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Meet The Team

We are a team of passionate changemakers on a mission to end hunger, poverty, and deforestation.

We have over 200 incredible staff committed to changing the world. A small group of team members is located at our headquarters and over 180 native field staff are located across the countries we work in, all dedicated to planting trees and changing lives.

Learn more about our programs.





John Leary
Executive Director
After 10 years of working and volunteering for Trees for the Future, John became Executive Director in 2013. John has deep knowledge of international agricultural development and extensive experience living with and among the rural poor in Sub-Saharan Africa. He speaks three languages well (and another three languages not so well) and has lived and worked in 12 developing countries. John has dedicated his life to creating innovative training approaches that empower farmers to rise out of poverty, and he has created award-winning high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech training programs that are currently in use throughout the developing world. He is now focused on helping Trees for the Future end hunger and extreme poverty for a million people. John recently authored his new book, One Shot: Trees as our Last Chance for Survival. Learn more here

Brandy Lellou
Director of Programs
Growing up on a farm in Colorado, Brandy has an affinity for wide-open spaces and natural solutions. As a Civil Engineer, writer and artist she believes that cross-sectoral partnerships are key to developing innovative sustainable solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. Brandy lived and worked in West Africa for seven years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, a contractor for the US Embassy, and a business owner. For the last decade, she owned and operated a consulting business working with nonprofit organizations and private companies on a range of environmental projects. Throughout her career, she has focused on the implementation of sustainable systems and technologies that harness the power of nature to provide environmentally beneficial economic opportunities. Brandy has spoken extensively on water issues and authored articles on water resource management and sustainable agriculture. When she’s not in the office, Brandy is talking politics with her husband, walking in the woods with her daughter and kickboxing with her son.

Ashleigh Burgess
Deputy Director of Programs
Ashleigh came to Trees for the Future by way of serving as an Agroforestry Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, where she lived in a rural Serrer village and worked with the host community to plant trees and work on a variety of community development initiatives. Previously, she lived in Northern France as an English teacher and worked for the Sierra Club as a legislative affairs intern. She is a graduate of Michigan State University (Go Green!) and studied International Development from the Department of Community Sustainability there (Masters of Science). When she is not talking about TREES’ powerful work and exploring new opportunities and partnerships for the organization, she is all about being outdoors, gardening, speaking French, practicing her yoga moves, and looking for Michigan microbrews in DC.

Andrew Zacharias
Deputy Director of Monitoring and Evaluation
Andrew grew up in a small farming community in central Ohio. After studying Political Science at Miami University, he moved to Tanzania to volunteer with the Peace Corps. His professional and cultural expertise allowed him to then work for Trees for the Future, managing agroforestry programs across East Africa. Today, he uses his knowledge of data collection and geographic information systems to direct the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation. He lives in Columbus, OH with his wife, Mary.

Elizabeth Moore
Deputy Director of Training
Elizabeth has been working at the intersection of sustainable agriculture and training for over a decade. She is passionate about trees, farming, and teaching, and working hand in hand with communities to realize their dreams of land and household sustainability.  She holds a masters degree in Agroforestry from Virginia Tech and was an agroforestry Peace Corps volunteer in North Cameroon for 2.5 years. Prior to beginning her position at Trees, she worked for 5 years coordinating training, agricultural business development, and farm and garden management for resettled refugees with the International Rescue Committee’s New Roots program in Charlottesville, with whom she also did short term assignments in Mali and Ivory Coast.  She is an artist and pursues art and design at home as well as at the office, is a lifelong gardener, and loves culture, language, tending plants and animals and her newest addition: her sweet daughter.

Olivier Allongue
Forest Garden Training Center Coordinator
Olivier was born in France and spent a few years growing up in New Caledonia, an island in the Pacific, before moving to Bethesda, Maryland at the age of 5. He was raised bilingual, mastering both French and English at a young age and eventually pursued Spanish to become trilingual. After receiving a Bachelors degree in Spanish with minors in Math, Latin American studies and European studies from Salisbury University, Olivier began translating at Trees for the Future and has since expanded his role as coordinator of our online Forest Garden Training Center. Outside of the office, you can find him outdoors, hiking, playing or watching soccer, and traveling.

Arianna Huff
Programs Manager 
Arianna recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.S. in Environmental Sustainability and minors in Spanish and Women’s & Gender Studies.  After an internship in college related to teaching others about food sustainability, she knew she wanted a career that involved both sustainable agriculture and helping others, which is why she moved back to Maryland and applied to work at TREES.  After several months of interning here, she moved into a full-time position as a Programs and Operations Associate and later the Programs Manager.

