by M. Janet Bornancin
TREE Fund President/CEO
As you read this, the TREE Fund is interviewing candidates for the next President/CEO of the TREE Fund. I’m retiring my “CEO hat” after 10 years at the helm of this very special organization. Thank you for the opportunity to serve; it has been an honor and a joy. I have been humbled by your commitment to arboriculture, urban forestry and the mission of the TREE Fund. It was that commitment, coupled with extraordinary vision, which spurred the leaders of ISA and the National Arborist Foundation to join forces in 2002 to create what has become the community foundation of the arboriculture industry: the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund, aka the TREE Fund.
I have had the good fortune to work with talented and dedicated staff members, contractors, Trustees, ISA Chapter Liaisons, volunteers and industry leaders to help chart the course of the TREE Fund during a period of substantial growth. Over the past ten years we have stayed true to the vision of our founders and the mission of the foundation. The TREE Fund’s mission statement has evolved a bit since 2002 but the purpose has remained the same, to advance knowledge in the fields of arboriculture and urban forestry through research, scholarship and education.
It has been gratifying to watch our program portfolio grow. In 2002 the TREE Fund offered two research grants and one scholarship. In 2014 we awarded $303,000 via 10 different research, education and scholarship programs, and the research priorities which have directed our disbursements were reaffirmed in an industry-wide survey conducted jointly by the TREE Fund and ISA. Tree care’s top priorities haven’t changed that much. As the bugs and pathogens besieging the urban forest have evolved, we’ve worked to ensure that the science that defends urban trees has kept pace.
Support for our mission comes from an ever-expanding donor base which includes arborists, green industry practitioners, tree care industry leaders and many individuals and businesses from outside the circle of arboriculture and urban forestry. As government funding for applied research becomes harder to find, the importance of our mission and the funding it supports becomes more apparent. I am proud that, working together, we have expanded our capacity to meet that need.
Understanding that the roots of this organization spread far, it is my hope that my tenure has nurtured the sound growth of the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund. With the continued passion and commitment of our board, staff, volunteers, Tour riders and donors, I believe the TREE Fund’s impact will be 10 times greater in 2025 than it is today. Respectfully, I ask your help to maintain the momentum and sustain the TREE Fund’s upward trajectory. I’ll look forward to watching it grow.
P.S. On a more personal note, my tenure with the TREE Fund has enriched my life in substantial ways. I’ve quit smoking; I’ve returned to cycling; I’ve become an advocate for healthy trees and I have made lifelong friends. Thank you. It’s been a privilege to work with you for such a worthy cause.