Family Forest Blog

American Forest Foundation Adds New Voices and Perspectives to Board of Trustees

Katie Taylor, Communications Manager

May 9, 2023

View from the forest floor of branches of a huge live oak tree.

Branches of a live oak tree in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo credit: Shutterstock.

Board Members Reflect Organization’s Focus on Innovation, Diversity and Opportunity in the Forest Sector

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 9, 2023) — The American Forest Foundation, a conservation organization that empowers family forest owners to improve forest health and fight climate change, announced today that it has appointed three new members to its board of trustees: Sophie Beckham, an accomplished corporate executive; Jasmine Brown, a dynamic forestry scholar; and Jennie Stephens, a transformational nonprofit leader.

The board additions come on the heels of AFF’s announcement of its new strategic direction which centers on unlocking the power of America’s family forests in the fight against climate change and expanding access to the voluntary carbon market for landowners from all walks of life. The new board members will not only help AFF with this new direction, but will offer the vital insight, lived experiences and cultural perspectives necessary for AFF to transform carbon markets to be accessible for every family forest owner.

“Increasing diverse voices at every level of our organization is paramount to AFF's mission,” said Rita Hite, president and CEO of AFF. “I’m proud to work with these new board members and learn from their expertise as we work together to tackle climate change and offer equitable solutions that benefit all of America's family forest owners and the planet.”

The Family Forest Carbon Program, a climate solution AFF developed with The Nature Conservancy, is currently in a state of rapid expansion. Using an innovative and highly credible public-private partnership model that removes barriers to the voluntary carbon market so landowners can improve forest health and generate financial opportunities for their families, FFCP is now operating in nine states across the nation, with more states expected to be added in the coming months.

“This is an exciting time at AFF and we would not be where we are without the judicious contributions of our dedicated board members,” said Jameson S. French, chair of AFF’s board of trustees, and president and CEO of Northland Forest Products, Inc. “The breadth and depth of experience brought by Sophie Beckham, Jasmine Brown and Jennie Stephens can only strengthen our shared mission to deliver conservation impact through the empowerment of America’s family forest owners.”

The newly appointed members of AFF’s board of trustees include:

Sophie Beckham
Sophie Beckham is the vice president and chief sustainability officer at International Paper where she works to advance IP’s sustainability strategy and Vision 2030 goals, and drive sustainable outcomes through the company’s packaging and pulp businesses. Also serving as IP’s primary spokesperson and thought leader on issues related to sustainability and stewardship, Beckham has dedicated her career to driving sustainable business outcomes through purposeful leadership in the consumer goods and forest product manufacturing sectors. She holds a Master of Forestry from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, now known as the Yale School of the Environment.

Jasmine K. Brown
Jasmine Brown is pursuing a doctorate in forestry at Michigan State University where her research focuses on the enduring histories of African Americans in forests and the forestry profession. She is a steering committee member for the Women’s Forest Congress, and a member of the Society of American Foresters and MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences). She was featured in “Black Faces in Green Spaces: The Journeys of Black Professionals in Green Careers.” Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from the University of Connecticut, where she spent a year at Alabama A&M University (HBCU) through the National Student Exchange. Brown also holds a master’s degree in forest ecosystems and society from Oregon State University.

Jennie L. Stephens
Jennie Stephens is the chief executive officer of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation whose mission is to protect heirs’ property and promote its sustainable use to provide economic benefits to historically underserved families. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 30 years in positions such as senior program director at a community foundation and sponsored programs director at a historically black college. In 2022, she was selected to serve on the Agriculture Subcommittee of the USDA Equity Commission. Stephens holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the College of Charleston, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Charleston/University of SC and a PhD in organizational leadership from Regent University.

To learn more about AFF’s leadership team, board of trustees and current career opportunities, please visit AFF’s People webpage.


About The American Forest Foundation
The American Forest Foundation is unlocking the power of America's family forests to fight climate change. Our Family Forest Carbon Program provides tools for small landowners to improve the health and climate potential of their forests. To learn more about AFF’s commitment to fighting climate change, visit

CONTACT: Katie Taylor, Communications Manager,

Katie Taylor, Communications Manager

May 9, 2023

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