Sean Potts
Training Designer
Sean first became aware of agroforestry’s potential to transform rural livelihoods while serving as an Agricultural Extension Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon. After extending his service for an additional year to help manage an agroforestry demonstration farm, Sean joined Trees to assist in revising and improving our training framework. Since that time, Sean has worked to produce new components and innovations to the Forest Garden Training Program in order to improve the food sovereignty and economic mobility of smallholder farmers. He holds a B.A. in anthropology from Ohio University and is currently a Master’s candidate at American University where he studies rural development, agroecology, and sustainable food systems. Outside of the classroom and the office, Sean can usually be found wandering about DC’s many museums and galleries, playing video and board games with friends, hunting, fishing, and hiking outdoors, and futilely cheering on the Cleveland Browns on game days.


Kendall Garifo
Director of Marketing
Kendall has been passionate about international relations and development ever since she can remember. She holds a dual bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Catholic University of America where her love for a mission-driven career only grew stronger. After finishing graduate school, Kendall joined the development team at Trees for the Future, later evolving into our Deputy Director of Marketing and Communications and now the Director of Marketing. She helps us make an impact by using her educational and work experience in communications, marketing, public relations, and international development to tell the world about what we do. Her roots lie in Mississippi but she’s lived and traveled all around the world. Outside of the office, you can find her looking for something new to learn, reading, gardening, hiking, at a Nationals game, and spending time with her family. Interested in learning about how trees can end hunger and poverty? Reach out at

Lindsay Cobb
Marketing & Communications Manager

Lindsay has always enjoyed hearing and sharing stories. She began her communications career as a journalist after earning her Bachelor’s degree at West Virginia University. As a local reporter in Kansas, she spent time covering agriculture, learning a great deal about agribusiness, farmers, and how they influence one another. She later earned a Master’s degree in Strategic Communication at American University before entering the nonprofit sector. Before working at TREES, Lindsay was the Communications Manager at an international disaster response organization where she helped provide relief to those affected by disasters. A proponent of sustainable agriculture and environmental preservation in her personal life, Lindsay is happy to be contributing to the TREES mission. Lindsay grew up hiking, canoeing, and dancing to Bluegrass in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. If she’s not in the office, she’s likely in her garden or spending time with family and friends.

Arianna Vranas
Social Media Associate
Arianna has always craved to use her talents, experiences, and education for good in our world. She recently graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising with minors in Marketing and Graphic Design. While in college she had the privilege of studying abroad in Rome, Italy and Sydney, Australia which extensively grew her interest in learning about and experiencing different cultures that exist all over our world. Arianna realized the positive power that innately exists through social media platforms while fundraising for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation four times as well as during her time at  Young Life, Live A Great Story, and Make-A-Wish Illinois. Most recently, Arianna moved from the Chicagoland area to join the TREES team and is eager to begin exploring her new stomping grounds. When not geeking out over all of the possibilities that new media offers to do good in our world, you can find her spending countless hours at used book and thrift stores, devouring book after book, drinking coffee while listening to folk music, going for extremely long walks, doing some kind of art or scouting out as many free events to go to as possible.

Kelsey Arrington
Brand Content Associate
Kelsey is an advocate for the amelioration of Africa and a proud supporter of  TREES’ mission. Prior to coming to TREES, Kelsey worked as the Photo Services Coordinator in the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. And later, as The Washington School of Ballet SE Campus School Manager and in-house Photographer. Born an artist, Kelsey always dreamed of using her art to make a meaningful impact on the world. When she’s not standing at her desk writing AWOW or curating images, you can find her in Chinatown at a yin yoga class, visiting a museum or missing her stop on the metro because she couldn’t put down a book.

Caroline Kateeba 
Brand Partnerships Manager
Caroline is the Brand Partnerships Manager for Trees for the Future. Prior to that, Caroline spent two years in Uganda as a Corporate Social Responsibility Officer and Marketing Associate for Crest Foam Ltd, a foam manufacturing company. She has also obtained experience Street Fundraising. She holds a combined Master and Undergraduate degree, MSc (Hons) International Relations and Global Issues from the University of Nottingham, UK.  She is also certified in Level 4 Professional Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK.

Ugoeze Achilike
Brand Partnerships Coordinator
Ugoeze received a B.A. in International Relations and Affairs with a focus on International Development and Environmental Sustainability from American University. Upon graduating college she began her career at the World Bank Group working as a Marketing Consultant. There, she helped in the public launching of the WBG Visitor’s Center, worked directly with clients and stakeholders, and focused on corporate communications and effective outreach strategies leading to improved visibility of the Center.  Her passion for food security and agriculture led her to TREES, in her current role as the Brand Partnership Coordinator, Ugoeze engages with companies that want to implement sustainability into their business model. She believes that the world is better when people are a catalyst for change in their community. Ugoeze grew up in a very diverse community in New Jersey, which led to a strong interest in learning new languages and exposing herself to new cultures.  In her spare time, she enjoys improving her foreign language skills and experimenting with new recipes.

