Board of Directors

The Connecticut Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation is a Chartered State Chapter with its own Bylaws, Constitution and Treasury. It is organized as a non-profit foundation under the US Tax Code 501(c)3.

As an integral part of the TACF Research Program, we have an infrastructure to support the Research Orchards and efforts to find, validate and pollinate pure American chestnut throughout the native range, especially CT. These advanced back-cross nuts are then planted and grown in CT’s TACF Research Orchards.

Executive Committee

President – Star Childs – Norfolk
Board Term Expires Spring 2017
Starling Childs is a is a private forestry consultant with the firm of EECOS Ecological Consultants (EECOS), and also serves as the President of the Great Mountain Forest Corporation (GMF), a private operating foundation in Norfolk, CT, established for forestry research and education. He will speak about the early history and unsuccessful efforts to establish out-plantings of chestnut at GMF, as well as the more recent establishment of a CT-TACF chestnut orchard on a part of the property. In addition, he will discuss the important niches that chestnut once provided in the southern New England forest ecosystem and what the eventual recovery of this species might mean for the sustainable future of our forests. Star received a BS in Geology and Natural Resources from Yale College and a Masters in Forest Science from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He has maintained a lifelong association with Yale’s forestry and environmental students and faculty who continue to visit GMF every year in order to navigate and discover the mysteries and intricacies of Connecticut’s forested landscapes.

Vice President – Dr. Jack Ostroff – Old Lyme
Board Term Expires Spring 2017
Dr. Ostroff has been a member of TACF for thirteen years, joining after having been intrigued by a display at one of our local agricultural fairs. He received his BS from Yale University, MD from Rutgers Medical School, and MS in Computer Science from Rutgers University. Dr. Ostroff has attempted to use his medical knowledge to make better use of computers in the pharmaceutical industry and has leveraged his expertise as the chief architect of DentataBase, the American Chestnut Foundation’s Breeding Database. He has lived in Connecticut for fifteen years, is a member of a number of environmental groups. He has served as a Board Member and since 2014 as Chapter Vice-President.

Secretary – Jane Harris – Middletown
Board Term Expires Spring 2017
Jane Harris is a Connecticut licensed arborist, specializing in plant health care, landscape consultation and appraisals. She has worked for Allan’s Tree Service in Middlefield, CT for the past ten plus years. Jane is an active member of the Middletown Garden Club, Garden Club of America and the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut. Jane serves on the boards of The Rockfall Foundation, the Connecticut Tree Protective Association and the Middletown Urban Forestry Commission.

Treasurer – Jim Gage – Ellington
Board Term Expires Spring 2016
Jim Gage has been a Director and Treasurer of the Northern Connecticut Land Trust and was a preserve monitor for The Nature Conservancy (Poquetanuck Cove) for approximately 8 years. A member of long-standing in the American Chestnut Foundation, he has served as the Chapter’s Treasurer and NCLT Orchard Manager for the greater part of a decade. He also served on the Ellington Conservation Commission, and was Director and Treasurer of the Scantic River Watershed Association. Jim retired from Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies in 1993. Jim has an MBA from Harvard University.

Board Members

Bill Adamsen – Wilton
Board Term Expires Spring 2017
Bill served the Chapter as President from 2005 to 2013 and earlier as Chapter Treasurer. He has an undergraduate degree in Terrestrial Ecology (SUNY) and lives in Fairfield County. Bill loves hiking, especially when he can combine the hiking with hunting for native chestnut, be that anywhere in Connecticut, New England, or the world over.

John Baker – Litchfield
Board Term Expires Spring 2016
John Baker was (for 18 years or so) Treasurer of the Litchfield Hills Audubon Society (LHAS) and was instrumental in the acquisition of the property, now known as the Wigwam Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, on which the Society’s chestnut plantation is located. He has been a member of The American Chestnut Foundation since 1998. Born in New York City, but raised on a farm in Goshen, CT, John received his B.S. from Cornell University in 1956 and joined Cargill, Inc. After serving his country for three years in the U.S. Air Force as a navigator, he spent 37 years with Cargill as the country manager in the Philippines and in Thailand. Upon retiring to Litchfield with his wife Janet, he started beekeeping and joined the LHAS (in 1993). Then, after building their retirement home, John joined the Litchfield Housing Trust where he shepherded their affordable home building program. He is also President of the C.B. Ripley Land Trust, the CT Director of the Eastern Apiculture Society and is also a member of the Litchfield Conservation Commission.

Needless to say, John has a great affection for the outdoors and the beauty of nature.

