Board of Directors

Brian C. McCarthy, Ph.D.: Albany, OH (Board of Directors Chair)

As an academic forest ecologist, Brian has been studying eastern hardwood forests since the mid-1980s. Thus, his draw to American chestnut and TACF was a rather seamless and natural process.

Brian currently serves as the Associate Dean of Faculty, Research, and Graduate Studies for the College of Arts & Sciences and Professor of Forest Ecology in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology at Ohio University. His area of research is broadly defined as forest ecology, with a focus on eastern hardwood forest ecosystems. Specifically, he has worked in the areas of tree reproductive ecology, forest stand dynamics, disturbance history reconstruction, fire ecology, understory community dynamics, invasive species ecology, mine land reclamation, and restoration ecology.

In his spare time, Brian wants simply to be outdoors. He is an avid bicyclist (road, mountain, bike-packing) and pursuer of a long-list of outdoor activities, most of which occur in and around the eastern hardwood forest: fly-fishing, upland hunting, canoeing, hiking, and backpacking.

Michael D. Doochin: Nashville, TN (Immediate Past Chair)

Michael’s fascination with the American chestnut and its ties to our culture brought him to TACF. Interested in the American chestnut from an early age, he later discovered large American chestnut trees on his property. His general love of trees led him to establish an arboretum outside of Nashville, TN where he has planted chestnut trees.

Michael is an owner and manager of a flexible packaging and label business outside of Nashville. He is the author of two novels:  The Tzaddik, based on wisdom from eight years of Kabbalah study with a rabbi, and In Exile in the Promised Land and is presently finishing a nonfiction book, The Mystical Naturalist, which combines environmentalism and spirituality.

Michael has traveled extensively which allows him to pursue his interests in photography and collecting ethnographic art. He is an oil painter of portraits, landscapes, and abstracts and has exhibited in several shows. He enjoys restoring antiquities found on trips, such as Anasazi pots and old Chinese weaving tables. Michael is also a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner and a Certified Tennessee Naturalist.

Betty McDonald Allison: Lewisville, NC

Betty became interested in the American chestnut tree when chestnut stumps were found on property her family purchased. She has had a lifetime love of biology, and the outdoors.

After earning a BS in Zoology from UNC-CH, she worked as a chemist, and as a System Engineer for IBM. While raising a family she became a volunteer with many organizations including serving as Board Chair of the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern NC, and the Greenfield Academy (Wilson, NC) as well as many years of “PTAs” and “Team Moms”. She was a Girl Scout Leader for 8 years while also serving on the GS Council Board(s) in NC and committee member of the four GS Council Realignment (merger) committee.

Betty and her husband John Allison, have three adult children. They planted their first American Chestnut Foundation seeds and saplings in the 1990s. They also have honeybees and fruit trees.

Steve Barilovits III: Charlotte, NC (Science and Technology Committee Chair)

Steve was aware of the chestnut story, but it was his son who found TACF and got him involved.  An invitation to attend a chapter meeting sparked their participation in the organization.

With a background in electrical engineering, Steve’s career includes developing high technology products from conception to production, R&D management, and systems design.

In his free time, Steve enjoys hiking and tennis.

Hill Craddock, Ph.D.: Chatanooga, TN (Awards Sub-Committee Chair ; Tennessee State Chapter President)

Dr. Craddock teaches courses in general biology, economic botany, dendrology and mycology. His current research is focused on the restoration of the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) to the Southern Appalachian hardwood forest.

Hill is also working on establishment of a commercial chestnut industry in Tennessee. Project areas include: breeding for blight resistance (resistance to Cryphonectria parasitica), breeding for Phytophthora-root-rot resistance (caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi), investigations of Hypovirulence for biological control of chestnut blight, Castanea germplasm collection and characterization, and chestnut cultivar evaluation.


Amanda "Mandy" Cromwell, Ph.D.: Groton, Massachusetts

Dr. Mandy Cromwell  is a director of preclinical at Vertex Cell and Genetic Therapies, a Boston area biotechnology company working to develop a cure for type 1 diabetes. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology from Stetson University and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and has over 25 year of experience working in R and D in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

Mandy is a longtime resident of Groton, MA and a member of the Nashua River Watershed Association, a local conservation organization. Avid cyclists, she and her husband Duane are also active volunteers with the Friends of the Nashua River Rail Trail.

William J. “Jay” Cude III: Castalian Springs, TN (Board Secretary, Governance Committee Chair)

Jay Cude spent 35 years in the medical device industry where he was involved in the design, manufacture and sale of disposable medical devices for cardiology, radiology, CT, MRI, and general surgery.

Jay was Founder and CEO of Coeur, Inc., a medical device company that manufactures and sells finished medical devices to the global imaging market.   The business was sold in 2012.  Prior to this, Jay was Group Vice President of the DeRoyal Plastics Group and CEO of Hospital Disposables, a family business also involved in the U.S. hospital market.  Jay recently retired as Director of Strategic Planning for ITW Medical.

