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Meet the Sangha's Staff

Chris Bright: President and Co-Founder

Chris and his wife, Lisa, founded the Earth Sangha in 1997. In 2004, Chris left his position as a Senior Researcher at the Worldwatch Institute to work for the Sangha full time. Worldwatch is a research organization that tracks global environmental and social trends. Chris is the author of numerous articles and one book, Life Out of Bounds: Bioinvasion in a Borderless World, the first global, interdisciplinary study of biological invasion written for a general audience. The photo shows Chris working in the Sangha's original greenhouse. 

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Matt Bright: Executive Director

 

Matt is the Executive Director at Earth Sangha where he has worked full-time on native plant conservation since 2011, and where he grew up as the son of co-founders Lisa and Chris Bright. Matt has worked closely with ecologists, botanists, and park managers across the Northern Virginia region on plant conservation and ecological restoration projects over the years, including a brief stint interning at Huntley Meadows Park. He regularly teaches for the Arlington Regional Master Naturalist chapter and serves on the steering committee for the National Capitol Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management. Before starting at the Sangha, Matt graduated from Kenyon college with a BA in History and spent four years as a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician with the College Township Fire Department in Gambier, Ohio. The photo shows Matt with his daughter and future conservationist, Maeve. 

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Katherine Isaacson: Director of Development

 

Katherine makes the Sangha work as an organization. She takes the lead on growing the Sangha's membership base, developing our relationships with foundations, and keeping our volunteer network organized. She also runs our office: she does - or makes sure that someone else does - the full range of our business activities: accounting, database management, mailings, website, and social media updates, and on and on. But Katherine is no mere desk-jockey: at least once a week she is in the field somewhere, helping to supervise field-work, collaborating with Matt at the nursery, or talking with visitors at an outreach event. Katherine graduated in 2011 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (aka "Virginia Tech") with a BS in Economics and is a Virginia Master Naturalist chapter partner with the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists. The photo shows Katherine with her daughter at the Wild Plant Nursery. 

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Lisa Bright: Director Emerita & Co-Founder

 

Lisa founded the Sangha with her husband, Chris. Lisa has been recognized as a teacher by the Chogye Order of Zen Buddhism, the main Buddhist monastic order in Korea. She is a Fairfax County (Virginia) Certified Steam Monitor and Master Watershed Steward. Lisa has been working with volunteers since 1994, first as Director of Operations for Community Lodgings, an affordable-housing nonprofit in Alexandria, Virginia, and now with the Sangha. She manages our Wild Plant Nursery. Lisa has been studying and propagating native plants in the mid-Atlantic since 2000. The photo shows Lisa preparing to demolish some invasive alien shrubs in a Northern Virginia meadow.  

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Katie Barbuschak (Danner): Development Coordinator

 

Katie is a key part of our Wild Plant Nursery team! When she isn't at the nursery or a field site, you'll find Katie at the office helping with a whole host of administrative tasks both nursery and office related. We couldn't get by without her diligent approach to record-keeping and data entry. Before joining the Sangha full-time in 2021, Katie was a Wild Plant Nursery Intern from Fall 2019-Fall 2020. Katie graduated from the College of William and Mary with a B.A. in Art History and M.A. in Elementary Education. She trained as a Master Naturalist through the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists and studied Horticulture Technology at Northern Virginia Community College. The photo shows Katie at a native tree planting event at the Marie Butler Leven Preserve.

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Michaelanne Makuch: Conservation Coordinator

 

Michaelanne works closely with Matt and Chris on conservation activities in the Washington D.C. region and in our Tree Bank projects in the Dominican Republic and Panama. She helps to coordinate restoration activities, conduct site assessments, and tend to the Wild Plant Nursery. She splits her time between the Wild Plant Nursery, various DC-area restoration sites, and our Tree Bank projects areas along the Dominican Republic - Haiti border and in western Panama. Previously, Michaelanne interned with the Earth Sangha as a Conservation Intern. Before joining us, she worked administering child case subsidies nationwide for the military and locally in Fairfax County. She graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (aka "Virginia Tech") in 2015 with a B.S. in Sociology, has an A.S. in Horticulture Technology from the Northern Virginia Community College, and received a certificate in Ecological Restoration from the University of Minnesota in 2024. The photo shows Michaelanne dividing plants at the Wild Plant Nursery. 

