Bert Harris, Ph.D. – Executive Director
Bert has a long-standing interest in the ecology and conservation of forests and grasslands in the eastern United States. At the Clifton Institute Bert directs a program of research on grassland restoration, declining native species, and the effects of urbanization and climate change on biodiversity. He is also a passionate land manager and he works with his team to restore native plant and animal communities on the Clifton Institute’s 900-acre property. As an environmental educator Bert tries to get people excited about the lesser known and underappreciated species around us. He also strives to instill an appreciation of the intrinsic value of plants and for their importance for maintaining animal populations. Bert also has a background in research on the effects of the wildlife trade, climate change, and habitat loss on tropical birds. After attaining his B.S. in Ecology and Biodiversity at Sewanee: The University of the South, Bert completed a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Adelaide, Australia. He then went on to do a postdoctoral fellowship on the effects of the pet trade on Indonesian birds at Princeton University. Before joining the staff at Clifton, Bert was the Director of Biodiversity Conservation at Rainforest Trust. Bert is a Research Assistant Professor in Residence in the Department of Environmental Science at American University and an Affiliate Professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Department at George Mason University. He also serves as an Academic Editor for PLOS ONE. More information about Bert including his publications can be found here.
Eleanor Harris, Ph.D. – Managing Director
Ever since she was young, Eleanor has loved being outside and learning about animals. In high school, she developed a love of mathematics and she attained her B.A. in Mathematics at the University of Chicago. Late in college, she rediscovered her interest in animals and went on to complete a Ph.D. in Quantitative and Computational Biology at Princeton University. In her research as a mathematical biologist, she is interested in the evolution of animal communication and animal social systems. After graduate school, Eleanor held a James S. McDonnell Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Biology at the University of Maryland. Eleanor is currently a Research Assistant Professor in Residence in the Department of Environmental Science at American University and an Affiliate Professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Department at George Mason University. As Managing Director at the Clifton Institute, Eleanor oversees all of the organization’s activities, with a focus on education and development. Eleanor loves backpacking, reading, and nature journaling. Eleanor’s publications can be found here.
Bridget Bradshaw, M.A. – Education Associate
She acquired a love for looking at things up close from her parents while growing up in Seattle and from the staff at the Burgundy Center for Wildlife Studies in West Virginia where she spent her summers as a child. From early on Bridget was smitten with birds and snakes, but later fell in love with insects. In the midst of several field technician jobs, Bridget got her B.S. in Biology from the University of Washington and University of Queensland, while also conducting scientific research in Argentina, the Northern Mariana Islands, and across the US. But what good is all of this exciting field science if it isn’t shared? Starting in 2016 Bridget turned toward environmental education, first at her childhood summer camp in West Virginia and then in Austin, TX. Looking for new ways to meld field science and teaching, in 2020 she went to Idaho to pursue a Master of Natural Resources in Science Communication and Outdoor Education. At Clifton, Bridget runs our education programs. She is excited to be returning to the ecosystems that first ignited her love of insects and teaching and grateful to work in a place where field science and education hold hands. Bridget is also a potter and dreams about making tea cups all night.
Marie Norwood – Land Management Outreach Associate
Marie grew up north of Boston, but spent a lot of time visiting family and hiking, canoeing, fishing, and falling in love with the outdoors in central Virginia. She found a passion for ecosystem restoration after attending an ecological field study in East Africa. She has a B.Sc. and B.A. from McGill University, where she majored in Organismal Biology and International Development. After graduating, she worked in Colorado conducting terrestrial ecosystem monitoring for the Bureau of Land Management, and in Georgia as a prescribed fire crew supervisor for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Marie believes deeply in the power of good management and science education for building a sustainable future. At Clifton, Marie is available to visit local landowners to give recommendations about land management for the benefit of native plants and animals. Marie also liaises with companies, government entities, and other non-profits to improve land management across our area and helps manage our 900-acre field station.
