About Us

Georgia ForestWatch 81 Crown Mountain Place Building C, Suite 200 Dahlonega, GA 30533 | info@gafw.org | 706.867.0051

Georgia ForestWatch sees a future where people can enjoy forests that have reached their full majesty, where intact natural processes support healthy ecosystems and thriving biodiversity, and clean streams supply water to millions of Georgians. We believe this future requires the protection and appreciation of Georgia’s national forests, and the watersheds, native plants and wildlife they encompass.

Our mission is to enhance the health of over 867,000 acres of Georgia’s national forest by protecting our forests and streams, advocating for natural processes, and identifying opportunities to improve forest management.

Georgia ForestWatch Strategic Plan (2020-2025)
Georgia ForestWatch Bylaws (updated 2019)


J.D. McCrary, Executive Director director@gafw.org

J.D. McCrary joined Georgia ForestWatch in September 2021 as Executive Director.

J.D.’s love of the forest dates back to his summers at the YMCA on Lake Burton and as a whitewater raft guide. J.D. holds a Masters in International Development from Tulane University, a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgia State University, and a B.A. in Education from Georgia Southern University. He also graduated from Harvard University Business School’s executive course Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management.

With a domestic and international career of over 25 years, he has had the unique opportunity to work on all seven continents. Much of his career has focused on alleviating forced human migration, and he began working with refugees in the process of building a nonprofit program providing employment and reconstruction services in Iraq and Palestine. His overseas experience also includes serving in the U.S. Peace Corps in Morocco. Since 2008 J.D. has served refugees, survivors of human trafficking, and other immigrants domestically seeking a safe place to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. He is the founding chair of the Welcome Co-Op, an organization supporting newly arriving refugees in Georgia with housing and other essential services, and is a founder of the public outreach and advocacy group the Coalition of Refugee Serving Agencies.

Maria Klouda, Communications Coordinator mklouda@gafw.org

Maria joined Georgia ForestWatch in February 2022. She has experience in publishing, fundraising, marketing, advertising, brand management, and event planning. Her writing has been published in various outlets and has earned a Pushcart prize nomination. Typically regional in focus, her pieces rely heavily on a sense of place. Environmental issues often drive the topics of her work. A lifelong resident of Georgia, Maria enjoys traveling and hiking. Maria earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Reinhardt University, an MBA from Brenau University, and a BBA in Marketing from the University of West Georgia.

Rachel Ness, Development Coordinator rness@gafw.org

Rachel joined the Georgia ForestWatch team in October 2022 as our Development Coordinator. She has been involved in the nonprofit field since 2014 and has three years of experience in development and fundraising, with a special interest in grant writing. She holds a postgraduate degree from Georgia State University. 

Rachel is excited to combine her interest in nonprofit development with her love of Georgia’s forests, in support of Georgia ForestWatch’s work in protecting the state’s forests and natural resources. 

Jessica Morehead, Outreach Coordinator outreach@gafw.org

Jessica joined GAFW in March 2023. Jessica grew up in the Atlanta area and spent most of her childhood visiting her grandparents outside of Cleveland, playing in the foothills of the Chattahoochee National Forest with family. Eventually, she grew up, and her grandparents sold the property. Years would pass before a spontaneous desert road trip would remind her of her love for the outdoors and return her to the north Georgia forests.

After working as an educator for five years at the Atlanta International School, Jessica decided to pursue a career in land conservation and the outdoors. She volunteered with organizations like Park Pride and the Georgia Conservancy and began leading stewardship hikes in 2015. A year later, she started working for the Georgia Chapter of Sierra Club. Jessica worked alongside Georgia ForestWatch and Southern Environmental Law Center representing Sierra Club in the Foothills Landscape Collaboration.  She also led monthly trail maintenance days with the Forest Service. More recently, she spent three years serving as the Georgia Chapter Director for Sierra Club.   

In her free time, you can find her dancing, playing the piano, rock climbing, or hitting the trails with her labrador retriever, Aspen McGregor. Jessica is excited to join the team at Georgia Forestwatch and help in efforts to grow the organization. She’s thrilled to once again be in a position to spend time with folks in the outdoors and invites all of you to join her.


Angela Butler-Hackett, Office Manager info@gafw.org

Angela holds a degree in Recreation Therapy from the University of Georgia and has focused on wellness for more than 35 years. She has taught fitness and wellness for older adults for over 25 years in settings including independent living, assisted living, long-term care, and physical rehabilitation. Her career path has provided opportunities for management at varying levels. Angela’s ongoing quest for mindfulness and wellness always leads her back to nature, and she appreciates its resources. Her goal is to support the mission of Georgia ForestWatch in preserving and protecting our natural resources.

Board of Directors:
Anne Heikkila, President
Trushar Mody, Treasurer
Suzanne Brosche
Nick Nichols
Stacia Pelletier
Janet Westervelt
Ken Cissna
Ted Doll
Marie Dunkle
Brian Gist
David Govus
Sue Harmon
Neill Herring
Robin Hitner
Brent Martin
Gina Rogers
Cliff Shaw
Dennis Stansell
Kathy Stege
James Sullivan
District Leaders:
email: district_leaders@gafw.org

Conasauga Ranger District
David Govus
Robin Hitner

Blue Ridge Ranger District
Dave Blackley
Nick Nichols
Larry Winslett

Chattooga River Ranger District

Oconee Ranger District
J.P. Schmidt

Georgia ForestWatch 81 Crown Mountain Place Building C, Suite 200 Dahlonega, GA 30533 | info@gafw.org | 706.867.0051