Family Forest Blog

Accomplished Executive Rita Hite Takes the Helm as First Woman President & Chief Executive Officer of American Forest Foundation

Elizabeth Greener

January 10, 2022

Hite to Scale Organization’s Innovative Conservation Solutions Under Principles of Diversity & Inclusion

WASHINGTON, DC (January 10, 2022)—The American Forest Foundation, the national conservation organization that works to make a meaningful conservation impact through the empowerment of family forest owners, today announced Rita Hite as its president and chief executive officer. Hite is the first woman in the organization’s more than 40-year history to hold its top position. Unanimously appointed by AFF’s board of trustees in July, Hite officially took office January 1, 2022.

Throughout her impressive career, Hite has staffed congressional leaders on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, built and curated coalitions and partnerships including the Forest Climate Working Group and the Women’s Forest Congress, and served as a nonprofit leader. For more than 20 years, she has shaped strategy, programs and policies that have unlocked billions of dollars in support for family forest stewardship.

We are at the doorstep of a monumental opportunity to make a significant impact on the planet — and we can do so in ways that help American family forest owners from all walks of life.

“I’m excited to lead the American Forest Foundation at this critical moment in time,” said Hite. “Family-owned forests provide a unique and underutilized resource which we have yet to tap into fully to address urgent conservation challenges around climate change, wildfires and wildlife habitat. We are at the doorstep of a monumental opportunity to make a significant impact on the planet — and we can do so in ways that help American family forest owners from all walks of life.”

Rita Hite-President & CEO-headshot-cropped-wide

Backed by a culture of innovation nurtured by former president and CEO Tom Martin, Hite will work to focus and ultimately expand AFF’s efforts in an inclusive and equitable way to address the most pressing conservation challenges facing our nation today: namely, combating climate change, mitigating catastrophic wildfires and improving wildlife habitat.

“With an informed understanding of the immediate need for global conservation solutions, Rita hit the ground running as soon as we began the CEO transition process,” said Jameson French, the chair of AFF’s board of trustees. “Her passion for America’s family forest owners is only exceeded by her laser focus on measurable results and scalable impact. AFF is in very capable hands.”

Hite previously served as AFF’s executive vice president of external relations and policy, and played a pivotal role in developing the organization’s conservation agenda and market-based strategies. She finds energy in tackling complex conservation challenges, building inclusive cultures, and bringing together diverse teams, coalitions and resources to create innovative solutions.

Contact: Elizabeth Greener; (202) 253-1096;

About the American Forest Foundation
The American Forest Foundation is a national conservation organization that works with a broad coalition of partners to empower family forest owners to make a meaningful conservation impact around carbon sequestration, wildfire reduction, wildlife habitat, clean water, sustainable wood supplies and support for rural communities.

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