Megan joined the team as Executive Director in July 2017. Megan started her journey with Forests for Monarchs in 2016 when the company she worked for sponsored a "Save the Monarchs Tour." She helped bring Forests for Monarchs co-founder Jose Luis Alvarez to various institutions and organizations on the East Coast for a speaking tour. After stepping away from that position to focus on graduate school, she joined the team at Forests for Monarchs. She holds a Bachelor's degree from Emerson College and an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University. Often out hiking the mountains and trails of New England, Megan can also be found tending to her pollinator-friendly garden.
Board of Directors
Michael Hamm, Ph.D, President
An avid birder and conservationist, Mike Hamm joined La Cruz’s Board in 2014 and became Board President in May of 2017. He holds a B.A. from Macalester College and a Master’s Degree and Ph.D from Indiana University, specializing in Russian history. From 1970 until 2014 he taught Russian, European, and Middle Eastern history at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, holding the Ewing T. Boles professorship and serving as Faculty President from 1998 until 2001. He is the author of a number of scholarly articles and books, including Kiev: A Portrait, 1800-1917 (Princeton University Press). From 2006 until 2016 Mike served on the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and chaired that Board for three years. He is currently Trustee Emeritus of TNC and has also served as President of the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge and the Danville— Boyle County Humane Society.
Ed Rashin, CFO, Treasurer
Founding board member and the Treasurer of La Cruz, Ed is a Forester and Forest Hydrologist who presently works as a Senior Environmental Scientist at Hicks & Company in Austin, Texas. Ed has been a technical advisor to the LCHPP project almost since its inception, working with José Luis Alvarez since 1997 and on the project from 1998 – 2002 and from 2006 – 2010 monitoring the reforestation sites, collecting basic site data, evaluating overall site conditions and maintenance needs and program success. Ed prepared the planting site maps and reports, including inventory of reforestation sites and participants in the program and helped José provide participants with technical assistance for tree planting and ongoing care and maintenance of reforested sites. He was a founding Board member of Michoacán Reforestation Fund where he served from 1997 until 2006, giving him over 22 years working on this project and is the current CFO and Treasurer of Forests For Monarchs.
Peggy Farabaugh, Vice President
Peggy Farabaugh’s passion for wildlife conservation led her to found Vermont Woods Studios in 2005, an online furniture business focused on the sustainable sourcing of wood. Peggy holds a B. S. in chemistry from SUNY, a Master’s Degree in training technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and a Master’s Degree in environmental health and safety from Tulane. Peggy lives in Vernon, VT. She joined our Board in July 2017.
Molly Hoopes, Secretary
Ms. Hoopes is the Secretary of the Organization. She is also on the education committee of the American Society of Botanical Artists and she is Co-Chair of the Exhibits Committee of the Botanical Art Society of the National Capitol Region. She is a Maryland Master Naturalist with a Bachelors degree in Art, Master of Arts in Teaching, and a teacher certification in Biology, who taught environmental awareness through art activities for 20 years.
Donnamarie is a seasoned professional whose passion for conservation led her to embark on a career change from Director of Information Technology in the field of computer networking to Wildlife Biology. In her new career, she is a Coordinating Wildlife Biologist and has served as the Monarch and Pollinator Coordinator in Missouri for the past 5 years, including management of Missourians for Monarchs, a collaborative comprised of 48 partners from state, federal, NGO, academic, private, and agricultural sectors. Donnamarie provides oversight of the “Missouri Monarch and Pollinator Conservation Plan,” serves on both the North Core and South Core teams for the Mid-America Monarch Strategy, is a member of the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA), and is a member of Pheasants/Quail Forever’s Pollinator Habitat Working Group. Donnamarie holds 4 degrees, including a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from the University of Rhode Island. In addition to her passion for monarchs and pollinators, Donnamarie is an enthusiastic birder and overall conservationist. Originally from the east coast, she presently lives in central Missouri with her ever-changing number of rescue animals, currently 2 dogs and 1 cat. Donnamarie joined our Board in 2022.
Sarah Hall-Bagdonas resides in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania and earned a B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Environmental Science at Millersville University. She is the Senior Forestry Manager for the Family Forest Carbon Program at the American Forest Foundation and manages a team of staff foresters, consulting foresters, and all things forestry-related throughout Central Appalachia. She is a legislatively appointed member of the Pennsylvania Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council, past President of the Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society, and a former member of the Hardwoods Development Council and the Pennsylvania Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee. Sarah is passionate about pollinator conservation and the protection of important threatened species such as monarchs. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys fly fishing, doing river clean-ups, organic gardening, and spending time outdoors with family and friends. Sarah joined the Forests for Monarchs Board in 2022.
Mark D. Hunter is the Dean of the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. Most recently he served as the Earl E. Werner Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1984 and his doctorate in 1988, both from the University of Oxford in England. After serving as a NATO International Fellow and an NSERC International Fellow, he joined the faculty of the University of Georgia in 1995 where he served as founding Director of the Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Processes. He joined the University of Michigan in January 2006. His research interests include pollinator declines, forest ecology, environmental change, plant-animal interactions, ecosystem ecology, and biodiversity. Professor Hunter has published over 170 research articles and written or edited six books. He is the recipient of both a CAREER Award and an OPUS Award from the National Science Foundation, and in 2014 was elected a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America. From 2007 to 2012, he served
as the first Director of the award-winning Frontiers Master’s Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, which fosters graduate student diversity at the University of Michigan. Mark joined our Board in 2022.
Barbara has spent her career in marketing and advertising. Her primary focus has been in
developing and executing strategic programs across experiential, mobile, social, and digital
campaigns in the consumer products, telecommunications, sports and entertainment,
financial, and manufacturing industry verticals. She works for Caterpillar, Inc. in Peoria,
Illinois, leading the client services team for the organization's in-house marketing agency.
