About Us

Our Mission

Our mission is to restore the American Chestnut to the forests and woodlands of Connecticut (25 – 40% of the trees were American chestnuts in CT forests).

The Connecticut Chapter of TACF is a Chartered State Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation with its own Bylaws, Constitution and Treasury. It is organized as a tax-exempt non-profit foundation under the US Tax Code 501(c)3.

There is a Board of Directors – real people, your neighbors in Connecticut – who determine strategic direction, make decisions about application of resources, and are there when the rubber hits the road to install fences, plant trees and perform all the functions necessary to achieve our goals.

Board of Directors

Fall 2020 Online Board Meeting

Executive Committee

President – Jack Swatt – Wolcott

Board Term Expires Spring 2023

Jack Swatt has been a member of The American Chestnut Foundation since 1993, and has served on the Board since 2017.  He received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from UConn in 1983, an M.S. in Chemistry from CCSU in 1992 and graduated from the Albany Medical College Physician Assistant Program in 1996.  He currently is employed by The Hospital of Central Connecticut as a Physician Assistant in Hospitalist Medicine.  Jack has planted several Restoration Chestnuts on his property in Wolcott, CT and monitors several native American Chestnut trees found in Naugatuck State Forest.  He is also an active volunteer for CT DEEP (monitoring wintering eagles and Whip-poor-wills),  Audubon CT, CT Audubon, NH Audubon, the Loon Preservation Committee and the Society to Protect New Hampshire Forests (aka the Forest Society).

Vice President – open

Treasurer – Dr. Jack Ostroff – Old Lyme

Board Term Expires Spring 2023

JackOstroffDr. Ostroff has been a member of TACF since 2000, joining after having been intrigued by a display at one of our local agricultural fairs. He received his BS from Yale University, MD from Rutgers Medical School, and MS in Computer Science from Rutgers University. Dr. Ostroff has attempted to use his medical knowledge to make better use of computers in the pharmaceutical industry and has leveraged his expertise as the chief architect of DentataBase, the American Chestnut Foundation’s Breeding Database. He has lived in Connecticut since 1994 and is a member of a number of environmental groups. He has served as a Board Member since 2009 and, from 2014 to 2020, as Chapter Vice-President.

Secretary & Research Coordinator – Dr. Florian Carle – New Haven

Board Term Expires Spring 2023

After spending his childhood in southern France harvesting and eating chestnuts at every occasion, Florian moved to New Haven for work in 2014 and realized American chestnuts are not as ubiquitous than their European counterpart. He is delighted to join the CT Chapter to help restore this amazing tree. Florian earned a M.Eng and a PhD from Aix Marseille University in France for his experimental work on droplets evaporation under microgravity for space applications. He is currently the manager of the Yale Quantum Institute where he creates programing to promote research and teaching of quantum science on the Yale campus, curates several series of talks and workshops, and facilitates scientific collaboration by hosting leading scientists from around the world. Outside of science, Florian likes to row and scull on the Housatonic River and he enjoys theater, rollerskating, and spending time with his cat Raccoon. He is also amused to live on Chestnut Street!


Board Members

Renée Allen – Guilford 

Board Term Expires Spring 2024

Renee Allen

Renée is Adjunct Faculty at the Hospitality & Tourism Management Department of the New Haven University. She share a passion for chestnut trees, mushroom foraging, and wine. Renée is Certified Specialist of Wine and writes a monthly Wine Column for the Connecticut Magazine. She holds a JD from Boston University.

Christian Allyn – North Canaan

Board Term Expires Spring 2023

ChristianAllynChristian Allyn was a student at Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVHRS) and graduated in 2017 with a B.S. in Horticulture at the University of Connecticut. While in high school, Christian was an officer in the Housatonic Valley FFA Chapter, a member of the Housatonic Valley Environthon team, and interned at the Falls Village American Chestnut Orchard with the guidance of Ellery Sinclair in the summer of 2012. Continuing from 2012 and after graduation, Christian is a member of HVRHS Arboretum and Landscape Committee and has played a key role in data­basing existing tree’s dimensions, the removal of invasive species off the school grounds and creating an arboretum map for the school along with Tom Zetterstrom and Robin Cockerline, in celebration of the HVRHS 75th anniversary. At UConn Christian was a charter member of ECoalition, an organization which unites all environmental groups to make a stand on university policies regarding the environment.  Christian serves on the Housatonic River Commission (HRC) a public advisory board managing development along the Housatonic River, holding the title of the youngest HRC member and youngest appointed public official in the Town of North Canaan’s history.  Since graduating from UConn he has started his own business, Invasive Plant Solutions, and he currently serves on the Board of Selectmen in his hometown of North Canaan.  He also comes home to his family in East Canaan, who have lived and managed family land there for eight generations. His goal is to ensure the lands, rivers, and forests of northwestern, and all of Connecticut are managed in a way which ensures that future generations can enjoy them as he has.

