About Rainforest Trust

Our Board of Directors

Chair: John D. Mitchell
John Mitchell is a Research Fellow at the New York Botanical Garden. He also serves as Director on the Board of Bat Conservation International and is a board member of Island Conservation, Turtle Survival Alliance, and the Pennypack Watershed Association in Pennsylvania. He belongs to a wide variety of scientific and environmental organizations and has special interests in conservation and birding, having pursued these activities worldwide from the Antarctic and Africa to Borneo and South America. John has a BS in Biology from Muhlenberg College and pursued PhD studies in Ecology at Rutgers University; he has authored approximately 50 scientific papers.
Vice-chair: Dr. Gerard Bertrand
With over 30 years experience in environmental science and conservation, Jerry Bertrand’s primary interest has always revolved around the preservation of habitat and species. Jerry is a Vice President of BirdLife International, Honorary President of World Land Trust (our partner in the UK), and board member of the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust. He is a biologist who has served as head of the International Division of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and for many years as the Executive President of Massachusetts Audubon Society and Chairman of Birdlife International. His PhD is in Marine Biology.

Treasurer: Sally F. Davidson Sally is the Chairman of the Board at Clyde’s Restaurant Group of Washington DC, where she has provided significant support through sponsored benefits and meals to benefit many of Washington’s conservation organizations. She has a lifelong interest in river conservation, is currently serving on the Board of Potomac Riverkeeper, and served on the Board of American Rivers. Sally also is a member of Rachel’s Network, an environmental advocacy group named in honor of Rachel Carson.

