National Forest Leadership Council

The National Forest Leadership Council is chaired by Beth Pendleton and Bernie Weingardt. Principal Council members are all U.S. Forest Service Regional Foresters and Research Station Directors, the Deputy Chief, National Forest System, and the Deputy Chief, Research and Development.

Dr. Paul Anderson

Research Program Manager, Pacific NW Research Station

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Dr. Paul Anderson

Research Program Manager, Pacific NW Research Station

Dr. Paul Anderson is the Director of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station, headquartered in Portland, Oregon. As station director, Anderson oversees management of 10 laboratories and research centers in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington as well as 11 active experimental forests, ranges, and watersheds with 300 permanent and seasonal employees. He has been serving in this role since 2017.

Paul brings 26 years of USDA Forest Service research experience to his position providing strategic science leadership and administration for the research programs of the PNW Station. He operates from agency core values, and partnering with a variety of agency, state, university, and other organizations, he is responsible for guiding the station’s delivery of knowledge and tools to inform natural resources management and policy issues of relevance to the full spectrum of stakeholders and the publics the agency serves.

Prior assignments in the Forest Service include research plant physiologist with the North Central Research Station, and supervisory research forester and then research program manager at the PNW Research Station’s Corvallis Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Oregon. Other post-graduate positions included research associate positions at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories in California, and with the University of Minnesota’s Aspen and Larch Genetics Cooperative.

A native of Minnesota, Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree in forest ecosystems and silviculture from the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. He also holds a master’s degree in forestry and natural resources from Purdue University and a doctorate in wildland resource sciences from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ken Arney

Regional Forester, Southern Region 8

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Ken Arney

Regional Forester, Southern Region 8

Ken has served with the USDA Forest Service and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Department of Agriculture – Division of Forestry. He was Deputy Regional Forester – State and Private Forestry for the Forest Service in the 13-state Southern Region for 17 years before being named Regional Forester in December of 2018.

As Regional Forester he has responsibility for the management of 13 million acres of forestland on 14 National Forests, Land between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Tennessee and Kentucky, and the Savannah River Department of Energy forestland in South Carolina. He also has responsibility for a State and Private Forestry program that works with all 13 State Forestry Agencies in the programs of Fire, Forest Health, and Cooperative Forestry.

Ken has been a champion of large-scale protection and restoration efforts like America’s Longleaf Pine Restoration Initiative and Shortleaf Pine Restoration Initiative.

Ken served as State Forester for Tennessee from 1994 to 2001. Ken is a member of the Society of American Foresters, Past Chairman of the Southern Group of State Foresters, and Past President of Brentwood/Nashville Rotary Club.

Ken is a native of Tennessee and grew up on a family farm that his family still manages. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from the University of Tennessee.

Richard Barhydt

Station Director, Pacific SW Research Station

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Richard Barhydt

Station Director, Pacific SW Research Station

As Director, Barhydt is responsible for integrating cutting edge science to deliver new knowledge and capabilities to address critical issues facing those who use and benefit from our nation's forests. Prior to joining the Forest Service, Barhydt was the deputy director for the Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

During his time at NASA, he led the development of early-stage technologies and physics-based tools to support the design of new aircraft. He brings 15 years of experience leading large research projects and programs across a range of technical disciplines and building partnerships to maintain relevance and deliver research capabilities.

In previous positions, Barhydt served as the deputy chief for the Entry Systems and Technology Division at NASA Ames Research Center. His research and development experience in that role supported of a wide range of NASA missions. He provided strategic planning, workforce guidance, personnel planning, and operations support for division staff and laboratory facilities.

Barhydt's educational background includes a Master of Science Degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Bachelor of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado.

Frank Beum

Regional Forester, Rocky Mountain Region 2

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Frank Beum

Regional Forester, Rocky Mountain Region 2

Frank Beum is the regional forester for the Rocky Mountain Region, where he leads more than 2,000 permanent and seasonal employees and shares stewardship of 22 million acres of national forests and grasslands with partners and forty-eight affiliated tribes in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Previously, Beum served four years as the Southern Region’s Deputy Regional Forester for Natural Resources in Atlanta, Georgia. He was responsible for developing and delivering natural resource policy for national forests in 13 southern states and Puerto Rico. During this time, he also served in several acting leadership assignments, including a recently completed tour as Acting Regional Forester in the Intermountain Region.

