Your Association’s Staff

Andres Villegas

President & CEO

Andres Villegas brings to the Association more than 16 years of domestic and international experience in a variety of positions with Weyerhaeuser, Langdale Industries and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Prior to serving as plant manager for Weyerhaeuser beginning in April 2014, Andres was the president of Catchlight Energy LLC, a joint venture between Chevron and Weyerhaeuser. He was responsible for positioning Catchlight Energy as the preferred partner for advanced biofuels producers utilizing forest-based feed stocks and guiding the commercial, technical and administrative operations of the company. Andres also previously worked for Weyerhaeuser in North Carolina and Uruguay in harvesting logistics and industrial development management roles respectively.

Andres received a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from The University of Georgia and an Executive Certificate of Management and Leadership from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management.

  • Executive Committee
  • Board of Directors
  • Georgia Forestry Foundation
  • Government and regulatory affairs
  • Strategic planning
  • ForestPAC
  • Staff development
  • Wise Owl Award Committee

Ember Bishop Bentley

Executive Director
Georgia Forestry Foundation

Ember Bishop Bentley is the Executive Director of the Georgia Forestry Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is focused on sustaining Georgia’s forests through funding and support of leadership development, policy studies and education to enhance the economic, environmental and community value of working forests for Georgia. 

Ember comes to the Foundation from the Georgia Department of Economic Development where she was the Deputy Commissioner for International Relations. Prior to that role she served as the Chief of Staff to Georgia’s First Lady, Sandra Deal. Ember will lead the Foundation’s fundraising effort and will oversee the growth of new programs in leadership, policy studies and education.

  • Fundraising 
  • Leadership 
  • Policy Studies 
  • Education

Tom Beyer

Director of Government Affairs

Tom joins the Association following four years of service on U.S. Representative Rob Woodall’s (GA-07) Washington, D.C. staff, most recently serving as a policy adviser to the Congressman with a focus on agriculture and natural resources issues, including policies affecting our nation’s forests. Prior to his time working for the Congressman, Tom earned a bachelor’s degree in both Political Science and International Affairs from the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs. Tom’s responsibilities include:

  • Engagement with elected officials at the federal, state and county levels
  • Development of short and long term policy strategies
  • Event planning and management
  • Support of the activities of the ForestPAC (GFA’s political action committee)
  • Management of member engagement through Forest Resource Teams, or FORT

Marilou Myers

Director of Membership

A transplant to Georgia from Long Island, New York, Marilou Myers became a part of the forestry community in 2008. With an associate degree in business from Middle Georgia College, Marilou serves as the Director of Membership for the association. Her primary areas of work include membership recruitment and retention and coordinating the day-to-day financial operations of the Association.

  • Annual Membership
  • Hunt Club Insurance
  • ForestPAC
  • Data Management
  • New member recruitment
  • Finances

Michele Dunham

Executive Assistant

Michele Dunham has been with GFA since 2010. A native of Dooly County, her roots are in the forest and agriculture industry. Chances are, if you have ever called the GFA office, Michele has answered your call and put you in touch with the person who can answer your question. She is a key member of the day-to-day Association operations team and serves as the go-to person for Association related questions and issues.

  • President’s Assistant
  • General information and administration

Matt Hestad

Director of Communications & Public Relations

Matt Hestad joined the Association as a summer intern in 2011 and graduated with a B.A.S in Agricultural Communications and a Certificate in Agricultural Leadership from the University of Georgia in 2012. Today he serves as the director of communications and public relations for the Association as part of HL Strategy, a communications consultancy focused on environmental and forestry-related issues in Georgia. HL Strategy, including Matt’s colleagues Sherry Crawley and Howard Lalli, manages the Association’s communications strategy.

  • Brand development and management
  • Grassroots engagement
  • Media relations
  • Website management
  • Social media marketing and development
  • Editor of the Capitol Forestry Report
  • Event promotion and marketing