Board of Directors

Steve Barilovits III, Charlotte, NC

Steve was aware of the chestnut story, but it was his son who found TACF and got him involved.  An invitation to attend a chapter meeting sparked their participation in the organization.

With a background in electrical engineering, Steve’s career includes developing high technology products from conception to production, R&D management, and systems design.

In his free time, Steve enjoys hiking and tennis.

Michael D. Doochin, Nashville, TN

Michael’s fascination with the American chestnut and its ties to our culture brought him to TACF. Interested in the American chestnut from an early age, he later discovered large American chestnut trees on his property. His general love of trees led him to establish an arboretum outside of Nashville, TN where he has planted chestnut trees.

Michael is an owner and manager of a flexible packaging and label business outside of Nashville. He is the author of two novels:  The Tzaddik, based on wisdom from eight years of Kabbalah study with a rabbi, and In Exile in the Promised Land and is presently finishing a nonfiction book, The Mystical Naturalist, which combines environmentalism and spirituality.

Michael has traveled extensively which allows him to pursue his interests in photography and collecting ethnographic art. He is an oil painter of portraits, landscapes, and abstracts and has exhibited in several shows. He enjoys restoring antiquities found on trips, such as Anasazi pots and old Chinese weaving tables. Michael is also a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner and a Certified Tennessee Naturalist.

Yvonne Federowicz, North Providence, RI

Yvonne developed an appreciation for chestnuts as a child, wandering the woods of Chestnut Ridge east of Pittsburgh, PA. Her love of the mountains and all nature provided was fostered by her grandmother, Marie McDonald. The idea of contributing to the restoration of such an amazing tree made the decision to join TACF an easy one.

Yvonne has worked with the Brown University Library for 25 years and currently serves as the Senior Library Specialist – Web Services. Her work focuses on Drupal (a content management system or “CMS”); PHP, MySQL, and associated web-related technologies, primarily in a Linux environment. Her interests are in library and information services, Open Source software, systems thinking, and approaches to collaboration.

Yvonne belongs to several conservation-based groups in Rhode Island and enjoys finding ways to increase collaboration to assist in achieving related missions and goals. When not working on chestnut restoration, she enjoys a wide range of activities including organic gardening and permaculture, hiking, and spending time with her pets.

Penny Firth, Ph.D., Vienna, VA

The desire to contribute to the mission of restoring the American chestnut tree to its original place in the Eastern forests  brought Penny to TACF.

Penny is the former Director of the Environmental Biology Division of the National Science Foundation, now retired. She supported NASA’s bioregenerative life support systems for the Mars mission; served as the architect of the NSF/EPA Partnership for Environmental Research; started the Water and Watersheds competition, then played a significant role in the development of the National Science Board report Environmental Science and Engineering for the 21st Century, The Role of the National Science Foundation. Penny directed NSF’s Ecosystem Studies Program and led the creation of NSF’s Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems program. She led the NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity team that developed the vision and strategic plan for a 10-year campaign to characterize the integrated genetic, phylogenetic and functional dimensions of biodiversity on Earth.

Penny is a Certified Master Naturalist and has a small American chestnut breeding orchard in Culpeper, VA. She served for six years on Virginia’s Fairfax County Tree Commission. She was lead author of the award-winning Fairfax County Tree Action Plan currently being implemented by the county.

Lynn Garrison, Eminence, KY

Growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, where the American chestnut was a major component of Appalachian forest ecosystems, Lynn heard first-hand stories of the American chestnut’s ecological role, economic importance, wildlife value, and overall value to Appalachian people and prior to that, native Americans. His background in landscape ecology studies, along with a heightened understanding of the importance of restoring this species provided a natural link to joining TACF.

Lynn served the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife for 37 years. His appointments included Director of Public Affairs/Policy; Director of Information and Education; Assistant Director of Wildlife; and his early years in Wildlife Conservation Education. Lynn was the strategic planner for many collaborative projects, including the Copperbelly Water Snake Conservation Agreement, Green River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, and Kentucky Biodiversity Strategy. He was on the committee of five that designed the National Survey of Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation issued every 5 years.

In his personal time, Lynn enjoys hiking, canoeing, nature photography, and continuing his ecological studies.

