Bill Possiel has served as President of the National Forest Foundation (NFF) since 1998. He has worked with the board, staff, the Forest Service and community-based partner organizations to build a high impact/high leverage organization that has supported 1,200 conservation projects, through 500 distinct conservation organizations across the United States. He has designed and implemented conservation projects and programs in the Caribbean and South America, as well as in the United States, and prior to joining the NFF served as Vice President and Western Regional Director for The Nature Conservancy (TNC). In 1987, Mr. Possiel initiated one of TNC's first large-scale “bioreserve” conservation initiatives on the Big Darby Watershed in Ohio, and successfully completed the Ohio 'Let's Save the Best to Last' campaign. In February 1990 he initiated TNC's Brazil program, developing partnerships focused on conservation of the Atlantic Forest, Pantanal, Cerrado, Caatinga, and the Amazon, and successfully completed the Brasil Verde campaign. He negotiated acquisitions that resulted in doubling the size of the Pantanal National Park and in 1992 negotiated the first debt-for-nature swap in Brazil. As TNC's Montana State Director, Mr. Possiel worked with staff and trustees to create a strategic focus for TNC's Montana program, resulting in community-based programs with greater conservation impact. He also worked with teams to develop strategies for TNC's Latin America and Caribbean Division, Canada Program, and served on the Conservation Committee, helping to define a new strategic vision for the Conservancy called Conservation by Design.
Ray FooteExecutive Vice President
Ray A. Foote joined the NFF April 1, 2013, as Executive Vice President. Based in Washington, DC Ray has 26 years’ experience in nonprofit organizations, 19 of them in conservation related work. Most recently, he served for nearly seven years as Vice President of Development for the National Parks Conservation Association where he planned and oversaw the successful “Renewing Our Promise” campaign which exceeded its $125 million goal by $9 million. Ray has worked with federal agencies, community-based groups, volunteer leadership, elected officials on local, state, and federal levels, and all sectors of the philanthropic community. He has held leadership positions at the Washington National Cathedral (Senior Director of Membership & Development) and Scenic America (Vice President, Program Development). Ray began his nonprofit career in corporate development at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in history from the University of Pennsylvania and has spoken at conferences nationwide. Ray serves on the Advisory Board of Scenic Virginia, and has served on the Environmental Quality Advisory Council of his own Fairfax County, VA, and the national board of Earth Share.
Mary MitsosExecutive Vice President
Mary Mitsos joined the NFF staff in 2001 and serves as Executive Vice President. Prior to that, Mary was Director of Community-Based Forest Stewardship at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation where she provided leadership for the program in sustainable forestry and sustaining rural communities. She brings expertise in a range of topics relating to the protection and sustainable management of forest ecosystems and sustainable development. Her specialized interests are in collaborative stewardship, and contracting mechanisms on public forestlands, conservation-based development and strengthening the working relationship between local communities and forestland managers. She is currently a member of the Managing Partner team that provides assistance to non-profits that are participating in The Ford Foundation Community-Based Forestry Demonstration Program. With more than two decades of experience in the natural resources field, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Business from the University of Colorado-Denver. In addition, she earned a Master of Science in Natural Resources, and a Masters of Arts in Applied Economics, from the University of Michigan, where she complete her Masters project on Sustainable Management of Common Property Resources. She served on the steering committee of the Seventh American Forest Congress Communities Committee, as a Board member of the National Network of Forest Practitioners and serves on the advisory board for the College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana.
Edward BeldenSouthern California Program Associate
Edward Belden joined the NFF staff in August 2012 after working as a consultant for seven months. Prior to joining NFF he managed watershed-monitoring programs and green infrastructure projects at the Council for Watershed Health in Los Angeles. His past nine years of environmental work has ranged from evaluating the environmental impacts of dust control measures in Owens Lake, developing a trails manual for the County of Los Angeles, to working as a biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Edward is a native of Los Angeles who loves observing nature, hiking, biking, green building, and cooking in his spare time. Edward holds a B.S. in Biology from Hobart College and a Master’s in Environmental Science and Management from UC Santa Barbara.
Shereé BombardDirector, Administration
Shereé Bombard joined the NFF staff in August 2003. Before joining the NFF, she spent almost 24 years serving in the United States Air Force; the last 9 years of which was in the Montana Air National Guard. She held a variety of positions within the Human Resource career field to include: Personnel and Casualty Manager, Staff Writer, Retention Manager, and Recruiting Supervisor. Shereé enjoys serving in another type of caring organization--the National Forest Foundation.
Karen DiBariDirector, Conservation Connect
Karen DiBari joined the NFF staff in September 2006. Karen has 16 years of experience working and volunteering for nonprofit conservation organizations on a variety of issues, and has also worked for state and local government. Prior to joining the NFF, she served as Deputy Director of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC), a community-based organization of fishermen, subsistence harvesters, marine scientists, small business owners and families working to protect the natural diversity and integrity of Alaska's marine ecosystems.
