Better Place Forests has come a long way since its inception. From one forest in California, we have grown to 10 memorial forests across six states and over 1,000 acres of forestland being protected. Today, we’re excited to announce the appointment of our new CEO, John Collins. John comes to Better Place Forests from a 25-year career at Patagonia where he most recently served as the head of global revenue — bringing with him the expertise in growing a business rooted in both doing good for the environment and serving customers.

John is originally from the East Coast, Connecticut to be exact, and life in the outdoors has always been part of his professional pursuits. After college, he taught skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Eventually, he opened his own fly fishing business and later became a professional sailor. In 1996, these passions led him to Patagonia where he began as a Sales Representative and grew into the role of leading teams across sales, wholesale, and e-commerce both domestically and abroad.

“What I loved about Patagonia was that I was able to combine my hobbies and career in a complementary way,” says John. “My passion has always been the outdoors and nature so I found it to be a perfect fit for me.”

For John, the greatest part about his career at Patagonia was the people, which he recognized as soon as he came to Better Place Forests.

“Whenever I'm asked what the best part of Patagonia was, it's the people. And when I got to Better Place Forests, I felt that same energy, I felt that same passion. And I felt that same desire to make a difference,” says John.

John knew he wanted to join the team when he walked into our flagship forest on the Mendocino coast in Northern California, Better Place Forests Point Arena.

“When I walked into the forest in Point Arena, I felt a sense of life, a sense of beauty, a sense of nature — unlike the experiences I’ve had in cemeteries. And as I was leaving the forest, I saw a couple who had just chosen their tree. They had big smiles on their faces. They were feeling accomplished and joyful.”

Like many of our customers, being in the forest made it clear that this would be the right decision for him.

“When I left the forest that day I realized that this company was on to something that I feel society needs, and I feel it is something that will both help to protect the planet for generations to come and bring a sense of closure and joy to people at a time when that's very difficult to find,” says John.

John lives in Ojai, California with his wife Parris and two children, Hudson and Adeline. When he’s not working, John still enjoys fly fishing, skiing, sailing, and spending time outdoors.

As CEO, he is succeeding co-founder Sandy Gibson, who will remain on the executive team and assume the role of Chief Innovation Officer. We’re thrilled to embark on this next evolution of Better Place Forests with CEO John Collins at the helm.