Meet The Team

We are a team of passionate and dedicated individuals who are committed to change and solving poverty in Africa.

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 at helping Trees for the Future end hunger and extreme poverty for a million people.

Ashleigh Burgess
Partnerships and Strategic Outreach

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.

Gabriel Buttram
Director of Programs

Gabe’s development career began as a Peace Corps Volunteer with an engineering background. He was placed in a village in Lesotho to work in a vocational school but there wasn’t one there. There were no trees either, so he rooted into agroforestry and sustainable agriculture instead, and never looked back. Following Peace Corps, he received a master’s degrees in International Affairs from American University and in Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Development from the UN University for Peace. He now has over ten years of experience managing projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and living and working with small-holder farmers, mainly in Africa. A guy named Muir said that “the clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” Gabe agrees with this wholeheartedly and is most at peace when surrounded by trees.

Jennifer Deng
Director of Development and Communications

After 15 years of working in and with local, regional, and national nonprofits on leadership and governance, team-building and facilitation, business development and fundraising, communications and management consulting, Jennifer brings her skills and expertise to Trees for the Future as the Director of Development and Communications.  Jennifer is excited to use her knowledge of growing organizations to exponentially increase the revenue and the impact Trees for the Future.  Jennifer holds two masters degrees – an MBA from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and a MA in Peace and Development Studies from the University of Limerick, in Limerick, Ireland.  And has studied and traveled for academic, personal and field projects in Spain, England, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Taiwan and Hungary.  Most of these projects were related to disaster preparedness and relief, studies in business and corporate social responsibility, and human rights and post-conflict civil society development.  When Jennifer is not working with TREES, you can find her hanging out with her family and loved ones (2 teenagers, 2 neurotic rescue dogs, 1 squealing guinea pig, 1 low maintenance fish and 1 amazing life partner), playing or watching ice hockey and soccer, reading, exploring the great outdoors, or working with rescue pups.

Corrie Mauldin
Director of East Africa Programs

Corrie has years of experience working for both environmental NGOs and the Department of Interior while living in Washington DC. She lived for a couple of years in a remote forest village working with smallholder farmers in Cameroon, helped manage a CSA (community-supported agriculture) organic farm in the Northeast and monitored fish catch on vessels in the Bering Sea. As East Africa Regional Director, Corrie oversees a 16-person staff of Country Coordinators and Project Technicians throughout Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.


Adaobi Okafor
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.

Kendall Swenson
Senior Marketing and Communications Manager

After finishing graduate school, Kendall joined the marketing and communications team at Trees for the Future. She is thrilled to help us make an impact by telling the world about what we do. She’s lived in many places around the world and loves living in the district, but her roots lie in Mississippi where she can’t get enough of, you guessed it, the sweat tea and cornbread.  Outside of the office, you can find her hiking with her pup, at a Nationals game, hanging with her 7 siblings, and traveling.

Andrew Zacharias
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.


Board of Directors

Dr. John Moore – Prof. Emeritus Univ. of Maryland, Chairman

Mark Brown – Vice-Chair & Finance Committee Chair

Humphrey Mensah – Treasurer

Shannon Hawkins – FBR, Development Committee Co-Chair

Linda Sobel-Katz – Development Committee Co-Chair

Dinah Bengur – World Bank

Ariana Constant – Clinton Foundation

Therese Glowacki – Boulder County Parks and Open Space

Michael Gumbley – charity: water

John Leary – Trees for the Future

John Montgomery – Capital Fiduciary Advisors, LLC

Larry Seruma – Nile Capital