Trees, Water & People was cofounded in 1998 by Richard Fox and Stuart Conway, two foresters and friends who saw a huge need to address the pervasive deforestation in Latin America. As their plan evolved, they quickly realized that without addressing the underlying causes of deforestation, they would never be able to stop it.

We had to ask ourselves, if people are cutting down trees to cook their meals, then how can we help them reduce the amount of wood needed every time they cook.

For over nineteen years, Trees, Water & People has been a leader in not only reforestation, but also in the design and distribution of clean cookstoves and other clean energy products which greatly reduce the use of natural resources for energy creation.

At Trees, Water & People, our work is guided by two core beliefs: that natural resources are best protected when local people play an active role in their care and management and that preserving local ecosystems is essential for the ongoing social, economic, and environmental health of communities everywhere.

We are staffed by a group of dedicated conservationists who feel strongly about helping communities better manage the natural resources upon which their livelihoods depend. All of our programs help people and the planet by providing communities with a hand-up and not a hand-out. This approach creates economic opportunity while improving the environment and human health.

But we can't do it by ourselves.

With your help, we can make a world of difference!


Children look out their window on Pine Ridge Reservation

Our mission is to improve people's lives by helping communities protect, conserve, and manage the natural resources upon which their long-term well-being depends.

Community-Based Development

Trees, Water & People's unique community-based development model is based on the philosophy that the best way to help those most in need is to involve them directly in the design and implementation of local environmental and economic development initiatives.

This creates ownership, involvement, and financial sustainability well into the future. Our proven development model of training and execution, coupled with an enterprise approach, engages and inspires local residents to preserve their precious natural resources.

Identify Community Needs

Success in community-based development means understanding local needs. Working with the community members, we help the group address their concerns and common interests.

Partner with Local NGOs

Strong partnerships with local organizations and consultants are crucial for each of our projects.

Design and Implement Projects

The solution needs to fit into the existing social system, have clear objectives, and ways to measure success.

Evaluate and Monitor Projects

Monitoring and evaluating are essential tools when determining the effectiveness of the project. Lessons learned from the initial implementation can be applied to current and future projects.

Meet Our Team

Richard Fox

Richard Fox

Executive Director

Executive Director and fearless leader, Richard Fox, cofounded Trees, Water & People in 1998 after a long career in forestry and natural resource conservation. Inspired by his passion for the environment and his love of people, he is TWP's "Keeper of the Vision", managing our day-to-day operations, building alliances, and planning for a greater future. In his free time, Richard enjoys gardening, fire spinning, and spending time with his children and grandchildren.   

Sebastian Africano

Sebastian Africano

International Director

Sebastian has worked with marginalized communities in 15 countries, specializing in sustainable resource management, appropriate technologies and improving rural livelihoods. As International Director of TWP he manages all aspects of our reforestation, clean cookstove, and solar lighting programs in Central America and the Caribbean. He was selected as a fellow of Santa Clara University's Global Social Benefit Incubator (2011), Colorado State University's Center for Collaborative Conservation (2012), and Agora Partnerships Impact Accelerator (2014). Recently Sebastian decided to hang up his traveling shoes to focus on raising his two young kids and to further his education with a Professional MBA at Colorado State University, where he is also Affiliate Faculty with the Warner College of Natural Resources.   

Lucas Wolf

Lucas Wolf

Assistant International Director

Lucas spent most of the last five years learning the ropes of the USAID contracting world, but previously spent significant chunks of time in Central and South America. First, as a Peace Corps volunteer with the youth development program in Honduras, and then as a Rotary World Peace Fellow at the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Currently based in Nicaragua, Lucas coordinates our projects in Central America. A Fort Collins guy through and through despite lots of years in other locales – he’s excited to be working for an NGO based out of his hometown that is also active in Central America and the Tribal Lands of the US.   

Gemara Gifford

Gemara Gifford

Development Director

Gemara (aka “Gem”) first joined TWP in 2016 as an intern writing grants for our Climate Smart Agriculture program in Honduras. Currently, Gem raises funds and develops projects for TWP’s programs with an emphasis on biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods. Gem brings to TWP her extensive background in wildlife conservation, community-based development, and a lifelong experience of working with marginalized communities, critters, and habitats in the US and Latin America. She completed her M.S. in Natural Resources at Cornell University as a Gates Millennium Scholar, and her B.S. in Zoology at Colorado State University as a Distinguished First Generation Student Scholar. When Gem isn’t writing grants or talking about birds, you can find her singing in Old Town, or blogging about higher education.   

Diane Vella

Diane Vella

Finance Director

Director of Finance and Administration since 2007, Diane brings her years of accounting experience to maintain TWP's financial health, as well as managing our human resources. When she isn't crunching numbers, you can find her working with local animal welfare organizations, playing the piano, or cruising around town on her bike.   

Molly Geppert

Molly Geppert

Marketing Manager

Molly was born and raised in Fort Collins. She got her start at TWP as an intern and has since moved up to marketing manager. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and German at the University of Colorado, and her two Master’s degrees in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development and Internal Affairs through a dual degree program with American University in Washington, DC and the United Nations Mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. Outside of the TWP office, Molly is either wrangling kids at her other job, playing board games with friends, or hanging out in the mountains with her family and dog.   

Katherine Murphy

Katherine Murphy

Corporate Partners Coordinator

Katie is the newest member to join the Trees, Water & People team as the Corporate Partners Coordinator. After finishing her B.A. in Sociology and Political Science from Colorado State University, she joined TWP as an intern. Now she works to cultivate TWP’s business relationships and reach mutually beneficial goals with the environment in mind. Her background with disaster and youth related research, along with her positive experiences at TWP, has helped Katie decide that in the future, she will be pursuing a PhD in Environmental Sociology. When Katie isn’t in the office, you can find her on her yoga mat, drinking coffee, or camping and fishing with her family.   

Amanda Haggerty

Amanda Haggerty

Data and IT Manager

Amanda joined the TWP team in 2009 as the Data and IT Manager. She has a B.S. in Natural Resource Management with a minor in Spatial Information Systems, a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems and is currently working on getting her B.S. in Computer Science. She has a passion for science and technology and enjoys having an opportunity to use her skills for good and not evil. When Amanda isn't querying the database, tinkering with our network, or staring at this website, she likes to work with her hands: sewing, knitting, or building things from her single-board computer.   

Kirsten Brown

Office Manager

Kirsten is the Office Manager at Trees, Water & People. Her lifelong passion for social justice and environmental issues are what drew her to the TWP team. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and Asian Studies from Beloit College, an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii, and she did her PhD work in Anthropology at the University of Toronto where she was a ChATSEA Fellow. She has spent over 15 years researching the social and environmental impacts of development projects in the upland agrarian regions of Indonesia. She is excited to be “home” again working for an organization that makes positive and sustainable contributions to people’s livelihoods and our environment.   

Board of Directors

Jamie Klein, President
Judge (retired), Colorado District Court

Jenny Bramhall, Vice President
Owner of Clothes Pony

Jake Tornatzky, Treasurer
Co-Owner at 3 Seeds

Jeff Hargis, Secretary
R & D Engineering Section Manager (retired), Hewlett Packard

Jon Becker
Former Co-Owner, SolarGlass Window & Door

Tim Carney
Natural Resource Specialist, USDA-NRCS

Stuart Conway
Cofounder of Trees, Water & People

Kathryn Higgins
Owner of Motherlove Herbal Company

Scott Johnson
Family Doctor (Retired), Brush Family Medicine

Tyrone Smith
Director, Native American Cultural Center Colorado State University

Marilyn Thayer
Director, TRIO Academic Advancement Center Colorado State University

Paul Thayer
Special Advisor to the Provost \ Emeritus Vice President for Student Success Colorado State University

Zia Zybko

A tree nursery outside a Honduran home.