On April 27, 2023, The American Chestnut Foundation’s (TACF) Board of Directors announced that conservation leader Dr. William Pitt has been appointed President & CEO of TACF. Dr. Pitt will further the organization’s mission currently led by President & CEO Lisa Thomson. Ms Thomson announced in 2022 her wish to step down after more than eight years of service. Dr. Pitt will assume his responsibilities on July 31, 2023.
With over 25 years of experience leading science and conservation efforts in the U.S. and around the world, Dr. Pitt is passionate about the environment and creating opportunities where all people benefit from conservation action. As President & CEO, he will lead TACF in its pioneering work to preserve North America’s forest legacy, despite continued and increasing threats from introduced pests and pathogens.
In making this announcement, William J. Cude, Chair of TACF’s Board of Directors stated, “I am thrilled to have Dr. Pitt joining our team. We are at a critical juncture in our history as we begin to focus on the restoration of this iconic species. He is superbly qualified to lead this effort.”
Currently, Dr. Pitt is deputy director at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute leading six science centers and education and conservation programs, as well as administration and operations. Previously, with the USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center and as a researcher, he focused on restoration of ecosystems, reducing the impact of invasive species, and training the next generation throughout his career.
Dr. Pitt also expressed his enthusiasm in accepting his new role stating, “I am honored to be joining this inspiring team that is developing disease-resistant populations and building widespread community support to restore the iconic American chestnut. Due to the ground-breaking efforts over the last 40 years, TACF is launching a new phase of restoration in the American landscape.” Dr. Pitt has published more than 90 peer-reviewed articles and books. He earned both a Ph.D. in Ecology and a M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from Utah State University and a B.S. in Fish and Wildlife Biology from the University of Minnesota.
TACF engaged Kittleman & Associates to conduct a search for its new President & CEO. Kittleman & Associates is a national executive search firm that specializes in the recruitment of CEOs for tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, public charities, and philanthropic organizations.