Plenary Speakers

Our SAF2023 Plenary sessions and speakers will explore the convention theme of "Forestry: It's in Our DNA." Get to know our speakers by reading their bios below (listed alphabetically).


Dawn Blake, Forestry Department Director for the Yurok Tribe 

Plenary 3 Panelist: Moving beyond "Traditional": Indigenizing Forestry at its Roots

Dawn Blake is an enrolled Hoopa Tribal member and Yurok descendent. Blake is the Forestry Department Director for the Yurok Tribe and serves on the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. She has an MS in natural resources and 20 years of real-world experience in land administration, fire prevention, and forest restoration, ranging from wildlife research to cultural burning. Blake is well-versed in all aspects of traditional and western forest management. As the Yurok Forestry Director, she manages more than 70,000 acres of Yurok-owned forest. These forests are managed for maximum biological diversity, climate change resilience and for the benefit of current and future generations of Yurok people. Blake oversees the Tribe’s 15,000-acre Old-Growth Forest and Salmon Sanctuary on Blue Creek. The Tribe is restoring the forest surrounding this vital Klamath River tributary back into an uneven aged trajectory. Blake also administers sustainable and selective timber harvest and thinning operations on tribal lands. 

Kedren Dillard, Shipley Associates 

Plenary 2 Speaker: A Forest Legacy – The Past, Present and Future

Kedren Dillard is an executive committee member with Shipley Associates.  As Senior Vice President of Client Success, Dillard oversees business development and consulting, training, strategy, and partnerships for Shipley’s Mid-Atlantic region.  Prior to Shipley, Dillard worked in Global Talent Acquisition for Bloomberg LP where she recruited and hired senior leaders in various critical areas of business.  Earlier in her tenure at Bloomberg she led Federal Sales for Bloomberg Government in Washington, DC.

Since 2019, Dillard has served as a Board of Trustee with the American Forest Foundation where she is currently an Executive Committee member and serves as Secretary.  In May of 2021, Dillard testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry in support of the Rural Forests Markets Act – legislation supporting family forest owners access carbon markets.  She is also a board member of Dovetail Partners, a non-profit environmental think tank based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Dillard holds an MBA from Northern Arizona University and an undergraduate degree from the University of California at Davis, where she was a proud member of the Women’s Rowing Team. 

Dr. Tom Fox, Rayonier 

Plenary 1 Panelist: What is a Forester?

Dr. Tom Fox is Vice President at Rayonier and leads the Research, Productivity, Sustainability Team. He currently lives in Yulee, Florida and coordinates Rayonier’s research and technology transfer in silviculture and tree improvement, and oversees the ecosystem services and forest certification programs. Prior to joining Rayonier, Fox was the Honorable Garland Gray Distinguished Professor of Forestry at Virginia Tech. He was also the Co-Director of the Forest Productivity Cooperative and the Site Director for the NSF Center for Advanced Forestry Systems. Fox was a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Professor at Pontificia Universdad Catolica de Chile in Santiago, Chile.

Fox received his BS in Forestry and Wood Products and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Pulp and Paper Science from the University of Maine, an MS in Forest Soils from Virginia Tech, and a PhD in Soil Science from the University of Florida.  He is a Registered Professional Forester in Maine and Georgia, an SAF Certified Forester (CF) and an SSSA Certified Professional Soil Scientist. He received the Stephen Spurr Award for Research and the Barrington Moore Award for Research in Biological Sciences from the Society of American Foresters. He currently serves on the SAF Board of Directors and chairs the Finance Committee.  He is a Fellow in both the Soil Science Society of America and the Society of American Foresters. 

Dr. Austin Himes, Mississippi State University

Plenary 1 Moderator: What is a Forester?

Dr. Austin Himes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forestry at Mississippi State University. Prior to his academic career, he worked for GreenWood Resources, Inc, a Timber Investment Management Organization (TIMO), where he conducted applied forestry research, managed hybrid-poplar plantations, and worked on forest sustainability projects. His research interests are interdisciplinary and revolve around silviculture and management of forests for multiple ecosystem services. He has authored peer reviewed articles on a diverse range of topics including trade-offs between ecosystem services in plantation forests, the carbon benefits of building with wood, short rotation woody crop systems and the different ways that people value ecosystem services. He is an SAF Certified Forester (CF), a Registered Forester with the state of Mississippi, and has been a Forest Stewards Guild member since 2017. Himes received his PhD in Forest Ecosystems and Society from Oregon State University in 2019 and holds an MS from the University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.

Dr. Serra Hoagland, USDA Rocky Mountain Research Station

Plenary 3 Panelist: Moving beyond "Traditional": Indigenizing Forestry at its Roots

Dr. Serra Hoagland (Laguna Pueblo) currently serves as the Tribal Relations Specialist for the USDA Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) of the USDA Forest Service. She focuses on building local, regional, and national partnerships with tribes and intertribal organizations, mentoring students in natural resources, and conducting research that is relevant to Native communities. Hoagland recently detailed as the National Program Lead for Tribal Research for the USFS as well as with region 4 as the Regional Tribal Relations Program Manager. Prior to joining the RMRS, Hoagland worked as a Biological Scientist and as the Tribal Relations co-point of contact for the Southern Research Station in Asheville, North Carolina. Hoagland began her Forest Service career working on the Lincoln National Forest in 2010 as a SCEP wildlife biologist trainee. As the first Native American to graduate from Northern Arizona University with a PhD in forestry, Hoagland studied Mexican spotted owl habitat on tribal and non-tribal lands in south-central New Mexico. In 2020, she was nominated for a professional of the year award and was selected as the most promising scientist by the American Indian Science & Engineering Society. Over the years, Hoagland has been actively involved with the Society of American Foresters, the Intertribal Timber Council, the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society as well as The Wildlife Society.

