As a child I roamed for hours at a time in the woods near our home outside of Roanoke, Virginia. I remember building forts from fallen branches, poking at caterpillars, and surveying the view from the tree house that my dad built. I was seven when my family moved to Southern California. I adapted quickly to the sunny California lifestyle. But I was now surrounded by an urban landscape, and I missed the forest.
At the University of California, Berkeley, I reconnected with natural landscapes as I studied ecology and environmental science. As part of my studies, I attended a summer-long field program in forest and resource management outside of Quincy, California, in the northern Sierra Nevada mountain range.
I quickly rediscovered my love of the forest as I spent days happily exploring with my classmates and professors, learning to identify forest species and to read the forest as a manager would. On the weekends, I fell in love with the high country (and with my future husband) through backpacking trips to clear blue alpine lakes nestled in granite basins carved by glaciers.
After college, my fascination with forests and other ecosystems gradually shifted to a fascination with the human institutions through which we understand, manage, and impact them. I pursued graduate studies in natural resource policy, politics, and governance. Over time I became an advocate for collaborative approaches to managing these socially and ecologically complex systems.
In my new position with the National Forest Foundation, I am thrilled to be leading a group of stakeholders and managers in a collaborative project to restore a 60,000-acre forested landscape on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. I recently relocated to South Lake Tahoe, and I once again can happily roam the forest just outside my front door, now with my 6-year old daughter in tow.