He has worked on seven national forests and five ranger districts in the Rocky Mountain and Southern Regions, as well as in the Southern Regional Office and the Washington Office. He previously served as Acting Associate Deputy Chief of the National Forest System, Director of Forest Management for the Southern Region, and acting national Director of Forest Management. Beum also served as legislative specialist in the Washington Office, Forest Supervisor on the Daniel Boone National Forest, and District Ranger on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

Beum began his Forest Service career in 1981 as a seasonal forestry technician in the Rocky Mountain Region, spending six summers on the Rio Grande, San Juan, and Shoshone National Forests thinning lodgepole pine, conducting forest inventory, and serving as a wilderness ranger. He landed his first permanent Forest Service job on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, serving for eight years in both Colorado and Wyoming. While completing a master’s degree in recreation resource management from Colorado State University, he served a fellowship with the Wilderness Society. After completing a bachelor’s degree in forestry at Ohio State University, he worked for three years as a Service Forester for the Ohio Division of Forestry.

Beum and his wife, Jan, have two grown sons (who were born in Wyoming), a daughter-in-law, and one grandson.

Glenn Casamassa

Regional Forester, Pacific Northwest Region 6

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Glenn Casamassa

Regional Forester, Pacific Northwest Region 6

Glenn Casamassa has been the regional forester for the Pacific Northwest Region since September 2018. He oversees management of 16 National Forests, two National Scenic Areas, a National Grassland, and two National Volcanic Monuments within the states of Oregon and Washington. Casamassa started his career as a firefighter on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona.

He subsequently served in positions on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah, the Intermountain Regional office, the Manti-La Sal National Forest in Utah; Washington Office, and the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland in Colorado. Casamassa earned his bachelor’s degree in Forest Ecology at Utah State University and completed post-graduate work in logging system engineering at the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Jennifer Eberlien

Regional Forester, Pacific Southwest Region 5

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Jennifer Eberlien

Regional Forester, Pacific Southwest Region 5

Jennifer Eberlien became Pacific Southwest Regional Forester in July 2021, giving her overall responsibility for 18 National Forests in California, covering one-fifth of the state or 20 million acres of land, as well as responsibility for State & Private Forestry programs in Hawaii and the affiliated Pacific Islands.

Jennifer started her career with the Forest Service in 1992 on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Park Falls, Wisconsin. She has since served as Deputy Forest Supervisor for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in southwest Oregon, Forest Supervisor of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Everett, Washington, Deputy Regional Forester for the Pacific Southwest Region in Vallejo, California, acting Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and as the Associate Deputy Chief for National Forest Systems in Washington, D.C.

Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in anthropology. She also holds a master's degree in anthropology from Northern Arizona University.

Mary Farnsworth

Regional Forester, Intermountain Region 4

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Mary Farnsworth

Regional Forester, Intermountain Region 4

Mary Farnsworth, Intermountain Region, Regional Forester, has dedicated more than 30 years to the USDA Forest Service, beginning her career on the Umatilla National Forest in 1987. She has held a variety of leadership positions with a strong focus on Fire and Natural Resource Management; with duty locations across the nation including Washington, D.C., California, Oregon, Idaho and Utah.

Mary joined the Intermountain Region as Deputy Regional Forester, after serving as the Forest Supervisor of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

In her current role as the Regional Forester, she oversees management of approximately 32 million acres of national forests and grasslands, across six states with over 3,500 permanent and seasonal employees.

Mary grew up in San Diego, California, and received a degree in Forest Management from Humboldt State University.

Alexander L. Friend

Deputy Chief, Research & Development

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Alexander L. Friend

Deputy Chief, Research & Development

Alexander L. Friend, Ph.D, serves as Deputy Chief of Research and Development (R&D) for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. In this role, Alex directs, coordinates, and integrates all Forest Service research activities in order to produce scientific information and develop innovative technologies that support sustainable management of the Nation’s diverse forests and rangelands. These resources provide invaluable economic, health, and environmental benefits to the American public.

To this end, Alex manages R&D’s $300 million budget and leads an accomplished unit of 500 scientists and 1,500 dedicated professional and administrative employees. He provides technical leadership in all phases of research and formulates, executes, and evaluates policies and programs designed to advance wise resource management. Through three Washington Office units, five Research Stations located across the country, and the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, Alex directs R&D’s basic and applied research in broad fields that include: timber management, forest soil and water, forest recreation, range management, wildlife and fish habitat, forest fires, forest insects and diseases, and forest products.

