At TreePeople, one of our hallmarks is outstanding leadership. Our passionate staff of environmental stewards provides the inspiration and hard work needed for our programs to make a difference to the future of Los Angeles.
Meet some of the staff leaders who have dedicated their careers to healing the environmental challenges of the Los Angeles region:
Founder and President
In 1970 Andy Lipkis began planting trees in Los Angeles as a fifteen-year-old and founded TreePeople in 1973. He continues to serve as TreePeople's President. Andy is a practical visionary who has dedicated his life to healing the environment and improving the lives of individuals and communities. He has spearheaded an approach using trees and forest-inspired technologies to make cities sustainable while mitigating floods, drought, pollution, and global warming. Called "Functioning Community Forests," it is being demonstrated in L.A. as a model for cities everywhere.
With more than 20 years of successful executive experience in corporate operations, finance, technical processes, general management and fundraising, Tom Hansen sought to use his skills more meaningfully by bringing them to the non-profit world. He joined us as Executive Director in 2004 to lead the organization to focus on its competencies of thought leadership and community action, and work towards building a sustainable Los Angeles.
Prior to joining TreePeople, Tom served as Director of Operations for St. Anne's Home. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in Business Administration and earned a J.D. from Loyola University in Chicago. Away from work, Tom is an avid hiker and enjoys cooking Saturday night dinners for his wife Maureen.
Senior Manager of Strategic Communications
Caryn Bosson first took up a shovel when she volunteered in TreePeople's campaign to plant a million trees in time for the 1984 L.A. Summer Olympics. She found this experience so satisfying that she left her job in Hollywood to join the organization's young staff, becoming TreePeople's first Managing Director. After a hiatus of twenty years, Caryn returned in 2007. She now helps manage TreePeople's marketing and communications strategies.
During her more than 25 years in non-profit management Caryn founded the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation, an organization promoting youth leadership and community development, where she served as Executive Director for ten years. Caryn received a B.A. in Literature from UC Santa Barbara's College of Creative Studies. Spending much of her time in LA, Caryn lives in the town of Ojai where she enjoys riding her bike to do weekend errands, and where she raised a family - and now raises a rescued racing greyhound - with her husband Charlie.
Director of Sustainable Solutions
Lisa Cahill first began her work with TreePeople as a volunteer Citizen Forester. In 1997, as a newlywed and first-time homeowner, she wanted a tree-lined street. That simple desire led to the planting of almost 40 trees with her neighbors. In 2004, wanting to ensure that her new born daughter would have a green campus, she planted over 70 more trees near the neighborhood school. Subsequently, she was offered the position of Citizen Forestry Manager at TreePeople.
Lisa's dedication to helping make Los Angeles a greener city, led her to current position as the Senior Manager of Sustainable Solutions. Inspiring and educating others about simple steps they can take to transform their landscapes is her passion.
A graduate of the University of Texas, Lisa was a leader in the student cooperative movement and served on the local and national board of directors. There she supported several environmental causes and initiated many recycling programs.
Lisa tries to lead by example. She currently serves on the board of directors for the reDiscover Center, continues to volunteer as a Citizen Forester, has been on the Mar Vista Green Garden Tour and serves on several green committees at her church and children's schools. She most enjoys working in the garden with her husband, watching her children and vegetables grow.
Director of Secondary Education
Mary Dotson joined TreePeople in 2000 when she was inspired to take on a more hands-on role to tackle our urban urgencies and create healthy communities. As our Director of Secondary Education she is able to realize this vision by overseeing Generation Earth – our secondary education program that operates under contract with the County of Los Angeles – to support 100,000 students each year to carry out greening projects for their schools and communities.
With more than 15 years of experience in civil engineering and urban planning, Mary is responsible for program planning, implementation and assessment, along with special projects such as a waste reduction, recycling and water pollution prevention
Mary enjoys spending time in the urban forest, believing that nature can help heal our cities and help inspire us to become better environmental stewards. She graduated with a B.S. in Community Health from California State University, Los Angeles and is a member of the North American Association for Environmental Education, the California Science Teachers Association and the Los Angeles Unified School District Service Learning Task Force.
