Fostering Healthy Communities 

through Connection with Nature

Chiara D’Amore, Ph.D. (President) is a mother, educator, researcher, writer, community organizer, and environmental consultant.  She lives in Columbia, Maryland where she serves as the founder and director of Columbia Families in Nature.  Her work is focused on understanding the effects of time spent in nature on personal, social, and ecological well-being. She holds a M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering and a Ph.D. in Sustainability Education and teaches graduate courses in environmental sustainability, civic ecology, and climate action.

Julie Dunlap
 (Vice President) has a Ph.D. in social ecology from Yale University and teaches about environmental history and management at the University of Maryland University College. A freelance writer, her works range from natural history books for children to essays about climate change.  She is the Education Chair for the Audubon Society of Central Maryland and Kids Team Leader for Interfaith Oceans. Julie’s writings, teachings, and outings seek to nurture, explore, and celebrate intergenerational relationships with the natural world.

Alvin Findlay (Treasurer) has worked in the accounting industry for more than a decade. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and a background comprised of supervising, managing and participating in full cycle accounts payable and receivable, crate to grave contracts administration, internal auditing as well as innovative and resourceful reporting and procedural documentation, in large, medium, and small enterprises. His family are active participants in Columbia Families in Nature.

Dave Morgan (Secretary) graduated law school with a concentration in Environmental Law. He has served as intern with the Choose Clean Water Coalition, assisting in the formulation and regulation of policy for cleaner waterways in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  His previous work as a paralegal provides insight into some of the legal elements of running a non-profit and he has a love for research.


Chelsea Clark has been the Columbia Families in Nature "Seedlings" leader since 2015.  She has her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development with a focus in Child Life, has worked as a Child Life Specialist, and has extensive knowledge of developmentally appropriate activities for young children, ways to help caregivers promote healthy development, and maintaining a safe space during exploration. 


Buffy Illum has a M.A. in International Development from Aalborg University in Denmark where she lived for more than a decade working with and promoting cultural competency, diversity and inclusion in health care and the private sector. She has an extensive background in particpatory research methods and has written and managed six-figure grants. She has a BA in Cultural Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara. She is a Columbia, MD native and is currently completing a certification in Permaculture Design from Oregon State University. 


Ana Maldonado (MD) 
specializes in Internal Medicine and works with the International Refugee Center in Baltimore. Hailing from Puerto Rico, she believes that health care is a basic human right and is focused on providing underinsured patients with the best possible access to primary care.  An active CFIN participant, Dr. Maldonado sees the clear links between time spent in nature and improved well-being for individuals and within communities.  


Betsy Wier, Ph.D., has over fifteen years of experience as a senior manager in international development and humanitarian relief programs. Her work has included program development, project management, business development leadership & strategy, staff and partner capacity building. Her program development and field experience ranges from Fair Trade and ethical sourcing initiatives to immigration policy and child protection programs. Betsy holds a M.A. in International Development from the University of Denver and a Ph.D. in Sustainability Education. 


Ashley Woodward has a M.S. in Environmental Management. She has completed environmental education internships with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Irvine Nature Center in their Urban Outreach Program. She spent two weeks in Belize with a summer learning project and developed and conducted the science section (with a focus on environment) for third through sixth graders. Ashley currently works as an environmental infrastructure management consultant.