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Trees for the Future Expands Executive Team

John Leary Named Chief Strategy Officer, Tim McLellan Hired as Interim Chief Executive Officer 

SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND (February 3, 2022) – Trees for the Future (TREES) expands its executive team as the organization surpasses the 250-million-tree mark. Long-time organizational leader and Forest Garden expert John Leary will fill the newly established role of Chief Strategy Officer in an effort to meet the organization’s goal of planting one billion trees by 2030. Tim McLellan, a leader in sustainable environment and community development will serve as Interim Chief Executive Officer. 

“As people around the globe search for effective ways to tackle climate change, carbon impact and deforestation, Trees for the Future has an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact on our world. Expanding our executive team will allow us to enhance our operations so that we can maximize our success in alleviating poverty and hunger while improving the environment,” offered Mark Brown, Chair of the Board of Trees for the Future. “We want to thank John Leary, a brilliant thought leader in this field, for his leadership and contributions to TREES and are eager to see the vision he lays out in this new role.” 

With his new role as Chief Strategy Officer, Leary will focus his efforts on building a long-term blueprint to maximize the impact of TREES.  

“I couldn’t be prouder of our team’s accomplishments over the last several years. Thanks to our supporters, we have changed lives, landscapes, and honed our programs to make measurable impacts on the environment,” says Leary. “I’m excited to be able to focus on building the innovations and partnerships that take our work to the next level for our planet and the farmers we serve.” 

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As Interim CEO, McLellan will manage all staff, operations and the implementation of the organization’s programs.  His mandate is to further strengthen the organization’s infrastructure and realize the organization’s immediate growth opportunity. He will serve as an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors, working closely with the Board during the transition period. 

“Tim is a talented and experienced leader, and we are confident that he will work with our amazing team to help us build a scalable and efficient organization,” says Brown. 

“This is a terrific opportunity to further a mission I am deeply committed to in partnership with a great leadership team. Through alliances, business partnerships and the emerging opportunities to leverage the carbon benefits of our work, I am confident that together we will grow our impact in a meaningful way,” offered Tim McLellan. “The Forest Garden Approach is a proven way to reduce poverty, expand access to nutritious food and sequester carbon.  I am thrilled to support the rapid scaling of this unique and powerful methodology.” 

A search committee, chaired by long-time Board Member Shannon Hawkins, will lead the recruitment of a permanent CEO. It is anticipated that a search firm will be retained and that the process will take several months. 

In keeping up with the organization’s growth, the Board also announced Wednesday that TREES’ US headquarters will move to a new space on April 1, 2022. The Bethesda, Maryland office provides more flexibility for remote work and cost savings. Phone numbers and emails will remain unchanged.

About John Leary 

John Leary has spent the last eight years as Executive Director of TREES. A former Peace Corps volunteer, John has spent his entire career focused on eliminating the root causes of poverty, hunger and deforestation in Africa and is the award-winning author of the book One Shot: Trees as our last chance for survival. John began volunteering for TREES in 2001 and became Executive Director in 2014. Under his leadership, the TREES team grew from 5 to nearly 250 employees. To date, the organization has changed the lives of more than 300,000 farmers and their families and has planted over 250 million trees. John is a graduate of Swarthmore College and earned a Masters in Instructional Systems Design from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. 

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About Tim McLellan 

Tim McLellan has spent the majority of his career working for leading international non-profits with a focus on social change programs in the developing world. Most recently he served as Chief Operating Officer at TechnoServe, a $90 million organization which was cited by Impact Matters as the top global poverty-alleviation NGO in 2019. Prior to joining TechnoServe, he spent 14 years in various positions at Population Services International including several years managing in-country programs. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and earned a Masters in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. 


Media Contact: Lindsay Cobb, 

CEO Search Contact: Shannon Hawkins, 

About Trees for the Future 

Trees for the Future is a leading regenerative agroforestry training organization. Teams work with smallholder farmers in Africa to restore landscapes and livelihoods through the creation of Forest Gardens. With more than three decades of experience and sophisticated impact measurements, TREES has planted more than 250 million trees and helped more than 300,000 people. Learn more at 

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