Mr. Rodriguez recently retired as a Managing Director-Investments and Senior Portfolio Manager-PIA with Merrill Lynch. Rod’s love and respect for conservation and the outdoors was molded by his time spent hunting and fishing while growing up in Louisiana and he continues to be an avid hunter and fisherman. He graduated with a degree in Finance from Louisiana State University in 1971.
Rod began his long career as a Private Wealth Advisor in 1971 and was with Merrill Lynch for 37 years. In 2008, Barron’s Magazine selected Rod to its “Top 100 Wealth Managers” which represents the top 100 Private Wealth Managers in America. For the last 9 consecutive years, he has been recognized by Barron’s Magazine as the Number One Financial Advisor in Louisiana. In 2006, Research Magazine selected Rod to its “Winner’s Circle” which represents the top 100 Wealth Advisors in America.
Rod is active within the New Orleans and Tampa communities in many business, civic and charitable organizations. These include E. McIlhenny’s Sons, Inc. (makers of Tabasco pepper sauce), Children’s Hospital, Tampa Bay History Center, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, The Chartwell Foundation, The Greater New Orleans Foundation, the National World War II Museum, and United Way Tocqueville Society. He is also the President of the Gustaf W. McIlhenny Family Foundation. Rod was recently awarded Merrill Lynch’s Robert E. Young Award for selfless work throughout the community.
Mr. Rodriguez was appointed to the Board in February 2013.
Jeff Trandahl joined NFWF in November 2005 after serving on Capitol Hill for 23 years. As Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, a post he held from 1998 to 2005, he was the second-highest constitutional official in the House of Representatives and served as the chief legislative official. He led a highly specialized staff of 300 and oversaw an operating budget of more than $20 million. Prior to his election as Clerk, he served various members of the House and Senate and held numerous committee staff assignments.
Mr. Trandahl earned a B.A. in Government/Politics from the University of Maryland in 1987 and holds a Certificate in Management from the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University. He currently serves on the boards of the Gill Action Fund, Jones Group, Arise Corporation, and The Arcus Foundation. Raised in Spearfish, South Dakota, Mr. Trandahl is the son of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist. An avid outdoorsman, he has a life-long commitment to conservation.
Lila Helms comes to NFWF from the United States Senate, where she served for more than 20 years. As Clerk for the Legislative Branch subcommittee, which funds Congress and the agencies that serve Congress, she managed legislation involving multiple federal agencies. She previously served as Clerk of the Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations subcommittee and worked for the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, the Oceans and Fisheries Subcommittee and the Subcommittee for Science and Technology. Ms. Helms began her career as a Legislative Assistant for Senator Ernest F. Hollings and holds a B.A. from the University of South Carolina.
Dr. Bamford is responsible for advancing the Foundation’s mission through the creation and implementation of a comprehensive conservation vision, strategy and a metrics-based evaluation system for NFWF’s grant-making programs. She serves an important role in creating and leading NFWF’s conservation strategy by setting national and regional cross-cutting strategies, and by leading design, development and fundraising planning for the conservation strategy, as well as guiding the conservation policies and practices of the Foundation. Prior to joining NFWF, Dr. Bamford was acting assistant secretary for conservation and management for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In that role, she drove administration policy, programming, and investments for NOAA’s ocean, coastal and fisheries management. Her responsibilities spanned coastal resilience, marine protected areas, protected species, sustainable fisheries and coastal services. Dr. Bamford worked closely with members of Congress, other agency leaders, partner organizations, and local communities to develop policies and take conservation actions to ensure coastal and ocean stewardship. Dr. Bamford earned her doctorate in Organic Environmental Chemistry from the University of Maryland.
Tokunbo Falayi serves as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the Foundation. In this role, Mr. Falayi provides leadership and oversight for the Finance, Accounting, Budgeting and Investment functions. In addition, Mr. Falayi serves as Treasurer for the Foundation. Mr. Falayi joined NFWF in 2003, and has worked in multiple roles and capacities in the Finance and Accounting function over the past 12 years. Prior to joining NFWF, Mr. Falayi was the Senior Accounting Manager at Special Olympics. Before Special Olympics, Mr. Falayi worked in public accounting with Arthur Andersen as a Senior Consultant on multiple business and financial consulting engagements. Mr. Falayi is a CPA and a Chartered Accountant. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and obtained his Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Daniel Strodel oversees and manages the Foundation’s legal matters. Before joining NFWF, Mr. Strodel was an attorney in private practice focusing on administrative law including federal government contracting and procurement. Prior to that, he served as Chief Administrative Officer for the U.S. House of Representatives and as general counsel for the Sergeants at Arms of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. He received his J.D. from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and his B.A. from Hobart College in Geneva, New York.
Tom Kelsch joined NFWF in 1998 and has served the Foundation as Vice President, Conservation Programs, Director of the Eastern Partnership Office, and Director of Conservation Education. He spent eight years as an environmental scientist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds and was Chief of the Wetlands Regulatory Policy Section from 1995 to 1998. He also has extensive experience as an environmental planner for a private consulting firm. Mr. Kelsch holds a B.L.A. in Landscape Architecture from Michigan State University and earned an M.E.S. in Environmental Studies from Yale University.
