2022 Big Stage Speakers

This year's Big Stage Sessions highlight the theme of "Our Working Mosaic" and the power of collaboration. Check out the speakers' bios below. Like what you see? Register today!

Frederick (Fred) W. Cubbage
Professor, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University 
Thursday Think Tank: The Changing Impact of Forests on Investments 

Fred Cubbage teaches, performs research, and serves the profession in natural resource policy and forest economics. He has worked for the University of Georgia, USDA Forest Service, and North Carolina State University. He has authored or co-authored 550 papers and articles, and four books. Cubbage was the Department Head of Forestry and Environmental Resources at NC State for 10 years, and was the Founder and Co-Director of the Southern Forest Resource Assessment Consortium for 25 years. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Argentina and Uruguay in 2004, consulted for the World Bank, and has cooperated with scientists in Latin America, Vietnam, Laos, and China for two decades. Cubbage served as President of the Society of American Foresters in 2017. 

Auste Eigirdas
Graduate Student, University of Minnesota 
Thursday Think Tank: Maintaining and Managing Healthy Urban to Suburban Forest Ecosystems 

Auste Eigirdas is a graduate student in the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota. Her research interest include engaging with stakeholders and meaningful partnerships, climate adaptive silviculture, and forestry applications in remote sensing. She has held positions in managing urban natural areas with Minneapolis Parks & Recreation, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, and the non-profit partner, Mississippi Park Connection.

Kathryn (Katie) Fernholz
President/CEO, Dovetail Partners
Plenary 3: Sustaining Forward: Our Call to Action

Kathryn (Katie) Fernholz is President/CEO of Dovetail Partners, a nonprofit environmental think tank based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fernholz is a forester by training with 24 years of experience in the forest sector. Her career has focused on sustainability concerns, including small-holder and family forestry, community-based decision making, supply-chain assurances, and certification. She is an experienced lead auditor for forest certification assessments having served on audit teams for industrial, Tribal, public, and family forest lands. She has led projects addressing urban forest management and urban wood utilization. Since 2010, Fernholz has been an author addressing policy and green markets in the Forest Products Annual Market Review prepared by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe/Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNCE/FAO). Fernholz has served as Chair of the Minnesota Society of American Foresters and was appointed to the Minnesota Forest Resources Council in 2002 and 2019. She is past-Chair for the Board of Trustees for the American Forest Foundation and a member of the Steering Committee for the Women’s Forest Congress. Kathryn has a Bachelor of Science in Forest Resources from the University of Minnesota.

Robert W. Hagler
Associate Director, Investor Relations, New Forests, Inc.
Thursday Think Tank: The Changing Impact of Forests on Investments 

Robert (Bob) Hagler has 35 years of experience in the forestry and investment industry. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Forest Resource Management from Virginia Tech and his Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Environmental Planning from Pennsylvania State University. Hagler has experienced acquisition, sustainable management, and investor relations on over US $700 million of timberland investments in North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia with assets including most commercial forest types as well as biomass energy plantations in Europe, and carbon sequestration projects in the US. He has on-the-ground experience in over 70 countries with respect to natural resource economics, investment platforms and forest management, market analysis, investment governance, and reporting protocols. Hagler has also served as a team leader/member in forestland investment portfolio management, investor relations, and sustainable investment research.

Richard Hallett, PhD
Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service, NYC Urban Field Station 
Thursday Think Tank: Maintaining and Managing Healthy Urban to Suburban Forest Ecosystems 

Dr. Richard Hallett (B.S. UW- Madison, M.S. and Ph.D. UNH) has spent his career studying tree and forest health in the northeastern US. He brings lessons learned from studying rural forest management to urban ecology. Hallett is currently working with a team to adapt silvicultural practices to urban forested natural areas. He also works to establish a dialog between urban and rural forest management professionals. 

Lauren Pile Knapp
Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service 
Thursday Think Tank: Diversity of Career Paths 

Lauren Pile Knapp is a research ecologist with the USDA Forest Service-Northern Research Station in Columbia, Missouri on the University of Missouri campus. Her research focuses on using silvicultural or vegetation management approaches to solve emerging ecological issues to natural resource management including plant invasion and disturbance. Prior to her current position, Knapp was a 2016 Presidential Management Fellow (PMF). During her two-year appointment as a PMF, she served as an ecological monitoring coordinator for a Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project on the Sierra National Forest in California. There she worked with district staff specialists to coordinate and lead monitoring efforts to determine restoration success for a diverse collaborative membership across 154,000 acres. She also completed details with the Northern Research Station in Warren, Pennsylvania in 2017 and the Washington, DC Office in 2018. 

Knapp was the chair of the 2019 National Silviculture Workshop, has served and volunteered at many levels within the Society of American Foresters, and was honored with the USDA Forest Service Deputy Chief’s Early Career Scientist award in 2019. Knapp grew up in Northern Virginia and took a circuitous route to obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science with honors from American Military University, a Masters of Forest Resources (MFR) from Clemson University in 2011, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Forest Resources from Clemson University in 2015.  

Igor Lacan
Urban Forestry Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension 
Thursday Think Tank: Maintaining and Managing Healthy Urban to Suburban Forest Ecosystems 

Igor Lacan is a University of California Cooperative Extension Advisor for the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in urban forestry. Focusing on trees and water, Lacan's research projects explore emerging issues in urban landscapes such as optimizing tree growth in stormwater facilities, and mitigating longstanding problems such as wood decay and failure in urban trees. He produces extension and outreach materials that transfer findings from the University to practicing arborists. Lacan's academic training includes urban forestry (PhD), aquatic ecology (MS) and ecology (BS) all from the University of California, Berkeley.

