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.
Matt Bright: Executive Director
Matt Bright 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 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 Capital 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.
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 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.
Lisa Bright: Director Emeritus & 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 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.
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.
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.
Matt Fisher: Restoration Associate
Matt F. assists Matt B. and Michaelanne with on-the-ground restoration activities. Invasive species fear him! You can find him at our worksites pulling invasives like Japanese stiltgrass, mile-a-minute, porcelainberry, bush honeysuckle, multiflora rose, and many, many more. He also helps out at the Wild Plant Nursery with the full range of propagation activities and the less exciting work of repairing sprinkler lines and stretching shade cloth.In addition to his work with the Sangha, he currently teaches piano. Before joining as a permanent member of the Earth Sangha team, Matt was a 2023 Conservation Intern. Previously, he worked as a middle school teacher. Matt graduated from Princeton University with a BA in Philosophy.
Kim Kruszewski: Nursery Associate
Kim helps handle day-to-day propagation, care of native plants, and the organization of the Wild Plant Nursery while working with volunteers. That means she's doing everything from teaching students how to repot oaks to weeding (the gift that keeps on giving!) to ordering more soil to printing labels. Before joining the Earth Sangha, Kim worked as a Program Assistant for the Virginia Cooperative Extension, working with 4-H youth and families, adult volunteers, the Fairfax Co. 4-H Fair, and community partners to support a “learn by doing” and experiential learning model. Kim is a certified Master Naturalist a holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Indiana University.
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.
Sarah Roth: 2023 Conservation Intern
Sarah Roth is a 2023 Earth Sangha Conservation Intern. She's pursuing a master's degree in environmental science and policy at George Mason University. As spring emerges, Sarah is excited to identify native plants in the wild. Her favorite recent sighting is a grove of early lowbush blueberries in the heath forests of West Virginia.
Genny Polo: 2023 Conservation Intern
Genny Polo is a 2023 Earth Sangha Conservation Intern. She recently graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelors of Science in both Music Industry Studies & Language and Cultures. Before joining the Earth Sangha, Genny volunteered at SPROUT community gardens in New Orleans.
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.