ITF is run by a small dedicated team who manage the day-to-day work that ITF undertake in the UK and in Africa.

    Ricardo Romero

    Programmes Manager

    Ricardo joined ITF in May 2020. Born in Mexico, his love for nature was passed on to him by his grandmother, who was a gifted tree grafter. He still recalls fondly the excitement of helping her in the orchard and planting his first tree with her. He has been working in environmental conservation and international development for several years, advocating for local communities to be at the centre of development and conservation efforts. Before joining the International Tree Foundation, Ricardo worked for five years as Programme Manager for a non-profit organisation based in the USA with environmental and development projects in Central America.  Ricardo has published numerous scientific materials, peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, technical manuals, blog posts and even a soil conservation comic. He has been an active member of many international networks and has been a guest researcher and partner of EARTH University in the Renewable Energies and Circular Economy Laboratories.

    My favourite tree – Kapok Tree (Ceiba pentandra).

    Ricardo cropped

    Paul Laird

    Programmes Manager

    Paul joined ITF in August 2015 as Programmes Manager, with responsibility for managing the diverse portfolio of projects, small and large, that ITF supports in Africa and the UK.

    Paul trained as a forester in Scotland and has an MSc in Environmental Management. He has over 20 years’ experience of managing forestry, agricultural and rural development projects in Africa. More recently, with Earthwatch Institute, he has worked with major companies on agricultural sustainability, corporate responsibility and employee engagement programmes. He previously worked with Sheffield Wildlife Trust, Living Earth Foundation, SOS Sahel International, the Kenyan Forest Department and the UK Forestry Commission.

    He has a particular interest in exploring ways in which local involvement in conservation and restoration of forests and ecosystems can contribute to sustainable livelihoods for rural communities.

    My favourite tree – Wild cherry (Prunus avium).

    Paul_Laird (3)

    James Kemp

    Head of Fundraising

    James joined ITF as Head of Fundraising in 2019, bringing nearly twenty years experience in fundraising and the not for profit sector. He started his career in research and fundraising for a think tank working on sustainable security. Most recently he worked on product strategy for a responsible business consultancy. James was also Oxfam’s Head of Strategic Communications Planning, and a project manager in Oxfam’s Fundraising Division. He was also a Nominet Trust Trustee, while working in Nominet’s technical department.

    My favourite tree – Silver Birch (Betula pendula), although that might change tomorrow.


    Teresa Gitonga

    Centenary Campaign Manager

    Teresa hold a Master’s degree in Project Planning and Management from the University of Nairobi, and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. Teresa has over 10 years experience empowering community based organisations in environmental management, including community mobilization and empowerment, resource mobilisation and gender integration in natural resource management.

    My favourite tree – African Cherry (Prunus africana).


    Fiona Cottrell

    Finance and Facilities Manager

    Fiona joined ITF in February 2020 as Finance and Facilities Manager, bringing 25 years’ experience in the non-profit sector. Fiona was previously Head of Finance at Forest Peoples Programme, an international human rights charity. As well as developing financial systems, Fiona has capacity building experience with local community partners based in Peru, Cameroon, Guyana, DRC, Rwanda and more. This built on experiences in Mozambique, where Fiona lived for 8 years working with local organisations, managing finance and logistics support for returning refugee families displaced by civil war. Fiona returned to the UK in 1998 and studied part time becoming a full member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in 2009. She is particularly attracted to ITF’s emphasis on the importance of trees for mental health.

    My favourite tree – Boabab (Adansonia digitata).

    Fiona cropped

    Sam Pearce

    Programmes Development Officer

    Sam joined ITF in September 2019. He has a diverse background, having read Music at Oxford University before receiving a MSc in Marine Environmental Management at the University of York. Since then, he has worked as a freelancer in many aspects of conservation and campaigning, living and working in London, Moscow, Azores, and across the Middle East. Most recently his work has been in marine topics such as coral reef restoration, illegal fishing and cetacean conservation, and he has spent much time on ocean-going sailing boats looking for whales.

    As a teenager he read ‘The Man Who Planted Trees’ by Jean Giono and since then he has been fascinated in the possibilities of large-scale landscape restoration. His arrival at ITF therefore marks a return to his former passion for trees and he is excited to get into the field, spade in hand. Sam is a qualified sailor, keen diver and daily narrowboater, and in his free-time he enjoys being outdoors, be it walking, rock climbing, swimming or camping.

    My favourite tree – Scot’s Pine (Pinus sylvestris).

    Sam Pearce sialing

    Jenny Weld

    Fundraising and Marketing Assistant

    Jenny joined ITF in September 2019. She studied biology at Sheffield University and always wanted to work in the charity sector. After university she gained experience in the fundraising department of a large development charity before joining ITF. This role brings together her passion for the environment, social justice and communicating with a wide variety of people. She loves public speaking and encouraging others to be part of something big. Jenny is particularly interested in the role trees will play as we combat climate change and the way ITF’s projects empower women. In her spare time she likes to paint, dance, longboard, party and work with students at her local church.

    My favourite tree – Bullhorn Acacia (Vachellia cornigera).

    Jenny website

    Michelle Mitchell

    Finance Administration Assistant

    Michelle joined ITF in 2018 in our Oxford offices. She grew up in Reading and trained and worked as a secretary until her first daughter was born. After this she moved to France and worked as a childminder and also in an English Tea Room. After moving back to the UK she worked as a TA in a primary school, and she has also worked at the Warnefield Hospital. A qualified massage therapist and Reiki practitioner, her hobbies include decorating/interior design, sewing, reading, walking with her dog Eddie.

    My favourite tree – Cherry Blossom tree (Prunus serrulata).

    Michelle Mitchell 2


    ITF is also supported by a small dedicated team of volunteers who support the day-to-day work that ITF undertake in the UK and in Africa.

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