Jay was formerly a Director, Officer, Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Washington DC based Plastics Industry Association.   SPI is a non-profit trade association representing over 1,000 businesses involved in the manufacture and sale of plastic manufacturing equipment, raw materials, and products.  Jay is also past Chair of SPI’s Healthcare Division and past Chair of the SPI National Certification Program, an industry training program.

At present, Jay serves on the Advisory Board of a private medical device company.

Jay is a graduate of the Emory School of Business Administration, has a wife and two grown children, and resides outside of Nashville, TN.  He enjoys hunting, fly fishing, gardening, traveling, and spends time managing the family farm in west Tennessee.

Deborah Delmer, Ph.D.: Brevard, NC

Dr. Deborah Delmer, is Professor Emeritus of Plant Biology at UC Davis. She has held faculty positions at Michigan State University, The Hebrew University, and UC Davis. In 2004, she received from the American Chemical Society the Anselme Payen Award in recognition of excellence in the science and chemical technology of cellulose.

Professor Delmer also served as President of the American Society of Plant Biologists and in 2004 she was elected to membership in the US National Academy of Sciences. From 2002-2007, she served as Associate Director for Food Security for the Rockefeller Foundation where she was involved with grant making and policy relating to the role of biotechnology in developing world agriculture.  Now retired, Delmer now serves on a number of advisory boards and consultant to foundations, academia, industry, and governments on developing world agriculture issues surrounding biomass production.

Deborah was also Program Director for Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development, BREAD (2009-2010), jointly funded by the US NSF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Deborah has been involved with TACF since 2017.

Carolyn Howes Keiffer, Ph.D.: Middleton, OH (Chapters Committee Chair ; Ohio State Chapter President)

Carolyn’s interest in the science of tree breeding and restoration naturally aligned her with the mission of TACF. Her interest in the American chestnut led to the formation of an Ohio chapter.

Carolyn Keiffer joined the Miami University faculty in 1996 and serves as Math and Science Coordinator of the Middletown campus. She has developed an extramurally funded research program in applied ecology and restoration ecology and is currently working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Department of the Interior to restore the American chestnut to U.S. forests.

In addition to numerous service roles with university and national scientific societies, locally, Carolyn chaired the Middletown City Tree Commission from 1998-2012, and was instrumental in Middletown first receiving “Tree City USA” status in 2007. In her personal time, she enjoys gardening, bird watching, traveling, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Dennis WC. Liu, Ph.D.: Potomac, MD

A nationally recognized expert in science education, Dennis Liu is currently Vice President of Education for the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and the Half-Earth Project. Previously, he directed the production of educational media at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, working with scientists, educators, graphic designers, animators, and filmmakers to produce an array of educational products that have had a lasting impact on science education. Dennis has managed teams devoted to assessing and assuring the educational impact of media, including building professional learning programs and peer communities.

In his role as Executive Director of HHMI’s Tangled Bank Studios he was executive producer and editorial advisor on over a dozen film projects for theatre, broadcast television, Large Screen, and digital science programs aimed at the general public. Dennis trained in neuroscience and genetics, earning a PhD in biology from the University of Oregon. Following postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington, he held a faculty position in the Department of Genetics.

Lewis Lobdell: Youngstown, PA (Governance Committee Chair)

Lewis is an avid chestnut restoration enthusiast and has several plantings on their property. He has been a TACF member for more than 20 years.

Lewis was raised in Charlotte and earned degrees in architecture, regional planning and law at NC State and UNC Chapel Hill. He served in the US Army with the Airborne Engineers from 1972-1974. He moved to Pittsburgh after law school in 1983 to practice at a firm centered on large-scale public/private law. He then joined PNC Bank in 1991, in increasingly senior roles where he retired in 2010 as manager of a commercial loan division. Lewis has served on the Western Penn Conservancy (WPC) board and chaired the fundraising subcommittee where he helped lead a $50 million campaign. This campaign raised money for WPC’s 4 programs, including the architectural and conservation projects at the Falling Waters complex outside Pittsburgh. In addition to the WPC, he serves on the Westmoreland Land Trust board.

Lewis and his wife Kate have four children and four grandchildren and enjoy skiing, tennis, golf, and wilderness hiking.

Jeanne Romero-Severson, Ph.D.: Notre Dame, IN

Jeanne Romero-Severson is a Professor of Quantitative Genetics and Genomics in the Biological Sciences department at the University of Notre Dame. After obtaining her Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1984, she served as a postdoctoral associate in the Entomology Department. Fourteen years and three companies later, she moved to West Lafayette to accept an appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Forestry and Agronomy at Purdue University. In 2003 she moved to the University of Notre Dame. Currently, she is a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health, Director of the Tree Genetics Core Facility, and President of the Faculty Senate.

