Speaker Bios

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PowerPoint Presentations


General Session Speakers

8:00 AM - 11:30 AM

TDF Firewise Program: What has Changed with TDF and other agencies
since Gatlinburg Fires, What is Outlook for the Future​
Wade Waters, Fire Management Director, TDF

Click here for the PowerPoint Presentation given by Wade Waters in PDF format. 

Wade Waters is Fire Chief for the TN Dept. of Agriculture, Division of Forestry. He is a native of Rogers, AR and holds a B.S. in Biology from the University of the Ozarks. Wade manages all aspects of TDF's wildfire management programs in partnership with federal, state and local organizations. Also, Wade is responsible for programs and services that aim to minimize damage to Tennessee's forests and the
risk to the safety of the public and to firefighters.

Before coming to Tennessee, Wade worked with the wildland fire management program with the USFS. He also gained experience as regional fire management coordinator wit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and worked as a supervisory forestry technician engine captain with the USF&WS.

Invasive insects/plants & the Impact on Tennessee's forests and the
long term Tree improvement work
Dr. Scott Schlarbaum, UT

Dr. Scott E. Schlarbaum joined the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries in 1984 and is currently a Professor of Forest Genetics and Director of the University of Tennessee’s Tree Improvement Program. The UT Tree Improvement Program is a 60 year-old research and development program, with an emphasis on improving and protecting hardwood species. He is the author of numerous articles on forest genetics, tree improvement, forest health, and plant cytogenetics. Professor Schlarbaum has testified as an expert witness on forestry and forest health issues before various subcommittees and committees of the U. S. House of Representatives. He is an Associate Editor for Silvae Genetica and was the Science Advisor for Exotic Forest Pests to the National Park Service from 2005-2010. Additionally, Professor Schlarbaum served for many years on the USDA Crop Germplasm Advisory Committee for Woody Landscape Plants.

Best Practices for Managing TFA Member Risks
Stephanie Gaye, AEGIS Risk Control Managers

Stephanie is co-founder and Vice President of Aegis Administrative Services, Inc. Aegis is a multi-line third party adjusting firm specializing in Property and Casualty claims with an emphasis on workers compensation. She has approximately 30 years of claims experience in the insurance industry.

Stephanie graduated from Meredith College in Raleigh with both a BS degree in accounting and a BS degree in Business Administration and Management.

During her career, she has worked in claims management with Aegis and has experience with client relations, contracts, insurance and overall operations of the company.

Previously, she investigated claims for self insurance accounts with NC Home Builders and Associated General Contractors. Earlier in her career, Stephanie worked as a financial analyst with Dun and Bradstreet and conducted financial liquidity of businesses with D&B credit scores.

Stephanie works closely with loggers in Tennessee and is familiar with risk management issues affecting harvesting everyday throughout the south.

Managing the Forest, Woodlots and Trees on the Rural/Urban Interface;
How do Urban Forestry & Traditional Forest Management Operations
Overlap And Complement Each Other? How Do They Differ?
Dr. Sharon Jean-Philippe, UT

Dr. Sharon Jean-Philippe is an Associate Professor of Urban Forestry in the UT Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. Dr. Jean-Philippe received a B.S. in Biology from Tennessee State University in 2002. She earned her M.S. in Botany and PhD. in Natural Resources from the University of Tennessee in 2005 and 2010. She teaches courses in the field of urban forestry, tree law, urban soils and arboriculture. Additionally she is actively engaged in undergraduate recruitment throughout the Herbert College of Agriculture. Lastly, she is married to Smith Jean-Philippe and has two sons, Sidney and Seth Jean-Philippe.

White Oak Initiative Update, Chelsea Wilson, AFF

Chelsea Wilson joined the American Forest Foundation team in March of 2019. A native of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Chelsea grew up near her grandfather’s farm, running and playing in the woods and fields. This early connection with nature created a passion for protecting the environment around her. She went on to major in Environmental Policy and Analysis and minor in Remote Sensing and GIS at Boston University. Before coming to AFF, Chelsea worked with various organizations—Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Next Step Living, and The Land Trust for Tennessee— focusing her work around implementing sustainable solutions and engaging the community.

As AFF’s Midwestern Regional Conservation Coordinator, Chelsea supports conservation projects in the 11-state region with data collection, analysis, and reporting. Chelsea also provides administrative, coordination and communications support for the White Oak Initiative, as the White Oak Initiative Coordinator. In this role, Chelsea helps execute logistics for White Oak Initiative gatherings and events, assists with the coordination of contract implementation, supports grant management activities by tracking metrics and deliverables, and works to maintain and update the White Oak Initiative website. Improving and building upon both internal and external White Oak Initiative communications are a major focus of Chelsea’s current work.

Tennessee Landscape Management Plan Presentation, Austin Carroll, Southern Forestry Consultants

Austin D. Carroll, RF, CWB is a Partner with Southern Forestry Consultants (SFC) and serves as President of its environmental and ecological subsidiary, Wiregrass Ecological Associates (WEA). Mr. Carroll earned his BS and MS degrees from Mississippi State University in Forestry and Wildlife and Fisheries Science, respectively. He also earned an MBA from the Warrington College of Business Administration at the University of Florida. He is a Registered Forester and Certified Wildlife Biologist with approximately 20 years of program management experience involving environmental, water, and natural resources management and policy issues. His experience has given him expertise in landscape level and biodiversity planning; silvicultural practices; aquatic and terrestrial habitat management; wildlife and fisheries population management; ecological restoration and mitigation area design and permitting; and threatened and endangered species surveys, relocations, and management. Mr. Carroll often established and coordinates partnerships among private landowners, governmental and regulatory agencies, private industry, academic and research groups, and non-governmental organizations to achieve ecologically significant objectives. His experiences have led to Mr. Carroll serving as a guest instructor on partnerships at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Training Center. He also serves on the Society of American Foresters national Committee on Forest Policy. Mr. Carroll currently leads the development of American Tree Farm System’s Landscape Management Plans (LMPs) across the southeast including Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Georgia. DAVID BRILL

Friday Morning Breakfast 

8 am - 10 am

Author David Brill "Into the Mist: Tales of Death, Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune and Mayhem in the Great Smoky Mountains NP”

David Brill’s essays, personality profiles, and articles on science, ecology, the environment, business, health, fitness, parenting, and adventure-travel have appeared in more than 25 national and regional magazines, including National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Health, AARP the Magazine, Bicycling, Family Fun, American Way, and Smokies Life. He has written extensively about Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Brill has published five nonfiction books. His first, As Far as the Eye Can See: Reflections of an Appalachian Trail Hiker (UT Press, 2013), is a collection of essays based on his six-month, 2,100-mile trek of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The book is now in its fourth edition, seventh printing.

Brill’s most-recent book, Into the Mist: Tales of Death and Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune and Mayhem in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was published by Great Smoky Mountains Association in August 2017 and is now in its third printing.

Brill has taught writing courses for the University of Tennessee, Ball State University, and Roane State Community College.

Brill, his wife, Belinda, their dog, Zebulon, and their cat, Tater Tot, live in a cabin on the Cumberland Plateau.