A 501c3 Nonprofit Organization

Faces of Larkspur


imageJohn Christian Phifer, Executive Director; is a licensed funeral director and embalmer, certified funeral celebrant, certified end-of-life doula and is trained as a home funeral guide. John Christian is a member of the Tennessee Funeral Directors Association and the National Home Funeral Alliance. John Christian received his formal education from John A. Gupton College in Nashville, Tennessee, where he received a degree in mortuary science and funeral arts. Further studies include home funeral guide training through Final Passages, in Sebastopol, CA and end-of-life doula certification through the Conscious Dying Institute, Boulder, CO. Since his professional career began in 1998, he has worked in the small town setting and in large metropolitan funeral homes and cemeteries.  In the fall of 2012, he embarked on a cross-country journey by train, speaking with Americans about their wishes with regards to death, burial, and commemoration. On this trip he learned what options were most important to Americans at the end of life. John Christian is committed to nurturing the hearts of the grieving and protecting the environment one life at a time. You can learn more about our executive director by visiting LifeByLife.com.

becca-headshotBecca Stevens, Board Chair, is an Episcopal priest, social entrepreneur, speaker, and author. Becca serves as chaplain of St. Augustine’s at Vanderbilt University and is the founder of Magdalene, a residential community for women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. She serves as executive director of its social enterprise, Thistle Farms. To date, Becca has raised more than $15 million and gained nationwide press coverage for the organizations she supports. Becca was named “Nashvillian of the Year” and “Tennessean of the Year” by the Nashville Scene and The Tennessean respectively. She was recently designated a White House “Champion of Change” and inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2016 she was named a CNN Hero.  Her newest book is Snake Oil: The Art of Healing and Truth-Telling. Becca lives in Nashville, where she and her husband, Grammy-winning song writer Marcus Hummon, raised their three sons.  Her blog is available at beccastevens.org.





Tara headshotTara Armistead, Board Vice Chair, has a keen love of nature combined with an artist’s eye for detail. She launched her own landscape architecture firm in Nashville in 1987 and currently serves on the board of The Nature Conservancy and the Nashville Civic Design Center. She has worked on the design and preservation of Nashville’s Warner Parks. Tara is guided by an ethic to be a good steward of the land, challenging herself and others, with a keen eye to local sustainability. When designing landscapes, her projects often span family generations, giving a quality of longevity and sustainability to her work. She designs landscapes that deepen the connection between nature and culture by listening, collaborating, and creating.



Don headshotDon Welch, Board Treasurer, serves as treasurer of St. Augustine’s Chapel, following a 35-year career at Vanderbilt University as an associate dean.  With a joint appointment as professor of law and professor of religion, Don taught courses in the fields of ethics and public policy, and law and religion.  His fifth book, A Guide to Ethics and Public Policy: Finding Our Way, was published in 2014. He is the recipient of the Vanderbilt Law School’s Distinguished Service Award and Baylor University’s Men and Women of Merit Award. His involvement in Larkspur Conservation reconnects him with the journey that brought him to Nashville in 1969 to become a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School.






Marie Masterson 1Marie DuPre  Masterson,Board Secretary,  is an attorney with experience in healthcare and business. After earning her undergraduate degree from UNC- Chapel Hill and a JD and MBA from Vanderbilt , she worked at a law firm and for  various healthcare companies. Her activities in the community grow out of her interest in the youth  and protecting our natural environment.









Gina headshotGina Hancock, Board Member, serves as Conservation Strategy Director for Global Lands for The Nature Conservancy. Gina has worked for The Nature Conservancy since 2000 and previously served as Tennessee State Director. In that position, she oversaw conservation programs across the state, managed multi-million dollar conservation grants, and supervised the entire Tennessee staff. Gina joined The Nature Conservancy in 2000 as director of communications. Prior to joining the Conservancy, she worked in corporate communications and was managing editor for three newspapers. She is a graduate of Murray State University with a B.A. in journalism.






unnamedJohn Stone, Board Member, is an attorney who has lived and worked in Nashville since 1984, where his primary fields of practice are commercial real estate and the representation of privately-owned businesses. He and his wife, Mary, have been actively involved with environmental and conservation groups in Tennessee for the past 25 years. He has served on the boards of the Tennessee Environmental Action Fund and the Tennessee Environmental Council. In 1995, Mayor Phil Bredesen appointed John as one of the initial directors of The Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Solid Waste Region Board and he served as chairman of that board through the end of Mayor Bredesen’s term.  He is also past chair and currently a member of the Board of Directors of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.  Mary currently serves as a member of the board of directors of the Harpeth River Watershed Association.  A native Tennessean, Mr. Stone earned his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and his law degree from Emory University. His interest in Larkspur stems from his belief in the environmental and societal benefits natural burial and his commitment to Larkspur’s long-term vision of land conservation for future generations.   


thumb_IMG_0162_1024Kim Bailey, Board Member, has been a naturalist at Warner Park Nature Center since 1996 and is an avid hiker, cyclist, photographer and explorer of the natural world. Her powerful childhood connection to nature led to a lifetime commitment to educate others about the beauty and importance of the natural world.  She was named Tennessee Environmental Educator of the year in 2008 by the Tennessee Environmental Education Association for her work with teachers and students of all ages. She co-wrote the Tennessee Environmental Literacy Plan in 2012 with educators from across the state and chaired the Environmental Stewardship Plan for the Middle TN Presbytery in 1992.  After earning an MA from Vanderbilt in Biology with a focus on Ecology, Kim raised 2 sons before joining the nature center staff. Serving on the board of Larkspur is a natural extension of Kim’s life-long connection with the earth and advocacy for its protection.