“Seed orchard DNA fingerprinting: The double-edged sword of the open access gene pool”

Jim Searing, New Hope, PA

Jim studied landscape architecture and horticulture at Temple University’s Ambler campus after a 32 year career as a partner and CPA at Ernst & Young. His interest in trees evolved into a focus on restoring the American chestnut to southeastern PA, where he has planted TACF B3F3 trees in local nature preserves and is working on expanding the program to a local university.

He most recently retired as a township Supervisor in Solebury PA after six years of public service, and was a founding director of the Aquetong Watershed Association.

Jim is known as @TreeStrategist on Twitter with 5,000 people following his posts on trees, conservation and urban forestry.

He brings a strong interest in ecological restoration, tree planting, finance, social media, community engagement and strategy to the TACF Board and the Pennsylvania/New Jersey Chapter where he has been a member since 2018, and currently serves as Vice President.

Brad Stanback: Canton, NC

Learning the important role the American chestnut played in the Appalachian ecosystem and the need to bring it back led Brad to TACF.

Brad owns and manages a 1300 acre research farm in the North Carolina mountains just west of Asheville. He is involved as a funder and advisor to many local environmental groups, particularly local land trusts involved in protecting land through purchase or Conservation Easement.

Brad’s hobby is Ecological Restoration, but done on a scale that most would consider well beyond a hobby.

Kim Steiner, Ph.D.: University Park, PA (Senior Science Advisor)

Kim’s background as a forest geneticist and an interest in the chestnut tree provided a natural link to TACF. He wrote a breeding plan for a blight-resistant chestnut as a term paper in his first graduate genetics class in 1970.

After a stint of active service in the Army, Kim moved to the East where he took a faculty position at Penn State University.

At home, Kim enjoys reading, puttering in his shop, fiddling with his many rifles and their cartridges to get them to shoot accurately, and touring America on his motorcycle.

Barbara Tormoehlen: Powell, OH (Board Treasurer, Finance Committe Chair)

Barb had a 37-year career in the US Forest Service (USFS). She spent the first two decades with the National Forest System, Region 9, on the Hoosier and Ottawa National Forests (NF), serving on the Hoosier NF at the district level and the Supervisor’s office as the Planning and Information Management Staff Officer, and on the Ottawa NF as the Kenton District Ranger.

Transferred to the Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry (NA) in 1998 – served Area-wide for the Area Director (resource analyst), the Forest Stewardship Program, and eventually as Group Leader, Office of Information Management, finishing at the St. Paul Field Office for NA as the Director’s Field Representative, with oversight of S&PF programs for seven Midwestern state forestry agencies and their partners, including tribes in Urban Forestry and Forest Stewardship, and Forest Health Protection for all forest lands in the seven state area. Barb served as a collateral-duty trained federal mediator (and later resolving official) for US Department of Agriculture agencies east of the Mississippi River. She received the USFS Chief’s Awards in 2005 and 2013.

In retirement, Barb provides volunteer services in mentoring and in support of a local food bank. She leads a tree replacement project, including removal of nearly 100 public ash trees that succumbed to the emerald ash borer in 2014.

Bruce Wakeland: Culver, IN (Restoration Committee Chair)

Bruce has been a consulting forester since his graduation from Purdue University in 1972, founding Wakeland Consulting Foresters in 1976. He became interested in American chestnut in 1975 when he found surviving trees in a client’s woodlands. He founded TACF’s Indiana Chapter in 1996 and Indiana’s breeding program in 1997. He has served on the board of directors since 1997.

Donald C. Willeke, Esq.: Minneapolis, MN (Board General Counsel)

Don is a founding director of TACF and has served as its Vice Chair for Science, Secretary, and General Counsel.

Don is an Independent Trustee of the Wells Fargo Mutual Funds, a $240 billion mutual fund family, and he served as chair of the Minnesota and National Urban Forest Councils for a combined total of 22 years.  He is also a co-founder of the Tree Trust, a youth employment and conservation non-profit that has employed about 1,000 young people each year since 1976.

Board Emeritus

Dr. Gary Carver, Board Emeritus

Herbert F. Darling, Jr., Chairman Emeritus

Hugh Irwin, Board Emeritus

Dr. William G. Lord, Board Emeritus (posthumously)

Dr. William L. MacDonald, Treasurer

Glen Rea, Chairman Emeritus

Rufin Van Bossuyt, Board Emeritus

Richard Will, Chairman Emeritus

Essie Burnworth, Secretary Emerita (posthumously)

Honorary Directors

President Jimmy Carter

Dr. Richard A. Jaynes

Mrs. Mary Belle Price

Peter H. Raven

Phillip A. Rutter, Founding TACF President

Dr. Edward O. Wilson