Alec Steffenberg
Brand Partnerships Associate
Alec graduated from Elon University’s Love School of Business and majored in Entrepreneurship. He’s always enjoyed working on hands-on projects and was able to do just that when he spent time studying and interning in Dublin, Ireland. His avid interest in sustainability started when he was young, growing up in a seaside town in Maine. His senior core capstone in college was built around sustainability, and it confirmed his passion for the movement. After working in business development for a tech company in Boston, Alec is now pursuing his dream of creating a cleaner, greener future by joining TREES. When he’s not at work, Alec enjoys exploring Washington DC, watching the New England Patriots, and trying to stay active by playing as much basketball as possible

Adaobi Okafor
Deputy Director of Finance & Administration
Adaobi moved to the U.S. from Nigeria to pursue her education at Georgetown University. She fell in love with D.C. and its blend of cultures so she stayed to complete her Masters at Catholic University of America and start her career. She is passionate about helping nonprofits maximize their potential by maintaining a healthy financial outlook. When not analyzing spreadsheets and chasing down expense reports, Adaobi loves traveling and experimenting with recipes.

Maurita Obermiller
Executive and Financial Assistant
Maurita holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland, where she learned about the challenges to international food security. This inspired her to take the next step and pursue her Master’s Degree in International Development Studies from The George Washington University. While completing her Master’s degree, she worked as a pro-bono consultant for The USAID Office of Food for Peace to conduct field research in Southern Mauritania. Maurita is excited to be a part of the TREES team as it combines her passion for environmental protection and relieving hunger through sustainable agricultural methods. When she is not working, Maurita enjoys riding horses, visiting local breweries, and cooking recipes from her favorite cookbooks.

Nadine Wilson, PHR, SHRM-CP
Director of Human Resources
Nadine Wilson is a Brooklyn, New York native and brings more than 15 years of Human Resources experience from a diverse collective of public, private and non-profit industries. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Resource Management from Saint Leo University. Nadine holds an SHRM-CP certification from SHRM and a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) from HRCI. Nadine has specialized in Healthcare for the past eight years with a focus on assisting those in the Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse communities. Trees for the Future’s mission resonates with her because in her homeland of Haiti there are severe deforestation issues. Being the first American born to Haitian immigrants, she is also bilingual, speaking Haitian Creole fluently and some basic French. When she is taking a break from finding ways to make TREES one of the best places to work, Nadine enjoys teaching her three children Haitian Creole and French, as well as cooking, reading, playing video games and watching them play soccer or run track.

Michael Muthui
Kenya Country Coordinator
Michael holds a Diploma in Organic farming, Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and a Master’s degree in Rural Sociology and community development. He has 16 years of experience in Community Development having previously worked at Kenya Institute of Organic Farming as Training Manager, Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers as Field Coordinator, Plan International as Livelihood Coordinator and Heifer International as Organizational Development Coordinator under Bill Gates-funded project East Africa Dairy Development Project. Michael joined Trees for the Future in May 2016 as Kenya Country Coordinator overseeing Forest Gardens projects in Kenya. He is currently managing projects in Ikinu and Homa Bay nearly 700 farmers.

Heri Rashid
Tanzania Country Coordinator
Heri studied at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) taking BSc in Agricultural Education and Extension. Then in 1999, he began working for African Coffee Company as a coffee purchaser and collector in Kilimanjaro Region. In 2004, Heri worked with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Uluguru Mountains Agricultural Development Projects (UMADEP) as Mvomero and Kilosa district supervisor. His main duties were to train and facilitate farmer in groups in business plan development and value chain development and linking farmers with market and service providers for sunflower, tomato, maize, and local chicken production specifically in planning, develop, implement, monitor, mentoring, evaluate and ensure farmers benefit from the use of good agronomic practices, stores and sell at profitable price ensuring productive and equitable participation of rural women and men in planning and implementing of a sound project at the household level. Heri also worked with MVIWATA (Farmer Groups Network) an umbrella organization for farmers groups in Tanzania as Regional Economic Facilitator in Morogoro for 1 year before being promoted to be Regional Coordinator in Shinyanga. His role involved training and facilitating farmers groups in business plan development and value chain development and linking farmers with the market in paddy/rice and maize production. He also supported local communities to carry out advocacy and influence implementation of sound agricultural and economic policies, plans and deal with other challenges affecting their rural livelihoods. Heri also promoted equal participation of women and men in the agricultural sector focusing on smallholder farmers and SACCOS development in rural areas. He joined Trees for the Future as Coordinator Central corridor in May 2015. In January 2016, he became the Country Coordinator.