Timothy DiCintio directs NFWF’s IDEA department, which receives, manages, and disburses funds designated for specific conservation purposes. Most often these funds originate from court orders, settlements of legal or administrative cases, regulatory permits, licenses, or conservation/mitigation plans, although they may also arise from voluntary activities focused on proactive conservation. Prior to joining NFWF, Mr. DiCintio was an attorney-advisor in the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, where he served as EPA’s national expert on Superfund financial assurance issues. He focused on corporate, financial, and insurance issues arising within EPA’s cleanup enforcement programs. As an attorney in private practice at Chadbourne & Parke LLP, he split his time between the firm’s environmental and, subsequently, corporate and finance practice groups. Mr. DiCintio received his B.A. from Yale University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Dr. Chatwin leads NFWF's Science and Evaluation team, which works closely with the Conservation Programs team to optimize the impact of the Foundation's programs and projects. Dr. Chatwin joined NFWF in 2008. Prior to NFWF, he worked for more than 10 years at The Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Law Foundation. At NFWF, Dr. Chatwin led the Marine and Coastal Conservation initiative before assuming his current responsibilities. During that time, Dr. Chatwin established the Fisheries Innovation Fund, a public-private partnership that supports effective participation of fishermen and fishing communities in the implementation of sustainable fisheries in the United States.
Dr. Chatwin has served on several advisory committees to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including the U.S. Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee and the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee. In 2012, he was appointed Chairman of the Maryland Oyster Advisory Committee. Dr. Chatwin is a zoologist and earned his doctorate in Biological Oceanography from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Greg Knadle came to NFWF from the U.S. House of Representatives where he served on the Appropriations Committee, primarily on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee. In that capacity he managed funding and legislative text for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Interior Native American programs, federal land acquisition, and the Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Prior to working on the Appropriations Committee, Mr. Knadle worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the headquarters budget office for the National Wildlife Refuge System and he worked in the field on seven different national wildlife refuges. He holds a B.S. and a M.S. in wildlife science from New Mexico State University. He is the co-author of a chapter in the college textbook “North American Wildlife Policy and Law” entitled “Federal Legislative Processes for Funding Wildlife Conservation.”
Regional Office Directors
Amanda Bassow, director of NFWF's Northeastern Regional Office in Washington, D.C., managed the Foundation's Chesapeake Bay restoration programs from 2006-2013. She joined NFWF after nine years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, serving in the Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation and as a community watershed coordinator in EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program office. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Duke University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington.
Jonathan Birdsong, director of NFWF’s Western Regional Office in San Francisco, California, brings more than 15 years of experience in brokering strategic, non-traditional initiatives in the public and private sectors that benefit natural resources. Prior to joining NFWF, Mr. Birdsong worked for BlueWater Strategies, a boutique consulting firm in Washington, D.C. where he focused on natural resources, agriculture, energy and irrigation efficiency policies. From 2002 to 2010, he worked for U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson of California, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Mr. Birdsong handled energy, natural resources, western water and agriculture policy for the Congressman and, for the last seven years of that time, was the Congressman's legislative director, responsible for managing legislative strategy and staff. He has a B.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an M.B.A. from The George Washington University.
Todd Hogrefe directs NFWF’s Central Regional Office in Bloomington, Minnesota. Previously he served as the Foundation’s Great Lakes Program Director and its Central Region Assistant Director from 2008 to 2016. In those roles, he led programs and built partnerships focused on the Great Lakes region, the Upper Mississippi River, and important bird habitats across the United States. Prior to joining the Foundation, Todd spent more than seven years as the endangered species specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and a wildlife biologist for the Utah Department of Natural Resources. In those positions, he worked on a broad spectrum of conservation issues, ranging from desert fishes recovery in the Colorado River basin to wolf management in the Upper Midwest. He holds a B.S. in Biology from Pennsylvania State University and an M.S. in Fisheries & Wildlife from Utah State University.
Jay Jensen, director of NFWF’s Southern Regional Office in Washington, D.C., brings more than 15 years of public policy and executive management experience in conservation efforts to his role. Prior to joining NFWF, Jensen served as the associate director for land and water ecosystems for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), where he had land- and water-policy responsibility for the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Prior to his service at CEQ, Mr. Jensen served as the Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he had oversight responsibility for the U.S. Forest Service. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of the Council of Western State Foresters/Western Forestry Leadership Coalition, and was Senior Policy Advisor for the Western Governors Association. Mr. Jensen also worked on lead up to the 2002 Farm Bill as lead forestry advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture. Mr. Jensen holds a degree in Biology and Geography from the University of California at Los Angeles and a master’s degree in Forest Science from Colorado State University.
Chris West, director of the Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Denver, Colorado, brings more than two decades of conservation experience to his new position. Prior to joining NFWF, Mr. West served as the executive director of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT), one of the nation’s leading land conservation organizations that now protects more than 450,000 acres on 300 working ranch properties statewide. Prior to his work with CCALT, he served as the first executive director of the Douglas Land Conservancy in Castle Rock, Colo. At that time, Douglas County was the fastest growing county in the nation and a national example of how conservation can succeed at the same time as rapid growth. Mr. West served on the board of directors of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts from 1998 to 2005 and was the president of that board from 2001 to 2003. He also serves on the Land Trust Alliance National Leadership Council and chairs the governor-appointed Colorado Easement Oversight Commission. Mr. West has an undergraduate degree in Geology from Colby College and a master’s degree in Natural Resource Policy and Economics from Duke University.