It takes a certain kind of leader to succeed here.

Our business challenges aren’t what you typically see. In any given week, our planting teams might deal with bandits, warlords, elephants, leopards, wildfires, hurricanes, or parching droughts. So we need leaders with grit, creativity, relentless determination, and total commitment to the mission. We need leaders who understand the science of reforestation, can build relationships with community leaders and government ministers, manage a rapidly scaling start-up business, and, when needed, build a fence to keep elephants from destroying a nursery, steer a boat through a cyclone, or manually shovel 100 tons of soil onto a truck to transfer to the nursery.

Alex and an Eden employee standing in the mud

Alex Kinzer

Director of Forest Landscape Restoration

No car of their own. Covered in mud. With the COVID pandemic limiting people's ability to work and people losing jobs in the surrounding community, Alex and a committed team of Eden diehards found themselves at a remote police station loading 800 seedlings onto a trailer, all in the effort to create a handful of jobs in the midst of a global crisis. Because this team had one goal - to employ people to plant trees - and at Eden, no matter the circumstances, you find a way to get the work done.

Alex focuses on turning overwhelming challenges into viable opportunities, which is how Eden Kenya has become the largest reforestation organization in the country. As she expands the Eden model from an average of 2,000 hectares (7.7 square miles) sized projects to 50,000 hectares (193 square miles) of landscape-sized restoration projects, she always starts by instilling Eden's organizational values as a way to build teams to accomplish large-scale restoration goals. She doesn't wait for lots of random options; she finds "the one" person or solution. Then, Alex passes down the strategy, direction, and resources for success.

In every country she works in, Alex identifies leadership potential and skills in non-traditional places and then offers people the opportunity to ignite their passion and capacity to change their landscape for the better. She has found that educational background or current occupation is not as important as an unwavering commitment to apply local knowledge to develop local solutions. This is how Alex turns a seed of opportunity into a forest and a community full of jobs.

Sehr Ali

Director of International Operations

Overseeing teams in 10 countries who are restoring degraded landscapes by planting hundreds of millions of trees each year, in extremely remote areas, with wild animals, poor roads, spotty internet service, extreme weather, and civil unrest, there are no typical days for Sehr.

Having spent time in over forty countries, she understands the need to be flexible and to work with local teams to develop solutions that will actually work on the ground, not just in theory or in a conference room in the US. She helps bring to life our mission of planting trees and saving lives by putting the community first, then empowering them to heal their environment and create hope and opportunity for themselves and their families.

Sehr also oversees our Monitoring & Evaluation team, which tracks the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of our work, ensures we meet our commitments, oversees our compliance with scientific standards and best practices, and communicates with our funders the ways in which their money is being put to the best possible use.

In the face of all those technical challenges, Sehr maintains a connection and commitment to our people. One example came after a major earthquake in Haiti in August 2021. Some leaders' first reaction would be to initiate a damage assessment of their infrastructure. Instead, Sehr first took the time to ensure that all team members and their families were safe and had enough food and water. She then guided those teams through a damage assessment across our project sites so we could restart operations, return people to their jobs, and continue restoring the environment and the local communities.

Debbie planting a seedling with a Nepal employee

Debbie Crawford

Chief Development Officer

Helping governments, corporations, and individuals do their part to fight climate change through our mission of planting trees and saving lives, Debbie learned early on how to provide creative solutions to our partners' problems. Now, having over 1,500 partners such as The Arbor Day Foundation, Aspiration, and Verizon, Debbie has become a master at helping businesses discover the most important and relevant ways to accomplish their ESG and net-zero commitments.

She focuses on building relationships that turn into long-time commitments. Like planting seedlings, she helps grow people's understanding of our Employ to Plant methodology of empowering people to reforest and restore their environment on a massive scale. Then she guides them to take action, supporting the planting of hundreds of millions of trees a year.

Thanks to the relationships we develop with our partners, Eden can now be part of the solution to the global challenges of extreme poverty and environmental destruction. Now, impoverished communities have new opportunities at economic self-sufficiency, improved health, and education. Women who were looked at as second-class citizens are proud breadwinners for their families. The income earned from planting trees helps pay to send their children to school. They're saving the land. They have a future.

Every difficult meeting, skeptical prospect, and investment that was once out of reach became part of our story because Debbie and her team conveyed the value of investing in our common future.