The Conservancy is governed by a Board of Trustees which provides guidance, resources and expertise to accomplish the Conservancy’s mission and goals. During development, board members are appointed by the Founder. The Board currently consists of seven trustees, including two Willowsford homeowners. Usually, the Board meets bi-monthly, on the 3rd Tuesday of the month beginning in January, at 4:30 p.m. at Sycamore House. Agendas, meeting minutes and other documents are posted in the Document Center. For more information, contact [email protected].
Executive Vice President, Willowsford Operations, LLC
Mark Trostle has been with Willowsford since its start in 2010 and currently serves as the Executive Vice President. He grew up in rural Pennsylvania where he also graduated Penn State. Mark has an extensive background in land planning and development and is a Virginia certified landscape architect. Mark brings a wealth of knowledge on wetlands and environmental regulations and has received several Fairfax Conservation and Tree Preservation Awards. He has thorough understanding of the land development process resulting from extensive experience in performing feasibility studies, site planning, subdivision layouts, lot grading, public presentations, landscape design, plan review processing, value engineering and project budgeting.
Principal, PHD Associates, LLC; Partner, Timber Ridge Management LLC
Rick has over 30 years of homebuilding experience and is a former executive at two premier homebuilders. Rick’s responsibilities included the strategic direction, capital allocation and operational performance of 22 divisions on the east coast. Rick previously served as Northeast Area President, which focused on seven homebuilding markets from Washington D.C. to Boston, where both annual closings and revenue increased 50%. Rick is a certified Public Accountant and has a B.S. in Accounting from LaSalle University and an MBA from Temple University.
Mary Hegedus, has been with Willowsford since its beginnings in 2010 and currently serves as the Assistant Controller. In this position, she manages the accounting for both Willowsford Operations and Willowsford Conservancy. Mary graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Accounting, and is a Certified Public Accountant. She has over 20 years of experience in accounting positions of both public and private companies in the land development, electrical construction, and commercial development industries. Mary grew up in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. She has been a Loudoun County resident for ten years now and loves living in Virginia.
Claudette has nearly 20 years’ experience in the environmental movement. She began her career serving in the U.S. Peace Corps in Zambia, working to stop deforestation and promote sustainable agriculture. Claudette spent the next decade as a researcher for environmental non-profit groups, including the Ecology Center and Greenpeace. She is currently a full-time mom and part-time consultant to environmental groups in D.C. When she’s not out biking, camping or exploring with her two young children, you might find Claudette working in her yard. Her yard has been landscaped with native plants and designated a Wildlife Sanctuary by the Northern Virginia Audubon Society. Claudette holds a Bachelor’s degree in engineering and Master’s in Environmental Policy from the University of Michigan. She has been a Willowsford resident since 2015.
Greg Licamele has served the residents of Fairfax County for nearly 15 years as a senior public information officer, currently responsible for the government’s digital presence through its website, and original architect of its social media program and other online platforms. Greg serves on the county’s strategic planning core team, helping to move the county toward a unified community plan for the next 10 to 20 years. In addition to these roles, he has served as a key communicator during numerous emergencies and crises to impact the county, while also working on issues ranging from land use to environment to homelessness.
Prior to his public service to Fairfax County, Greg worked for more than five years as a communicator at The George Washington University, where he earned two master’s degrees (media/public affairs and homeland security/emergency management). He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from St. Bonaventure University. Greg currently serves on the board of trustees for Mt. Irenaeus, a unique Franciscan community located near St. Bonaventure where connection to nature is a central element of the non-profit. Greg and his family live in The Greens.
Chase Rowan currently serves as Principal, Corporate Development at AnaVation LLC. He has more than a decade of experience in operating and investing roles. Chase brings to the Board financial and managerial expertise as well as a passion for conservation. He received a BS from the University of Richmond and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Chase and his wife, Stephanie, live in The Greens.
Avi Sareen is president and principal wetland scientist with TNT Environmental, Inc., a leading wetland and natural resource consulting firm in Northern Virginia. He is a Virginia certified professional wetland delineator, professional wetland scientist, certified arborist, and certified ecologist. Mr. Sareen’s firm is multi-disciplined, specializing in fields of wetland science, regulatory consulting, biology, ecology, botany, forest ecology and arboriculture.
Iris Gestram – Executive Director
Growing up in rural Germany with a love for farming, gardening and cooking, Iris early on decided on a career that would keep her closely connected to nature.
