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National Forest Foundation: Chief People Officer

Impact Search Advisors by Nonprofit HR is proud to have partnered with National Forest Foundation on this search that has successfully closed. Melissa Richards was selected for the position.

Melissa Richards joined the Nation Forest Foundation in March 2023 as the Chief People Officer. She has over 25 years of experience in HR management, consulting, and leadership development, and I hold TIPS and Key licenses from Pennsylvania and Ohio. She is passionate about creating a positive and inclusive work environment that supports the mission and vision of the National Forest Foundation. As the Chief People Officer at NFF, she leads the strategic and operational aspects of human resources, employee engagement, and organizational culture for a nonprofit organization that restores and enhances national forests and grasslands. 

Prior to joining NFF, Melissa was the Chief Human Resources Officer of Verland. Melissa has served as a Vice President of Human Resources, Director of Human Resources and Community Relations, and various other executive level roles since 2010. Melissa has mastered skills in strategic change management, professional development, compensation, benefits, performance management, employee & labor relations, DEI, and various HRIS tools.

In addition, Melissa has had the honor to work and support one of the economic businesses of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. With the breadth of Melissa’s experience in human resources, she has led the HR functions for organizations that range from 100 to 1400 team members.

During Melissa’s tenure in human resources, she has participated in several community and professional organizations. Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability’s Racial Equity and Engagement Taskforce, Institute for Economic Development Chester Neighborhood Stabilization Committee, Society of Human Resources Management Northern Michigan Chapter, are just to name a few. She has sat as a board member for the Chester Charter School of the Arts, Northern Michigan Society of Human Resource Management, Zonta International Petoskey Chapter, Petoskey Chamber of Commerce, and Hospitality the Little Traverse Way. In 2022, Melissa was awarded the Front of the Front Lines Leader of Distinction from HRO Today in the Healthcare leader sector.

When Melissa is not enjoying the career that she loves, you will see her and her family enjoying the outdoors at their cabin in Tionesta, PA, or riding motorcycles through the luscious mountains of the Allegheny.

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