Denise Ann Barrett is a visionary, strategic, collaborative, and mission-driven executive. She brings more than 25 years of experience developing, leading, and managing more than a dozen complex organizations and programs in the public, private, and non-profit spheres in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the U.S., including at local, regional, and national levels. Her creative efforts have helped strengthen local food and forest system value chains, increased sustainability, enhanced community resilience, and improved conditions for populations under emergency duress and displacement, oppressed by unjust systems and structures, struggling with high-risk environments, or recovering from civil war and natural disasters.
Denise comes to Forest Bridges following a ten-year stint at the City of Portland building and managing the collaborative, consensus-driven Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (rdpo.net) in the five-county Portland metropolitan region. There, Denise managed a complex, dynamic and inclusive structure and strategic process supporting dozens of local and regional governments, special districts, businesses, and local organizations, to agree on and advance a unified mission, vision, and program of investments to enhance disaster preparedness and resilience for a region of 2.4 million people.
From 2020-2021, Denise was part of the regional multi-agency coordinated response to COVID-19 and the Labor Day wildfires. During that time, she also helped the region’s fire agencies advance their urban-rural interface wildfire mitigation planning work and the RDPO to deepen its equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts, including building partnerships with community-based organizations to improve disaster preparedness and resilience for BIPOC and other COVID-19 disproportionately impacted communities.
Prior to the RDPO, Denise served as executive director of the Southwest Virginia-Northeast Tennessee-based Appalachian Sustainable Development, whose mission focuses on advancing sustainable forestry and local food systems development. She helped the organization through a critical strategic change process to set them on a more solid organizational footing.
Throughout her career, Denise has applied and honed skills as a creative and nimble change leader/process facilitator, systems planner, cross-cultural communicator, and integrator across multi-sectors, including community-driven development, local governance/leadership development, public health, water and sanitation, education, sustainable/regenerative agriculture and agroforestry, disaster resilience/preparedness, emergency management, and humanitarian protection/human rights.
Denise holds a Master’s in International Administration from the School for International Training in Vermont, with an emphasis on community development, and a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota. She has also studied healing science/energetic healing at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing in Florida, and water science and healing with water at the Masaru Emoto Organization in Japan. Denise started career in screenwriting in 2021, drafting two full-length movie scripts. She has moved to Roseburg with her Nepali dog, Tiki.