Alex joined the Forest Service in 2002 as a project leader and research ecologist at the Northern Research Station in Houghton, Michigan. From there, he transferred to the Washington Office to serve as research budget coordinator, where he provided support in planning, formulating, monitoring, and executing the R&D budget. Most recently, Alex has served as the station director for the Pacific Southwest Research Station, where he engaged with forest resource issues in the West through his management of eight research facilities in California, Hawaii, and the US-affiliated Pacific Islands. Prior to joining the Forest Service, Alex was Professor of Forestry at Mississippi State University from 1989 to 2001. Alex has a distinguished career of scientific research, teaching, and leadership spanning more than 30 years.

Chris French

Deputy Chief, National Forest System, Washington DC

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Chris French

Deputy Chief, National Forest System, Washington DC

Chris French currently serves as Deputy Chief of the National Forest System for the USDA Forest Service, based in Washington D.C. In this role, Chris is responsible for policy, oversight and direction for natural resource and public service delivery programs across the 193 million acres of National Forests and Grasslands in 44 states and territories that make up the National Forest System. Prior to his current position, Chris served in a variety of leadership positions on ranger districts, national forests, and at the national headquarters. Chris began his career in Arizona on the Coronado National Forest and has worked in recreation, fire, fuels, wildlife, NEPA, forest planning, and wilderness.

Robert Harper

Acting Station Director, Southern Research Station

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Robert Harper

Acting Station Director, Southern Research Station

Since January 2014, Robert has been the Forest Service’s National Director for Biological and Physical Resources in Washington DC. Rob has also held assignments in the headquarters office as Staff Assistant to the Deputy Chief, co-lead for work force diversity issues in the Chief’s Office and as an Assistant Director for Forest Management.

During his 32 years with the Forest Service, Rob has worked in a variety of positions and locations around the country (California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, and Washington DC). Many of his roles have included responsibilities for water, fish, and wildlife as either a staff specialist or line officer. In his current role, Rob and his team provide leadership to the conservation of water and aquatic resources, as well as a variety of wildlife and threatened and endangered species issues through coordination with States, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many partners.

Prior to arriving in Washington in 2010, Rob was the Forest Supervisor on the Chippewa National Forest in northern Minnesota where he focused on tribal relations, forest management, and travel planning issues. He worked as a District Ranger in Montana on the Lolo National Forest for community collaboration, forest planning and restoration projects. Rob also led efforts to secure federal reserved water rights for the national forests in Montana.

Rob began is his professional career as a research hydrologist for National Weather Service in Washington DC, and after a short time returned to the Forest Service in northern Idaho as a district hydrologist. Rob worked much of his way through college as a firefighter in northern California and Smokejumper in Oregon and he grew up near the Hiawatha National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Rob holds an MS in the Geological Sciences, with an emphasis on glacial geology and groundwater, from Indiana University and BS in Geology from Lake Superior State University in Michigan.

Dr. Monica Lear

Station Director, Rocky Mountain Research Station

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Dr. Monica Lear

Station Director, Rocky Mountain Research Station

Dr. Lear has worked in natural resource management for 28 years. Past professional experience includes state government management at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as county agent in New Orleans, Louisiana for the LSU AgCenter, and as an extension agent in Arlington County, Virginia for the Virginia Tech/Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Prior to joining the USDA Forest Service in June 2014, she was the Deputy Associate Director of the Urban Forestry Administration and District of Columbia State Forester at the District of Columbia Department of Transportation in Washington, DC. At the Forest Service, she was the Director of Forest Health Protection in State and Private Forestry, Associate Deputy Chief in Research and Development and currently Station Director at the Rocky Mountain Research Station. She has served on national advisory councils and taskforces in Urban and Community Forestry and held leadership positions in regional and national state forester associations.

She has earned Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Plant Health and a B.S. in Horticulture from Louisiana State University.

She understands the importance of being a change agent working across Forest Service organizational boundaries and with other organizations. Based on experiences gained in FS Research & Development, she believes that it is important to integrate science in all aspects of the FS, particularly in policy development at regional and national levels. Shared paradigms developed between stations, regions and the national office will improve the way our work is delivered to achieve the impact we desire on landscapes and to communities.

