NFF names new president

Picture of Mary Mitsos, President of the National Forest Foundation
Mary Mitsos, President of the National Forest Foundation

Mary Mitsos has been named president of the National Forest Foundation, effective May 29.

She succeeds Bill Possiel, who is retiring after leading NFF for 19 years. Under Possiel’s leadership, NFF grew substantially in the number of cooperative partnerships with corporate, philanthropic and community-based entities and in the volume of work done on the ground in terms of forest health and improving recreational opportunities. 

As executive vice president at NFF, Mitsos led national, regional and local conservation initiatives since 2001. “Mary brings passion for the forests, a record of leadership and tremendous experience at the NFF,” noted Craig Barrett, NFF board chair and retired chairman of Intel. “Her understanding of the U.S. Forest Service, its partners and the tremendous challenges and opportunities facing our national forests and grasslands position[s] Mary perfectly for this key role. The entire board is excited about her leading the NFF into its next phase of growth and achievement.”

During her NFF tenure, Mitsos demonstrated expertise in the restoration and sustainable management of forest ecosystems, as well as a deep commitment to collaborative stewardship and community involvement. She also strengthened philanthropic partnerships across the country. At Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie near Chicago, she secured a $4.7 million challenge from private and public sources to restore the native tallgrass landscape and engage the community. Midewin was part of NFF’s five-year national “Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences” campaign, which Mitsos helped direct and which generated $125 million in conservation impact.

“Taking the helm of the NFF is truly an honor. I am excited to expand my work to create healthier forests, vital communities and lasting partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service,” commented Mitsos. “I care deeply about this mission. The opportunity to lead it collaboratively and creatively with the NFF’s board, staff, and many supporters and partners nationwide is a great privilege. These public lands are truly treasures in countless ways; that idea will drive the NFF forward in the years to come.”

Prior to her work at NFF, Mitsos served as director of community-based forest stewardship at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation in Washington, D.C., where she led programs in sustainable forestry and rural communities. She holds a bachelor’s in international business from the University of Colorado–Denver and two graduate degrees from the University of Michigan: a Master of Science in natural resources and Master of Arts in applied economics.

She served on the steering committee of the Seventh American Forest Congress Communities Committee, as a Board member of the National Network of Forest Practitioners, and serves on the advisory board for the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. Hailing originally from Indiana, she has lived in Montana since 2000 and will lead the organization from its headquarters in Missoula, Montana.

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The National Forest Foundation promotes the enhancement and public enjoyment of the 193-million-acre National Forest System. By directly engaging Americans and leveraging private and public funding, the NFF improves forest health and Americans’ outdoor experiences. The NFF’s programs inform millions of Americans about the importance of these treasured landscapes. Each year, the NFF restores fish and wildlife habitat, plants trees in areas affected by fires, insects and disease, improves recreational opportunities, and enables communities to steward their National Forests and Grasslands. Learn more at