Staff

Trees Forever Staff

To reach a helpful staff member, dial 1-800-369-1269 plus the individual extension below

Leslie Berckes

Executive Vice President & Des Moines Metro Program Manager
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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.

Margaret Birmingham

Finance and Operations Manager
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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.

John Bright

Marketing and Communications Manager
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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.

Emily Ehley

Field Coordinator, Central and Southern Illinois
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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.

Jerry Fannon

Chief Financial Officer
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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.

Tracy Feldmann

Database and Website Coordinator
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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.

Debbie Fluegel

Program Manager, Illinois
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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.

Andrew Hirst

Des Moines Program Coordinator
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From Waverly, Iowa, Andrew received a B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Policy from the University of Iowa. After returning from serving as a Forestry Extension agent in Peace Corps Zambia, he moved to Des Moines to continue working in agriculture and the non-profit field. Joining Trees Forever as the Des Moines Program Coordinator in May 2022, he works with Growing Futures and volunteer groups to plant trees across the Des Moines metro. When not planning or planting, he is gardening, beekeeping, or biking around Iowa.

Jeff Jensen

Director of Community Programs
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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 Long

Development Associate
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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.

Nick McGrath

East Central Iowa Field Coordinator
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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.

Kiley Miller

President & CEO
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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.

Enzo Nagao

Growing Futures Program Coordinator
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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 Noska

Administrative Coordinator
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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.

Shannon Ramsay

Founder & Trustee
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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 Renfer

Administrative Coordinator
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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.

Brad Riphagen

Field Coordinator, Southwest and Western Iowa
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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.

Deb Roman

Program Support Coordinator
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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.

Molly Stuelke

ReLeaf Volunteer Coordinator
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Molly fell in love with Trees Forever when she became a TreeKeeper and is excited to make new connections as the ReLeaf Volunteer Coordinator.  She has spent a majority of career working in various Parks and Recreation positions but the best part of all her jobs have been the relationships she’s built with families and volunteers. She enjoys spending her free time getting into trouble with her husband and kids.

Kent VonBehren

Cedar Rapids Metro Area Program Manager / ReLeaf Project Manager
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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.

Lisa Williams

Director of Development
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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 Hollmaier

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 Runkel

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

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.