Friends of Paynes Prairie, Inc.

Board of Directors, Friends of Paynes Prairie Inc.  for 2017

Dr. James Perran Ross, President, is a wildlife biologist (University of Florida, retired) who runs his own consulting business.  He is an international conservationist specializing in alligators, crocodiles, and sea turtles, widely published and working extensively on Florida wildlife-conservation issues. He has served on the Friend's Board since 2005.

Jeffrey L. Forbes, Vice President, is the marketing coordinator for the Goodwin Heart Pine Co. in Micanopy and is a 1994 graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia with a BA degree in Anthropology and

American History.  Residents of Micanopy since 1997, Jeffrey and his wife, Megan, moved to Gainesville in 1994.  He has been a board member and treasurer of the Episcopal Church of the Mediator in Micanopy for the past 8 years and was previously the treasurer of the Micanopy Historic Preservation Trust (3 years).  Jeffrey also served as a volunteer project manager in the restoration of warehouse 2; part of the Micanopy Historical Society Museum.  His extracurricular interests include studying Southern cultural and natural history, enjoying architecture, playing acoustic music and singing Sacred Harp/Shape Note music. 



Jeff Hocutt, Treasurer, graduated from the University of Florida in 1985.  He is the Alachua County 4-H Association Chairman, the Alachua County 4-H Poultry Club Leader, and has served on  Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Association as Vice President. Jeff is also a member of the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Circle Leadership Council and a life member of the University of Florida Alumni Association.  He enjoys gardening, sports, and life on the farm and, of course the Paynes Prairie.


  Katie Conley, Secretary,  began visiting Paynes Prairie after moving to Gainesville in 2009.

During her graduate studies she became interested in the disappearing southern landscapes and  specifically in the Longleaf Pine Restoration Project at the Prairie. She joined the Board in 2014.

Katie has a B.A. and M.A. in English and currently works for Florida Organic Growers and The Family Garden.


Patricia (Patty) Kromer-Parsons graduated from UF in 1976, and was employed by the Florida Park Service at Paynes Prairie from 1988-2009. She is a “lifetime” member of the FOPP, the FPS Alumni Association, and Alachua Conservation and Trust. Sometimes she fills in as a back-up volunteer at the Visitor Center. P

atricia has volunteered in the role of Project Manager for the Peace Education Program (PEP) at Lowell C.I., initiating the first one in 2013, and since have expanded that passion to coaching various PEPs throughout the Southeast. The workshops have enjoyed immense success globally reducing recidivism in a profound and non-sectarian way.


     Padgett Powell has published eight works of fiction. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Paris Review, Best American Short Stories, and Best American Sportswriting.  He has won the Prix de Rome and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in fiction.  His interest in the Prairie originates in has father's accounts of catching snakes on it in the '30s.




            Rob Lash, is a former building contractor and lawyer with Moody Salzman and Lash PA in Gainesville specializing in construction law.




Frank Saier is a founding member of the Friends, a partner at Scruggs and Carmichael PA, and a member of the Florida Bar and the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association.   He attended Furman University and the University of Florida, where he received his B.A. with honors in 1968 and his J.D. in 1971.   Frank is a golfer, sports fan, and serves on several other boards of directors for various organizations.

Dorothy Smiljanich is a resident of Gainesville who was a Florida newspaper writer and editor for twenty-five years, beginning at the Gainesville Sun in 1971, then working for the Clearwater Sun, the St. Petersburg Times, and ending her career with the Tampa Tribune, where she was the travel editor.   Her book "Then Sings My Soul: The Scott Kelly Story" (the Florida Historical Society) won the 2008 Charlton Tebeau Award as the Best General Interest History Book.  She has a B.A. and an M.A. in English from the University of Florida.




 Christine Zamora is a Regional Administrator at the Florida Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industry.  She has a degree in Wildlife Ecology from UF and is passionate about the outdoors, herpetology, and wild edibles.  She’s been an active Paynes Prairie volunteer since 2010, assisting with events and outreach activities.  In her spare time she enjoys testing her naturalist skills while hiking, camping, geocaching, and being with her family.