Doug Gillis, Charlotte, NC

With a father who experienced the demise of the American chestnut as a youth in Madison County, NC, Doug was taught about the tree and what it meant to the people of Appalachia. Doug became involved in TACF to honor his father’s memory of the way things were and to restore the tree which he knows will be brought back again.

Doug retired in 2001 as Assistant Director/Chief Traffic Engineer of the Charlotte Department of Transportation. He is a registered Professional Engineer and Licensed Public Land Surveyor in NC. He is a Licensed General Contractor—Limited Residential in NC and has used his license to build wooden decks and to renovate a home.

Doug enjoys traveling, especially to state and national parks, and hikes there when possible.  He also enjoys woodworking and makes objects using salvaged American chestnut wood.

Carolyn Howes Keiffer, Ph.D., Middleton, OH

Carolyn’s interest in the science of tree breeding and restoration naturally aligned her with the mission of TACF. Her interest in the American chestnut led to the formation of an Ohio chapter.

Carolyn Keiffer joined the Miami University faculty in 1996 and serves as Math and Science Coordinator of the Middletown campus. She has developed an extramurally funded research program in applied ecology and restoration ecology and is currently working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Department of the Interior to restore the American chestnut to U.S. forests.

In addition to numerous service roles with university and national scientific societies, locally, Carolyn chaired the Middletown City Tree Commission from 1998-2012, and was instrumental in Middletown first receiving “Tree City USA” status in 2007. In her personal time, she enjoys gardening, bird watching, traveling, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Bruce Levine, Takoma Park, MD

A chance encounter with surviving chestnuts in the Blue Ridge in 1995 led him to the TACF website, and he has been a member ever since. He appreciates the ability to contribute to the restoration of the American chestnut and help reverse a man-made ecological disaster.

Bruce has been a member of the U.S. Foreign Service for 25 years, and currently works in the State Department’s bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. He is an economic specialist and has served overseas in Taiwan, Singapore, Cambodia, China, and France.

Bruce has had a long time interest in the wilderness, particularly forests and trees. While working in China, he visited and wrote about Chinese chestnuts in the wild and under cultivation.

Lewis Lobdell, Youngstown, PA

Lewis is an avid chestnut restoration enthusiast and has several plantings on their property. He has been a TACF member for more than 20 years.

Lewis was raised in Charlotte and earned degrees in architecture, regional planning and law at NC State and UNC Chapel Hill. He served in the US Army with the Airborne Engineers from 1972-1974. He moved to Pittsburgh after law school in 1983 to practice at a firm centered on large-scale public/private law. He then joined PNC Bank in 1991, in increasingly senior roles where he retired in 2010 as manager of a commercial loan division. Lewis has served on the Western Penn Conservancy (WPC) board and chaired the fundraising subcommittee where he helped lead a $50 million campaign. This campaign raised money for WPC’s 4 programs, including the architectural and conservation projects at the Falling Waters complex outside Pittsburgh. In addition to the WPC, he serves on the Westmoreland Land Trust board.

Lewis and his wife Kate have four children and four grandchildren and enjoying skiing, tennis, golf, and wilderness hiking.

Kathy Marmet, Marshall, VA

The story of the American chestnut and the compelling scientific work to return this magnificent tree to our forests brought Kathy to TACF.

Her professional experience is in the practice of law and project coordination of an interactive video distance learning network. She has served on a school board, library board, and local arts council.

Kathy helped launch TACF’s Appalachian Trail MEGA-Transect Chestnut Project in 2008. Each year it trains volunteers to count American chestnut trees along the Appalachian Trail, recording data that will inform future restoration efforts, and documenting large surviving trees. She has also been able to fulfill a personal desire to plant and grow her own TACF Restoration 1.0 American chestnut trees and currently has seventeen growing in her front yard.

Catherine D. Mayes, Hume, VA

The mission is what attracted Catherine to TACF.

Catherine is a retired attorney and international consultant.

Catherine is a full-time volunteer, primarily serving environmental organizations.

Brian C. McCarthy, Ph.D., Albany, OH

Having been an academic forest ecologist for the last 23 years, TACF was a natural link to Brian’s involvement and research on the chestnut as an important hardwood species.