Leanne M. Marten

Regional Forester, Northern Region 1

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Leanne M. Marten

Regional Forester, Northern Region 1

Leanne Marten is the Regional Forester for the Northern Region of the U.S. Forest Service. She began this appointment in June, 2015. She has worked for the Forest Service for over 30 years. The Northern Region encompasses northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and the northwest portion of South Dakota. Prior to the Regional Forester appointment, she was National Director for Ecosystem Management Coordination for the U.S. Forest Service in their national headquarters based in Washington, D.C.

Leanne started her career as a seasonal employee on the Palouse Ranger District, Clearwater National Forest in Northern Idaho while obtaining her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science from Washington State University. She went on to graduate school at the University of Idaho where she received her Masters of Science in Forest Resources.

After finishing up her schooling she started working fulltime for the Agency on the Canoe Gulch Ranger District on the Kootenai National Forest in Montana. She later worked as a planner and environmental coordinator for the Kootenai prior to moving east to be a District Ranger on the Ottawa National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Deputy Forest Supervisor and Forest Supervisor on the Huron-Manistee National Forest in the lower peninsula of Michigan, and Forest Supervisor on the Allegheny National Forest in Northwest Pennsylvania. Most recently Leanne served as the National Director for Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers in Washington DC. She has also had the pleasure of doing many details throughout her career, including a detail as Deputy Regional Forester of the Southwestern Region, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Associate Deputy Chief for National Forest Systems, Washington DC and most recently the Acting Director for the National Partnership Office, Washington DC.

Leanne grew up in the Forest Service (second generation), so has had the honor of living and working in some of the most beautiful places in the country and with great people (both within and outside the agency) that care about our natural resources.

Leanne is married and has two sons.

Michiko Martin

Regional Forester, Southwestern Region 3

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Michiko Martin

Regional Forester, Southwestern Region 3

Michiko Martin is the Regional Forester for the Southwestern Region of the USDA Forest Service and provides an essential role in carrying out agency goals enhancing shared stewardship opportunities with partners, meeting high-priority restoration goals across critical landscapes, protecting communities from wildfire, and providing the numerous benefits that flow from healthy forests and grasslands by strengthening all people’s connections with the land.

She leads more than 2,000 employees and oversees 20.6 million acres of national forests and grasslands in Arizona and New Mexico.

Michiko brings over 34 years of federal government career experience to her position. She joined the Forest Service in 2014 as a national director and from 2014-2021 has served as the Director of Conservation Education; Director of Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources; and as the Acting Director of Engineering, Technology and Geospatial Services.

Prior to joining the Forest Service, Michiko worked for 12 years as the Chief of Education, Outreach and New Media for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the Department of Commerce. Michiko also served as a commissioned naval officer for 12 years, working as a meteorologist and oceanographer.

A native of the Ryukyuan Islands, Michiko earned a Bachelor of Science in physical oceanography at the United States Naval Academy. She later earned post-graduate degrees, including a Master of Science degree in oceanographic engineering jointly conferred by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; and a Master’s degree in educational leadership at Troy State University.

Gina Owens

Regional Forester, Eastern Region 9

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Gina Owens

Regional Forester, Eastern Region 9

Gina Owens serves as the Regional Forester for the Eastern Region of the Forest Service. In this role, Gina oversees management of more than 12 million acres of the National Forest System spread across 17 National Forests and one National Tallgrass Prairie in the Northeast and Midwest. She is passionate about fostering and maintaining strong ties with the Eastern Region’s 20 states and the District of Columbia as well as partners and private landowners to support state and private forest lands.

Forty-four percent of the nation’s private forest landowners call the Eastern Region home, so there is a tremendous opportunity to continue building those connections. Gina previously served as the Deputy Regional Forester for the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region and as the Forest Supervisor on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Since beginning her career as a Forest Service volunteer in the Alaska Region, Gina has dedicated more than 30 years to the Agency. She has held a variety of leadership and staff positions across the Agency, from Oregon, Washington, and Montana in the West to the Agency’s national headquarters in Washington, DC, and the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests in the Eastern Region, where she served as a District Ranger in Vermont. She earned a degree in Wildland Recreation Management from Washington State University.

Gina was born and raised on Whidbey Island in Washington State. The Pacific Northwest, its water and mountains, will forever be a place she calls home. Gina is passionate about exploring the outdoors. She loves to hike and camp, and particularly loves to be on the water in a canoe, kayak, or really anything that floats.