Rebecca J. Drayse
Director of the Natural Urban Systems Group
Originally from Port Townsend, Washington, Rebecca Drayse grew up in a green environment where rainfall was more than plentiful. Moving to Southern California's arid climate, with its drought and water shortages, she decided to join TreePeople to help develop sustainable solutions to these issues. As director of the Natural Urban Systems Group, Rebecca leads our efforts to engage in research and policy activities that advance our vision for a "Functioning Community Forest" in every neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Since 2000, she has applied her strategic planning and project management skills to oversee the completion of a number of the group's demonstration projects and our recently-completed watershed education garden and environmental learning center, which help illustrate the power of tree-mimicking technologies to help solve urban environmental problems.
Currently serving as our liaison for the multiphase Sun Valley Watershed Project, Rebecca is also president of the board of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, a steering committee member of the California Urban Water Conservation Council and an advisory board member of University of California's Sustainable Cities Program.
Rebecca graduated Summa Cum Laude from Cal State, Dominguez Hills, with a B.A. in Environmental Studies. She and her husband Mark enjoy traveling - especially to Africa - cooking ethnic foods and any activity that involves being in or on the water.
Director of Park Operations
Jim Hardie was a full-time actor when he became interested in TreePeople after reading about our weekend plantings in the newspaper. While he had donated to a number of environmental organizations, Jim also had a growing desire to get out and do something tangible to make L.A. a better place. Shortly after he started volunteering, Jim took TreepPeople's first-ever Citizen Forestry training in 1986 and began leading and training our growing volunteer base.
In 1992, Jim came onboard as Marketing Director of Earth Share/Environmental Federation of California, which raised money for TreePeople through workplace donations. In 1994, he became our Director of Forestry Programs for two years. And in 2006 he rejoined our staff as Director of Park Operations. In this current role, Jim oversees the strategic planning for our park's future and the daily operations of our newly-opened Center for Community Forestry and 45 acres of trails and parkland. A TreePeople board member since 1994, Jim has also donated his time to produce our summer benefit entertainment series for the past decade.
Jim's acting and entertainment career spans 32 years and has more than 90 television and film credits. Away from work, Jim enjoys cooking, organic gardening, reading, writing and spending time at home with his wife and son.
Christyne (Chris) Imhoff
Senior Director of Programs
As a college intern working at TreePeople in the late 1970s, Chris Imhoff led school groups on environmental educational tours around our park and worked as a summer camp counselor. With a staff turnover happening at that time, Chris and another intern proposed to Andy Lipkis a restructuring of the education program to engage thousands of students through on-site Eco-tours and at assemblies across the city to join in the Million Tree goal prior to the 1984 Olympics.
Chris went on to assist Andy and wore many hats during this exciting period that included the beginnings of our fruit tree program and Citizen Forestry. Chris left on a year hiatus in 1984 to get married, travel and start her family. She rejoined TreePeople first as an educational consultant and in 2001 as a full time director of our elementary education programs. Since 2004, Chris took on an expanded strategic role and became Director of Education and Program Development where she continues to develop innovative programs to inspire L.A.'s adults, schoolchildren and teens to become responsible environmental stewards.
Chris holds a B.S. in Outdoor Recreation/Environmental Education from California State University Northridge. She is an ardent supporter of the Scouts and has heavily involved her son Weston (age 21) and Kayla (age 18) in TreePeople plantings, training and community organizing since they were young. Chris' passions remain her family, travel and making an impact in her environment.
Director of Grant Funding
With a live performing arts background Peter Massey has always been interested in inspiring people through his work. Leveraging his 15 years of experience running small non-profit organizations and grants management, Peter was drawn to TreePeople because he wanted to make a greater impact in his community by working with a larger organization.
