Trees Forever Staff
To reach a helpful staff member, dial 1-800-369-1269 plus the individual extension below
Des Moines Program Manager
Kacie is a graduate from Iowa State University earning a degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services. Kacie’s true passion, along with serving the community, lies with environmental and conservation efforts which led her to Trees Forever. She has experience working with youth and volunteers through previous non-profits in the human services and animal welfare fields. Kacie enjoys walks with her dog and exploring nearby parks and trails.
Director of Programs
Leslie earned an M.A. in Public Policy, with an emphasis on environmental policy, and a B.A. in Marketing from the University of Northern Iowa. Leslie has a diverse background in environmental and conservation issues, having worked on programs dedicated to reducing solid waste, improving energy efficiency, and promoting sustainable building practices. Leslie directs all Trees Forever programs along with staff from across Iowa and Illinois.
Finance and Operations Manager
Margaret is the Finance and Operations Manager at Trees Forever. One of her favorite aspects of the job is writing the grant checks that Trees Forever awards each year to communities and landowners across Iowa and Illinois – helping them plant more trees, beautify roadsides and public areas with native plants and shrubs, and protect and preserve our water and land resources. Margaret is always looking for ways for us to save money and better manage our limited resources. The Trees Forever staff is very fond of Margaret, as she also processes our payroll and expense checks! Margaret lives in Cedar Rapids.
Marketing and Communications Manager
John comes from a long background of non-profit communications work with the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCorps. He got his first taste of working alongside Trees Forever during tree plantings in partnership with the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. John works out of the Marion, Iowa office and is responsible for much of the social media and communications you see coming from Trees Forever. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and enjoys sharing the accomplishments of Trees Forever and its supporters.
Field Coordinator, Central and Southern Illinois
Emily Ehley has a BA in Environmental Education from Warren Wilson College. She has spent the majority of her career so far helping children and adults find joy in exploring the natural world around them. In her free time, she tends her garden and practices tree ID while hiking with her dogs. She is a Certified Interpretive Guide and a Master Naturalist. She is excited to meet the many people and trees of Southern Illinois through her position with Trees Forever.
Chief Financial Officer
Jerry brings many years of experience to Trees Forever. He has a B.B.A. in Accounting from the University of Iowa. After 12 years in public accounting, he went on to become the CFO for three different banks in three states. Since returning to Iowa Jerry has been consulting with several local businesses while functioning as their CFO. Jerry’s duties with Trees Forever are to ensure that organization remains fiscally responsible and that employee policies are up-to-date. Jerry has been a H.S. basketball & soccer referee as well as college soccer referee for over 25 years, and is an avid University of Iowa Hawkeye fan. He also enjoys spending time with his four grandchildren.
Database and Website Coordinator
Tracy is a graduate of Kirkwood Community College with a degree focused on database and systems management. She maintains the Trees Forever website and creates the digital infrastructure to keep Trees Forever running smoothly. In her spare time she enjoys crafting unique garments and purses with fabrics, yarns and upcycled items. She lives near a walnut forest preserve with her family where she keeps a pollinator garden and raises monarch butterflies.
Program Manager, Illinois
Debbie has a B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of Maine. She manages Trees Forever’s Illinois Buffer Partnership and it Pollinator Habitat Conservation programs for both Iowa and Illinois. Debbie’s favorite part of her job? “Meeting new people and visiting a lot of unique areas in Illinois that most people don’t have the opportunity to visit.” Debbie is a member of the Environmental Education Association of Illinois, the Illinois Forestry Association, the Soil & Water Conservation Society and the Association for Temperate Agroforestry.
Field Coordinator, Northwest Iowa
Jeff is Program Manager for the Working Watersheds: Buffers and Beyond program and is Field Coordinator for northwest Iowa. He has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and has worked in the field of sustainable agriculture for the past 15 years. He has over thirteen years of experience working with landowners and farmers growing perennial crops and is active with several existing organizations and partners, including the Iowa Nut Growers Association. He grows nuts and berries on his farm, NutHaven, in north-central Iowa.
Anna graduated from Central College in Pella, Iowa with a major In Communications and a minor in English. She has always wanted to get involved in fundraising for non-profit organizations and her time at Central only reinforced that goal. At Trees Forever, Anna enjoys being able to cultivate relationships with donors and loves working closely with the Trees Forever staff and volunteers. She prefers to spend her free time reading and lounging outside with her dog, Boji.
East Central Iowa Field Coordinator
Nick graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor’s of Music Education degree. His time spent teaching and coaching fueled a passion for helping others and he is excited to put that to use for Iowa communities. He previously worked as the Community Disaster Recovery Coordinator, a joint position between Trees Forever and the Iowa DNR, assisting Iowans in replanting efforts following the August 10, 2020 derecho. Nick lives in Cedar Rapids where he enjoys all manner of outdoor activities and spending time with his family.
President & CEO
Kiley Miller is the President & CEO of Trees Forever, a position he accepted in February 2021 after a national search. Previously he led economic development organizations in rural Iowa. Mr. Miller has been a print journalist and served in the United States Army. A native of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Kiley now lives with his wife, Carry, in the Cedar Rapids metro area. They have two adult children and one in high school. Kiley is passionate about the Trees Forever mission and is leading the next five-year strategic plan in collaboration with the Board of Directors and Foundation Trustees.
Growing Futures Program Coordinator
A native of Naperville, Illinois, Enzo graduated from Coe College in 2020 with a double B.A. in English and Music. Enzo joined Trees Forever in September of 2021 as the Cedar Rapids Program Coordinator for the Growing Futures Program, and enjoys working with local teens and volunteers to restore the city’s tree canopy. In his spare time, Enzo enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy novels.
