former Member of the Virginia House of Delegates (1998-2006), former Secretary of Administration for the Commonwealth of Virginia (2006-2010) and a former Member of Richmond City Council (1994-1997). She received her B.A. in Modern German Literature from the College of William and Mary (1973) and was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Bonn, Germany (1973-1974). She is a graduate of the University of Iowa, College of Law (1979) and holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Richmond for her years of public service. She has served on several Virginia gubernatorial commissions including the 2011 Commission on Redistricting and the Governor’s Commission on Integrity in Government (2014). She currently serves as a citizen member of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission’s Emancipation Sub-Committee where she advocated for the recognition and memorialization of Virginia Reconstruction Era African American legislators. She also serves on the Impact of Women Committee for the 2019 Commemoration. As a Member of the Virginia General Assembly, her legislative focus included women and children’s health issues, small business issues and fighting employment discrimination. She led the legislative charge to have the General Assembly publicly express its regret over the closing of the public schools in Prince Edward County (1959-1964) and to establish a scholarship fund for those students affected by the school closings. (Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship Program). She has received numerous awards for her legislative initiatives and her commitment to public service. In 2013 she was designated The Most Influential Woman of the Year by Virginia Lawyers Weekly. Ms. Baskerville retired in 2015 as the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia Council. She has a personal interest in genealogy and Virginia Reconstruction era history. She worked with family members to transform their 385-acre family farm into a Limited Liability Corporation and have it designated a Virginia Century Farm. She is married to Dr. Archer Lewis Baskerville, and they have two sons.
Beth Obenshain grew up on a family farm in Blacksburg. After a 30-year career in journalism at newspapers including The Roanoke Times and the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Beth took early retirement in 2002 to help start the New River Land Trust and serve as its first executive director. During her tenure, NRLT worked with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture Consumer Services to conserve over 35,000 acres in the New River region. She also served in 2007 and 2008 as chair and co-chair of Virginia’s United Land Trusts. Beth is an owner, along with other family members, of three family farms, including Blue Ridge Hall Farm in Botetourt County, which has been in the Obenshain family since the 1840s and is protected by an easement. On the other two farms, in Blacksburg and Montgomery County, the family participates in USDA conservation programs to protect creeks, wetlands and pasture.
John L. Richardson
John L. Richardson is a practicing lawyer who, together with wife Peggy, owns a farm in Fauquier County on which they raise beef cattle. The farm has been protected by a VOF easement since 2003. John and Peggy support several historic preservation and conservation organizations and projects. John is a native of Michigan who graduated from the University of Michigan before moving to Virginia in 1962 at the “request” of the U.S. Army. He graduated from the Law School at the University of Virginia and is a member of the Virginia State Bar and the District of Columbia Bar.
Steph Ridder grew up in Fairfax County and has lived with her husband, John Beardsley, on their farm in Rappahannock County for the past 34 years. They board horses, raise organic hay and are creating a pollinator meadow on the farm. Steph got her B.A. from Harvard University and her J.D. from the University of Virginia. She worked for the Rappahannock Legal Services Corporation in Fredericksburg and then in Culpeper representing low-income Virginians. She is currently teaching at the George Washington University Law School. Steph has served on the boards of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association, Virginians Against Domestic Violence, and the Piedmont Environmental Council, among others. She is currently serving as the chair of the Child Care and Learning Center in Rappahannock and on the board of the Krebser Fund, an advisory board to PEC.
Thomas G. Slater, Jr.
Tom G. Slater, Jr., of Richmond, is an attorney who serves as chair emeritus for litigation, labor and competition practices at Hunton & Williams. He has over 30 years’ experience handling antitrust and competition trials, and for more than 10 years has been listed in Best Lawyers in America for his antitrust and corporate litigation experience. He is a past president of the Richmond Bar Association and a former member of the Virginia State Bar Executive Committee, and is admitted to practice before the Fourth, Fifth and District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal and U.S. Supreme Court. He is also a board member of the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Legal Aid Justice Center, Virginia Historical Society, and Virginia 4-H Foundation. In 2007, his family placed a VOF easement on their historic Loudoun County farm, Rose Hill, where they raise Angus cattle.
A resident of Huntly, Va., Brent Thompson is a Managing Director at Mercury Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. He previously served as Senior Vice President and chief of global government and corporate affairs for Expedia, Inc., as well as an executive of IAC, the New York-based Internet conglomerate. Prior to that, he was in private law practice and spent five years working as an aide in the United States Senate. Thompson is a member of the Virginia Bar Association, a graduate of the University of Washington, and holds a Juris Doctor degree from the George Mason University School of Law.