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.
Maryellen Burke, Director of Development
Maryellen is passionate about connecting people to great causes. She draws on her experience as a program officer and philanthropic advisor for the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to help donors achieve their charitable goals and advance the Center’s mission. She has extensive experience rallying resources for social ventures, ranging from historic and cultural institutions in Portsmouth, NH to a new hospital for Nantucket.
Maryellen joined the Center’s staff because she loves the idea revitalizing communities and believes that sustainable forests and sustainable communities go hand-in-glove and mutually support each other.
She has over twenty years of experience in the nonprofit sector, primarily in New Hampshire. Her non-profit work started at the Center for Book Arts in New York, continued at The National Geographic Society before coming to New Hampshire. Maryellen’s volunteer work has included president of the board for the Portsmouth Athenaeum and as a Steward of Smuttynose Island at the Isles of Shoals. She helps guide future nonprofit leaders by teaching a graduate course in nonprofit management at the University of New Hampshire. In 2003, the New Hampshire Union Leader named Maryellen as one of its “Forty Outstanding Leaders Under 40,” and she has earned a number of other leadership awards. She earned a doctorate in literature from the University of Florida.
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.
Leslie is a math whiz, has taught at a community college, and has traveled around the world examining environmental issues through a Susan Rappaport Knafel Travelling Fellowship from Wellesley College, her Alma Mater. Leslie wears many hats, which include chairing the Saranac Lake Planning Board and serving on the board of a number of community organizations. When she’s not working or serving her community, she loves to explore the Adirondacks on skis, on foot or by canoe, especially with her young son as company.
Jessica O'Hare, Program Manager
Jessica takes on strategic projects to bring more capacity to the Center. Her work touches on almost every part of the organization: tracking the impact of our Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative, supporting the president, managing outreach through new media, and more. She helps coordinate a coalition of economic development organizations to improve career prospects for Maine tourism employees and develop quality recreation destinations.
Rob Riley, President
Rob is a recognized nonprofit leader who has successfully led the Center in its transition through the 2008 economic downturn to produce tangible results for Northern Forest communities. Rob is quick to find opportunities for innovative approaches to generating local wealth and conserving working forestland. He keeps constant vigil over delivering on the Center’s mission and careful resource allocation to get the job done. Rob joined the Center in 2007 as director of programs, leading development of new programs emerging from the Center’s Sustainable Economy Initiative.
Steve Rohde, Vice President for Innovation & Financing
Steve Rohde has a vision to bring transformative changes to the region in partnership with the forest products industry. He leads the Center’s efforts in procuring New Markets Tax Credit financing for forest-based initiatives, and he is the strategic heart behind our wood products and Community Forest initiatives.
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.
Rhonda Shippee, Project Manager
Rhonda manages our Northeast Kingdom Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative. She is your point person for information about our efforts to install clean-burning, modern wood pellet boilers in “the Kingdom.” For the past 37 years, Rhonda worked at USDA Rural Development as Program Director of both the Community and Business Programs for Vermont and New Hampshire. She is a graduate of Champlain College and the Snelling Center Leadership Program. Rhonda has put her passion for rural communities and farms to work, making them her home her entire life.
Joe Short, Vice President
Joe brings his insightful nonprofit management to the Center while also directing our public policy, wood energy and ecosystem services initiatives. He oversees core operational aspects of the Center including finance and budget, organizational planning, management issues and board support. That would keep anyone busy, but Joe is also driving our effort to update a regional economic strategy to guide the Northern Border Regional Commission’s next several years of regional investment.
Now our VP of everything, Joe first came to the Center in 2003 as a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow, and joined the staff full-time in 2004. He helped coordinate the initial work of the Center’s policy program, developing consensus strategies for public policies focused on community, economic, and conservation needs in the Northern Forest. He led to the Center’s Sustainable Economy Initiative, helping a 4-state steering committee create a sustainable economic development strategy for the Northern Forest based on economic revitalization tied to continuing land conservation.
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.
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, Staff Accountant
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.