Dr. Phil Arnold

Board Term Expires Spring 2024

Phil ArnoldDr. Arnold was a Board Certified Physician for 38 years specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, retired in 2004. He received a BA from Yale University and M.D. from Tufts. Philip is active as a Director of the Woodbridge Land Trust and as a member of the American Chestnut Foundation. He feels a synergy between the goals of the organizations and is committed to the goals of restoration of a resistant American Chestnut. Dr. Arnold has served as the Woodbridge Orchard Manager, and served several years as Chapter Vice-President and subsequently Secretary, retiring from the Executive Committee in 2013.

John Baker – Litchfield

Board Term Expires Spring 2024

John BakerJohn Baker was (for 18 years or so) Treasurer of the Litchfield Hills Audubon Society (LHAS) and was instrumental in the acquisition of the property, now known as the Wigwam Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, on which the Society’s chestnut plantation is located. He has been a member of The American Chestnut Foundation since 1998. Born in New York City, but raised on a farm in Goshen, CT, John received his B.S. from Cornell University in 1956 and joined Cargill, Inc. After serving his country for three years in the U.S. Air Force as a navigator, he spent 37 years with Cargill as the country manager in the Philippines and in Thailand. Upon retiring to Litchfield with his wife Janet, he started beekeeping and joined the LHAS (in 1993). Then, after building their retirement home, John joined the Litchfield Housing Trust where he shepherded their affordable home building program. He is also President of the C.B. Ripley Land Trust, the CT Director of the Eastern Apiculture Society and is also a member of the Litchfield Conservation Commission. Needless to say, John has a great affection for the outdoors and the beauty of nature.

Dr. David Bingham – Salem

Board Term Expires Spring 2024

David BinghamDavid Bingham is a retired OB-GYN. He has been active with numerous conservation organizations, currently serving on the boards of the Salem Land Trust, Audubon Connecticut and the CT Land Conservation Coalition, and as co-chair of the CT League of Conservation Voters. David is a life member of TACF and manages a mother tree orchard located on his land in Salem, which includes young trees from 4th backcross nuts obtained from 3 native trees in CT. These trees were pollinated, by CT volunteers, with research pollen from The American Chestnut Foundation’s Meadowview Farm. One of the 3 parent CT American Chestnut mother trees has been nurtured by David in Salem for 20 years, and may now be one of the largest native trees in the State. Nuts from the Salem orchard are anticipated to be produced in the next year or two, to be grown in the seed orchards scheduled for the next phase of the restoration project. The Salem Land Trust has a test planting of “restoration trees” (from B3F3 nuts), planted in a deer exclosure at the Zemko Sawmill Preserve.

Fred Behringer – Old Lyme

Board Term Expires Spring 2024

Fred followed the American chestnut story for many years and joined the CT chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation in 2021.  Trained as a biologist with a focus on plants (BS Biology, Bates College; PhD Plant Physiology, Cornell University; 7 years postdoctoral research in plant development and molecular biology), he is particularly excited about blight resistant Darling 58.  The TACF has put great effort into maintaining native American chestnut germplasm and providing advanced backcross lines with Chinese chestnut. The resistance Darling 58 confers opens up an exciting new chapter in efforts to restore the American chestnut as a keystone species.  A CT native, Fred lived for 20 years in various parts of the US. He returned to CT in 2018 and has resided in Old Lyme since then.  After moving back to CT, he worked as an analytical chemist and operated an analytical lab in Old Lyme from 2007 – 2021. Fred serves on several boards/commissions in Old Lyme involved with the environment and is active in a variety of community activities.  He is passionate about environmental stewardship and science literacy.

Michael Gaffey – Old Lyme

Board Term Expires Spring 2023

Married 42 yrs Marcia Prior Gaffey, father of Evan ( lawyer, Marine Lt);  Morgan (Chinese linguist, Army Ranger Capt);Allison (Dr. Psychology-Yale, West Haven Vets.).  23 yrs. Civil construction Superintendent ($1/2 billion), 14 yrs.-7 time award winning secondary economics teacher.  Tree Warden certified, Twice elected Old Lyme Board of Finance (coendorsed second six yr. term), Active member Old Lyme Tree Commission, and Grandfather of Two+.