Dixie is Trees Forever’s Program & Board Administrative Coordinator serving in the Marion office. She was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa into a large family of eight sisters and six brothers. She has always had a passion for volunteering her time to different non-profit organizations over the years, many of which hold a special places in her heart. She enjoys spending time with her husband, family and friends, and her two kitten fur babies.
Founder & Trustee
Shannon founded Trees Forever as a volunteer in 1989, and served as President & CEO until 2021. Recognized both nationally and locally for her leadership, Shannon is the 2021 recipient of the Lifetime Stewardship Award from the Arbor Day Foundation and the Nonprofit Leader of the Year from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. Ms. Ramsay is leading the ReLeaf Cedar Rapids planning team and is a Trustee of the Trees Forever Foundation.
Lisa updates and maintains Trees Forever’s member and partner database. Prior to her time at Trees Forever, she worked nine years at Orchestra Iowa as a Patron Associate and also did the billing and payments for the Orchestra Iowa School. She has two daughters and enjoys taking walks.
Field Coordinator, Southwest and Western Iowa
Brad has a B.A. in Biology and an M.S. in Land Resources with a focus on prairie restoration and soils. He has been a Trees Forever Field Coordinator since 1995 and worked in almost all the program areas, including community tree plantings, Visioning, and buffer/watershed work. He has a strong interest in reduction of stormwater runoff especially in urban areas through the use of infiltration practices such as rain gardens and bio-retention basins. Brad is also a Certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture.
Program Support Coordinator
Deb is best known as the voice of Trees Forever, as she is most often the person answering telephone at our main office in Marion. Deb supports all the necessary administrative processes for hundreds of grant applications, awards and reports. Deb grew up on a farm west of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and graduated from Kirkwood Community College. She has a special place in her heart for her pets, the outdoors, and she thrives on hard work and helping others.
Paige earned her B.A. in Biology at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa and has a background in botany and ecology. She’s had several diverse experiences in the environmental sector, spanning from forestry research and prairie management to environmental education. Paige is originally from Southeastern Iowa and is excited to serve that area of Iowa as a field coordinator. In her free time Paige enjoys hiking and exploring Iowa’s natural areas and watching her siblings play sports. Contact Paige if you are interested in our Green Initiative Program or have a project idea in Southeastern Iowa!
Cedar Rapids Metro Area Program Manager / ReLeaf Project Manager
Kent was born and raised on a farm not far from Cedar Rapids and graduated from Coe College with an emphasis in history and education. He comes to Trees Forever with a broad range of experience, much of it focused on managing projects. He has worked in several different countries and lived in both Japan and Hawaii. Kent owns a small number of rental properties in Cedar Rapids, every one of which sustained damage and lost trees in the 2020 derecho. He feels the deep sense of loss that so many Cedar Rapidians feel, and is grateful for the opportunity to serve as the Trees Forever ReLeaf Project Manager. Kent was introduced to Trees Forever by his daughter, a proud youth beneficiary of its Growing Futures program.
Molly earned her B.S. in Mathematics at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa and has a background in Civil Engineering design. She was introduced to the world of environmentalism through a term with the ConservationCorps. At Trees Forever, Molly uses her conservation experience and design background to help communities plan and facilitate sustainable enhancements. In her free time, Molly enjoys all things outdoors including rock climbing, running, biking, gardening, kayaking, and camping just to name a few.
Director of Development
Hailing from the longleaf pines of north Louisiana, Lisa has a diverse background in fundraising, nonprofit administration and environmental protection. She earned an M.S. from The Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources and a B.S. in business administration from Northwestern State University. Lisa loves local foods, spring migration and fig trees. She and her husband live in Cedar Rapids.
Trees Forever and Iowa DNR Partnership Staff
Janessa graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Environmental Science. She brings experience in ecological restoration, environmental education, and volunteer management from her time living in the Greater Seattle area to her role as the Community Disaster Recovery Coordinator. She has also worked in student affairs. Janessa grew up in Cedar Rapids and is excited for to help communities in Iowa restore their urban forests. In her free time, Janessa enjoys cooking and trying new restaurants, hiking, and spending time with her two dogs and cat.
Mark is the Community Forest Health Technician, a new position in partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Mark is working with sawmills all over the state to set traps for invasive insects. He’ll also be visiting communities and assessing trees during urban tree inventories. Previously, Mark has worked for local county conservation, soil and water conservation districts, YMCA’s Y-Camp, Science Center of Iowa, and Soil-Tek. He graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Communications.
Independent Consultants who Support Trees Forever
Barb Grabner-Kerns designs publications for Trees Forever as a private contractor. She was a field coordinator with Trees Forever for 12 years before retiring in 2018. She also continues with tree projects as a volunteer in Taylorville, Illinois.
Jo Ann McNiel
Jo Ann’s background with the university and non-profit world in Cincinnati, and her Master’s degree in Environment and Community from Antioch University in Seattle, led her to group facilitation and meeting planning. With Trees Forever, Jo Ann primarily coordinates the annual Our Woodland Legacy Symposium. She also volunteers with the Indian Creek Nature Center in their land stewardship, tutors an immigrant in English with the Catherine McAuley Center, and assists at Morning Glory Farm, a CSA in Mt. Vernon. Jo Ann’s husband Mick is a retired educator, and they golf together when not tending to their gardens and raising Monarchs through the Monarch Research Project in Cedar Rapids.
Bev keeps Trees Forever’s computers and system running smoothly by providing outstanding and timely IT support. She is a long-time and valued member of the Trees Forever family.