The Center’s staff collaborates with others to achieve a shared vision for the region based on three essential ingredients: thriving communities, healthy forests and innovative and resilient local economies.
The Center’s staff brings years of experience in regional strategy development, economic development, forestry, communications, conservation and organizing to their work.
Maura Adams, Program Director
Maura leads our modern wood heat programs at the Center. Whether it’s building local wealth in Northern Forest communities through our Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative or advising on public policy to encourage the adoption of sustainable wood heat, Maura is quick to jump into assessing challenges and finding pragmatic solutions.
Ellie Brown, Operations Assistant
Ellie has deep roots in the Northern Forest: she grew up in the Adirondacks, and lived and worked in Maine and the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont before moving to New Hampshire. In addition to knowing the landscape, Ellie brings a wide range of experiences and skills to her role as Operations Assistant for the Center. She spent many years as a farmer for various non-profits and schools, including the Chewonki Foundation and Sterling College. While the specific duties of farming are very different, she transfers her skills of organization, attention to detail, flexibility, creativity, and humor to this new role.
Ellie is also currently attending graduate school at Antioch University in Keene, completing a self-designed program within the Environmental Studies department titled “Rural Community Conservation.” She is excited for the synergy that exists between her schoolwork and the work she will be involved with at the Center. In her role as Operations Assistant, Ellie is looking forward to providing program and operational support wherever needed to keep things running smoothly.
Courtney Delaney, Grants and Development Coordinator
Eager to play a role in sustaining the region’s thriving communities and forests, Courtney brings her enthusiasm for the outdoors, public policy, and sustainable business strategies to the Center as the Grants and Development Coordinator. Courtney is part of the backbone of the Center, working as part of the operations, philanthropy, and communications teams. She contributes creativity and problem-solving skills to help the Center run smoothly so we can deliver on our mission across the region.
Julie Renaud Evans, Program Director
Julie has helped establish more than 11,000 acres of Community Forests across the Northern Forest. Her passion for developing local leadership in communities is reflected in the way she prepares them to establish and steward Community Forests. Julie also serves as a knowledgeable resource to the Center and partner organizations that require assistance with their forestry initiatives. She brings more than 25 years’ experience in both forestry and community development in northern New England.
Carrie French, Director of Operations
Carrie brings a determined focus for continuously improving efficiencies and operations of the Center. She oversees the operations and financial reporting of the organization, aggressively seeks out cost controls and ensures our good standing. She brings a wealth of experience in program management and financial oversight, after spending nearly 13 years with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund. She began as Assistant Director of the MicroCredit-NH Program, followed by many years as the Executive Coordinator for the entire organization. Carrie served the State of New Hampshire as the Assistant Director of Economic Development in the State’s Department of Resources and Economic Development.
Leslie Karasin, Project Manager
Leslie manages our Adirondack Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative. She serves as your go-to, based in Saranac Lake, if you have questions on how to apply to the program. She coordinates program delivery and ensures a smooth and high quality wood pellet boiler installation for program participants.
Leslie draws on a variety of community outreach experiences. She worked to engage local government officials on collaborative sustainable development projects at the Wildlife Conservation Society Adirondack Program. Her ability to translate complex problems into understandable terms and her extensive land use experience positioned her to effectively manage stakeholder input processes such as Community Values Mapping and Waterfront Revitalization Efforts.
Ailish Keating, Katahdin Project Manager
Lianna Lee, Communications Specialist
Lianna is a community outreach generalist now specializing in communications to deliver accessible and engaging content by thoughtfully synthesizing complex work. At the Northern Forest Center, she helps bring to life the incredible depth and breadth of our programs across digital and print platforms. She began her career in the land conservation sector with a focus on community outreach and program management. Most recently, she was the Communications and Community Programs Manager for Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust in upstate NY. Lianna’s time as Outreach Coordinator for the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust in Franconia, NH, instilled in her a deep appreciation for Community Forests and rural economies.
Rob Riley, President
Rob Riley joined the Center in 2007 as director of programs to lead development of programs emerging from the Center’s Sustainable Economy Initiative, and assumed leadership of the Center in spring 2008. Rob has guided the Center to become the respected regional innovation and investment partner it is today, and launched the Center’s first impact-investment opportunities to support the Millinocket Housing Initiative and Lancaster Main Street Fund.
Rob led creation of the Northern Forest Board Forum and the Rural Development Innovation Group, a partnership with the Aspen Institute and the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities. He is particularly proud of the Center’s team and its ability to bring expertise and resources to help Northern Forest people and communities while advocating for the region at the national level. The New Hampshire Union Leader included Rob in its 2003 list of Forty Outstanding Leaders Under 40 in New Hampshire.
David Redmond, Director of Wood Products Initiatives
Dave brings his deep experience in commercial banking and manufacturing management to the Center to lead our efforts to support the secondary wood products manufacturing industry. Dave works with companies to help position them for success in a globalized market. Dave has stood where many general managers have before, holding that position for Classic Designs by Matthew Burak, Inc. – he can relate to the challenges of company leadership and offer the right package of services.
Joe Short, Vice President
Joe directs public policy, automated wood heat, and regional strategy initiatives at the Center and oversees core operations including finance and budget, organizational planning and management, and board support. Joe first came to the Center in 2003 as a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow, and joined the staff full-time in 2004. He has led numerous regional initiatives for the Center, including the Sustainable Economy Initiative (2006-2008), Northern Forest Investment Zone (2009-2014), and the development of the Northern Border Regional Commission’s strategic plan (2015-2016).
Kelly Short, Communications Director
Kelly brings her writing, graphic design, and media relations acumen to the Center with nearly 30 years in nonprofit communications. She is responsible for crafting the outward brand of the Center, and directs our messaging across the Center’s marketing and communications efforts, including print and online publications, and constituent and media outreach. Two of Kelly’s favorite challenges are showcasing the Center’s impact across 4 states every year in our annual report, and ensuring that our website is engaging and informative for new audiences as well as long-time donors and partners.
Lila Trowbridge Thorne, Director of Development
Lila is all-hands-on-deck as the Director of Development and liaison to the Center’s generous supporters. A native of Peterborough, New Hampshire, she grew up with pond hockey in her bones and a fierce pride for bug season, mud season and the beautiful forests that make this place home. The Northern Forest Center’s work strikes at the heart of the issues that most intrigue Lila about this region: What are the factors that enable young people to thrive in rural towns? How do the many economic and recreational benefits of our forests contribute to strong communities? She is proud to be part of a team committed to exploring these answers.
Mike Wilson, Senior Program Director
Mike serves as the backbone for program development at the Center. His wealth of experience connecting and engaging with the traditions of the Northern Forest has led him to spearheading an effort to develop quality recreation tourism destinations in the Maine Woods and the region. He also offers his expertise in guiding the Center’s strategic planning and organizational development.
Mike was the lead coordinator of a 325-mile canoe expedition through the Maine Woods to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the publishing of Thoreau’s The Maine Woods. Previously at the Center, Mike served as principal researcher and author of the Northern Forest Wealth Index: Exploring a Deeper Meaning of Wealth. He led development of the Center’s National Endowment for the Humanities-funded mobile museum, Ways of the Woods: People and the Land in the Northern Forest, as well as several publications.
Laurel Will, Director of Finance
Laurel is the secret to keeping our financial house in order. She produces financial statements, administers staff payroll, and keeps track of where our resources are moving. Laurel has been instrumental in achieving efficiencies in tracking and reporting grant expenditures and improving the security of the organization.