After earning a master’s degree in agronomy from Humboldt University in Berlin, internships at the Niagara Parks Commission in Ontario and at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania helped her discover the field of public parks and gardens. After completing a MS degree in Public Horticulture Administration, Iris moved to Central Florida to manage education programs and visitor services at historic Bok Tower Gardens, a tranquil “sanctuary for people and wildlife”.
She returned to Longwood as the gardens’ department head for education and visitor services, helping connect visitors from around the world to Longwood’s unique horticultural displays, conservation and land management programs.
As executive director of the National Association for Olmsted Parks in Washington, DC, Iris worked to promote and protect the vast legacy of the Olmsted firm. While in DC, she developed a strategic plan for the Smithsonian Horticulture Services Division that initiated the Division’s transition to what is now known as “Smithsonian Gardens.”
Iris joined the Willowsford Conservancy in July of 2015. She is excited to help shape the vision for the Willowsford Conservancy, and to partner with the HOA to help residents connect with the things that make Willowsford an exceptional community: sustainable farming that provides healthy food; a vibrant community life; diverse natural habitats and wildlife; and unique education and recreational opportunities.
Having grown up in the hills and mountains of the Shenandoah, Taryn cultivated a love for the forests and farms of Virginia. She spent several years working on farms and ranches in Virginia and realized that managing land was where her passion lay. She went on to obtain a B.S. from Virginia Tech in Environmental Resources Management with a minor in Urban Forestry.
While studying at Virginia Tech, Taryn worked on a large wilderness operation, completing research on invasive plant removal and reforestation of native species. She managed an American chestnut tree orchard, monitored 2,500 acres of forest, and worked with the VA Department of Forestry to create a reference resources for landowners. Taryn later worked at Arborscapes in Richmond where she was an arborist and plant health care technician. She gained experience in the pruning and felling of trees, and in the diagnosis and treatment of plant disorders and pests.
Taryn joined the Willowsford Conservancy team in 2020 and she is excited to help achieve its vision. She is passionate about creating and conserving spaces where residents can better enjoy and understand nature. In her free time, Taryn can be found hiking the Appalachia or working in her garden.
From a young age Steve has enjoyed roaming the outdoors, spending time with animals – from dogs to horses, and everything in between. When he was younger, he spent 30 days driving around this great country, seeing the beauty of Yellowstone, the Redwood Forest, and the mountains of Montana, among others. This adventure only fueled his love of the outdoors, camping, hunting, and fishing.
Steve started his career with the Fairfax County Park Authority, working at Frying Pan Farm Park, where he helped preserve and share the 1920s-1950’s period working farm, interpreting agricultural process, rural community life and the rural landscape. This is probably where he gained his love for livestock. (His wedding engagement pictures even include a sweet cow named “Trixy” from Frying Pan Park).
After spending several years working on the farm, he moved to caring for the parks and recreational facilities within Herndon, Great Falls, and Reston, Virginia. He has spent a great deal of time caring for Fairfax County Park Authority’s historical sites, forests and trails throughout the grounds.
After nearly a decade with Fairfax County, Steve joined Willowsford Conservancy in May 2019 and is thrilled to be part of a community that is dedicated to forest, open space and wildlife conservation. If you see him out and about on the trails, stop by and say hello!
Rob Gavin – Conservancy Ranger
I am very excited to be a Ranger with Willowsford Conservancy. Landscaping is in my blood. Since I was 13, I had several neighborhood clients who employed me to mow, mulch, weed, string trim their lawns. I was born in Russia and landed at Dulles Airport at 6 ½ months with my new Mother and Father on Christmas Eve. My sister, who also was adopted from Russia a year earlier, was waiting with family and friends. I graduated from Briar Woods High School in 2016. Throughout the years, sports were a big part of my life including Tae Kwon Do, soccer, volleyball and lacrosse (my favorite). Since graduating, I’ve taken classes at Northern Virginia Community College while working at various jobs.
I enjoy animals and have a Chinese water dragon and spotted gecko and the family has two “fat” cats and an old boxer. When I’m not working, you can often find me fishing, playing sports, generally enjoying the outdoors including the beach. I’m a huge ice hockey fan, especially the Washington Capitals. I love the time I get to spend outdoors working here. Every day is different, and I enjoy seeing all the wildlife including rabbits, deer, turkeys, etc. I’m happy to be a part of the Land Stewardship team and am excited to learn about conservation here at the Conservancy.
Andrew Richardson – Conservancy Ranger
I have always had a penchant for the outdoors, it probably stems from my childhood where I was lucky enough to grow up in the small town of Letchworth, just north of London in the UK. It was one of the first modern day planned communities established in the 1800’s by a group of Quakers who were looking for a healthier way of life than could be found in the congested and dirty cities born of the industrial revolution.
