Matt Hestad to Join Georgia Forestry Association as Executive Director of Communications, Strategy

Starting Jan. 1, Matt Hestad will join the Georgia Forestry Association’s (GFA) staff as Executive Director of Communications and Strategy. In his new role, Matt will lead all strategic marketing, communications and engagement efforts for the Association.

Matt has served in numerous staff and contract capacities for the Association since 2011 – first as an intern and most recently through HL Strategy, a marketing and communications firm led by Howard Lalli who has a longtime partnership with the Association. Since 2013, Matt and Howard have worked closely with GFA to develop and manage communications efforts, focused on building membership, and developing and maintaining relationships with media professionals and policymakers throughout the state. In addition to his work with the Association, Matt has also served as strategic counsel to several other businesses during his time at HL Strategy such as the Sizemore Group, F&W Forestry Services, Forest Resource Consultants, International Beams and others.

“Matt Hestad has served the forestry community and GFA in many ways over the past few years and we are fortunate to add him as a permanent member of the GFA team,” Andres Villegas, president and CEO of the Association, said. “His skills in marketing, communications and strategy will be critical as we continue our focus on being the best forestry association in the country while staying aligned with our core principles of private property rights, sensible taxes and regulations, and healthy markets.”

“GFA’s deep connection with the forestry community and clear mission to keep Georgia the top forestry state in the nation has made this a great opportunity,” Matt said. “I am excited to continue working with Andres and the entire team here to build a communications program that is focused on growing the organization’s impact and membership while telling the story of Georgia’s working forests in a unique and compelling way.”

Starting in 2019, Matt will be focused on building an internal marketing and communications program that aligns directly with the organization’s mission and core vision, which includes political advocacy, building and growing membership and growing the awareness of working forests among the general public through the work of the Georgia Forestry Foundation. GFA will continue to partner with HL Strategy through the publishing of Georgia Forestry Magazine and other communications and marketing efforts.

Members and others may reach Matt at

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