Called the “real life Lorax” by National Geographic, Meg Lowman exudes a passion for trees and forest conservation. She is an author, explorer, scientist, arbornaut, mom, and change-agent for conservation.
Elizabeth Moore is a Sarasota conservationist and philanthropist who began her three-year term as president on January 1, 2020. Moore is well-known in southwest Florida conservation and philanthropic circles as a woman fiercely devoted to not just championing but also personally funding initiatives that protect the planet and provide education about the environment, particularly for youth.
Legal Counsel / Ex Officio
Michael Brown, Esq., is the co-founder of the TREE Foundation and has been actively associated with TREE Foundation since creating its Articles of Incorporation in March 1999. Over the years, he has served TREE in various capacities as research associate, legal counsel, and board member. Now retired from his full-time legal practice, he remains a staunch advocate for trees, environmental justice, and social justice.
Michael R. Pender, Jr., Cavanaugh & Company
Michael R. Pender, Jr., is a Sarasota-based CPA, and has been an organizing director for several Gulf Coast banks. He has experience in all phases of public accounting, including auditing, tax, financial planning, business advisory services, as well as fraud and forensic accounting. In addition to his work and support for the TREE Foundation, he has spent much of the last 40 years, serving his community on the boards of local, state and national nonprofit organizations.
Michael Dexter joined the board in 2019 and is a conservationist with a wealth of experience working on environmental policy at the international, national, and local levels. A former student of Meg Lowman’s, he can personally attest to the importance and impact that tree research, exploration, and education have on inspiring the next generation of conservationists.
As a long-time supporter of TREE Foundation Laura Peters is excited to play a part in the organization as it grows and excels in its mission for tree research, education and exploration. Laura’s love and appreciation for the environment is reflected by her commitment to causes that preserve our natural world.
DC Randle is a career K-12 science educator, who has mentored and inspired many students of diversity. Randle teamed up with TREE president Lowman to co-host the Jason Project in the rain forests of Belize. They have since partnered on long-term research with citizen scientists in the Peruvian Amazon. Randle also taught incarcerated students and has served on a number of national education boards, including TREE.
Advocacy Committee Co-Chair
Alan Winston is from Elmira , N.Y. and as a former teacher taught CanopyMeg in 9th grade. He is retiring this year from Morgan Stanley and looks forward to Co-Chairing the Tree Foundations new Advocacy Committee. Alan volunteers as a trustee on the Tanglewood Nature Center board of directors in Chemung County and as a trustee on the Corning Community College Regional Board of Directors.
Dr. Alemayehu Wassie Eshete is the CEO of ORDA (Organization for Restoration of Degraded Areas) in northern Ethiopia, and one of the country’s top forest conservation biologists. He and Dr. Lowman have partnered for over a decade to conserve Ethiopia’s last remaining forests, which are called church forests and surround the Orthodox churches.
Vanessa Wassenar, CEO of Creating Resilient Schools, aims to create resilient schools and non-profits that are responsive to today’s competitive marketplace. She brings more than thirty-five years of educational executive and administrative experience and trusteeship in colleges, universities, independent schools, and various non-profit enterprises. Her extensive expertise includes financial analysis, modeling and planning, administrative triage, strategic and campus master planning, re/accreditation and self-study, and governance. Read More
Soon after graduating from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, Vanessa worked at the University of California-San Diego for nearly 20 years in various capacities. As Director of Research Administration for two divisions at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, she managed contracts and logistics for coastal research oceanographers worldwide. As founding Director of the Office of Sports Facilities and Programs, she was responsible for about $90MM of facilities construction and the “out of classroom” programming for 14,000 students in five colleges.
Educational institutions she has served as a consultant include Brooklyn Friends School, Oliver Scholars, Bentley School, The Archer School for Girls, St. Johnsbury Academy, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Penn State University – Abington, Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, and many others around the U.S.
From 2001 through 2003, Vanessa was also the Director of Resource Management and Strategic Planning at Emma Willard School. Prior to that role, she was Chief of Staff to the President of Bennington College.
Brad Oberle joined TREE’s board in 2021. He is Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at New College of Florida, as well as a Research Associate at both the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Marie Selby Botanical Garden, for which he also is the Associate Editor for Selby’s Selbyana Journal. He received his Ph.D., in evolution, ecology and population biology from Washington University in St. Louis. Brad frequently publishes on ecosystems, trees, and forests, and is an invited speaker for a wide range of events such as the 2018 Sarasota Manatee Environmental Summit. He is also the Vice Chair of the Sarasota Tree Advisory Council.
Robert Beck MD, MBA, joined the TREE Foundation board in 2022. He is earnestly concerned about climate change and the impact of man on the global inventory of forests and seeks to strategize and implement sustainable solutions to these issues. A biology major in college, Mr. Beck’s career as a medical practitioner in Pediatrics/Neonatology, has included experience in leading a medical organization as President and Board member.
Carmela French joined the TREE Board in 2022. She is a legal recruiter for EarthJustice DC, and talent management consultant. She holds a BA in Conservation Biology from New College of Florida, and was a leader and Chair for the DC Chapter of the Climate Reality Project from 2017-2019.
Honorary Chairman of the Board
- Thomas Lovejoy, Ph.D.
- Dan Bennett
Research Associates (non-voting)
- Dr. Soubadra Devy
- Dr. Alemayehu Wassie Eshete
- Worku Mulat
- Dr. Anthony Ambrose
- Bryson Voirin
- Wendy Baxter
- Bhaskar Krishnamurthy
Board Chair Emeritus
- Robert A. Richardson