Endowment to Experience Historic Leadership Transition

Endowment to Experience Historic Leadership Transition

Founding CEO Carlton Owen retiring, President Pete Madden assuming role of President & CEO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (November 18, 2020)

Greenville, SC—The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) today announced a historic leadership transition. Current President Pete Madden has assumed the role of President and CEO, replacing Carlton Owen, who has led as CEO since the Endowment was founded on September 21, 2006. Madden joined the staff as President on February 17, 2020. Owen will retire on December 31, 2020.

“The Endowment’s success is the direct result of Carlton’s passion for the forest industry and his unwavering commitment to the institution,” said Mark Emmerson, the Endowment’s Chairman of the Board. “It’s a passion that can almost be quantified when considering the millions of dollars invested and thousands of lives touched over the past 15 years. While the Endowment and the board will certainly feel Carlton’s absence, this is tempered by the knowledge that Pete Madden is uniquely positioned to assume leadership of the organization.”

The Endowment was initially formed in 2006 as a result of the signing of the Softwood Lumber Agreement to end ongoing litigation between the United States and Canadian governments. A key component of this agreement was to utilize a portion of the disputed fees to fund jointly agreed-upon initiatives supporting the lumber industry. To cement the organization’s establishment, Owen helped negotiate two final agreements: it would have an independent board of directors, initially selected by the Chairman and CEO, and its principal would be managed as a perpetual endowment. Under Owen’s leadership, the Endowment has utilized $82 million of its original $200 million to leverage $647 million from partner and external investments, totaling $730 million in economic impact.

“Leading this organization–and being a part of the country’s largest charity dedicated to forests and the communities upon which they rely–has been both an honor and a source of immense satisfaction. Of all the many accomplishments the Endowment can claim over the past 14 years, I am most grateful for the collaboration and partnerships that have immeasurably amplified the work we have done as a team,” Owen said. “Through our partnerships, we have been able to advance the dual mission of keeping working forests as forests and advancing family-wage jobs in forest-rich rural communities.”

Owen plans to take some additional time to enjoy the mountain home he and his wife, Brenda, purchased in 2015 and to invest more time with his children and five grandchildren. He also looks forward to working with his church and on several community projects in his adopted home of Greenville, South Carolina.

“Under Carlton’s leadership, I have watched the Endowment emerge as one of the most progressive and impactful players in the greater forest sector bridging academia, conservation, government at all levels, and industry,” said Madden. “I am excited to pursue the next chapter in my career with a brilliant organization that has accomplished such amazing results and to have the opportunity to join the outstanding board and staff in doing so.”

About Carlton Owen

A native of Mississippi, Owen began his nearly 45-year career as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Wildlife Federation. He spent seven years with Potlatch Corporation in Warren, Arkansas, where he served as the company’s first wildlife biologist and later supervisor for forestry environmental affairs. His career included five years in Washington, D.C., with the American Forest Institute, the American Forest Council,  and the American Forest Foundation. In 1990, Owen joined Champion International Corporation in a position that ultimately led to his being named Vice President, Forest Policy. Owen was among the creators of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. He was the creator of Walmart’s historic Acres for America program with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, where he served on the board for nine years. He is a past Chair and still a member of the Board of CEI Capital Management and was the first outside board member of privately held SynTerra Corporation. Owen earned a B.S. in Forestry and an M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from Mississippi State University.

His many recognitions include:

  • Gifford Pinchot Medal, Society of American Foresters, 2019
  • Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, 2010
  • Mississippi State University, College of Forest Resources: Alumnus of the Year, 1990; Alumni Fellow, 1990

About Pete Madden

A native of Connecticut, Madden began his 32-year career as a forestry technician in 1988 for the Westvaco Corporation in the Low Country of South Carolina. In 1992, he joined Georgia-Pacific Corporation, where he held various positions, including operations manager, procurement manager, and senior financial analyst. In 2001 when Plum Creek Timber acquired landholdings from Georgia-Pacific, he held several key positions including director of financial planning, manager of construction materials, senior resource manager of Michigan, director of southern regional marketing, vice president of operations support, and most recently as vice president, renewable energy and supply chain. In 2015 Madden joined Drax Biomass as President and Chief Executive Officer. In this role, he oversaw the company’s global supply chain operations that included several manufacturing facilities and an export terminal in the Southeastern United States. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Keweenaw Land Association and is a member of the Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Energy. Madden holds a B.A. from Marlboro College and an M.S. in Forestry and MBA from the University of New Hampshire.


For more information, contact:

Pete Madden, President & CEO, 864-233-7646, madden@usendowment.org

About the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities:
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities. To learn more about the Endowment, please visit our website at www.usendowment.org.

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