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Alfonso "Manolo" Sanchez: Tree Bank Co-Director

 

Manolo runs the Tree Bank Hispaniola Nursery and manages the Tree Bank Hispaniola finances. He works with Cosme (see below) to survey conservation easements and monitor plantings. Manolo is a farmer is Los Cerezos, where the Tree Bank Hispaniola is based, and a founding member of our partner organization the Asociación de Productores de Bosque Los Cerezos (Los Cerezos Forest Producers Association). He is also an original and continuing participant in three Tree Bank programs: Parcelas Sembradas, Credito Forestal, and Rising Forests Coffee. He was elected by the Association membership to be our Assistant Director, and we promoted him into his current position. The photo shows Manolo on his farm. 

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Cosme Damian Quezada: Tree Bank Co-Director

 

Cosme plays a role similar to that of Manolo. Cosme works at the Tree Bank Nursery, and helps survey easements and monitor plantings. In addition to his regular chores, Cosme is expanding the Nursery's native-tree accessions, and coordinating several small nursery construction projects. Like, Manolo, Cosme is a local farmer, a participant in several Tree Bank Hispaniola programs, and an officer in our partner association. Cosme plays a crucial role in the Tree Bank Hispaniola's Forest Credit program: he works as a kind of accountant, and he is meticulous and persistent. The photo shows Cosme and one of his sons in his Tree Bank Hispaniola Parcela Sembrada. 

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Yinabel Perez: Tree Bank Hispaniola Coordinator

 

Yinabel is a crucial member of our Tree Bank Hispaniola team. She manages the adminstrative tasks associated with running the Tree Bank Hispaniola including reporting, banking, communications, as well as coodinating logistics for purchasing, truck repairs, and visits. As our most tech savvy team member, Yinabel plays a key role in ensuring our DC based staff has up-to-date information on the day to day acitivities of the Tree Bank Hispaniola. Yinabel is the daughter of the Tree Bank's first director, Gaspar Perez Aquino, who passed away in 2014. Yinabel has a BS in Psychology from La Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo. The photo shows Yinabel (right) with our Director of Development, Katherine (left).

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Frankie Manuel Perez Luciano: Tree Bank Nursery Assistant

 

Frankie is the Tree Bank Nursery's reliable factotum: whatever it is that needs to be done, Frankie will do it. He mixes potting medium, fills the little "grow bags" that hold our stock, tends the plants, and when they're ready to go out, he helps make sure that the little trees end up on the right properties. Frankie grew up in Los Cerezos; he still lives there and has a small farm there. His uncle Gaspar Perez Aquino, was the co-founder of the Tree Bank Hispaniola and worked as its Director until he died in 2014. Like many local people, Frankie hasn't had much formal education, but he is skilled farmer and hard worker. The photo shows Frankie beside our community center, built in 2011. 

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Genny Polo: Conservation Intern

 

Genny was a 2023 Fall Conservation Intern and is joining us again in 2024 as a Full-Season Conservation Intern.She recently graduated from Loyola University with a BS in Music Industry Studies & Language and Cultures. Before joining the Earth Sangha, Genny volunteered at Sprout Community Gardens in New Orleans. She's pictured here at the Wild Plant Nursery.

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Kayla Hubbell: Conservation Intern

 

Kayla is a 2024 Full-Season Conservation Intern. She is working to get her associates in Horticulture Technology at Northern Virginia Community College. She is excited to learn more about local ecosystems and help in conservation efforts.

Openings

We have no openings at this time. 

Banner: Tree Bank farmer Manuel Perez Tejada and family in the "Parcela Agro-Ecológica." The spiky vegetation behind them is a sugar-cane live-terrace. Photo by Chris Bright.

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