Pete Madden
President and CEO, Endowment for Forestry & Communities
Thursday Think Tank: The Changing Impact of Forests on Investments 

Pete Madden has worked in the forest industry for over 30 years in land management, procurement, business development, finance, acquisitions & divestitures, renewable energy, and supply chain. He is currently the President and CEO of the US Endowment for Forestry & Communities. Madden graduated in 1988 from Marlboro College in Vermont with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He also earned a Master of Science in Forestry and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of New Hampshire. 

Madden began his career as a forest technician in 1988 with the Westvaco Corporation in South Carolina. In 1992, he joined Georgia-Pacific Corporation where he held various positions including operations manager, procurement manager and senior financial analyst. In 2001, he joined Plum Creek Timber Company and held several key positions including director of financial planning, manager of construction materials, senior resource manager, director of regional marketing, vice president of operations support, and vice president of renewable energy and supply chain. Madden formerly served on the board of directors for Keweenaw Land Association and is a past member of the Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee for the Department of Energy. 

Marisa Repka
Co-Founder, Cambium Carbon 
Thursday Think Tank: Maintaining and Managing Healthy Urban to Suburban Forest Ecosystems 

Marisa Repka, Co-Founder of Cambium Carbon, leads the organization's environmental analysis and impact work. Her past experience in city government and conservation finance have helped her support Cambium Carbon's network of city and NGO partners and conduct feasibility studies for large-scale urban wood utilization.  She holds a Master's degree in Environmental Management with a specialization in Business from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  

Andrew Robertson 
Forester, Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands 
Thursday Think Tank: Diversity of Career Paths 

Andrew Robertson works for the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) as a forester. As a forester for the BCPL, his mission is to raise funds for schools and libraries through the sustainable management and harvesting of state-owned forests. Andrew previously served in the U.S. Army as a combat documentation specialist, including three deployments overseas. It was during one of these trips to an arid region that he realized his ideal career would be in the forests and lakes of the northern Midwest region. After his separation from the military, he received degrees in Forestry and Wildlife Ecology and Management with a Master of Geographic Information Sciences. He currently lives in a small town in northern Wisconsin with his partner and their three dogs, spending most working days out in the woods as a field forester.  

Jim Schriever
President/CEO, Woodland Solutions Group
Thursday Think Tank: Diversity of Career Paths 

Jim Schriever is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of building, leading, and growing teams in the geospatial and forestry services industry. He is skilled in negotiation, business development; natural resources, natural resource management, environmental awareness, and business management. Schriever is also a strong education professional with an MS focused in Natural Resource Administration and Management from University of New Hampshire.

Sarah Lillie Sewell
Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Lillie Leaf Solutions
Plenary 1: Evolving Forests, Evolving Field

Sarah Lillie Sewell is Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Lillie Leaf Solutions. As a fiercely passionate servant leader, Sarah builds programs that put a profit motive behind environmental stewardship and social equity. She began Lillie Leaf in 2015 to help the environmental sector develop new ways of addressing diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in their work. Most recently, she launched and administered the Tree Equity: Career Pathways Initiative at American Forests to inclusively grow the urban forestry workforce, which has resulted in the training of hundreds and placement of dozens of individuals facing barriers to employment into entry-level tree care jobs. 

Amy Shaunette
Forester, U.S. Forest Service 
Thursday Think Tank: Diversity of Career Paths 

Amy Shaunette works for the USDA Forest Service as a forester on Tahoe National Forest in northern California. She grew up in Oregon and lived in Minnesota for 15 years, where she discovered the magic of forestry. Amy completed a master's degree in forestry with a silviculture focus at the University of Minnesota in 2022. Her thesis explored tamarack regeneration and stand dynamics after eastern larch beetle outbreak in northern Minnesota forests. She previously earned a B.S. in forestry at the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in English at Macalester College. 

Jennie L. Stephens, PhD
Chief Executive Officer, Center for Heirs Property Preservation
Plenary 2: Bridge Builder - Creating Trusting Partnerships

Dr. Jennie L. Stephens has served as the chief leader of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation™ (the CHPPTM) since its inception in 2005. At the CHPPTM, she is responsible for overall strategic planning and resource development. She has worked more than 30 years in the nonprofit field in such positions as fiscal director at a community action agency, sponsored programs director at an historically black college, and senior program director at Coastal Community Foundation. She also has experience in consulting as a program reviewer, strategic plan facilitator, and grants writer. Jennie received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the College of Charleston, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Charleston/University of SC and earned a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. Stephens' passion in life is to help people help themselves. 

Daowei Zhang
George Peake Professor and Associate Dean for Research, College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University 
Thursday Think Tank: The Changing Impact of Forests on Investments 

Daowei Zhang has worked for the College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University since 1994. He worked at the Ministry of Forestry and China Development Bank, and served on the Board of Directors of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and as Senior Forestry Officer and Team Leader for Climate Change and Resilience at Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. He is a recipient of IUFRO’s Scientific Achievement Award and Society of American Foresters’ (SAF) Award in Forest Science. Zhang is an SAF Fellow and has authored more than 130 refereed articles, books, and book chapters. His notable books include From Backwoods to Boardrooms: The Rise of Institutional Investment (Oregon State University Press, 2021), Forest Economics (with Peter Pearse, University of British Columbia Press, 2011), and The Softwood Lumber War: Politics, Economics, and the Long-run U.S.-Canada Trade Dispute (Resources for the Future Press, 2007).