Press Release

Growing Climate-Smart Forestry Expertise, NEFF Adds Seven to Staff

Sep. 29, 2023

Media Contact: Tinsley Hunsdorfer,

Littleton, MA (September 29, 2023) – Significantly expanding staff at a time of growing concern about protecting forests from worsening climate impacts and how forests can lessen those impacts, the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) has announced seven new staff members. Bringing new capacity in senior forestry expertise, forest biometrics, and modeling and science capacity, the additional staff will expand NEFF’s workforce by about a third.

“Our challenge in protecting our region’s forests in the face of climate change has never been greater, but fortunately our partnerships at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as our support from donors, have never been stronger,” said NEFF Executive Director Bob Perschel. “Particularly building on our $30-million USDA Climate-Smart Commodities program, NEFF has been able to significantly expand our team. We can now offer new resources to the region to support healthy forests and climate action.”

Through the application of its core expertise in conserving forestlands and advancing Exemplary Forestry, the New England Forestry Foundation helps the people of New England to sustain their way of life, protect forest wildlife habitat and ecosystem services, and mitigate and adapt to climate change. In partnership with land owners, New England Forestry Foundation has conserved more than 1.2 million acres of forest since its founding in 1944, including one out of every three acres of forestland protected in New England since 1999. It also owns and manages more than 150 Community Forests across the region. For more information, visit

Meet NEFF’s New Staff Members

Kerry Castorano | Chief Development Officer

Kerry joined NEFF to design and implement strategies that raise community support and awareness of NEFF and its important mission. Kerry’s entire career has been spent in the nonprofit sector, primarily serving museums with natural history or STEM-focused collections. She has a master’s degree in anthropology from Brandeis University and completed her undergraduate work at the University of Notre Dame.

Kate Lindroos Conlin | Woodlands Partnership Coordinator

As Coordinator for the Woodlands Partnership of Northwest Massachusetts, Kate helps facilitate NEFF’s work as the Administrative Agent for the Partnership, which focuses on forest conservation and nature-based economic development. Kate has experience in nonprofit program development, writing, editing, publishing, and teaching, and holds a B.A. in history from Hampshire College, a M.A. in English from Central Connecticut State University, and a M.F.A in poetry from the UMass Amherst.

Daniel Hohl | Program Forester

Dan oversees forest management on all NEFF Community Forests and supports implementation of the Climate-Smart Commodities program. He is familiar with New England forests and the management of forest stands, including the economics of timber harvests, forest health, invasive species threats, and silvicultural prescriptions. He brings a wealth of expertise through his work with the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and USDA Forest Service, and forestry work in other regions. Dan has a B.S. in forest management from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Darren Johnson | Senior Forester

Darren leads NEFF’s forestry team and oversees NEFF’s efforts to implement Exemplary Forestry standards across the region, including major components of our Climate-Smart Commodities program. He is a licensed professional forester and fire ecologist, and holds a BSc in forestry and M.S. in forest ecology. He has more than 20 years’ experience working in North America, Asia and Africa on forest and fire management, conservation, and climate change-related activities. Darren has collaborated with government agencies, indigenous groups, and nonprofits including the World Bank, UN, The Nature Conservancy, US Forest Service – International Programs, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Vanessa Komada (they/them) | Wood Sourcing Specialist

Vanessa works to develop, document, and promote a climate-smart wood supply chain in New England as part of the market development team of NEFF’s Climate-Smart Commodities program. Their interests range from forest economics, disturbance regime guided silviculture, and environmental justice, with experience in the forests of the Midwest and West Coast. Vanessa has had the privilege to work with a variety of stakeholders, nonprofits, government organizations, and private landowners over the years and holds a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a M.F. from UC Berkeley.

David Ray | Forest Biometrician

David uses forest biometrics to address quantitative aspects of NEFF’s scientific undertakings, and he is a forester with experience in applied research and management of Northeastern forests. His interests range from ecological and intensive silviculture, to growth and yield modeling and fire ecology. He has worked for several conservation organizations, including Woods Hole Research Center, The Nature Conservancy, and Tall Timbers Research Station. David has a B.S. and Ph.D. from University of Maine, and a M.S. from SUNY College of Environmental Science, all in forestry.

Catrina Vear | Grant Writer & CSC Project Coordinator

Catrina is responsible for coordinating the many moving parts that make up NEFF’s $30 million Climate-Smart Commodities program, and facilitates timely completion, documentation and reporting to the USDA. She also researches and pursues new federal funds to empower NEFF’s mission. Previously, Catrina built her development, grants management, and project management skills at nonprofit organizations with focus areas like international human rights and animal welfare, as well as at a museum of science and nature. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University.