Secretary: Dr. Wayt Thomas
Wayt Thomas is a leading authority on the plants of the Atlantic coastal forest of Brazil, one of the most critically endangered rainforests in the world, with less than 5% of its original vegetation remaining. Wayt works with Brazilian collaborators to survey these special forests and make their data available for conservation action. He is Curator of Botany at the Institute of Systematic Botany of the New York Botanical Garden and a faculty member of the Garden’s Graduate Studies Program. Wayt received his PhD in Botany from the University of Michigan and his BS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy
Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy is a conservation biologist who has worked in the Brazilian Amazon since 1965 and made the fate of tropical forests a public issue. Lovejoy was Chief Biodiversity Adviser to the President of the World Bank and Senior Adviser to the President of the United Nations Foundation, before becoming Biodiversity Chair of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment. He introduced the term “biological diversity” to the scientific community in 1980. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in Biology from Yale University and is currently University Professor of Environmental Science and Public Policy at George Mason University.
Robert Giles
Robert Giles graduated with a MA in Economics from the University of  Cambridge in 1982 and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1985. Robert lives in  London, is an active birder and conservationist, and has supported  conservation projects in Colombia and other countries since 1991. Robert  has been involved in helping preserve sustainability for ProAves Colombia by establishing and operating EcoTurs Colombia,  which promotes ecotourism to ProAves reserves and other destinations  and donates all profits to ProAves. Robert is presently the Chairman of  ProAves Advisory Council, and member of the Board of Directors of ProAves.
Nancy L. Weiss, M.D.
Nancy Weiss of Charlottesville, Virginia, graduated with a Doctor of Medicine from Temple University School of Medicine in 1969 and was listed as one of the Best Doctors in America before retiring in 2006. She remains a volunteer physician in general medicine in Virginia and a volunteer triage surgeon in Guatemala working exclusively with underserved Mayan communities in the highlands. Nancy’s concern for tropical habitat protection and desire to protect and conserve wildlife has led to her active involvement in the conservation community. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Audubon Society and American Bird Conservancy. Nancy has a lifelong interest in the natural world.
Melissa Trotter
Melissa Trotter graduated from Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, with a BA and Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, with a JD. Melissa comes to Rainforest Trust with experience working in Washington,DC with the federal government on many issues. Currently Melissa serves on the board of The Committee of 1926, Historic Strawberry Mansion, and the Executive Board of The Acorn Club. Melissa is thrilled to take her experience from a local level to a global commitment as Rainforest Trust continues its mission to empower communities and partners around the world to protect its rainforests and endangered wildlife.
Leslie Danoff Leslie Danoff
Leslie is a former television news and public affairs producer, writer, and researcher. Among her professional highlights: working with Bill Moyers in public television and with Walter Cronkite at CBS News on Election Night. At CBS, Leslie worked on News Specials and documentaries and developed multi-part series for the Morning News, such as Trade-Offs Between the Environment and Economy. At New York’s public television station, WNET, she won an Emmy for a public affairs series devoted to critical New York City issues. While living in Maryland, she was a grassroots climate activist with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and 1 Sky. The mother of three sons, Leslie is an independent documentary filmmaker, an artist, and a graduate of the first class of women at Yale. She lives in New York City and Vermont.
Edith McBean
Edith’s passion for wildlife conservation has led her to active involvement in the conservation community including serving as a Trustee of the Wildlife Conservation Society for 30 years. Currently she serves on the boards of Rare Conservation, Lewa Conservancy in Kenya, and the International Council of Advisors for the National Geographic Society. In Central Africa she is a strong collaborator of conservation in Gabon, working closely with Professor Lee White, Director of Parks, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Dr. Michael J Fay. She currently works with  Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, WCS, African Parks, and Save the Elephants. A native of California and England, she lives in New York City.
Jeff Mundy
Jeff is a board certified trial lawyer specializing in personal injury and commercial litigation in Austin, Texas with over 25 years of experience. He also uses his skills to support environmental litigation, most recently seeking enforcement of the Endangered Species Act to protect Whooping Cranes and Ocelots in Texas. Jeff is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). He has served as president of the Houston Audubon Society, as well as on the boards of the Houston Audubon Society, Travis Audubon Society, and Texas Audubon Society. The Houston Audubon Society named a bird sanctuary, Mundy Marsh, on the Texas coast in honor of Jeff for his years of conservation work in Texas.
Somer Chatwin Sommer V. Chatwin
Sommer works in executive recruiting for a leading hedge fund in Westport, Connecticut where she is responsible for building and managing relationships and networks of executive talent. Her passion for travel and learning has led her to the world of conservation and using her skills to make an impact. In addition, Sommer is passionate about the Arts and has actively contributed by introducing new members and introducing vendors to the programs where she is involved. Sommer has a BS in Economics from Towson University, in Maryland. Originally a native of New York she has lived in 5 different states over the past 10 years. Sommer currently splits her time between New York City and Connecticut.
Brett Byers Headshot Small Brett Byers
Brett is a professional investor with over a decade of experience leading the venture capital activities of an institutional investment firm. He formerly served, primarily in the information technology industry, as a senior executive, corporate attorney, and engineer. Brett holds a JD from Yale Law School and a BS in electrical engineering from Cornell University. He is motivated by a desire to combat climate change through the creation of large carbon-storing protected areas..
Jeffrey Zack Head Shot Small Jeffrey Zack
Jeffrey is senior managing director at RF|Binder, a New York-based public relations firm, where he manages communications programs for financial services companies. Jeff has more than 20 years of experience in corporate communications, public relations and business journalism. He began his career as a journalist, covering corporate social responsibility and, later, financial services. Jeff has volunteered with the Wildlife Conservation Society and enjoys wildlife photography. He graduated from Carleton College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Russ Mittermeier Dr. Russell A. Mittermeier
Russ Mittermeier is the President of Conservation International and was selected as one of TIME Magazine’s “EcoHeroes for the Planet” in 1998. Russ is a noted author of Hotspots and many other books on conservation and is the only working field biologist at the head of a major international environmental organization. He has been Chairman of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Primate Specialist Group since 1977. Russ received his PhD from Harvard University in Biological Anthropology in 1977 and has served as Vice President for Science at the World Wildlife Fund, President of the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, and an Adjunct Professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Alan Martin Alan Martin
Alan is a qualified accountant with a passion for wildlife. Now retired he spends much of his time supporting a number of conservation organizations including Rainforest Trust. Alan is also the Secretary of the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust, and acts as the main coordinator of the REGUA project in Brazil. He regularly visits REGUA enjoying the wildlife, particularly the birds and the moths (he has recently co-authored A Guide to the Hawkmoths of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil ). He is currently the Honorary Treasurer and a Council member of the RSPB and is an ex-Director of Wetlands International, and is the former Chairman of the British Trust for Ornithology.
Byron Swift Byron Swift – Founder
Byron has dedicated much of his career over the past 25 years to helping local partners establish and support protected areas throughout Latin America. Byron most recently worked for the Environmental Law Institute. He previously directed the United States office of IUCN, where he initiated programs to strengthen national funds for the environment and for non governmental participation in multilateral agencies and the Global Environment Facility. He previously worked for WWF, served in the legal office for parks and wildlife of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and spent 12 years as international program officer for the Wildwings and Underhill Foundations.

 Rainforest Trust Board Committee Members: (as voted on and approved in the October 2012 Board Meeting)
  Finance And Audit Committee: Sally Davidson and Robert Giles
  Development Committee: Melissa Trotter, Edith McBean, and Sommer Victoria Chatwin
  Governance Committee: Dr. Gerard Bertrand and Dr. Wayt Thomas