Thomas E. Jackson, III, Enviva

Plenary 2 Moderator: A Forest Legacy – The Past, Present and Future

Thomas Jackson is the Director of Forest Diversity and Inclusion responsible for recruiting, managing, and retaining relationships with diverse landowners and minority owned logging and forestry partner companies; and overseeing the heirs property support portfolio for Enviva. He has over 19 years of experience in the forestry industry, including the past year spent with Enviva. Thomas also leads recruiting for minority participation for field vendor opportunities, primarily LCAP; and co-leads the Enviva Heirs Property Fund, along with the Vice President of Equity, Inclusion, and Impact.

Prior to joining Enviva, Thomas spent three years at ArborGen Incorporated as a Reforestation Advisor, and fourteen years at Weyerhaeuser Company of which he served nine years as the Southeast Region Seedling Sales Manager. As a Reforestation Advisor and Regional Seedling Sales Manager, he was responsible for planning and managing seedling sales and operations, and other sales related activities such as contract negotiation, inventory and harvest operations, and product distribution and logistics. 

Thomas currently serves on the 2023 National Convention Program Committee for Society of American Foresters, and is a member of the North Carolina Forestry Association and the Forestry Association of South Carolina. He is a graduate of Alabama A&M University, with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry. Thomas currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and children.


Krause, Michigan Technological University

Plenary 3 Moderator: Moving beyond "Traditional": Indigenizing Forestry at its Roots

Krause is a diversity, equity, and belonging advocate for the forestry community as the Outreach Coordinator in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University, where they introduce student populations to career and degree opportunities within natural resources. They have a BS in Criminal Justice, a minor in wildland firefighting, and recently completed their Master of Forestry degree from Michigan Tech after several seasons being a wildland firefighter in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Their passion for diversity and forestry cannot help but collide in their day-to-day work, but especially as the chair for the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science diversity committee, the secretary of the Diversity and Inclusion working group for SAF, communications chair of the Michigan SAF chapter, and as an advocate at other conferences around the US. Krause's passion stems from not wanting LGBTQ+ folks or other minoritized individuals to feel the same way they did going into the natural resource profession. 


Dr. James Lewis, Forest History Society

Plenary 1 Panelist: What is a Forester?

James Lewis has been the staff historian at the Forest History Society since 2003. He is the author of two books on the USDA Forest Service and published numerous articles on different aspects of forest history. For the last fifteen years, he has served as the editor of the Society’s magazine Forest History Today and its blog Peeling Back the Bark. He is one of the executive producers and a co-writer of the Emmy Award–winning film about Carl Schenck and the Biltmore Forest School called America’s First Forest. His next book will be a history of the Yale School of the Environment. 


Nisogaabokwe Melonee Montano, Great Lake Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission

Plenary 3 Panelist: Moving beyond "Traditional": Indigenizing Forestry at its Roots

Nisogaabokwe – Melonee Montano, is a mother, grandmother, and an enrolled member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Outreach Specialist for Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) where she helps assess climate change impacts on treaty resources and potential threats to Ojibwe culture and lifeways. She is also a graduate student at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in the Natural Resources Science & Management Program under the Forestry Department. Prior to GLIFWC she was Red Cliff’s Environmental Programs Manager where she has also served on various committees including EPA’s Regional Tribal Operations Committee, Alliance for Sustainability, Treaty Natural Resources, the Integrated Resources Management Plan, and is currently serving on the Great Lakes Compact Commission. She holds a BS degree in Healthcare Administration with a Native American and Environmental Studies emphasis. Lastly and most importantly, she is a lifelong student of her cultural ways.


Dr. Linda Nagel, Utah State University

Plenary 1 Panelist: What is a Forester?

Linda Nagel, PhD, has over 23 years of experience as a professor of silviculture. She has a long record of directing, teaching, and facilitating professional training courses and workshops, including the National Advanced Silviculture Program for the USDA Forest Service. Nagel co-leads the Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) Network aimed at bringing together practitioners and scientists to co-develop adaptive forest management practices in the face of climate change. This high-impact research and outreach project is translating climate adaptation theory into practice, with 14 research sites across North America, and includes over 100 partners. Nagel has served on the faculty at Michigan Technological University, the University of Minnesota where she also served as Director of Operations of the Cloquet Forestry Center and the Hubachek Wilderness Research Center, and Colorado State University where she was Department Head. She is now Dean of the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources at Utah State University. Nagel has received awards and recognition for teaching excellence, efforts toward diversity and inclusion in natural resources, outreach and service to forestry professionals, and leadership of the ASCC Network for its contributions and broad impact to forest science and management.