TFD’s Secretariat is located at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

Gary Dunning
Executive Director

Gary DunningGary is the Executive Director of The Forests Dialogue (TFD), an organization based at Yale University in New Haven, CT, USA. TFD was created in 1999 to provide global and regional leaders in the forest sector with a neutral, multi-stakeholder dialogue (MSD) platform and process focused on developing mutual trust and a shared understanding while working towards collaborative solutions to the challenges in achieving sustainable forest management and forest conservation around the world. Gary is the first Executive Director of TFD’s Secretariat, since bringing it to Yale in 2000.  Gary works with a diverse 25 person strong, international Steering Committee to set priority on key forest related issues and develop multi-stakeholder dialogue-based initiatives to address those issues.  He oversees a small, Yale based staff.

Gary has been working on forest related issues for over 25 years and leading MSD’s since 1995.  Gary was the founding Executive Director of the Yale University’s Global Institute of Sustainable of Forestry and helped to create and lead the Yale Forest Forum. He was also the National Roundtable Coordinator for the Seventh American Forest Congress and the US Liaison to the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development. Gary was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya where he taught agroforestry and forest extension techniques at the Kenya Forestry College in Londiani.  He holds a Master of Forestry degree from the Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Bachelor’s degree from Humboldt State University in California.

Lisa O’Brien
Program Administrator

Lisa O'BrienLisa O’Brien joined The Forests Dialogue (TFD) in the winter of 2008.  She has worked for Yale University for over 15 years.  Prior to joining TFD she worked in the financial offices of the Yale Law School as a Financial Assistant and for the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES) as an Assistant Business Administrator.  During this period, she also worked on various accounting projects for The Urban Resources Initiative (URI) based at Yale FES. Outside of work, Lisa enjoys spending time with her husband and three daughters, gardening, skiing, hiking and cooking.  She received her B.S. in Business Management from Southern Connecticut State University.

Erika Drazen
Program Associate

Erika Drazen is jointly pursuing a Master of Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and an MBA from Yale School of Management.  Prior to coming to Yale, she has worked on environmental issues in India, Israel, Australia and the United States.  In India she worked with WWF to create a conservation training program for Forest Department staff at Kawal Tiger Reserve.  In both Australia and Los Angeles she researched water resource policies while working with TreePeople.  In Israel she worked with the Heschel Sustainability Center in their resource development department acquiring grants and increasing their public visibility and awareness through social media.  Currently at Yale, she also conducts research with the Hewlett Foundation on evidence informed policy and implementation in the international development sector.  She received her B.A. in Anthropology with minors in Art History and Geography & Environmental Studies from UCLA.

Michelle Mendelwicz 
Program Associate 

Michelle Mendlewicz is a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (F&ES). Prior to pursuing her graduate studies, she was working as a legal advisor for the Environmental Agency of the State of Rio de Janeiro (INEA/RJ), primarily with issues regarding the “Brazilian Forest Code,” environmental infractions and protected areas. She also worked at private law firms representing clients in different industries regarding environmental licensing and permitting procedures. Currently at Yale, her main interests are on Environmental Law and Policy, and Business and the Environment. Michelle holds a Law Degree from Pontifícia Universidade Católica of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), where she also completed a specialization program in Environmental Law.

Steven P. Patriarco
Program Associate

Steven is a joint Master of Environmental Management (MEM) and MBA degree student at Yale University.  He is interested in sustainable development issues in Latin America and Southeast Asia, with particular emphasis on the role that sound forest and land management policies and practices can play in facilitating inclusive economic growth and safeguarding the ecological integrity of tropical ecosystems. Prior to coming to Yale, Steven worked in various capacities in Indonesia and Malaysia since 2011, including as the co-founder and Chief Sustainability Officer of Ance Group, a sustainability-focused aquaculture firm; a Fulbright research scholar examining livelihood development programs near critical Bornean orangutan habitat in West Kalimantan; and the team leader for a major reforestation, illegal logging monitoring, and environmental education initiative. He received his B.S. in Biology from Brandeis University.

Corey Creedon
Program Associate

Corey is a Master’s of Environmental Management (M.E.M.) candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies focusing on climate change and sustainable development.  At The Forests Dialogues (TFD), Corey works as a Program Associate, helping to coordinate and support the organization’s Land-Use Dialogues (LUD) Initiative as well as its Sustainable Wood Energy (SWE) Initiative.  Prior to coming to Yale, Corey served three years in the Peace Corps in Paraguay (2012-2015).   As an Environmental Conservation Specialist in the Peace Corps, he worked primarily in youth education and leadership for the first two years of his time there before extending his service for a third year working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF)/Paraguay as a member of their Climate Change team helping with the coordination, execution, and monitoring and evaluation of their “Paraguay Land Use” REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) project.  Corey is originally from Litchfield, Connecticut and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies from Bates College (’12).

Liz Felker
LUD Program Associate

Liz Felker is a Master of Environmental Science candidate from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Her academic interests include the social dimensions of environmental management, especially with regard to land and resource access, and environmental justice. She currently assists Professor Amity Doolittle on monitoring and evaluation of TFD’s Land Use Dialogue platform. Through Yale’s Landscape Lab, she also helps maintain a temperate agroforest. Prior to Yale, Liz worked as a research consultant for CIFOR in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, and on a production vegetable farm in Nashville, TN. She received her B.S. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management with a minor in Forest Management from UC Berkeley.

Beryl Ajwang
Program Associate

Beryl is a Master of Environmental Management Candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Prior to joining Yale, she worked as a research analyst with the EED Advisory, a consulting company on energy and environment in Kenya.  During that period, she provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Environment in modeling GHG emissions in the energy sector and the abatement potential of renewable energy including biogas for cooking; provided climate change data and intelligence as inputs to capacity development curriculum on current topics such as INDCs, NAMA and climate finance; conducted household surveys for the development of the county energy plans as well as managing an online household energy data aggregator based on the mobile phone technology. Currently at Yale, she is interested in the interaction of energy, climate change and conservation.  She holds a degree in Environmental and Bio-systems Engineering from the University of Nairobi, Kenya.