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].
Rick Dibella (Vice President)
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.
Stan Settle (Director)
Manager/Agent, Timber Ridge Management LLC
Stan offers over 35 years of building and development experience including VP of Land Acquisitions & Development for a premier homebuilder. He was responsible for negotiating all land purchases and site development including rezoning, planning and engineering for the Mid- Atlantic Region. Stanley has overseen many high profile projects including Fairfax County’s first smart growth community; historical preservation; design and redevelopment of the previous Lorton Penitentiary and many other master plan developments in the Washington Metropolitan area. Stan has also been very involved in the establishment of many Homeowner Associations as well as conservation areas including open space, both active and passive.
Mark Trostle (President)
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.
Stacy Kessinger (Secretary)
Vice President, Marketing, Willowsford Operations, LLC
Stacey Kessinger joined Willowsford in 2011 and currently serves as the Vice President of Marketing. Stacey has over 20 years of experience in new homes sales and marketing as well as an active Real Estate License and is a member of NVAR. She brings significant knowledge in sales and marketing for residential communities with vibrant lifestyle programming, understands what makes communities successful, and is very knowledgeable about the county and the region. Stacey manages a team of employees and is responsible for implementing the community marketing strategy, market analytics, amenity program, builder program, and on-site community sales and marketing centers. Stacey has also had a very active role in the development of the Willowsford HOA and lifestyle programming.
CLAUDETTE PAPATHANASOPOULOS (DIRECTOR)
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.
CHRIS BODLEY (DIRECTOR)
Chris and his wife, Dara, joined the Willowsford community largely because of their commitment to conservation and environmental stewardship. Chris looks forward to supporting ongoing and future efforts; advancing the implementation of programs that support the natural development of Willowsford’s conservation spaces; and promoting a robust and rewarding relationship between our residents and the naturally occurring wildlife that share our community. Originally from Rochester, NY, Chris enjoys fall and winter weather. Chris supports the Federal Government, holding a BA in Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst College, and a Master’s in Cyber-Security and Information Assurance from Penn State.
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.
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.
Steve Luckett- Assistant Field Operations Manager
From a young age Steven 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!
PATRICK J. BOLEMAN – LAND STEWARDSHIP MANAGER
Hailing from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Patrick developed a deep love for the woods from a young age. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science, he spent three years in the United States Peace Corps serving in the Peruvian Andes. He worked in reforestation, developing community tree nurseries, and environmental education with local high school teachers and the Huascarán National Park.
Upon returning to the U.S. he obtained a Master’s in Forest Resource Management from the Pennsylvania State University. There he studied agroforestry and sustainable forest management with a focus on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. He has since been dedicated to land conservation and management with a focus on forests and grasslands, serving as Restoration Ecology Program Associate at The Wilds in Cumberland, OH, prior to joining Willowsford Conservancy.
When not working at beautiful Willowsford, he can be most likely be found backpacking somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains. If you come across him in the woods or on the trails, ask him about what he’s doing and he’ll fill your ear with ecological knowledge!
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.
Puja Tucker – Business Operations Manager
Puja joined Willowsford Conservancy in September 2019 as the Business Operations Manager, overseeing accounting, office management and HR related functions. Puja has over 20 years’ experience ranging across public and corporate accounting in addition to seven years’ experience supporting non-profit organizations in a variety of roles. Puja earned her Bachelor of Accounting from the University of Maryland. Puja resides in the DC-Metro Area with her husband of nineteen years, Bryan, and their two children. In her free time, Puja can be found supporting her boys on the soccer field, basketball court, or in volunteer projects across the region.
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.
Ashley Stallings-Swensen, Retail Manager
Ashley joins the retail 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.
Alex Hencin, Livestock Farmer
You may recognize Alex from such movies as “CSA Share Video Take One Video-Bomb” and “Chicken Chore.” He came to Willowsford in 2015 and gravitated towards livestock operations, particularly chickens. Now, he manages our flock of laying hens and the pigs. If you and your family love the rich color of our egg yolks and high-quality pasture-raised pork, he’s the guy to thank!
James Grenier, Farmer (Seasonal)
If you ask the other farmers they will say, “James is amazing. Hard-working and willing to take on big tasks alone. He loves animals and he is determined to get the job done.”
James joined the farm team in 2012 after finishing his Bachelors in Mathematics. He has been a member of the team for four seasons now—which includes a season in which he worked part time at Potomac Vegetable farms as well. He enjoys memorizing large amounts of both taxonomic information and historical anecdotes from random Wikipedia pages, propagating succulent plants at home, and appreciating the most brutal of metal.
Nathon Forestall, Farmer (Seasonal)
Julia Whaley, Retail Assistant (Seasonal)
Julia began working at the Farm Stand in 2016 at age 16. She settled right in, fell in love with the Willowsford community, farming, and especially the goats. She is in her senior year at Briar Woods High School, where she plays softball and balances her time beautifully between her work with us, her family, schoolwork, friends, her commitment to volunteering at INOVA Loudoun Hospital, and yet, she finds time to spend with each and every goat. She is headed to Virginia Tech this fall to pursue a career in nursing or public health.