Meet the 2022 Wellesley Natural Resources Commission candidates

The Town of Wellesley depends on the active participation of its citizens in governance of the Town. Wellesley has 11 Boards and Committees on the ballot at the Annual Town election each year in March. The 2022 election will be held on Tuesday, March 1.

There are two candidates running for one open 3-year position on the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) Board.

It is the mission of the five-member NRC Board to provide stewardship of, education about, and advocacy for the Town of Wellesley’s parks, conservation, recreation and open space areas so the full value of the Town’s natural assets can be passed onto future generations.

The Natural Resources Commission candidates are Lisa Collins and Raina McManus.

The Swellesley Report invited the candidates to answer a few questions about their priorities for the Town of Wellesley.

Both candidate interviews appear in this post in the order in which their names appear on the ballot.

Lisa Collins, candidate for Natural Resources Commission

Lisa Collins, candidate for Wellesley NRC
Lisa Collins, candidate for the Natural Resources Commission

The Swellesley Report: Please introduce yourself to The Swellesley Report‘s readers.

Lisa Collins: I have dedicated myself to serving Wellesley’s kids and families to learn, live and play in our Town’s healthy environment. With leadership roles on many local nonprofit organizations—PTOs, WEF, Wellesley ABC, Wellesley Scholarship Foundation and Wellesley Service League—I have helped ensure funding for environmental science programs, led and trained a volunteer corps in science-based geology walks and I have been an advocate for our Green Schools initiatives district-wide. I have worked tirelessly to support the mental and physical development of our kids to live and thrive in a healthy and sustainable environment through both protection and recreational play.

TSR: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish in your tenure as an NRC board member?

Lisa Collins: My Protect, Plan, Play platform is grounded in the mission of the NRC to define our priorities and create a blueprint for action.

Protect: We must protect and preserve our biodiversity with science-based best practices. Our natural resources are a part of a complex ecosystem requiring laser focus to protect our natural habitats (park, pond and wetland) and watershed protection areas through both NRC action and policies. Prioritizing tree canopy growth, legacy trees, plants and wildlife are a vital part of the ongoing focus of NRC stewardship.

Plan: We must plan effectively to secure our natural resources for generations to come through fiscally sound short, mid-range and long-term planning. We must lead education and advocacy through climate change collaborations as part of the Municipality Vulnerability Preparedness Program, address gaps or updates in NRC policies, and detail open space maintenance and development projects.

Play: We must value the growing needs of our community’s mental and physical health. Define the use of our passive and active recreation spaces throughout Wellesley by taking an engaged leadership approach. Encourage and educate families to enjoy, access and responsibly use our recreation spaces, especially sports fields. Healthy families and healthy environments can and should coexist.

TSR: We haven’t heard much about the North 40 lately. What would you like to see the town do with that property?

Lisa Collins: The North 40 continues to be a vibrant space of trails, community gardens and a vernal pool as a passive recreation space. In any discussions of further development, the NRC will need to collaborate with many other boards and committees in the Town as we consider any additional development. For example, the Town’s Unified Plan includes a consideration for mixed use housing on a portion of the land. The NRC will play a vital role as a steward for our natural resources. I envision more passive and active recreational uses for this site, all centered on the land’s natural infrastructure and viability. To support the Town’s goal to enhance the economic vibrancy and stability of Central Street merchants the North 40 should become a destination for passive and active recreation which could include: walking and hiking trails, biking paths, active playing fields, a children’s playground, skating rink, and community and demonstration gardens.

TSR: Is there anything else you’d like to say that the above questions did not cover?

Lisa Collins: I have deep experience from my work in the private, nonprofit and public sector collaborating, problem solving, using data, and stakeholder input to make sound decisions. How we work together matters. I  have the leadership experience and the know-how to get things done that the NRC needs today. We  need a clear plan and real transparency to reach all of our goals and honor the NRC mission to be true stewards of our natural resources for the Town of Wellesley. It is vital we come together with a unified and balanced approach to meet our collective goals and move our community forward.

TSR: How should voters reach you if they want more information?

Lisa Collins: I would be honored to represent you on the NRC and I ask for your vote! You can learn more about me and get in touch at

Raina McManus, candidate for Natural Resources Commission

Raina McManus, candidate for the Natural Resources Commission

The Swellesley Report: Please introduce yourself to The Swellesley Report‘s readers.

Raina McManus: I’m Raina McManus, running for re-election to the NRC. I’m a 30-year resident, my husband Michael grew up in Wellesley, and our children, Hera and Tycho, attended Wellesley public schools.

