Rita Hite

Executive Vice President, External Relations & Policy

As executive vice president of external relations and policy at the American Forest Foundation, Rita Hite leads our positioning, sustainability, external relations and public policy strategy. She finds energy in tackling difficult conservation challenges and bringing together diverse teams, coalitions and resources to create market-relevant solutions. 

In her 20-year career in forest conservation, Rita has staffed congressional leaders on the House Committee on Agriculture, built and curated coalitions and partnerships including the Forest Climate Working Group, the Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition and the Women’s Forest Congress, and served as a nonprofit leader. She has shaped strategy, programs and public policies that have unlocked billions in support for family forest stewardship and have had a significant impact on climate change, wildfire resilience and forest sustainability across the United States. 

Rita felt the call to champion natural resource conservation having grown up on a beef cattle farm in Upstate New York. When not working, she’s likely chasing her three-year-old son, listening to country music, gardening or snuggling with her dogs, Tongass and Chugach—all 200 pounds of them.

  • Favorite Tree


  • Favorite Forest Activity

    Forest Bathing

  • Favorite Wildlife Critter

    Eastern Red-Spotted Newt