Mohamed Traore
Director of West Africa Regional Programs
Mohamed is TREES’ Senegal Country Coordinator and is responsible for the management and growth of our Senegal Forest Garden program. From 2006-2008 Mohamed also served as a Trees for the Future Volunteer, responsible for diffusing agroforestry techniques in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Niger. He is an agricultural engineer, with a degree from the Institut Polytechnique Rural, Bamako, Mali. Prior to TREES Mohamed worked for 7 years with a National NGO focused on Environmental Protection and Wildlife, before completing a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management from the Francophone University, Cairo, Egypt. Upon his return to Mali, he held the position of Food Security Coordinator and Head of Mission of the French NGO Planet Urgence, where he spearheaded Family Agroforestry, Home Energy and Food Security, Emergency Food Aid for 5 years.

Fatoumata Diédhiou
Senegal Country Coordinator
After attending university, Fatoumata joined Trees for the Future as a trainee in monitoring and evaluation. She soon became an Assistant Coordinator before becoming Senegal Country Coordinator in 2019. She manages Forest Garden projects, project farmers, women’s savings groups, and various special projects.

Maïmouna Cissé
Senegal Field Development and Communication Liaison
Maimouna has a master’s degree in Social and Political Communication. She has worked for various media and newspaper agencies as well as two administrative directorates in Senegal. She has also worked for Wanep Senegal, an NGO working in conflict management and electoral observation in West Africa. Maimouna began working with Trees for the Future in 2019. She works to build partnerships in West Africa as well as increase the organization’s visibility, especially in Senegal. Maimouna is committed to helping the people of her country have a healthy environment and lifestyle. For Maimouna, it’s not just about planting trees but giving thousands of families in rural Senegal an opportunity to achieve food self-sufficiency. When she isn’t working she likes to write and discover the culture of the people of Africa.

Ivan Tumuhimbise
Uganda Country Coordinator
Ivan is currently leading our Forest Garden programs in Uganda. He started his early career working on an integrated conservation and development program where he was charged with promoting tree planting and strengthening food security systems for national park edge communities. His deep passion for catalyzing social change has taken him places working with smallholder farm families in remote geographies across East Africa. His work focuses on building the power and capabilities of smallholder farmers to meaningfully engage in agricultural market spaces to earn better incomes, build wealth and escape poverty. Ivan is inspired to work with Trees for the Future because its work falls at the intersection of mitigating climate change effects and enhancing productivity. Ivan earned his master’s degree in development studies specialized in Agricultural and Rural Development and a post-graduate diploma in Financial management. In his free time is engaged in livestock and horticulture farming. He is happily married to his wife and children with whom they spend time together playing, storytelling and training them into responsible citizens.

Charity Nalwoga
Uganda Field Development and Communication Liaison
Charity has loved marketing and communications since she was a teenager so she pursued a degree in Business and Administration and Management with a major in Marketing and Management and is currently studying to become a certified marketer through The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), UK. She has worked for several organizations as a Customer Relations and Marketing Executive. Growing up with a father who loved farming and social work nurtured her love for making a difference in society and taught her about agriculture and forestry. She worked on her family’s large farm front at the age of ten. Charity has found that working at TREES has allowed her to put all her passions and interests into one. She is happy to be able to make a difference while interacting with people and growing the business and relations of the organization. When Charity is not at work, she enjoys traveling, swimming, reading and experimenting with recipes.

Silvia Mburugu
Kenya Field Development and Communication Liaison
Silvia is a highly motivated Communications Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the Agricultural Sector in methods used in designing, developing and delivering successful projects and program communication strategies. She has over 10 years’ experience in corporate communications and public relations where she aligned communications with companies’ brands, visions, and values. Among other organizations, she has worked for a Farmer Organisation which had over 1.4 Million household members. In addition, she has professional experience in women, youth and farmers’ empowerment in business development offering targeted training in business planning and agribusiness as well as facilitating business sustainability through strategic market intelligence to identify opportunities. Having joined Trees for the Future as the Field Development and Communications Liaison for Kenya she hopes to demonstrate her expertise to positively impact the livelihood of the smallholder farmers. Silvia is a holder of Bachelor of Arts Communication and Tourism and a Diploma in Information Communication Technology…  “He who plants a tree plants hope” ― Lucy Lacorm

Board of Directors

Mark Brown, Chair of the Board of Directors

Kaylin Nickol, Secretary

Humphrey Mensah, Senior Director of Administration & Finance

Michael Gumbley, Finance Committee Member, Treasurer

John Leary, Governance Committee Member

Shannon Hawkins, Governance Committee Member 

Veerendra Lingam, Development Committee Chair 

Jon Drimmer, Member

Ariana Constant, Development Committee Member 

Steve Hansch, Development Committee Member