Meet The Team

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

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. 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, contractor for the US Embassy, and 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 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 woods with her daughter and kickboxing with her son.

Jennifer Tepper
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.

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.

Ashleigh Burgess
Deputy Director of Program Quality and Implementation
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.

Kendall Garifo
Deputy Director of Marketing and Communications
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. 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 info@trees.org.

Lindsay Cobb
Marketing and 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. Most recently, Lindsay was the Communications Manager at an international disaster response organization where she helped provide relief to those affected by disaster.

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 Huff
Program and Development Coordinator
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 to her current position as a Programs and Operations Associate.

Caroline Kateeba 
Business Partnerships Officer
Caroline is a Business Development and Partnerships Associate 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 Masters and Undergraduate degree, MSc (Hons) International Relations and Global Issues from University of Nottingham, UK.  She is also certified in Level 4 Professional Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK.

Sam Buckley
Business Partnerships Officer
Sam currently serves as a Business Development and Partnerships Officer at Trees for the Future. Prior to TREES, Sam was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania where he taught Mathematics and English at a secondary school on Zanzibar, and has also spent time at City Year, GlobalGiving, and KaBOOM!. Sam graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Sociology and Education, and misses the California sunshine every day. When not working with our partners to help further the TREES mission, you can find him playing soccer, eating Thai food that’s way too spicy, or biking around DC.

Michele Levy, MPA, CFRE
Individual Donor Advisor
Michele Levy works with individual donors to express their generosity to grow and create impact. She has worked in development and philanthropy for over 15 years. She holds a Masters of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management from George Mason University and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Michele is an AmeriCorps*VISTA alumna and has worked with a variety of local, regional and international nonprofits. When not at TREES, you can often find her traveling or enjoying the outdoors with her husband and two sons.

Nadine Wilson, PHR, SHRM-CP
Human Resources Manager
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 a 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 in 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.

Mathius Lukwago
Uganda Development and Communications Liasion
Growing up as a boy scout, Mathius became passionate about nature. As simple as it sounds it gave him a purpose since his home was in the forest and he used it to discourage people from cutting trees. He grew up spending most of his time in the forest, walking, trekking, and discovering. People from his village used to collect firewood from the nearby forests. However, as time went on these trees started diminishing and the forest disappeared. As a Boy Scout, Mathius started focusing on planting trees to reforest the area. The limitation, however, was getting enough planting materials, so he started looking for tree planting workshops to get more information and contacts. In 2009, he was given an opportunity to support Trees for the Future’s Uganda program, formally including tree seed distributions and agroforestry trainings. Since then, Mathius says it is amazing to see what TREES has achieved, and how the communities have benefitted.

Muthui Musyoki
Kenya Country Coordinator
Muthui holds a Diploma in Organic farming, Bachelor’s degree in Environmental studies and Master’s degree in Rural Sociology and community development. He has 16 years 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. Muthui 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.

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.

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.

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.

Heri Rashid
Tanzania Country Coordinator
Heri studied at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) taking BSc in Agricultural Education and Extension. Then in 1999, began working for African Coffee Company as 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 districts 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 benefits from use of good agronomic practices, stores and sell in profitable price ensuring productive and equitable participation of rural women and men in planning and implementing of sound project at 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 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 small holder farm families in remote geographies across East Africa. His work focuses on building power and capabilities of small holder 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.

Silvia Mburugu
Kenya Field Development and Communication Liaison
Silvia is a highly motivated communications Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in in the Agricultural Sector in methods used in designing, developing and delivering successful projects and programmes 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 organisations, 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 impacts 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

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

Ariana Constant – Clinton Foundation

Therese Glowacki – Boulder County Parks and Open Space

Michael Gumbley

John Leary – Trees for the Future

Steve Hansch – International Business & Technical Consultants