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
Andy Lipkis, Founder and President
In 1970, as a fifteen-year old, Andy Lipkis began planting trees to heal the smog-damaged mountains of Los Angeles. He founded TreePeople in 1973, and continues to serve as President to this day. Andy is a practical visionary who has dedicated his life to healing the environment and improving the lives of individuals and communities. Recognized as a global social entrepreneur,Andy’s speaks to audiences around the world about how we can work with trees and forest-inspired technologies to make cities safe, healthy and resilient while mitigating floods, drought, pollution, and climate change.
Andy believes in Los Angeles’ power to and influence on the world via its media, trend and style setting and the fact that it has the largest collection of people living here from other countries around the world. “As we change it here, we change it everywhere.”
Andy’s vision for a more sustainable world is inspired by the miracles of nature and the people he meets and works with every day. He is also an avid admirer of the lives, legacy and work of Buckminster Fuller, Paul Hawken, Jeanine Benyus, Jared Diamond, George Orwell, Chauncey Gardner, and Luther Burbank.
When he is not busy traveling the globe speaking, or working here in Los Angeles, Andy loves to cook and dig in his garden. He says, “I love growing what I eat, and by going to as many farmers’ markets as I can. It is one of my favorite ways to connect to the earth and community.”
Andy Vought, CEO
Andy Vought grew up hiking in the Adirondacks of Upstate New York. In high school, he organized a pioneering can and bottle recycling program and went on to earn a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.
Andy later got his MBA from the Harvard Business School and spent 35 years leading several start-ups in the computer chip business where he focused on high speed internet connections to homes.
Andy’s favorite tree is the Redwood – he serves on the Board of the Save The Redwoods League and the Portola and Castle Rock Foundation. Ask him his favorite hike and he’ll tell you he loves the Coast Redwoods along the James Irvine Trail in Prairie Creek State Park and the Giant Sequoias next to the Wolverton Cutoff Trail in Sequoia National Park.
Andy recently un-retired, moved from Palo Alto to LA, and joined us as our CEO because he finds the our mission compelling: “Los Angeles holds the most challenged urban environment in America but is now mobilizing to build a sustainable cityscape. TreePeople is playing a leading role driving this change. Who could resist this opportunity?”
Deborah Weinstein Bloome, Director of Policy
Deborah Bloome has spent the past twenty years working on environmental policy issues and has her Master’s degree in Public Policy from UCLA. She returned to California after working for almost a decade with the Federal government in Washington D.C., because she wanted her work to have more of a direct and local impact. Once in LA, Deborah worked for the City of LA as Councilman Rosendahl’s Environmental Deputy and then decided to work on policies from outside the government as TreePeople’s Director of Policy.
Deborah is inspired by seeing that TreePeople’s work can actually make a difference in the lives of people, whether that is through grass-roots or policy-level work. She believes the mix of the two make TreePeople a truly unique organization.
Her favorite tree is the aspen tree. Having spent a lot of time in the Rocky mountains, she has seen their “incredibly beautiful” glittering golden leaves.
Caryn Bosson, Director of Strategy
Caryn Bosson grew up in Los Angeles. After graduating from UCSB’s College of Creative Studies, and a stint in book publishing, she found herself drawn to TreePeople as a volunteer during its 1984 Million Tree Campaign. She joined our staff shortly after, becoming the organization’s first Managing Director. After a twenty year hiatus, during which she started a family and founded the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation (serving as Executive Director for a decade), she returned to TreePeople in 2007.
No matter how many times Caryn hears the story of how Andy Lipkis founded TreePeople as a teenager, she is still inspired. She loves that the organization strongly retains the spirit of not taking “no” for an answer. Her favorite tree is Quercus lobata – the majestic and sheltering Valley Oak whose leaves are seen in TreePeople’s logo.
Lisa Cahill, Director of Sustainable Solutions
A native Texan, Lisa Cahill first came to TreePeople as a Citizen Forester and as such has planted over 150 trees in her neighborhood. Lisa’s environmental perspective was shaped by lessons she learned from her grandparents: to take personal responsibility to make the world a better place.
She says, “I work and hope for LA to be a more sustainable city, because I live here. I am raising my children here, so this is the place to start. And now is the time to do it.”
Lisa’s favorite tree is a pecan, because of childhood memories of eating the nuts while playing under its shade. She finds inspiration from her husband’s fierce dedication, the wonder and hope of her children, and by seeing the trees she has planted and cared for with her family in their neighborhood. When she’s not at TreePeople Lisa loves cooking for friends, creating one-of-a-kind birthday celebrations for her children, and enjoying the simple pleasures of working in her garden.
Edith de Guzman, Director of Research
Edith de Guzman was born in Milan, Italy to Israeli-Eastern European parents and moved to Los Angeles when she was nine. After earning a BA in History/Art History from UCLA, Edith discovered a passion for the nonprofit sector, which led her to TreePeople, and later, a master’s degree in Urban Planning from UCLA. At TreePeople, Edith manages research into best practices for the sustainable transformation of the Greater Los Angeles area and develops and maintains strategic partnerships with policymakers, agencies and community partners around integrated ecosystem management.
She believes that in today’s paradoxical era of being globally connected yet largely alienated from our local environment, fostering a sense of place and stewardship of our local and global resources is the best way to ensure a sustainable future.
Edith’s favorite nature quote comes from Senegalese poet, Baba Dioum, “In the end, we conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
Torin Dunnavant, Director of Engagement & Partnerships
Hailing from the City of Trees (Sacramento), Torin Dunnavant brings a lifelong love of nature to his work connecting TreePeople to communities throughout Los Angeles. As a whitewater enthusiast, Torin came to TreePeople after working with Friends of the River in Northern California. He strongly believes in the power of a connected community and that TreePeople’s goal to bring people together to create sustainability is the key to making a better Los Angeles. He oversees TreePeople’s outreach program, frequently gives presentations, and strategizes on how to grow the organization’s community programs throughout the Los Angeles region.