Andrew Eberly – Habitat Specialist
Andrew grew up on the edge of the piedmont in Pennsylvania where he spent much of his childhood either in the woods or birding with his dad along the Delaware and New Jersey coasts. He loved learning to identify birds, but what he found most interesting was getting to see all the different habitats that they were using. This led to a fascination with everything from plants to geology and many things in between. Andrew left the rolling hills of the piedmont to get a BS in wildlife and fisheries biology at the University of Vermont, then headed mainly west to do ecological field work in a variety of ecosystems throughout North America, from the Mojave Desert to the Tallgrass Prairies of eastern Kansas. Andrew is happy to have landed back on the familiar piedmont. His main interests at the moment are studying the interactions between natural communities and the underlying soils, climate and geology, as well as growing native plants for restoration. At Clifton, Andrew helps manage the habitats on our 900-acre property for the benefits of native plants and animals and conducts research on the natural history and conservation of native species.
Isaac Matlock – Native Seed Project Coordinator
Having spendt the majority of his life exploring the Rockies and Appalachian Mountains, Isaac finds contentment when in the wilderness. His admiration for the natural world has led him to a life dedicated to advocating for our native flora and the ecosystems they support. Since receiving a B.Sc. in Biology from George Mason University, Isaac has worked to restore and conserve Virginia native plant communities. When he isn’t camping with his wife and their dogs, he contributes volunteer work to several environmental groups including the Shenandoah VNPS Chapter. At Clifton, Isaac is the project coordinator for the Virginia Native Seed Pilot Project. With the assistance of many valuable partners and volunteers around the state, Virginia ecotype seed will be made commercially available and used to further enhance ecological restoration work from the mountains to the coastal plain.
Kieran Paulsen – Communications Associate
Kieran grew up in Maryland spending as much time outdoors as possible. He holds a B.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He’s had fiction, non-fiction and poetry published, and spent three years as a journalist for The Chronicle of The Horse. Kieran manages Clifton’s social media, photography, and other communications materials such as the newsletters, annual reports, and press releases. His favorite thing about Clifton is having the opportunity to merge his love for writing with his love for nature.
Feliecia Brooks – Administrator
Feliecia has supported nearly every aspect of the Clifton Institute for over 30 years. From overseeing the office, employees, and events to removing a raccoon from the bookshelf, she has seen it all! As a life-long resident of Fauquier County, Feliecia cherishes both the natural beauty and historical aspects of Virginia. She is an ardent volunteer for local as well as national non-profits, especially in health and literacy and currently serves on the Fauquier Library Board of Trustees. Feliecia’s interest in history has led her to study historic foodways and textiles as well as initiate the restoration of the cabin on the Clifton Institute property that dates from 1820.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Douglas Larson – President
Doug was formerly a Vice President at the Piedmont Environmental Council with primary responsibility for the development program of the organization. He has had extensive non-profit experience serving as the Director of the Airlie Foundation, Board member of the Fauquier Hospital, and a variety of other community organizations. Following his graduation from Drake University he served in the US Peace Corps. His career took him overseas working for The Agency For International Development and later for The George Washington University in international health education programs.
Robert C. Karch, Ed.D. – Vice President
Robert has been a member of the American University faculty, in Washington, D.C., since 1969. He is a Professor in the School of Education, Teaching and Health and the creator of two academic programs at the University: the Master of Science program in Health Fitness Management, now 30 years old, and the Bachelor of Science program in Health Promotion, now in its 15th year. He is also the founder and Executive Director of the University’s National Center for Health Fitness and the University’s International Institute for Health Promotion.
Jocelyn Lee Alexander, M.Ed.
Jocelyn is an educator, conservationist and neighboring landowner. As owner of her family’s long-held (since 1941) property on Wildcat Mountain, whose fields and woodlands she has hiked and ridden since childhood, she represents three generations of a family closely involved in the preservation of natural values in the Warrenton community. She remains involved in Great Meadow Outdoors Foundation, which her uncle founded and where she rode as advanced level competitor. Jocelyn (MA. SpEd) is a caseload manager and teacher in the county with a passion for connecting the varied working components of her community which reaches to Washington D.C., where she went to school.