Dr. Phil Arnold
Board Term Expires Spring 2016
Dr. Arnold was a Board Certified Physician for 38 years specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, retired in 2004. He received a BA from Yale University and M.D. from Tufts. Philip is active as a Director of the Woodbridge Land Trust and as a member of the American Chestnut Foundation. He feels a synergy between the goals of the organizations and is committed to the goals of restoration of a resistant American Chestnut. Dr. Arnold has served as the Woodbridge Orchard Manager, and served several years as Chapter Vice-President and subsequently Secretary, retiring from the Executive Committee in 2013.

Dr. David Bingham – Salem
Board Term Expires Spring 2016
David Bingham is a retired OB-GYN. He has been active with numerous conservation organizations, currently serving on the boards of the Salem Land Trust, Audubon Connecticut and the CT Land Conservation Coalition, and as co-chair of the CT League of Conservation Voters. David is a life member of TACF and manages a mother tree orchard located on his land in Salem, which includes young trees from 4th backcross nuts obtained from 3 native trees in CT. These trees were pollinated, by CT volunteers, with research pollen from The American Chestnut Foundation’s Meadowview Farm. One of the 3 parent CT American Chestnut mother trees has been nurtured by David in Salem for 20 years, and may now be one of the largest native trees in the State. Nuts from the Salem orchard are anticipated to be produced in the next year or two, to be grown in the seed orchards scheduled for the next phase of the restoration project. The Salem Land Trust has a test planting of “restoration trees” (from B3F3 nuts), planted in a deer exclosure at the Zemko Sawmill Preserve.

Woods “Ellery” Sinclair – Falls Village
Board Term Expires Spring 2017
Ellery has lived in Falls Village for sixty-two years and is a retired English teacher of the Housatonic Valley Regional High School where he became Department Chairman. Presently he is Chairman of the Inland Wetlands/ Conserva-tion Commission, past-president on the library board, Housatonic River Commissioner, Zoning Board of Appeals member, and HVRHS Arboretum Committee member. For the past two years he has helped establish and manages the Canaan Mountain TACF Chestnut Orchard of about 250 backcross trees in Falls Village. He has engaged the Vocational Agricultural Educa-tion students from HVRHS as partners through their curriculum, and helped implement a chapter summer-internship. Grateful to be re-nominated, Woods looks forward to serving another term with the dedicated folks on the Connecticut Chapter Board.

Garrett Smith – Avon
Board Term Expires Spring 2016
Lives in Avon and hunts American chestnut stump sprouts while on walks in the woods. Earlier, he lived in central Pennsylvania, where he learned of TACF hybridization work and trial orchards . Education: University of Rochester B.A. 1961, Non-Western Civilizations; Columbia M.Phil. 1972, Geography. In retirement, he travels part-time for the US Environmental Protection Agency assisting Indian nations and tribes with recycling and management of solid waste. Garrett has served as Director of the CT Chapter TACF since 2002.Nominations Committee.

Susan Kelsey – Canaan
Board Term Expires Spring 2016
Susan J. Kelsey Received a B.A. in Biology from Skidmore College and M.F.S. from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Interned and worked at Manomet Bird Observatory (now ‘Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences’) where also participated in seabird and mammal observer program through NOAA out of Woods Hole, MA. Worked for National Audubon Society Sanctuary Department at Miles Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon, CT. Employed by a land surveying firm in Salisbury, CT, conducting title searches, field work and assisting in map preparation. Currently am working as a Connecticut licensed forester and have a forestry consulting business, ‘Kelsey Forestry’. Majority of work involves certifying private lands as “forest land” for tax assessment purposes, in addition to working with land trusts of northwestern Connecticut. Have served as a member of the Canaan (“Falls Village”) Inland Wetlands/Conservation Commission for more than 25 years. “I feel privileged to be in a position that allows me to explore, experience and appreciate the woods of Connecticut. I am endlessly captivated by the history of our forests and am lured to every stonewall , charcoal bed and stone foundation I wander across.”

Dr. Bert Malkus – Woodbridge
Board Term Expires Spring 2016
Dr. Malkus is an Associate Director of Clinical Chemistry at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, and a Director of Qualigen, Inc. Dr. Malkus holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Iowa State University and conducted NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship Research Studies at Yale University and the University of Florida. Dr. Malkus has been very involved with the Woodbridge Land Trust and is one of the key contacts for the Land Trust’s Backcross Chestnut Orchard.

