Annual Mass Timber Coalition Event
Building for a Sustainable Future 2021
On December 7th, Forterra and industry leaders gathered virtually for our annual Mass Timber Coalition Event. For the last seven years, Forterra has led a cross laminated timber (CLT) coalition to raise awareness about mass timber and bolster the mass timber manufacturing industry in Washington through collaborative solutions.
This virtual event featured a presentation on Forterra’s Forest to Home initiative and presentations from Mass Timber experts on key issue areas like the latest in Washington Mass Timber modular projects, research and building codes. Thank you to the Mass Timber experts, panelists and other people who contributed to making this event possible.
If you were unable to attend the event and would like to tune in, the webinar recording, speaker agenda and speaker biographies are now available below.
Click on the table below to view the speaker agenda for the 2021 Mass Timber Coalition Event.
Michelle Connor, Forterra
Michelle Connor has worked to save keystone land for community and environmental well-being throughout her 25-year career at Forterra. She has now played a part in more than 400 transactions worth $500M and provided executive leadership in all phases of public policy, community engagement, negotiations, fundraising, and innovative finance (notably the Forterra Strong Communities Fund). Highlights of her leadership include successful completion of the 4,000-acre Kitsap Forest and Bay Campaign, saving the Wayne Golf Course in Bothell so that it can become a large public park, protecting waterfront on Maury Island from being developed as a gravel pit, restoring the culturally important Duwamish Hill Preserve, adding the scenic Moolak Lakes to the Mt. Si Natural Area, negotiating a community stake in coming redevelopment at 23rd and Union in Seattle’s Central District, and laying the groundwork for Wadajir, a micro-enterprise hub in Tukwila together with the Abu Bakr Mosque. Michelle is a third-generation Washingtonian, with an M.S. from the University of Washington’s College of Forest Resources and a B.A. from the Evergreen State College.
Brian Hatfield, WA Dept. of Commerce
As a product of Washington’s timber country himself, Brian Hatfield’s passionate support for rural economic development and the defense of our state’s natural resources industries stood out during his 26 years of service, in and around the State Legislature. Brian first worked as an assistant to State Senators Arlie DeJarnatt and Sid Snyder, before being elected to the House of Representatives from Southwest Washington’s 19th Legislative District in 1994. He served in the House for 10 years, before joining the staff of Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen in 2004. In 2006, Brian became State Senator and, for most of his tenure, chaired the Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development Committee. Brian also represented the Senate Democratic Caucus on the Lt. Governor’s Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations; and the Community Economic Revitalization Board, run by the Washington State Department of Commerce. Brian is a graduate of Washington State University, with a degree in Public Administration.
Joe Mayo, Mahlum
Joe Mayo has been an advocate for mass timber for over a decade. A Seattle architect at Mahlum, he is author of the 2015 book Solid Wood: Mass Timber Architecture, Technology and Design. He’s worked on a half dozen completed mass timber projects, including the first installation of U.S. produced CLT in the country at the Richard Woodcock Education Center, and the first use of CLT in a Washington K-12 school. An advocate for the use of low-carbon design, Joe has worked with the City’s SDCI and Forterra on how timber design can transcend building codes. Partnering with AIA WA Council and Forterra, he worked to secure a state-wide building code change proposal to allow a greater use of mass timber in Washington. In 2018 and 2019 he was on teams that were awarded a Wood Innovation Grant from the U.S. Forest Service. He currently is co-chair of the AIA Seattle Mass Timber Committee.
Todd Beyreuther, WSU – School of Design and Construction
As a design engineer with 20 years of professional and academic experience in structural engineering, architecture, and product development, Todd scale jumps from lab to factory to drive innovation across the entire mass timber value chain. A product of Northern MN, Todd has split the entirety of his professional career on each side of the Cascades in WA.
Ryan Smith, WSU – School of Design and Construction
Ryan E. Smith is Director of the School of Design and Construction and a Professor of Architecture. His research is in the domain of building technology, building science, and building production. Ryan partners with industry seeking to integrate the design to construction process through industrializing offsite prefabrication and modularization. He is author of 6 books and numerous articles on the subject of prefabrication and collaborative building delivery. Ryan is also the founding chair of the National Institute of Building Sciences, Offsite Construction Council in Washington, D.C. and a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Offsite Construction and Innovative Structures at Edinburgh Napier University in the UK. Ryan is founder of MOD X, an educational and consulting advisory group focused on wood industrialized and offsite housing.
Hillary Wilson, Forterra
As Forterra’s Director of Business Development, Hillary has advanced investment in Mass Timber research and development through social impact investment, grants, and public-private partnerships. Over the past five years at Forterra, she has managed early-stage development and fundraising for a large portfolio of real estate and conservation projects, including the launch of the Strong Communities Fund a Forterra-led, $500 million initiative that links conservation and development through a sustainably-sourced, vertically-integrated supply chain. Prior to Forterra, Hillary conducted research and analysis for impact assessments and nonprofit due diligence at a women-owned consulting firm. She holds a Bachelor of Science in liberal studies from Montana State University.