Gina is keenly interested in how the Eastern Region accomplishes its priority work and, just as importantly, how the region engages with the people and communities it serves. Her passion is for all regional employees to be experienced by each other and by the region’s diverse partners and the public it serves as caring, respectful, inclusive, trustworthy, and responsive.

Beth Pendleton

Regional Forester - Retired

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Beth Pendleton

Regional Forester - Retired

Beth retired as Alaska Regional Forester in 2018 following a 33-year career with the U.S. Forest Service and natural resources sector. As Regional Forester, Pendleton oversaw management of more than 22 million acres of National Forest System lands in Southcentral and Southeast Alaska. She worked closely with the region’s diverse stakeholders and communities of interest, especially on issues related to forest restoration and strengthening rural community health.

Beth holds a bachelor’s in wildlife biology from the University of Vermont, a master’s in wildlife and fisheries from South Dakota State University and a master’s in communications from the University of Wyoming. She is a graduate of Harvard’s Senior Executive Fellows Program and American University’s Key Leadership program. She brings natural resources management and communications expertise to the NFF NFLC, as well as, a passion for ensuring the health and vitality of the Nation’s forests and grasslands for present and future generations.

David Schmid

Regional Forester, Alaska Region 10

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David Schmid

Regional Forester, Alaska Region 10

David E. Schmid serves as the Regional Forester for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, Alaska Region. He leads a workforce of more than 600 permanent employees who sustainably manage nearly 22 million acres of national forests in Alaska, including the nation’s two largest forests, the Chugach, and Tongass National Forests.

Dave started his career with the Forest Service nearly 40 years ago in the Alaska Region. After graduating from college in 1983, he spent 23 of his almost four decades with the agency serving as a Fisheries and Watershed Program Leader on the Chugach National Forest in Southcentral Alaska, and as a District Ranger, Prince of Wales Island, on the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska.

Dave has served in many leadership positions with the Forest Service, including as a District Ranger on the Custer National Forest in Montana, the National Fisheries Program Leader in Washington, D.C., Director of Biological and Physical Resources, Region 8, in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Deputy Regional Forester, Region 1, in Missoula, Montana.

Dave returned to Alaska in 2018 as the Regional Forester. He has led the Region for the last four years, guiding the Region through some of the most significant events in recent times. His focus on relationships inside and outside the agency is reflected in the Regions’ dedication to caring for the land, communities, and the people we serve.

Bernie Weingardt

Regional Forester - Retired

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Bernie Weingardt

Regional Forester - Retired

Bernie worked for the Pacific Southwest Region both as Regional Forester and as Deputy Regional Forester for natural resources. Previously he was Forest Supervisor of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. Before coming to Utah, he was the National Recreation Strategy leader in Washington, D.C. where he helped build the national partnership program.

Bernie also held numerous other positions over his 37-year career with the Forest Service in Washington State and Colorado. In his retirement, he has continued his position with the National Forest Foundation as co-chair of the National Forest Leadership Council.

Cynthia (Cindi) D. West, PhD

Station Director, Northern Research Station

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Cynthia (Cindi) D. West, PhD

Station Director, Northern Research Station

Dr. Cynthia D. West has 28 years of experience working across private industry, academia, and federal government in a variety of jobs to ensure sustainability of our natural resources. She was appointed Director of the newly formed Office of Sustainability & Climate Change with the Forest Service in 2015 to oversee national climate change policy and program development for the Agency. In February 2021 she assumed the position of Director of the Forest Products Lab and the Northern Research Station within the USDA Forest Service. She has extensive experience working across organizational boundaries to build collaboration and partnerships.

Dr. West has served in various leadership roles in USFS’ Research and Development (R&D) mission area, including as the Associate Deputy Chief for R&D, with responsibility for administering a $300 million annual research program to inform policy and land management decisions. Before coming into the Washington Office as Director for Resource Use Sciences, Dr. West served as Deputy Station Director for USFS’ Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland, OR for 9 years. She also held positions in academia at Virginia Tech and Mississippi State University. She started her career, working in forest management, with Weyerhaeuser in North Carolina in timber procurement and landowner assistance.

A native of Staunton, Virginia, Dr. West holds a BS degree in Forestry Management, a MBA in Marketing and Management, and a PhD in Wood Science and Forest Products from Virginia Tech. As a research scientist, she published more than 60 papers and presented at more than 80 conferences on forest sector trade and industry development.