As Director of Grant Funding, Peter oversees all funding requests to foundations, corporations and government agencies that generously support our programs and fund our progress toward a sustainable Los Angeles. He also plays an instrumental role in TreePeople's ongoing strategic planning efforts.
Peter graduated from the University of Missouri, Kansas City with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Fine Arts from Florida State. Pursuing his passion since childhood, Peter continues to practice the craft of playwriting and researching his family ancestry though he hasn't found any royal blood lines yet.
Director of Forestry
Originally from the Gulf Coast, living in both Louisiana and Texas, Julie moved to Southern California in 1989 and immediately fell in love with her beautiful new hometown...Los Angeles. She traded her hurricane lamps for earthquake preparedness kits and began raising her newborn daughter.
Once her daughter became a little older, Julie began volunteering in different capacities with several community organizations, and she realized she had a knack for leading groups of people. And though she wanted to continue to sing (Julie is a vocalist and has sung professionally in stage productions, film scores, rock bands and music ministries) she knew that ultimately managing volunteers was more fulfilling.
Julie joined TreePeople in 2008 after building her career over the past 17 years in the field of volunteer and community led project management. In the late 1990's, she co-developed a volunteer project leadership training which is currently used by the local Hands On Network affiliate, L.A. Works. To date, she has trained and mobilized thousands of volunteers of all ages in hundreds of community led projects on school campuses, streets and parks throughout Los Angeles County. She currently manages the work of TreePeople's Forestry Department, a vibrant group of dedicated tree planting, tree care and restoration professionals.
Senior Director of Development and Marketing
Craig Prizant first came to Los Angeles in the early 1960s and immediately fell in love with the climate and people. He has worked tirelessly through the years to maintain and preserve our region's intrinsic beauty.
Craig comes to TreePeople with over 28 years of business experience in the for-profit and not-for-profit worlds. He spent the first 19 years of his career in advertising and technology, working in collaboration with global firms such as Saatchi & Saatchi and Bozell Advertising before creating a dynamic business partnership with Apple Computer. Craig then decided to take his advertising and sales background and apply them to charitable organizations. He spent the last nine years fundraising and branding for several organizations in Los Angeles including The Jewish Federation and Kidspace Children's Museum. Craig received his bachelor degree in Marketing from the University of Southern California.
Director, Human Resources & Administration
Jodi Toubes has been a long-time fan of TreePeople – first as a place to get closer to nature, then as a place to hike with her kids and more recently as a parent volunteer when TreePeople's Campus Forestry team arrived at her son's school for a tree planting event – before joining us as our Human Resources Manager in 2008.
As TreePeople works to heal the city of Los Angeles, Jodi works to make our office environment a better place for each individual. After almost ten years of experience in human resources at a large Los Angeles law firm doing personnel, and benefits administration, Jodi traded the corporate offices for the Yurts. The venue may have changed, but Jodi's goal remains the same: fostering a healthy work community for TreePeople – from those newly-arrived to the veteran employees of our close-knit team.
In addition to receiving a B.S. in Communication Arts from New York University Jodi is a former dancer and a certified Shiatsu practitioner. Married to writer Guy Toubes, with two sons, Max and Jack, her family is a constant inspiration.
Director of Policy
Growing up in Southern California, Deborah loved the ocean and the mountains but it wasn't until college that she developed a passion for protecting our natural resources for future generations. For the past two decades, Deborah's work experience has been devoted to this cause. She brings a wealth of national and international environmental policy experience from her tenure as a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. and local knowledge from her experience working for the L.A. City Council.
Deborah joined TreePeople in 2008. She is currently the Director of Policy, where she engages in strategic planning and cultivates partnerships with agencies, policymakers and the broader environmental community to promote our integrated approach to greening Los Angeles.
Deborah holds a B.A. in Business/Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.A. in Public Policy from the University of California, Los Angeles. In her leisure time, she continues to enjoy outdoor sports and time at the beach.
Click here to read Andy's full bio.