As president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation, Rita Hite leads our ambitious conservation agenda. Her work centers on scaling AFF’s efforts to empower family forest owners from all walks of life to address the most pressing conservation challenges facing our nation today: namely, increasing carbon storage, mitigating catastrophic wildfires and improving wildlife habitat.
In her more than 20-year career in forest conservation, Rita has staffed congressional leaders on the House Committee on Agriculture, built and curated coalitions and partnerships including the Forest Climate Working Group, the Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition and the Women’s Forest Congress, and served as a nonprofit leader. She has shaped strategy, programs and public policies that have unlocked billions in support for family forest stewardship and have had a significant impact on climate change, wildfire resilience and forest sustainability across the United States.
Rita felt the call to champion natural resource conservation having grown up on a beef cattle farm in Upstate New York. She finds energy in tackling difficult conservation challenges and bringing together diverse teams, coalitions and resources to create market-relevant solutions.
When not working, she’s likely chasing her three-year-old son, BBQing with her husband Matt, tending to her garden, or snuggling with her dogs, Tongass and Chugach—all 200 pounds of them.