Meet the Sangha's Staff
Chris Bright: President & 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 greenhouse.
Lisa Bright: Executive Director, Co-Founder, & Dharma Teacher
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 Stream Monitor and a 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 the native plants of the mid-Atlantic since 2000. The photo shows Lisa preparing to demolish some invasive alien shrubs in a northern Virginia meadow.
Matt Bright: Conservation Manager
Matt is the son of Lisa and Chris. Inevitably, he spends much of his time making sure that the Sangha's programs work in ways that 60-year-olds might not understand. He splits his time between our Wild Plant Nursery, various DC-area restoration sites, and our Tree Bank project area, along the Dominican Republic – Haiti border. Matt is developing ArcGIS databases to store the Sangha's botanical information, both in northern Virginia and on Hispaniola. He led the team that created our coffee marketing strategy, and he is almost always working on some upgrade at our Virginia nursery — either structural or procedural. Matt graduated from Kenyon College in 2011 with a BA in History, and is a Certified Horticulturist with Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association and a certified Master Naturalist through the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists. Before starting at the Sangha, he spent four years as a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician with the College Township Fire Department, in Gambier, Ohio. The photo shows Matt (left) with Cosme, one of our Tree Bank Co-Directors, at the Tree Bank Nursery in Los Cerezos.
Katherine Isaacson: Development Manager
Katherine makes the Sangha work as an organization. She takes the lead on growing the Sangha's membership base, developing our relations 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 having an inter-species moment at an outreach event.
Katie Danner: Operations Coordinator
Katie is a key part of our Wild Plant Nursery propagation team. She also manages our curbside pick-up plant orders, manages inventory, and helps advise homeowners on their native plant projects. 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. Before coming on as the Sangha’s Operations Coordinator 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.
Sarah Mard: Volunteer Coordinator
Sarah is our primary contact for volunteer opportunities at the Wild Plant Nursery and at our restoration sites. Check in with Sarah when you come to volunteer and she'll get you up to speed in no time with a smile and probably a bird fact or two! Sarah is also an essential part of our nursery team, assisting Lisa and Matt with the intricacies of native plant propagation. Prior to joining the Earth Sangha, Sarah worked hard to experience the full breadth of life being a stay at home mom to the 4 children she shares with her husband, Rick, as they moved frequently around the country for his job. Sarah graduated in 2006 from Northern Arizona University with a BS in Elementary Education and is a certified Virginia Master Naturalist with the Fairfax Master Naturalists.
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. She helps to coordinate restoration activities, conduct site assessments, and tend to the nursery. She splits her time between our Wild Plant Nursery, various DC-area restoration sites, and our Tree Bank project area along the Dominican Republic – Haiti border. Previously, Michaelanne interned with the Earth Sangha as a Conservation Intern. Before joining us, Michaelanne worked administering child care 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 and is working on an A.S in Horticulture Technology from the Northern Virginia Community College.
Alfonso "Manolo" Sanchez: Tree Bank Co-Director
Manolo runs the Tree Bank Nursery and manages the Tree Bank's Dominican finances. He also works with Cosme (see below) to survey conservation easements and monitor Tree Bank plantings. Manolo is a farmer in Los Cerezos, where the Tree Bank 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 currently the Association's Treasurer. He is also an original and continuing participant in three Tree Bank programs: Parcelas Sembradas, Crédito 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.
Cosme Damián 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 programs, and an officer of our partner association. (He is currently a member of its governing board.) Cosme plays a crucial role in the Tree Bank's forest credit program: he works as a kind of accountant, and he is meticulous and persistent — in a culture that favors neither of those characteristics. The photo shows Cosme and one of his young sons in his Tree Bank Parcela Sembrada.
Yinabel Perez: Tree Bank Coordinator
Yinabel is a crucial member of our Tree Bank team. She manages the administrative tasks associated with running the Tree Bank including reporting, banking, communications, as well as coordinating 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 activities of the Tree Bank. Yinabel is the daughter of the Tree Bank's first Director, Gaspar Perez Aquino, who passed away in 2014. Yinabel earned a BS in Psychology from La Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo in 2018. The photo shows Yinabel (right) with our Development Manager, Katherine (left), Tree Bank Director, Manolo (rear), and her aunt, Catana, during a 2018 trip to survey various restoration sites with birders from the Virginia Society of Ornithology.
Franklin Manuel Pérez 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 Pérez Aquino, was a co-founder of the Tree Bank
and worked as its Director until he died in September 2014. Like many local people,
Frankie hasn't had much formal education, but he is a skilled farmer and a hard worker.
The photo shows Frankie beside our community center / coffee warehouse, built in 2011.
We have no openings at this time.
Banner: Tree Bank farmer Manuel Pérez Tejada and family in their "Parcela Agro-Ecológica." The spiky vegetation behind them is a
sugar-cane live-terrace. Photo by Chris Bright.