Torin’s favorite nature book is A Tramp Across the Continent by Charles Fletcher Lummis. He is inspired by Theodore Roosevelt, who he describes as a burly dude with an endless supply of energy and a focus on fairness.
Tom Hansen, Chief Financial Officer
TreePeople’s Chief Financial Officer, Tom Hansen, was born and raised in Northern Minnesota, where he developed an appreciation of pine, spruce, northern hardwoods and the Mississippi River watershed. Today, he is committed to TreePeople’s mission because he says, “I really believe if people don’t do it – it’s not going to happen!” That being said, Tom finds inspiration from the everyday heroes that make up TreePeople’s staff and volunteers.
Tom’s current “go to” hike in Los Angeles is Temescal Ridge, since it’s so close to where he lives. His favorite environmental quote is a Chinese Proverb: "No shade tree? Blame not the sun but yourself."
Though years of experience have shaped Tom’s environmental stance and appreciation, he was perhaps destined to work towards making the planet greener since the day he was born, April 22, which turned out to be, Earth Day!
Jim Hardie, Director of Park Operations
A TreePeople volunteer since 1986 and a Board Member since 1995, Jim Hardie joined TreePeople full time as Director of Park Operations in 2007. Jim grew up on a 45 acre farm in beautiful New Jersey. He considers being there his best education, but he pursued his higher education as a Drama major at Northwestern University.
Jim is committed to TreePeople’s mission because he believes humans have gotten way off-track, seduced by mindless consumption and so creating a world terribly out-of-balance.
Jim’s favorite nature book is Helen and Scott Nearing’s Living the Good Life, published in the early 1950s, which he says is the best book ever written! A more recent environmental book recommendation from Jim is Bill McKibben’s Eaarth; he says, “Read it now, today, this minute!”
Though partial to Coldwater Canyon Park, Jim also loves being in the Redwoods up north; he finds them magical, mystical, beautiful and grounding, all at the same time.
Chris Imhoff, Senior Director of Programs
Chris Imhoff grew up in a family that enjoyed camping and hiking in the outdoors and always cared about the environment. This love continued when she realized in college her dream was to provide environmental education to children and found her way to TreePeople.
As a college intern in the early 1980’s, she led school groups on Eco-tours around our park and worked as a summer camp counselor. It was from there that she proposed to Andy Lipkis a restructuring of the education program to engage thousands of students across the city to join in the Million Tree goal prior to the 1984 Olympics. Since then, TreePeople and its mission has been a part of her heart!
Chris’ favorite tree is the Coast Live Oak, which she says are “majestic, native beauties.” When not at TreePeople, Chris finds bliss traveling and exploring new countries with her family.
Rachel Malarich, Director, Forestry
Rachel Malarich likes to think of her work at TreePeople as that of a coach or cheerleader, teaching people the tools they need to do a project and encouraging them along the way.
Rachel grew up in the Bay Area, surrounded by a lot of fruit trees and mulch and moved to Southern California for college. She has always cared deeply about connecting people to each other and the environment.
Rachel’s biggest heroes are her parents. She says that raising her and her sister in a time of drought, they felt very strongly about being careful with our natural resources and modeled that respect for nature for her from a very early age. She has always appreciated their teachable attitude, and says “They are truly, humbly, lifelong learners.”
Rachel loves being active, and her favorite park is Kings Canyon National Park, where she spent time back packing as a child.
Peter Massey, Director of Grant Funding
After several years running performing arts organizations, Peter Massey has found a home in the environmental field as his second career. Having worked with volunteers in both the arts and the environmental sector, he is inspired by people coming together to give their time and talents to make their community healthy, lively and beautiful.
Peter is motivated by the idea of service, and he says that making a contribution, leaving the world a little better than he finds it, fulfills him over and over again.
While living in Florida, Peter fell in love with citrus trees. He says, “Shade and sugar is an unbeatable combination.” Peter’s favorite bit of nature wisdom comes from an Ogden Nash poem: “I think that I shall never see/ A billboard lovely as a tree/ Perhaps unless the billboards fall/ I’ll never see a tree at all.”
Candice Russell, Director, Environmental Education
A self-proclaimed “eco-geek,” Candice Russell was born and raised in Los Angeles. She attended San Francisco State University, and it was there that she first learned about TreePeople in an Urban Environments course. Candice was very inspired by Andy Lipkis’ story, and became determined to move back to Los Angeles and work for TreePeople someday.
Candice joined TreePeople four years later as a Generation Earth Facilitator. She has been with the organization ever since, and is honored to wear many hats to support the cause.
Candice cites Majora Carter’s work as an inspiration, and was honored to meet her a few years ago. Her favorite tree is a Gingko because of the colors and the beautifully shaped leaves.
Jodi Toubes, Director of Human Resources and Administration
With a love of both the earth and its people, Director of Human Resources and Administration Jodi Toubes likes to say that she puts the “human” back in human resources.
Hailing from New Jersey, Jodi danced with the Princeton Ballet Company until being sidelined by an injury. Before joining TreePeople, Jodi received a degree in Communication Arts from NYU and was certified as a Shiatsu Practitioner by the Ohashi Institute. She is committed to TreePeople’s mission, taking what she has learned here at TreePeople home with her. She still gets excited after twelve years of owning her own home that she is in control of her trash, recycling, food scraps, and grey water.
Jodi’s children are constantly inspiring her. She says, "They are both so smart and so insightful." She’s also inspired by her husband, Guy Toubes, an accomplished television writer who creates whole worlds in the stories he writes.
Click here to read Andy's full bio.