Jim Gage – Ellington

Board Term Expires Spring 2024

Jim Gage has been a Director and Treasurer of the Northern Connecticut Land Trust and was a preserve monitor for The Nature Conservancy (Poquetanuck Cove) for approximately 8 years. A member of long-standing in the American Chestnut Foundation, he has served as the Chapter’s Treasurer and NCLT Orchard Manager for the greater part of a decade. He also served on the Ellington Conservation Commission, and was Director and Treasurer of the Scantic River Watershed Association. Jim retired from Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies in 1993. Jim has an MBA from Harvard University.

Jane Harris – Middletown

Board Term Expires Spring 2023

Jane Harris is a Connecticut licensed arborist, specializing in plant health care, landscape consultation and appraisals. She has worked for Allan’s Tree Service in Middlefield, CT for the past ten plus years. Jane is an active member of the Middletown Garden Club, Garden Club of America and the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut. Jane serves on the boards of The Rockfall Foundation, the Connecticut Tree Protective Association and the Middletown Urban Forestry Commission.

David Liedlich – Southbury

Board Term Expires Spring 2024

David has been a member of the American Chestnut Foundation since 2010.  He received an M.S. in Wildlife Science from New Mexico State University in 1991, and a B.S. in Wildlife & Fisheries Biology, with a Forestry minor from the University of Massachusetts in 1987.  He has been employed with the state of Connecticut, Department of Developmental Services since 1998 as both an Adult Services Instructor and as a Case Manager.  He is certified to teach life sciences/biology and Earth Science. David volunteers with the Southbury Land Trust, was a Commissioner on the Southbury Inland Wetlands Commission for 16 years, past Master of King Solomon’s Masonic Lodge, a member of the Connecticut Botanical Society, and is a life member of the Connecticut Valley Mycological Society.  David’s interests include gardening, hunting, edible wild mushrooms, and beekeeping.  He recently co-edited (2021) “The Beeing: Life Inside a Honeybee Colony” by Eric Tourneret, Sylla de Saint Pierre, and Jurgen Tautz.  “The Beeing” is the English language version of the French book on honeybees “Le Genie Des Abeilles” (2017).”

Dr. Bert Malkus – Woodbridge

Bert Malkus

Board Term Expires Spring 2024

Dr. Malkus is an Associate Director of Clinical Chemistry at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, and a Director of Qualigen, Inc. Dr. Malkus holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Iowa State University and conducted NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship Research Studies at Yale University and the University of Florida. Dr. Malkus has been very involved with the Woodbridge Land Trust and is one of the key contacts for the Land Trust’s Backcross Chestnut Orchard.

Jack Morris – Glastonbury

Jack Morris

Board Term Expires Spring 2024

Jack is a retired engineer with an interest in science, mathematics and the great outdoors. Born in Utah, Jack received a BSEE in Computer Science from the University of Utah and began a career with Pratt and Whitney in 1970 as a Research Scientist. He became interested in the American Chestnut after numerous hikes in Connecticut where he realized that the species still existed in a diminished shrub-like or juvenile form and on rare occasions, finding a tree bearing fruit. Learning the story of the blight, he joined TACF about 15 years ago. As a member of a hiking club, his interest continues in locating these rare examples of fruiting trees. Membership in CT-TACF has provided an opportunity to assist local programs and to share with Nutmeggers the ultimate goal of reintroduction of the species in mature form back into our forests.

Mark Vollaro – Shelton

Board Term Expires Spring 2024

Woods “Ellery” Sinclair – Falls Village

Board Term Expires Spring 2023

Woods SinclairEllery has lived in Falls Village for sixty-two years and is a retired English teacher of the Housatonic Valley Regional High School where he became Department Chairman. Presently he is Chairman of the Inland Wetlands/ Conserva-tion Commission, past-president on the library board, Housatonic River Commissioner, Zoning Board of Appeals member, and HVRHS Arboretum Committee member. For the past two years he has helped establish and manages the Canaan Mountain TACF Chestnut Orchard of about 250 backcross trees in Falls Village. He has engaged the Vocational Agricultural Education students from HVRHS as partners through their curriculum, and helped implement a chapter summer-internship. Grateful to be re-nominated, Woods looks forward to serving another term with the dedicated folks on the Connecticut Chapter Board.


If you are interested in becoming a board member, please contact one of the members of the nomination committee: John Baker, Jane Harris & Ginny Patsun