Dr. Indroneil Ganguly, UW – College of the Environment
Dr. Indroneil Ganguly is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. Dr. Ganguly’s research focuses on wood products trade and environmental evaluation of traditional and innovative wood products. He has developed Life Cycle environmental Assessment (LCA) models for a broad range of innovative wood products and wood-based construction systems, including ‘woody biomass-based biofuels, ‘Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) Panels’, and ‘comparative LCAs of traditional vs. CLT buildings’.
Dr. Edie Sonne Hall, Three Trees Consulting
Dr. Hall is the principal and founder of Three Trees Consulting. She brings over twenty years of experience and connections developing sustainable forestry strategies and policies at the state, regional, national and international level. She has a Ph.D. in forestry from the University of Washington, where she specialized in forest carbon accounting and life cycle assessment. She worked for 12 years for Weyerhaeuser Company, providing technical expertise to advance policies in areas of climate change, ecosystem services, green building, life cycle assessment, biomass and sustainable forest certification. She grew up in the Northeast, worked as a wood quality researcher for International Paper in southern Georgia, and then moved to the Pacific Northwest, so she understands the differences across regions in forest ecosystems/markets/policy. In addition to a productive professional and academic career in forestry, she is a 4th generation tree farmer, growing trees in South Carolina. She lives in Seattle with her husband, three children, dog, and chickens.
Caitlin Clarke, The Nature Conservancy
Caitlin Clarke is the senior fellow for corporate supply chains at The Nature Conservancy’s Center for Sustainability Science. Her work focuses on finding ways to solve large-scale environmental problems by aligning corporate procurement decisions with the Conservancy’s long-standing expertise in land management and conservation science.
David Diaz, Ecotrust
David Diaz is a proud fifth-generation Texan, born and raised in San Antonio. To stay near the love of his life and future wife, David took his first undergraduate job in forest ecology counting and identifying ants in central Massachusetts in 2003. He graduated from Harvard University in 2006 with a BA in Environmental History and came out to Oregon State University where he completed an MS in Soil Science in 2008. David has since worked as a DC-based reporter on domestic and international carbon policy and markets, a Portfolio Manager in Portland, OR developing certification standards and originating contracts for forest carbon projects, and has worked for the Portland-based nonprofit Ecotrust since 2013 where he now serves as the Director of Forestry Technology and Analytics.
Russ Vaagen, Vaagen Timbers
Mr. Russ Vaagen is the founder and CEO at Vaagen Timbers. Russ has been working in the family’s Forest Industry business his entire professional life. Most recently Russ assembled a team to build Vaagen Timbers, an automated mass timber manufacturer. Their focus is on utilizing fire-prone over-stocked forests to produce cross laminated and glue laminated timber products.
Skip Swenson, Forterra
Skip develops policies, tools, and programs to achieve expansive community and conservation goals throughout Washington’s central Cascades and Olympic Peninsula. Working with stakeholders and elected officials in a variety of jurisdictions and across landscapes — from wildlands to urban centers — he specializes in land use policy, conservation markets, and incentives creation on local and regional scales. Prior to joining Forterra, Skip served as director of analytics for Information Resources, Inc., a multinational research and consulting company. When he’s not tinkering on an endless supply of projects, Skip is often found skiing or biking in the Cascades backcountry.
Rebecca Schwartzman, Forterra
Prior to Forterra, Rebecca was a transportation planning consultant where they worked on creating and analyzing multimodal travel demand models and transportation plans. Prior to this she was the smart cities and district mobility intern at the District Department of Transportation in Washington D.C., where they focused on research, development, and urban design. In the five years before that, she worked at the Universal Service Administrative Company as a program manager, engaging stakeholders and helping rural healthcare providers access funds for telehealth. She published “Parking is for People: A History of Public Parking in Washington, D.C. (and Implications for Transportation Design Today)” in the Transportation Research Record (2018). Rebecca has a bachelor’s in political science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and master’s in urban and regional planning from Georgetown University. Away from work, they make elaborate meals, pottery, and bread, reads, and spends time at home with her partner, pets, and plants.
Olgy Diaz, Forterra
Olgy is passionate about civic engagement in communities of color and wants to see more people of color and women elected to public office. Toward this end, she has worked as a senior political manager for OneAmerica, recruiting, training, and electing immigrant and refugee candidates to public office, and as the party affairs director for the Washington State Democrats. She has also served as a senior legislative assistant in the Washington State House and Senate where she focused on social safety net and tribal sovereignty issues. Olgy represents Forterra on the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition board and serves as the Vice Chair. Olgy is also a board member at the Institute for a Democratic Future and the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington. Olgy earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Washington in Latin American studies and women’s studies.