Christian Allyn

Board Term Expires Spring 2017
Christian Allyn was a student at Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVHRS) and is currently a bachelor’s student of Horticulture at the University of Connecticut. While in high school, Christian was an officer in the Housatonic Valley FFA Chapter, a member of the Housatonic Valley Environthon team, and interned at the Falls Village American Chestnut Orchard with the guidance of Ellery Sinclair in the summer of 2012. Continuing from 2012 and after graduation, Christian is a member of HVRHS Arboretum and Landscape Committee and has played a key role in data­basing existing tree’s dimensions, the removal of invasive species off the school grounds and creating an arboretum map for the school along with Tom Zetterstrom and Robin Cockerline, in celebration of the HVRHS 75th anniversary. At UConn Christian is a charter member of ECoalition, an organization which unites all environmental groups to make a stand on university policies regarding the environment. He also is the transit campaign coordinator with the UConn Public Interest Group and has testified at the state level and lobbied at the national level regarding public transit and higher education solutions. When not at UConn, Christian serves on the Housatonic River Commission (HRC) a public advisory board managing development along the Housatonic River, holding the title of the youngest HRC member and youngest appointed public official in the Town of North Canaan’s history. He also comes home to his family in East Canaan, who have lived and managed family land there for eight generations. His goal is to ensure the lands, rivers, and forests of northwestern, and all of Connecticut are managed in a way which ensures that future generations can enjoy them as he has.



John Blossom

Board Term Expires Spring 2017
John Blossom has been volunteering as orchard manager at the backcross breeding orchard on Nut Plains Road in Guilford since April, 2014. John’s interest in the American Chestnut originated from his work as a summer camp counselor in the forests of Sussex County, New Jersey, where chestnut logs and small saplings were found frequently. John and his wife June-Ann Greeley have been residing in Guilford since February 2014, after having lived in Westport, CT for twenty-two years. John and June-Ann are enthusiastic gardeners, bird and wildlife watchers, nature trail and oceanside wanderers and supporters of nature conservation and animal sanctuaries. Both are graduates of Connecticut College in New London, CT. John is now a candidate for ordained ministries in the United Methodist Church and is enrolled in the Cooperative Master of Divinity programme of Hartford Seminary. Prior to returning to school John was a media and technology industry analyst and executive consultant for Shore Communications Inc. and authored the book “Content Nation: Surviving and Thriving as Social Media Changes Our Work, Our Lives and Our Future” (Wiley, 2009).

Matt Freund

Board Term Expires Spring 2017
Matt Freund is a second generation dairy farmer in East Canaan, CT. He farms with his brother, wife and children. Following in the footsteps of his father, he has worked diligently to adopt conservation farming practices for his family’s farm. These practices have included the planting of chestnut trees and other native species along the farm’s bordering river. Matt’s interest in stewardship led him to participate in a COVERTS class with UConn Extension, additionally, Matt and his brother manage a forest stewardship plan for the 200 acres of forested property on the farm. Matt serves as Chair to the North Canaan Wetlands Commission as well as Chair for his dairy cooperative, Cabot’s Sustainability Committee. In addition to the 300 dairy cows on Freund’s Farm, they also house a manufacturing facility for the production of CowPots, a product invented by Matt and his brother to alleviate the farm of the excess nutrients (cow manure) while adding value to their farm’s byproduct. For more details about the Fruends and their CowPots seethis 2010 NY Times article.

Dan Donahue

Board Term Expires Spring 2017
Dan is a licensed professional forester with 34 years of management experience in Connecticut. He is Director of Land Protection & Stewardship for the Norcross Wildlife Foundation (NWF), which is primarily charged with protecting/improving Tupper Hill, the Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary, a refuge with a mission of conserving flora and fauna and a 75-year history of accomplishment. Dan directs NWF’s land acquisitions, Program Related Investments that offer no-interest loans to facilitate priority habitat conservation nationwide, and long-range conservation planning, as well as land/habitat stewardship practices on the 8,000-acre sanctuary. Dan has a B.S. degree in Natural Resource Conservation (forest and wildlife management, 1981) and a M.S. in Natural Resources (water resources-wetland assessment, 1994), both at UConn. He is a long-time volunteer with Connecticut Forest & Park Association and Joshua’s Tract Conservation & Historic Trust. Dan is eager to represent NWF in the successful reestablishment of the American chestnut tree in the forests of the eastern U.S.

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Bill Adamsen

Bill Adamsen

Bill Adamsen is a member of the CT Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) Board of Directors. He served as Chapter President for eight years.

Bill Adamsen

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