Karen graduated from the University of Montana with a Master's of Environmental Studies, and earned a B.A. degree in Geography from Dartmouth College. She lives in Missoula with her husband and son, and loves exploring the mountains and rivers of the Rockies with them. Karen greatly values the opportunity Conservation Connect gives her to support collaborative efforts across the West in their work to forward conservation.
Kathleen Dowd-GaileyRegional Director, Pacific Northwest
Kathleen Dowd-Gailey joined the NFF staff in June 2009 as the Northwest Regional Director. Kathleen has nearly 15 years experience working domestically and internationally with conservation-focused non-profit organizations. She spent two years in Bolivia as a Peace Corps volunteer working with rural communities as a soil conservation and environmental education specialist. She later served as a Conservation Planner for The Nature Conservancy in Indiana where she shaped on-the-ground conservation action plans for priority sites throughout the state. During her graduate studies Kathleen worked with a field research team in Guatemala as part of the International Forestry Resources and Institutions program at Indiana University. This research evaluated de facto and de jure forest uses in local communities throughout southeastern Guatemala and provided enhanced understanding of ecological and social factors affecting forest health in the region. Kathleen also worked in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with a national Mexican non-profit organization developing conservation programs in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. Prior to joining NFF she was with Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) helping to build their corporate giving program, which provided grants throughout the country to organizations working on conservation and restoration projects. Kathleen earned a Masters of Public Affairs and a Masters of Environmental Science, both from the University of Indiana’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs. She is active in the community wherever she lives and has served on the board of a local land trust in Indiana as their Stewardship Chair, as well as on the board of a watershed organization in Seattle where she was the Board President for three years.
Hannah EttemaCommunications and Development Associate
Hannah Ettema joined the NFF staff in September of 2011 after graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in Arts and Humanities and Professional Writing. Prior to joining the NFF, she worked for the Michigan Nature Association and the Michigan Association of School Boards. She grew up in the “thumb” of Michigan, spending lots of time on the lakes and exploring outside. Thanks to family vacations, she loves to travel, having spent a high school summer in Finland and a college semester in New Zealand. When not working, she enjoys reading, running and exploring the public lands throughout the region.
Adam LiljebladDirector, Conservation Awards
Adam Liljeblad joined the NFF staff in July 2006, overseeing their national grantmaking program and helping to coordinate conservation partnerships. Previously, he worked with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute and The University of Montana, studying social issues related to the management of public lands and resources. Adam has a strong interest in community based-conservation and effective natural resource stewardship. He is appointed to a local open space advisory committee and volunteers regularly with a sustainable agriculture organization. He holds a Master’s degree in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana, and a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In his spare time, Adam enjoys cross-country skiing, road and mountain biking, hiking, gardening, cooking and reading.
Lisa LeonardOregon Program Coordinator
Lisa Leonard joined the NFF staff in January 2010 as the Oregon Program Coordinator. She has over twelve years of experience working in wildlife conservation and environmental education. For two years, Lisa led four-day forestry tours to educate science teachers on sustainable forestry practices and natural resource conservation issues across four regions of the United States. Lisa’s passion for wildlife protection and research led her to projects with shore birds and sea turtles in North Carolina for the Fish and Wildlife Service, hawksbill sea turtle research in the U.S. Virgin Islands Buck Island National Monument, Caspian tern research for the Columbia River Avian Predation Project, and research on fungus under the U.S. Forest Service’s Northwest Forest Plan. Lisa holds an M.S. degree in Leadership in Ecology, Culture, and Learning from Portland State University. Her thesis documented a small Oregon community’s consensus-building process for a dam removal that would protect endangered salmon species. Lisa earned a B.S. in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University. As a native Oregonian, Lisa strives to engage people in science based conservation projects that effect Oregon’s natural resources and communities.
Marlee OstheimerDevelopment Associate
Marlee Ostheimer joined the NFF staff in January 2013. She holds a B.A. in Environmental studies from the University of Montana where she also studied Nonprofit Administration and Resource Conservation. Marlee grew up in Montana and found her love of nature hiking in the hills and forests around her home. Prior to working with the NFF Marlee worked and volunteered with several conservation and local food and agriculture organizations, including a year working in Bozeman with Gallatin Valley Farm to School as an AmeriCorp VISTA. Outside of work Marlee enjoys playing outside with her son and dog. Marlee is excited to be working with the NFF to restore our public lands.
Zia MaumeneeConservation Awards Associate
Zia Maumenee joined the NFF staff in November 2012. She previously worked at The University of Montana in the Division of Biological Sciences for the Herbarium where she managed database development and a corresponding web interface for this historic collection of Montana plant specimens. Zia holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Montana Geography Department. Her thesis focused on community involvement in resource management of marine protected areas for French Polynesia. Before moving to Montana, she developed an education and outreach program for stream monitoring of the Kiski-Conemaugh River Basin in Western PA. She is thrilled to support the mission of the NFF while enjoying the public lands for recreation in her free time.