I’ve served as an environmental leader in Wellesley for decades, beginning with installing an organic garden at Fiske Elementary School 30 years ago, co-founding Friends of Brookside to protect our drinking water, and for the last eight years as a Commissioner on the Natural Resources Commission.

In my eight years on the NRC I’ve learned what it takes to bring projects to completion by leading inclusive, transparent, and even-handed processes that get us to successful solutions. Some examples include:

  • New public bathroom at Hunnewell Field, coming this spring!
  • Renovation of two girls’ softball fields
  • Plastic bag bylaw
  • Wellesley’s organic pesticide policy
  • Shoreline restoration of Morses Pond
  • Renovation and expansion of Hunnewell Track and Field
  • Restoration of Fuller Brook Park
  • Lights and restoration of Hunnewell basketball court

The hot topic right now is the installation of lights on Hunnewell Track & Field. See my video. This is a controversial project that will benefit from my knowledge and experience, as well as listening to each other.

There are many stressors and demands constantly placed on Wellesley’s natural resources. I support nature-based solutions and balanced decision-making to protect them for future generations.

TSR: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish in your tenure as an NRC board member?

Raina McManus: Now more than ever we need to rely on knowledgeable and experienced officials as we face growing environmental challenges such as extreme heat, prolonged drought, more flooding, invasive species, environmental toxins, and development. In all these cases, our natural resources are our best defense.

We need to protect our open space and build a community that is resilient to climate change and committed to healthy living. That means protecting our wetlands and drinking water, planting more trees, reducing pesticides, creating sustainable landscapes, fostering healthy and biodiverse habitat for wildlife and important pollinators like birds and insects, protecting our ponds and shorelines, expanding our trails system, and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Nature is our best ally; when we protect our resources, we protect ourselves.

My priorities align with our Town’s Climate Action Plan, Unified Plan, Open Space and Recreation Plan, Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, and Town Meeting mandates. I have served on each of these planning committees and understand our goals and the action steps necessary to reach them. My experience serving on these committees, as well as on the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) and the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) Working Group puts me in a unique position to contribute over the next three years.

TSR: We haven’t heard much about the North 40 lately. What would you like to see the town do with that property?

Raina McManus: I served on the Select Board-appointed North 40 Steering Committee, which recommended our Town purchase this important 46 acres of open space. While on the NRC, I’ve provided education about the importance of this mostly forested land.

In 2018 we co-hosted an event with the League of Women Voters, “Speaking for Our Trees”, with Dr. David Foster of the Harvard Forest and author of the publication Wildlands and Woodlands. He spoke about the extra value contiguous forests and open spaces provide, and we shared this information with other town leaders.

The North 40 provides countless educational and community building opportunities, including the vernal pool with its protective volunteer-built boardwalk, numerous trails maintained by our dedicated Trails Committee members who pivoted during COVID to provide self-guided walks, and the gardens, which provide free produce to Wellesley’s Food Pantry. We recently hosted an Owl Prowl.

The North 40 falls within the Town’s Water Supply Protection Overlay District. It cleans and replenishes our groundwater, buffers weather change, improves air quality, reduces sound, and provides wildlife habitat, as well as countless recreational opportunities such as gardening, hiking, cross country skiing, birdwatching. We know that towns with healthy, abundant open spaces enjoy increased property values, and residents living near open spaces are more apt to use them regularly for exercise, contributing to our physical and mental health.

The North 40 is an important part of Wellesley’s open space. I appreciate the opportunity to engage on this valuable asset, which is currently under the purview of the Select Board, and I look forward to staying in the conversation.

TSR: Is there anything else you’d like to say that the above questions did not cover?

Raina McManus: On a personal note, I’m a native gardener, I participate in “Shave the Peak,” the food waste diversion program, and the “We Care” renewable energy program. I drive electric, and I’m a weekly participant at “Fridays For Future” on the Town Hall lawn.

I’m a proud member of the League of Women Voters Wellesley, Sustainable Wellesley, Wellesley Club, Wellesley Conservation Land Trust, Wellesley Green Collaborative, and Wellesley Green Schools.

It’s the mission of the NRC to pass along the full value of our natural assets to future generations. It’s an honor and privilege to serve Wellesley on this important board.  The Mission Matters! I ask for your vote on March 1.

 TSR: How should voters reach you if they want more information?

Raina McManus: Learn more about my work: