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Board of Directors

The SER Board of Directors is comprised of dedicated volunteers from a wide range of professional backgrounds with experience in all sectors of the restoration industry and all facets of organizational development.

Executive Officers

Al Unwin
Niagara College
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

Al serves as Chair for the School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies at Niagara College in Canada. Al also teaches graduate courses in ecosystem restoration and restoration ecology. He has served on SER’s board in a variety of capacities since 2001. Al was the conference chair for the 13th Annual SER International conference held in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in the fall of 2001. His passion and commitment for restoration are second, only, to his passion for fly fishing.
Jim Hallett
Vice Chair
Eastern Washington University
Washington, USA

Jim Hallett is a research ecologist and Adjunct Professor in Biology at Eastern Washington University. For more than 20 years, Jim has been a principal on projects that directly bear on land management issues in the Pacific Northwest. In 2001, he and colleagues initiated a monitoring and evaluation program to assess the responses of vegetation and terrestrial wildlife to ecological restoration. Initially a collaborative project with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians in northeastern Washington Idaho, it is now a regional monitoring program for the Upper Columbia United Tribes and covers a diversity of habitats over a broad geographical area. He received his PhD from Texas Tech University. In addition to serving as Treasurer of the Board, Jim chairs the SER Publications Working Group.
Stuart Allison
Knox College
Galesburg, Illinois USA

Stuart Allison is the Watson Bartlett Professor of Biology and Conservation at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, USA. Stuart's field work focuses on the restoration of tallgrass prairies and oak savanna in the American Midwest. He is also interested in the effects of climate change on planning for ecological restoration and human attitudes towards restoration. He authored the book Ecological Restoration and Environmental Change: Renewing Damaged Ecosystems. In addition to serving on the SER Board of Directors since 2009, Stuart has also been a coordinating editor for the journal Restoration Ecology since 2005. He earned his Bachelors of Science at the University of Puget Sound (1981), Masters at the University of Rhode Island (1986), and PhD at the University of California, Berkeley (1991).
Nancy Shaw
USDA FS Rocky Mountain Research Station
Boise, ID, USA

Nancy is a Research Botanist (Emeritus) with the US Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station in Boise, Idaho, USA. She received her B.S. in Zoology from the College of Idaho, an M.S. in Botany from Idaho State University, and Ph.D. in Crop Science (Seed technology emphasis) from Oregon State University. Her research focused on development and use of native plant materials for sagebrush steppe restoration, and she served as Team Leader for the Great Basin Native Plant Project for the last 13 years of her career. She was a founder of the SER Great Basin Chapter and currently serves on the Board of SER’s International Network for Seed-based Restoration Section.



James Aronson
Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development
Missouri Botanic Garden, USA

James worked as a restoration ecologist for 24 years at the Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle and Evolutive (CNRS), in Montpellier, France. He now works as a senior scientist at the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development, Missouri Botanical Garden, USA. He has published many books and articles on ecological restoration, ecological and economic rehabilitation, restoration of natural capital, and related subjects. James is co-founder of the Restoring Natural Capital Alliance ( and co-director of ASSET Research– Africa’s Search for Sound Economic Trajectories ( James has served as editor of the SER-Island Press book series, Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration, since it began in 2002.
Karen Keenleyside
Parcs Canada/Parks Canada
Gatineau, Québec, Canada

Karen is the Climate Change Advisor for Parks Canada. Prior to this appointment, Karen was the National Science Advisor to Parks Canada. She has served on the SER Board for nearly a decade and brings important international policy perspectives to SER. She is an active member of SER's Science and Policy Committee, helping build SER's policy program.
Joe Berg
Biohabitats Inc.
Baltimore, Maryland USA

Joe is a systems ecologist at Biohabitats, Inc., where he is the Practice Lead for Ecological Restoration. He is the chair of the mid-Atlantic Chapter of the SER and is an At-Large Representative on the Board. Joe has been working in environmental consulting in the mid-Atlantic for more than 30 years. Prior to consulting, he was a research assistant at the University of Maryland where he earned an M.S. (1984). Joe is focused on improving restoration through anthropogenically-contextual ecological solutions that lead engineering practices to restore ecosystem process and services rather than continuing a singular emphasis on stability.
Carol Maxwell
AECOM Sacramento
Berkeley, California USA


With expertise in the arts, ecological restoration and landscape design, Carol’s goal is to inspire the partnership between people and ecologically healthy networks. She has over 10 years experience as a professional artist with an emphasis on ecological processes of growth, sustenance, and decay. She received a Master’s in Landscape Architecture from Temple University. Carol founded the first SER student association at Temple and served as Student Representative to the SER Board for two years. She is also a co-founder of Ecos San Francisco, a non-profit dedicated to cultivating environmental stewardship through community education, engagement and activism.
Kris DeCleer
Research Institute for Nature and Forest
Brussels, Belgium

Kris is a Senior Scientist in the Ecosystem Management Unit of the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) in Ghent, Belgium. He earned his Masters of Science in Biology and Ecology at the University of Ghent, Belgium. He is a founding board member of the Society for Ecological Restoration Europe Chapter, and also serves on the Board of Natuurpunt, one of the largest conservation NGOs in Belgium. He is a guest lecturer in restoration at the University of Antwerp and has authored or co-authored dozens of books and papers on ecological restoration topics, with an emphasis on wetland restoration.
Hannah Boone
Student Representative
University of Maryland
College Park, MD, USA

After two years as SER’s Communications and Operations Coordinator, Hannah returned to graduate school in 2017 to pursue a Master's in Environmental Science and Technology. Following interests she developed at SER, she is studying the nexus of ecosystem health and natural resource management with a particular focus on ecological restoration. Her graduate research is supporting an effort to improve regional outreach and outcomes of restored riparian forest buffers in the Chesapeake watershed.


Regional Representatives

Swidiq Mugerwa
National Livestock Resources Research Institute
Tororo, Uganda

Swidiq possesses a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and a Master’s degree in Animal Sciences with specialization in grassland restoration ecology from Makerere University-Uganda. He undertook his PhD and post-doctoral programs in dryland restoration ecology from University of Nairobi-Kenya and Ben Gurion University-Israel respectively. He is currently Head of the Livestock Nutrition Research Programme for the National Livestock Resources Research Institute under the National Agriculture Research Organization in Uganda.
Anne Tolvanen
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke); Thule Institute of the University of Oulu
Oulu, Finland

Anne holds a professorship in forest ecology and the multiple use of forests in the Natural Resources Institute Finland and at the Department of Ecology, University of Oulu, Finland. The principal aim of her work has been to fit together multiple land-use needs, where restoration is one among many land-uses. She has acted as PI in research projects funded by the EU (LIFE, ERDF, EU Agricultural Fund, Interreg), Finnish Forest Research Insitute, the Academy of Finland, Nordic Forest Research Co-operation Committee, and private foundations.Anne is an active member of the Board of SER Europe, the Nordic restoration group “Evaluation of Ecological Restoration in the North” and the Finnish Board of Ecological Restoration. She is the European Chapter representative in the Board of Directors of SER.
Vera Lex Engel
São Paulo State University (UNESP)
São Paulo, Brazil

Vera has been a faculty member of São Paulo State University-UNESP in Brazil, since 1989. She has expertise in Forest Ecology and restoration research and development, emphasizing the regeneration and dynamics of tropical forests, ecological restoration, management of mixed forest plantations and agroforestry. Vera has a degree in Forestry (University of São Paulo-USP, 1985), Masters in Forest Science (University of São Paulo, 1989) and PhD in Ecology (University of Campinas, UNICAMP, 2001). In addition to SER, Vera is active with the International Union of Forest Research Organizations Research Group on Restoration and she is a founder member of the Brazilian Ecological Restoration Network. She is the Chair of SER’s 2017 7th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, to be held in Foz do Iquaçu, Brazil.
Mary Beth McCormack
Midwest North America
Cleveland Montessori School
Cleveland, OH, USA

Mary Beth holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education from George Washington University and an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Diploma from the International Center for Montessori Studies Foundation in Bergamo, Italy. She works to connect students to restoration efforts in their local communities and has collaborated to develop yearly cycles of restoration activities to teach them the importance of environmental stewardship and how they can connect to this work.
Jim Furnish
Northeast North America
Retired Deputy Chief, USDA Forest Service
Rockville, MD, USA

Jim is currently a consulting forester in the Washington D.C. area following a 34-year career with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service. He served as Deputy Chief of the 192 million acre National Forest System under Chief Mike Dombeck. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Chief, he served as Siuslaw National Forest Supervisor from 1992-1999. Jim’s recent work includes serving on the federal Invasive Species Committee, and as senior advisor to the Federal Forest Carbon Coalition – both deal with restoration and mitigating effects of climate change on ecosystems.
Kingsley Dixon
Department of Environment and Agriculture, Curtin University
Perth, Western Australia

Kingsley is a restoration ecologist and conservation biologist, Professor and Director of the newly founded Center for Mining Restoration with 30 years experience in restoration focused on mine site and urban interface restoration and conservation practice. Kingsley is the Chair of SER’s Australasian chapter and was a founder of SER's International Network for Seed-Based Restoration Section. He sits on the SER Board of Directors Executive Committee. Kingsley is a passionate believer in the social, economic and environmental values of global restoration. In addition to his principal work at Curtin University, Kingsley also holds Visiting Professor appointments at Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth, Australia, at the School of Plant Biology of the University of Western Australia, and a Research Associate Appointment at the Missouri Botanic Garden in the United States.


Dave Polster
Pacific Northwest, North America
Polster Environmental Services Ltd.
Duncan, British Columbia, Canada

David Polster is a plant ecologist with over 35 years of experience in vegetation studies, reclamation and invasive species management. He graduated from the University of Victoria with an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in 1975 and a Master of Science degree in 1977. He has developed a wide variety of reclamation techniques for mines, industrial developments and steep/unstable slopes as well as techniques for the re-establishment of riparian and aquatic habitats. He is the past-president (third term) of the Canadian Land Reclamation Association. He is the treasurer for the Western Canada Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration and is the NW Regional Representative on the board of the international Society for Ecological Restoration (SER). He was recently awarded the prestigious John Rieger Award from SER. He served as the alternate mining representative on the board of the Invasive Species Council of B.C. for 9 years, ending in 2015.


Dan Spencer
Rocky Mountains/Great Plains North America
University of Montana, USA
Missoula, MT, USA

Dan is Professor of Environmental Studies and has taught at the University of Montana since 2002. He has been teaching a graduate seminar for the past decade on “Ethical Issues in Ecological Restoration,” and also teaches and conducts research on ecology and religion and globalization, justice and environmental issues in Latin America and the global economy. He earned his B.A. in Geology from Carleton College (1979) and Masters (1983) and Ph.D. (1994) in Environmental Ethics from Union Theological Seminary, New York. He is the author of Gay and Gaia: Ethics, Ecology and the Erotic, published by The Pilgrim Press (1996) and most recently co-authored a book with Laura Stivers and Jim Martin-Schramm: Earth Ethics: A Case Method Approach, available through Orbis Press.
Connie Bersok
Southeast North America
Florida Department of Environmental Regulation
Tallahassee, FL, USA

A member of SER for 15 years, Connie earned a Master’s degree through the University of Florida’s Center for Wetlands, focusing on factors that affect wetland restoration in a post-mining landscape. This research laid the groundwork for a restoration-based approach to wetland regulatory review. Connie was in charge of Florida’s Springs Initiative Program, consisting of integrating hydrogeologic data with land use to develop plans to restore both water quality and discharge for the major springs in the state.
Asia Representative