Barbara has earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison,
a Master's degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University,
and is currently working towards a Master's in Organizational Leadership at Johns Hopkins
University. Barbara gives back to the community through teaching adult learners digital
marketing and coding skills at General Assembly and serves on the Chicago Associates
Board of Blessings in a Backpack, an organization that provides food items for children
faced with food insecurity. Barbara has had a longtime personal commitment to
conservation and literacy issues as a result of her father's mentorship and example. It is in
his honor that she has dedicated efforts to Forests for Monarchs. Barbara joined our Board in 2021.
Ben Miles runs Shire Environmental in Danville, Kentucky. He has worked with River Fields in Louisville, Bluegrass Conservancy in Lexington, the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge and Boyle Landmark Trust in Danville, among other organizations. Prior to relocating in Kentucky, Ben was the Executive Director of the Shasta Land Trust in Redding, CA from 2008 until 2014. Ben holds a B.A. in philosophy from Sewanee and a Master’s in environmental science from UT-Chattanooga. Ben joined our Board in July 2017.
Ron is a certified silviculturist with undergraduate degrees from Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods and an M.S. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He retired as a supervisory forester with thirty-five and half years of government service, primarily with the Bureau of Indian Affairs branch of forestry. Ron has been published in American Forests, Journal of Forestry, and many U.S. Forest Service publications and is currently writing a series entitled “Magnificent Trees of the White Mountains” in his home state of Arizona. The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management recently honored Ron at the state capital as the "2023 Citizen Forester of the Year." An avid hiker, Ron has climbed the highest peak of all of the contiguous 48 states. He also walked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. Ron has been to Hacienda La Cruz and surrounding areas twice since 2020. Ron joined our Board in 2022.
Michaela is an Environmental Scientist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. She serves as the agency’s lead on pollinator initiatives and oversees implementation of the Kentucky Monarch Conservation Plan. This plan is a collaborative effort, requiring Michaela to work with a variety of stakeholders to promote monarch and pollinator conservation initiatives in Kentucky. She also assists with at-risk species surveys and conducts research on the implications of white-nose syndrome on the reproductive capability of Indiana bats. Michaela graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2016 with a degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Science and is currently pursuing a Biology Master’s Degree from Eastern Kentucky University. Michaela joined our Board in 2019.
Emeritus Board Members
Executive Director of Captain Avery Museum. Deborah holds a Ph.D. from Rutgers University. She is a seasoned nonprofit manager with nearly 40 years’ experience as a non-profit professional in both the natural and cultural resources conservation area. She spent 27 years with American Forests in Washington, DC, including 14 years as the Executive Director, and 8 years as President & CEO of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Colorado. Deborah joined Captain Avery Museum as Executive Director in 2018. She has served on a number of boards of directors, including Forests for Monarchs, Friends of Chaco Canyon, and many others. Dr. Gangloff lives in Southern Anne Arundel County, Maryland, with her husband.
José Luis Alvarez, Founder
Mr. Alvarez, a Mexican tree nurseryman in the state of Michoacán, Mexico, developed the La Cruz Habitat Protection Project from the ground up. He was already growing seedling trees for reforestation projects by the Mexican government and other organizations and understood the desperate need for re-establishing forests on the mountain slopes around the monarch over-wintering sites. He also understood the financial needs of the subsistence farmers who owned these lands. He has spent over 20 years developing efficient methods of growing healthy tree seedlings that utilize readily available organic materials. Throughout this time, he worked with the communities in and around the monarch sanctuaries to demonstrate the environmental and economic value of planting trees on their depleted fields and eroded lands. By providing outstanding quality trees and giving valuable technical support, he has built a relationship of trust and respect among the community leaders and participants in this project.
Christopher Best, MA
State Botanist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in Austin, Texas, where he is dedicated to the conservation of rare, threatened, and endangered plants and their habitats in Texas. He has a Bachelor of Science in Plant Biochemistry from the University of Illinois in 1981 and a Master of Arts in Botany from Southern Illinois University in 1985. His thesis research on vesicular mycorrhizae in revegetated strip mine spoil led to a career in restoration ecology. From 1985 to 1989 he served as an agroforestry extensionist with the U.S. Peace Corps/CARE/INAFOR in Guatemala. From 1990 until 2006, he directed an ecological restoration program at Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge along the U.S. – Mexico border in south Texas. Chris Best has served on the Advisory Board since 2010.
Lincoln Brower, Ph.D
In July 2018, Advisory Board Member and longtime partner to La Cruz, Dr. Lincoln Brower passed away. Dr. Brower, a fierce advocate for the Monarchs, dedicated his life’s work to the Monarch Butterfly, learning the intricate and complex characteristics and migration patterns of this beloved pollinator. Often times called on as the go-to expert, Dr. Brower’s work can be found among the science pages of the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC and many more. He was also a founding member of Forests for Monarch over 20 years ago. An advocate for the Monarch’s survival until the end, his legacy will endure. To a great friend, leader and advocate, we at Forests for Monarchs, along with the communities impacted by his work in Michoacán, Mexico, will miss him. His work has made a difference for generations to come.
(Pictured: Lincoln Brower with Forests for Monarchs Founder, Jose Luis Alvarez in 2016)
(February 2021): It's with great sadness that we announce the passing of a longtime Forests for Monarchs Board Member, Monty Maldonado. Monty, an advocate for the monarchs, dedicated his life to forestry and conservation of crucial lands and habitats. Most recently, he worked with the U.S. Forest Service as the National Program Manager for the National Forests System Trust Funds program providing leadership to the 155 national forests, nurseries and seed extractories across the U.S. His impact is immeasurable and he will be greatly missed.