Brian currently serves as the Associate Dean of Faculty, Research, and Graduate Studies for the College of Arts & Sciences and Professor of Forest Ecology in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology at Ohio University. His area of research is broadly defined as forest ecology, with a focus on eastern hardwood forest ecosystems. Specifically, he has worked in the areas of tree reproductive ecology, forest stand dynamics, disturbance history reconstruction, fire ecology, understory community dynamics, invasive species ecology, mine land reclamation, and restoration ecology.

In his spare time, Brian is a furniture and cabinetry woodworker, avid motorcyclist, and pursuer of many outdoor activities including fly-fishing, canoeing, hiking, and camping.

Gregory Miller, Ph.D., Carrollton, OH

A lifelong interest in restoring the American chestnut brought Gregory to TACF.

Gregory is the proprietor of Empire Chestnut Company, which is comprised of commercial chestnut orchards and a chestnut nursery. The business started as a hobby of his late father, Jay Miller, but eventually grew beyond the level of enthusiast. In 2010, Along with four other chestnut growers, Gregory formed Route 9 Cooperative, an agricultural cooperative of which he serves as president, to pack and market their chestnut crops.

Gregory has served as President and as a board member of the Northern Nut Growers Association.  He is a member of the Chestnut Growers of America and hosted their Annual Meeting in 2009.

David W. Morris, Chelsea, AL

The singularity of purpose, emphasis on sound science, and a realistic view of the long time frame required for restoration convinced David that TACF was a noble and worthy effort to join.

David retired in 2014 after more than 38 years with a Fortune 500 company. His most recent position was managing an earth science and environmental engineering department.  Prior to that, he worked in the corporate research and development group, supervising the water and ecological studies research program. He is a co-inventor on four patents related to environmental technology and site remediation.

Besides all things chestnut, David’s hobbies are beekeeping, hiking and woodworking. He enjoys repurposing reclaimed antique wood, especially chestnut, into useful items such as furniture.

Allen Nichols, Laurens, NY

Having parents that shared stories of the American chestnut from their parents and witnessing the death of the American elm, Allen wanted to join TACF when he discovered people were working to develop a blight resistant American chestnut.
Allen was a lineman for New York State Electric & Gas for 35 years. His degree in Biology from SUNY Oneonta fuels his interest in grafting and chestnut restoration.

Allen enjoys the outdoors and observing wildlife. He is also a competitive marathon canoe racer, having won two national titles and completing the General Clinton Canoe Regatta, a one day 70 mile race, more than 20 times. His most memorable finish, winning the mixed amateur race with his daughter. Allen has also had two wins in his class at the Adirondack Classic, a three day 90 mile race in the Adirondack Mountains.

Z. Cartter Patten III, Chattanooga, TN

Cartter’s interest in the American chestnut dates back nearly 70 years from seeing the trees sprout from their roots. The proactive nature of TACF is what attracted him to the organization.

Cartter has worked over 40 years in the Registered Investment Advisory firms he founded. Currently, he is President of the Patten Group. Because of his interest in land, his nonprofit work started with a land trust and spread to other green groups. Cartter is particularly proud of his work in the North Chickamauga Creek Watershed north of downtown Chattanooga.

Cartter’s hobbies include wilderness canoeing, collecting camellias, and fly fishing.  He has canoed three rivers above the Arctic Circle in Canada.

Brian Perkins, Ph.D., Wallback, WV

The mission of TACF and the thought of that mission being fulfilled is what led Brian to become involved.

Brian is an assistant professor at Glenville State College, where he teaches a wide variety of forestry classes.

In his spare time, Brian enjoys gardening, fishing, hiking, and numerous other forms of outdoor recreation.

Tim Phelps, Brentwood, TN

Tim first learned about TACF during college while writing a paper for a forest pests class. He wanted to be a part of a group whose passion and dedication were directed toward the restoration of one tree species.
Tim is currently the Forestry Communications and Outreach Unit Leader for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry.  He is responsible for public and media relations, the general promotion of forestry as a discipline, and the role the Division plays in conserving, protecting, and enhancing the forest resources of Tennessee. Prior to his current position, he spent eight years at Penn State University as a Senior Research Technologist focused on forest genetics and serving as an instructor of forest dendrology. His research was primarily associated with the restoration of the American chestnut tree (silviculture and breeding aspects), tree improvement of central hardwoods, and Christmas trees.

Tim enjoys hiking, day trips to local parks, yearly visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and seeing live music whenever he can.