Some of my fondest memories are of those warm summer days listening to musicians play on the band stand in the park, splashing in the paddling pools and walking with my mother through the commons on the way to school. As a teenager I played football in the green spaces and explored the trails through the countryside, farmland and woods that surround the town and are still there today. The green space has enabled the town to keep its identity in an otherwise world of suburban sprawl. Those old Quakers knew the value and beauty of the land and understood their connection to it. They didn’t use words like sustainability, conservation, recreation and lifestyle, they were farmers who valued the land and simply knew a healthier way to live.
As the Conservancy Ranger here at Willowsford I hope to find your connection to the land and its beauty, whether it’s through recreation, conservation, education or simply a love of the outdoors I hope that I can help develop a program that fits you.
As a project manager I have worked with local zoning, permitting, historic and civic groups to make sure that projects fit in with the neighborhood and community they serve. As a member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and BSA Scoutmaster I have training and experience in youth leadership, trail construction and maintenance.
Jamie McArdle – Business Operations Manager
Jamie has worked for the Willowsford community since July of 2014. She first started at the HOA, later moving to the corporate office in 2017 and then transferring to the Conservancy in 2018. While working for the HOA, Jamie created a relationship with the Willowsford community and has a continued passion for the neighborhood.
Jamie completed her degree at Penn State University and currently resides in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two children. In her free time, Jamie can be found exploring the beautiful trails of Colorado or camping somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.
COLLIN THOMPSON – FARM MANAGER
Originally from the fertile land of northeastern Iowa, agriculture has been a passion of Collin’s for many years. He has been involved in small-scale, diversified agriculture as a farmer, builder, educator, researcher, volunteer, and consultant. Collin has worked on farms around the world, most recently building an organic, four-season farm for Michigan State University in the challenging climate of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
In addition to his growing experience, Collin worked with a high tunnel manufacturing company that offers season extension technologies and systems, as well as services that support year-round growing. He also spent time as a horticultural technician with Seed Savers Exchange, a not-for-profit seed company dedicated to preserving genetic diversity in cultivated plant varieties. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Biology and a Masters in Sustainable Food Systems. Collin’s experiences have provided him with a global perspective and a local approach when it comes to sustainable food production.
Collin joined the Willowsford team in September 2018 and is excited to use the farm as a platform to connect the community with their food, their neighbors, and their natural surroundings.
John Buckley – Assistant Farm Manager
John joined the Willowsford Farm team fresh from the organic vegetable fields of southern Pennsylvania. After spending three years in a management apprenticeship at New Morning Farm, John is excited to continue connecting with people through healthy food. His path to farming was always rooted in encouraging health care within his community. In his early 20’s, John spent 5 years in the US Navy, working alongside doctors to provide healthcare in rural areas. The desire for tangible goals, a love for biological science, and the chance to engage in work that “helps build a little character”, as his mother would say, is what ultimately brought him to farming. John is excited to help form and maintain the connection to local, sustainable food in the Willowsford community and surrounding areas. When John isn’t farming you can find him walking in the woods with his dog, fermenting in the kitchen with the radio on, and sharing food with friends and family.
Alexandra Burnham – Harvest and Sales Manager
Alex is in her second year at Willowsford, making the switch from horse farm to veggie farm. In addition to all her hard work in the fields, she spends her down time foraging for delicious new “extras” to go with our CSA boxes. From cookies to kombucha, she keeps adding to our love of local food!
Ashley Stallings-Swensen – Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Ashley joins the team at Willowsford Farm with a background managing farm-to-table restaurants in North Carolina. There, her connection to the local food movement and neighboring farms became a highlight of her work. After relocating to the Agricultural Reserve of Montgomery County, Maryland, she’s thrilled to be taking a step away from dining rooms and onto the farm! The rhythm of seasonal, local eating guides her in the kitchen. She believes friends are made over shared food, that you’re never too old or too young to learn to cook, and that the secret to the perfect soft-scrambled egg is cold butter.
Rory Chipman Eier – Farmer (Seasonal)
In her fourth season as a farmer and her second season with us, Rory has taken charge of our pack shed leadership, and wholesale and CSA prep. After farming at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York, she’s continuing her career progression with more tractor work and a deeper dive into certified organic agriculture.
Gabe Concordia – Farmer (Seasonal)
Gabe hails from the culinary world, after studying at the Culinary Institute of America, working as a Chef de Partie in Mexico, and spending time as a freelance food writer. His energy on the farm is contagious; we’re lucky to have him join us for some hands-on experience in growing food.