Anne Douglas Atherton
Anne Douglas Atherton is a life-long resident of Fauquier County, Virginia. She has been married to Harry Atherton for 52 years and they have lived on the same farm in the Freestate near Orlean, VA for the past 45 years. They have two daughters, Hope and Lily. Anne Douglas is a photographer and avid bird watcher. She has been involved in many local pursuits over the years in Fauquier County, both political and charitable. She attended Bennett College and the University of Grenoble in France.
Barbara Heller is keenly interested in the preservation of native plants and is working to establish them on her farm. President of the architecture firm Heller & Metzger, she has worked on over 1000 construction projects including the renovation of the Pentagon and the FDR Memorial. She has two sons and has been involved with local political and charitable organizations. She attended Bennington College and the University of Illinois.
G. Robert Lee
G. Robert (Bob) Lee served as a Virginia local government county administrator for 30+ years. On retirement, the Virginia General Assembly in 2005 adopted a Joint Resolution commending him “on completion of an exemplary career of service.” Bob next served as a State Agency Head (Virginia Outdoors Foundation) during the terms of three Virginia Governors. On his second public service retirement, the Board of Trustees of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation named Bob as Honorary Executive Director Emeritus. He has served on many non-profit boards, including the Board of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and decades on the Board of the Foundation of the State Arboretum of Virginia. Bob was the recipient of the Mosby Heritage Hero Award in 2013. Bob also received the 2012 Conservationist of the Year Award from the Land Trust of Virginia, and the WIngate Makay-Smith Clarke County Land Conservation Award (2017). In 2019, the Citizens for Fauquier County recognized Bob with the Kitty P. Smith Conservation Award. Bob had Gubernatorial and Virginia Cabinet level appointments on statewide boards, commissions, and committees. He has an undergraduate degree from the College of William & Mary and a graduate degree from Cornell University.
Charles G. Mackall, Jr.
Charles is Chairman of Avenir, a value-oriented investment management firm located in Washington, D.C. Prior to founding Avenir with an associate in 1980, Mr. Mackall worked for 17 years at NS&T Bank (now SunTrust Banks, Inc.) serving as Vice President and Manager of Commercial Lending. He received an A.B. from Princeton University in 1957 and an M.B.A. from the Colgate Darden School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia in 1962. Charles is a passionate conservationist who is especially interested in restoring native grasslands in the Northern Virginia Piedmont.
Jocelyn Arundel Sladen
Jocelyn is a conservationist and lifelong resident of the Warrenton, Virginia area. She worked closely with her husband, Dr. William Sladen, in founding the Environmental Studies on the Piedmont program (part of the Clifton Institute). She has served on numerous boards, including the Center for Plant Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife, Rachel’s Network and the Advisory Board of Virginia Working Landscapes.
Victoria has lived in Virginia for twelve years and prior to that she lived in Washington, DC and Southern California. She has been committed to conservation through board service and philanthropy for many years. She has served on the boards of Fauna & Flora, International – US, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Rachel’s Network (Founding Member) and, currently, in an advisory position as Vice President of Fauna & Flora, International.
Edward Bernacki, M.D., Emeritus
Edward is Professor of Medicine, Director, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Medicine and Executive Director of Health, Safety and Environment for the Johns Hopkins University. He is past President of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and former Corporate Medical Director of United Technologies Corporation, Hartford, Connecticut and Corporate Vice President of Tenneco, Inc., Houston, Texas.
David Snyder, M.D., Emeritus
David is a founding member of Blue Ridge Orthopaedic Associates in Warrenton, Virginia and a diplomat of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery with extensive experience in reconstructive surgery. He has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Virginia and as Chief of Surgery and President of the medical staff at the Fauquier Hospital. David is also the founder of Verdun Adventure Bound.