Jeanne Romero-Severson, Ph.D., Notre Dame, IN

Jeanne Romero-Severson is a Professor of Quantitative Genetics and Genomics in the Biological Sciences department at the University of Notre Dame. After obtaining her Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1984, she served as a postdoctoral associate in the Entomology Department. Fourteen years and three companies later, she moved to West Lafayette to accept an appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Forestry and Agronomy at Purdue University. In 2003 she moved to the University of Notre Dame. Currently, she is a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health, Director of the Tree Genetics Core Facility, and President of the Faculty Senate.

“Seed orchard DNA fingerprinting: The double-edged sword of the open access gene pool”

Brad Stanback, Canton, NC

Learning the important role the American chestnut played in the Appalachian ecosystem and the need to bring it back led Brad to TACF.

Brad owns and manages a 1300 acre research farm in the North Carolina mountains just west of Asheville. He is involved as a funder and advisor to many local environmental groups, particularly local land trusts involved in protecting land through purchase or Conservation Easement.

Brad’s hobby is Ecological Restoration, but done on a scale that most would consider well beyond a hobby.

Kim Steiner, Ph.D., University Park, PA

Kim’s background as a forest geneticist and an interest in the chestnut tree provided a natural link to TACF. He wrote a breeding plan for a blight-resistant chestnut as a term paper in his first graduate genetics class in 1970.

After a stint of active service in the Army, Kim moved to the East where he took a faculty position at Penn State University.

At home, Kim enjoys reading, puttering in his shop, fiddling with his many rifles and their cartridges to get them to shoot accurately, and touring America on his motorcycle.

Barbara Tormoehlen, Indianapolis, IN

Barb had a 37-year career in the US Forest Service (USFS). She spent the first two decades with the National Forest System, Region 9, on the Hoosier and Ottawa National Forests (NF), serving on the Hoosier NF at the district level and the Supervisor’s office as the Planning and Information Management Staff Officer, and on the Ottawa NF as the Kenton District Ranger.

Transferred to the Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry (NA) in 1998 – served Area-wide for the Area Director (resource analyst), the Forest Stewardship Program, and eventually as Group Leader, Office of Information Management, finishing at the St. Paul Field Office for NA as the Director’s Field Representative, with oversight of S&PF programs for seven Midwestern state forestry agencies and their partners, including tribes in Urban Forestry and Forest Stewardship, and Forest Health Protection for all forest lands in the seven state area. Barb served as a collateral-duty trained federal mediator (and later resolving official) for US Department of Agriculture agencies east of the Mississippi River. She received the USFS Chief’s Awards in 2005 and 2013.

In retirement, Barb provides volunteer services in mentoring and in support of a local food bank. She leads a tree replacement project, including removal of nearly 100 public ash trees that succumbed to the emerald ash borer in 2014.

John H. Wenderoth, Wilmington, DE

John’s personal interests in biology and learning more about genetics attracted him to TACF’s approach to recovering a valuable tree species. He had read Susan Freinkel’s book and discovered his local arboretum had a chestnut orchard in need of volunteers. Since becoming connected with TACF, he finds himself reading more about genetics, particularly genetics at the molecular level.

John worked for most of his “traditional” career for two USDA agencies (Economic Research Service and SCS/NRCS). During that period, he acquired computer experience with mainframes, PCs, and networked systems, which allowed him to focus on various hardware and software aspects of computing during the end of his career with the federal government. Since retiring, he has participated in building a product database for a startup, maintained a network and phone system for a private school, and reported and wrote for a business publisher.

John spends a great deal of time volunteering at Tyler Arboretum’s American chestnut orchard and Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. He also enjoys traveling and reading about biology, geology, environmental issues, and history.

Donald C. Willeke, Esq., Minneapolis, MN

Don is a founding director of TACF and has served as its Vice Chair for Science, Secretary, and General Counsel.

Don is an Independent Trustee of the Wells Fargo Mutual Funds, a $240 billion mutual fund family, and he served as chair of the Minnesota and National Urban Forest Councils for a combined total of 22 years.  He is also a co-founder of the Tree Trust, a youth employment and conservation non-profit that has employed about 1,000 young people each year since 1976.

Yurij Bihun, Jericho, VT

Biography not available

Mark Stoakes, Marietta, GA

Biography not available

Bruce Wakeland, Culver, IN

Biography not available