The CEO and Founder of Eden Reforestation Projects, Dr. Stephen Fitch, grew up in the Philippines with a love for exploration and nature. As an avid diver and outdoor enthusiast, he was shocked to return to his boyhood home in 1997 and find the large scale environmental destruction that had taken place. The jungles he used to play in had been cut down, the topsoil was eroding into the ocean as a result of deforestation, and the coral reefs he used to dive through and explore were being smothered from all the soil runoff.
Witnessing this type of ecological destruction in a place he called home, left a lasting impression. An impression that would then help pave the way for the creation and impact of Eden Reforestation Projects
In 1998 Steve had the opportunity to begin working in Ethiopia and witnessed the same devastation and tragic consequences of deforestation on the lives of the local communities and the environment around them.
In 2004, while in Ethiopia, Stephen received a surprising request from President Haile Mariam of the Southern People’s Region to take over a failed seedling nursery and forest restoration project. Seeing this as an opportunity to make an impact and help reverse the devastating effects of deforestation he witnessed in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world, he answered with a definite ‘YES!’.
Funds were raised, staff came together, and now, almost 14 years later, Eden Reforestation Projects has planted over 210 million trees in Ethiopia, Madagascar, Haiti, Nepal, Indonesia and Mozambique. Eden Projects has also employed thousands of impoverished villagers, leading to a transformed socio/economic life.
As of August 2018, four million more trees are added every month to the growing total.
As CEO and Founder of Eden Projects, Steve’s job is to ensure that Eden’s mission to "Plant Trees - Save Lives” ends up representing far more than mere words.
Debbie has been supporting and working with Eden since its founding in 2005. After fulfilling roles in administration, community and social media management and marketing, she now serves as Eden’s Chief Development officer and manages Eden's growing number of partnerships with businesses, churches, schools, and groups. Presenting Eden publicly and building relationships with these businesses and groups is a high point of her work. When she’s not at work, you can probably find her enjoying time on the Colorado River or in Morro Bay with her family and her chocolate lab, Kona.
Edith joined Eden Reforestation Projects in late 2017 as the organization’s Director of Marketing. Her 12 years of experience in advertising, fundraising, and communications made her a natural fit. When she isn’t crafting the best way to share Eden’s story, you can find her and her husband at the local ballpark taking in a baseball game, or dancing.
With a Masters degree in Global Studies and an affinity for the outdoors, Sehr is a born and bred Canadian girl. As Eden's International Program Coordinator, Sehr brings 10+ years of experience within the nonprofit sector and has extensive international and cross-cultural experience, with over 35 countries under her belt. When she is not at work, you can find her working on a new home improvement project or catching a flight to her next adventure.
With a background in business management, Ryan balances Eden's financial books. When he isn't buried in spreadsheets and projections, he enjoys jetting off to new cities in search of new adventures. You can find him balancing more than books during the weeknights with a busy schedule of ice hockey and bowling.
With an extensive background in managing the hustle and bustle of Family Entertainment Centers, Jennie brings innovation and creativity to handle the daily operational and administrative needs of Eden. When not using her Master Jedi and Whovian talents at Eden, you can find Jennie sharpening her skills at school by taking Human Resource Management courses and kickboxing classes. Soon she will be able to successfully navigate her team through any hardship--even a zombie apocalypse.
James (Jamie) Shattenberg
Jamie was born and raised a missionary kid in Madagascar. So naturally he’s found himself back there with his wife Alissa working as our International Project Leader. Alissa is a licensed midwife and Family Nurse Practitioner and has been putting her expertise to use as the Director of the Sarobidy Center. If ever there was a couple that could single-handedly save the world, it would be these two. When Jamie isn’t wrestling alligators (we have pics to prove it) and Alissa isn’t saving lives, they keep busy with their three children.
Craig has a heart for nature and people. That passion coupled with his expertise and skills in agro-ecology and sustainable agriculture makes him an invaluable asset to Eden Reforestation Projects in Haiti. Having lived in Haiti for several years, Craig is fluent in Creole and a true Haitian at heart. He's a lifelong learner and we're fairly certain when no one's looking he turns into Captain Planet.
As a young girl, Rachhya was intrinsically motivated by the communities around her and the need for environmental change. As an adult, Rachhya completed her degree in Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Kathmandu, and joined Eden Reforestation Projects. Through her work with Eden, she is now able to work with remote communities around her country in improving their environment, forests and access to livelihoods. Rachhya enjoys being outdoors, whether that’s hiking world famous Himalayan trails or simply working on her garden at home.
Jesse was born and raised in Indonesia, living in East Borneo, Jakarta and Bali throughout his life. Having been exposed to so many different areas of Indonesia, Jesse grew up with a profound appreciation for its natural beauty and diversity. Armed with an understanding of the need for reforestation and poverty alleviation in his country, Jesse has been working with Eden Reforestation Projects to engage remote communities in reforesting their land. In his free time, Jesse is an avid volunteer for local organizations, an adventurous hiker and an enthusiastic soccer player.
Gildo was born in Mozambique. He received his BA in 2016 and is married to Elaine Cuamba. They have three beautiful children.
Loretta joined Eden Reforestation Projects in late 2018. She has worked in nonprofit organizations for over ten years, bringing with her many years of administrative and management skills. The majority of her time away from the office you will find her with her ever-growing family, including her three daughters, her sons-in-law, and grandkids. For Loretta, every day is another unexpected adventure with the crazy yet loving family she has raised.
With her background as a Paralegal, Audree has a passion for constantly learning new things and finding creative solutions to tricky problems. She has now made her home at Eden as the Administrative Assistant to the Chief Development Officer. She has a passion for health and fitness so you will often find her doing some sort of "new" eating or workout plan. Some of her hobbies include fitness, dancing and singing (Random Trivia Fact: She's been a part of a Spanish and Gospel group). After hours it's all about spending time with her husband Michael, her daughters, family and friends.
Caleb joined Eden in 2018 and has since been an essential member of the marketing team. Caleb’s artistic nature is ever present in his life both professionally and personally. He is passionate about music and is a lead singer for a band. He enjoys playing at local venues including the Mint in LA. Henry's music focuses in on his real life experiences.
Matt grew up in Pasadena, CA and has since moved far away to Sierra Madre, CA. He is an account manager for Eden’s business partners. He went to grad school for Organizational Management and Consulting. Using what he has learned, he is improving systems and processes of the development department in his spare time. He is very excited to be a part of such a great organization and team of dedicated people!