Greg PetersAssociate Director of Development
Greg Peters joined the NFF staff in October of 2010. He holds an M.S. from the University of Montana in Environmental Studies. Prior to working at the National Forest Foundation, Greg worked at Wildlands CPR under a number of job titles and was the coordinator for a small watershed group based in Missoula. Greg is also a writer and active adventurer; if he’s not in the office, he’s likely out skiing, hiking, canoeing, or playing somewhere. Greg is excited to help the NFF fulfill its mission by working to connect communities to their National Forests.
Emily RossoAdministrative Assistant
Emily Rosso joined the NFF staff in January 2013 as an Administrative Assistant. Emily has a Bachelor Degree from the University of Montana in Business Administration with emphasis in Marketing and Event Management. She spent her time before the NFF mainly working at REI in Missoula. She grew up in Michigan but has lived in Montana for about seven years with a few years spent in Seattle and traveling. When not at work Emily loves playing outdoors doing everything from hiking, biking, paddling, and especially skiing. Other interests include: travel, cooking, reading and spoiling her dog Russ.
Vance RussellDirector, California Program
Vance Russell joined the NFF staff in February 2010. He has more than 20 years working in community-based conservation, restoration, and biodiversity conservation projects. Prior to this current position with the NFF, he was Director of Audubon California's Landowner Stewardship Program that restores habitat on farms and ranches in a manner compatible with existing agricultural operations. He is one of the founding members of the Wild Farm Alliance and currently serves on the organization's board of directors. He co-authored Wild Harvest Farming for Wildlife and Profitability detailing the importance of conservation incentives for landowners. Vance also worked at the World Wildlife Funds's Biodiversity Support Program in the Latin America and Adaptive Management Programs. Vance received his M.S. Degree in Natural Resources with a minor in Conservation and Sustainable Development from Cornell University in 1996 and B.A. in Biology from the College of Wooster in 1987.
Marcus SeligDirector, Colorado Program
Marcus Selig joined the NFF staff in January 2013 as the Director, Colorado Program. He has over 10 years of experience working with government agencies, the private sector, and non-profit organizations on forestry and environmental issues. Prior to joining NFF, Marcus managed Arizona forest programs for the Grand Canyon Trust, where he helped lead the Stakeholder Group of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative – a 2.4 million acre forest restoration project on northern Arizona’s National Forest – and helped develop various funding mechanisms to support forest restoration activities. Marcus also spent 3 years practicing environmental law in Washington, DC, where he primarily focused on climate change-related issues and the use of financial incentives for developing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Before attending law school, Marcus was a research scientist at Purdue University, where he studied natural forest regeneration, forest plantation establishment, and the effects of forest management on carbon sequestration. Marcus earned a M.S. in Forest Biology and B.S. in Forest Resources Management from Virginia Tech, and a J.D. from Indiana University School of Law.
Deborah SnyderAssociate, Development Data and Membership
Deborah Snyder joined the NFF staff in October 2008. Debbie graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Education, and has spent over fifteen years in the nonprofit sector. Debbie possesses a diverse background in all areas of nonprofit work, including operations, membership, grant writing, and financial recordkeeping. After spending thirteen years in Idaho as the Director of Business Operations and Membership for the Friends of Zoo Boise (FoZB), Debbie moved to Montana. She is pleased to be working with the NFF to help further their important work on behalf of our remarkable forests and grasslands. When not working, Debbie enjoys travel, cooking, reading, nature walks, and spending time with her family.
Wes SwaffarEcosystem Services Program Manager
Wes Swaffar joined the NFF staff in June of 2012. He holds a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Northern Arizona University, where he investigated the feasibility of funding based watershed partnerships for supporting landscape-scale forest restoration. Prior to joining NFF, Wes has worked for the United States Forest Service in a variety roles, from Wilderness Ranger to Trail Crew Leader. When he’s not focused on ecosystem service partnerships at NFF, Wes enjoys fly-fishing, hunting, and exploring National Forests on foot and on bike.
Michelle Tarter joined the NFF staff in December 2011 as its first in-house accountant. Born and raised in sunny South Florida, Michelle attended Florida State University earning her B.S degree in Accounting and Finance. Upon graduating, she started her career with a public accounting firm and specialized in tax, audit and forensic accounting. When the CPA firm sold, Michelle was recruited by a large marketing firm, a client at the time, to work in house as their Financial Controller. Shortly after starting a new career, Michelle ran into an old friend, now her husband, from Florida who had moved to the Northwest for work. One trip to visit Montana’s Glacier National Park and she was sold on moving. Michelle arrived in Montana October 2011 and is excited to explore the very different geography the Northwest has to offer. She is thrilled to have joined the NFF’s Team, where she can continue working in the accounting field, but this time be doing it for a wonderful cause.