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International Women”s Day: Celebrating the women of Better Place Forests

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The women at Better Place Forests are changemakers, community builders, nature lovers, and storytellers. From software engineers to forest stewards, the women on our team are the catalyst for our growth and the embodiment of our values. To celebrate their hard work, we wanted to put the spotlight on those behind the scenes working to create more meaningful final resting places for our customers every day. 

We would be nowhere without the amazing contributions from these women. Get to know more about them and their impact below. 

Gia DeBartolo

Land Analyst 

What woman has inspired you most in your career?

The woman who has inspired me the most in my career is my mom, Marie Einarsen DeBartolo. From a very young age, ­my mother instilled in me a deep appreciation for the outdoors. True to her Norwegian roots, she was (and continues to be) a strong proponent of the Nordic value of “friluftsliv” ­– the belief that time spent in nature is essential to one’s spiritual and physical wellbeing.

When it came time for me to choose a career path, I knew I wanted to do something that would either allow me to spend time outdoors or inspire others to do the same – just as my mom has always done for me. I feel very lucky to have found both of those things in my role at Better Place Forests. 

What advice would you give other women about a career in your field?

During my early career development, I was often led to believe that certain “feminine” personality traits (empathy, gentleness, sensitivity, etc.) would be considered less desirable in the workplace and therefore needed to be downplayed if I wanted to excel. In my professional experience thus far, I have found that channeling these qualities in certain settings has actually made me more effective at what I do. My advice for other women in my field would be to not be afraid to lean into these traits, as they have just as much power in the workplace as any other. 


Gabriela Valverde-Rivera

Director of People Operations 

What brought you to Better Place Forests?

I’ve lost many close family members in the last year and experienced the struggles of end-of-life planning firsthand. When I learned about the mission of BPF and the profound impact our teams have on our customers, I knew I had to find a way to get involved. It is such a privilege to work on the People team at such a thoughtful, empathetic, and innovative organization!

What do you admire about your fellow women teammates? 

They are phenomenal women who not only make an impact at work but are also talented professionals that are committed to their communities, families, and passions outside of work. 

Krystine Dinh

Vice President of Integrated Communications

What woman has inspired you most in your career? 

I’ve met so many incredible people – both men & women – who’ve inspired me throughout my career. One woman stands out in my mind: My amazing former manager and rockstar marketing executive, Danielle L. From her, I learned that the strongest leaders are not only incredibly competent at what they do, they lead with conviction and authenticity. They’re highly adaptable, willing to re-invent themselves time and again (and she coached her team to have that same growth mentality). She also knew her priorities and put her family first even with her high-flying career. Truly a remarkable woman!

I’m also grounded by the women in my family and my circle of friends; they are values-driven, down-to-earth, and so sincere. Danielle and the women in my life have taught me that – no matter what – know your north star and do things that align with your compass. 

What has been your biggest career/personal achievement? 

I believe I’m most successful when my team is succeeding. So, my biggest career achievement to date (and one I hope to continue) is hiring and building teams full of smart and hard-working people who are thriving and making a big impact at the company. And, of course, am proud to be at Better Place Forests and among very smart, passionate people doing good in the world. 

Cara Delacroix

Senior Account Executive 

What woman has inspired you most in your career? 

Maya Angelou. I was fortunate to meet her in person. She’s an amazing example of a woman who went through countless struggles and horrific trauma yet she emerged with a ferocity of spirit, wisdom, creativity, strength, and compassion. What a lady!

What advice would you give other women about a career in sales? 

You’ve got to be ready and able to ride the sales ‘roller coaster.’ Sales is amazing and frustrating and fun and funny and exhausting and precarious and ultimately super rewarding. Here at Better Place Forests, you ride the coaster yet you also get to have incredible conversations. Ones that are often deeply profound and meaningful. Sometimes you’re in stitches laughing together and sometimes you’re in tears, crying along with people you’ve just met. It’s a beautiful kind of “heavy” and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Rona Knox

Senior Director of Performance Marketing 

What advice would you give other women about a career in marketing? 

The same 3 things I have to remind myself regularly:

  • Always advocate for yourself and surround yourself with people who advocate for you.
  • Don’t just ask for what you think you deserve – ask for more than that.
  • Try to learn something new from every person you encounter, especially those you disagree with. The things I learned from people I disagreed with really helped broaden my perspective.

What brought you to Better Place Forests?

The idea that memorial forests become the norm and not just an alternative. I would love to go 50, 100, 200 years into the future and take a look at the impact Better Place Forests has on the planet. Can you imagine?

Alethea Valley

Senior Forest Steward 

What woman has inspired you most in your career? 

Overall, I would say my mom has inspired me the most in my career. But really, any woman who has upward movement in a career of her choosing while also meeting the demands of a family and maintaining mental wellbeing is pretty awe-inspiring to me! 

I am currently reading Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. I find her curiosity, willingness to embrace change, and desire to prioritize wellbeing to be very inspiring! 

What do you admire about your fellow women teammates?

I admire how my teammates are always striving to learn and improve. They each bring passion and curiosity to every task, and I think that is an integral part of our success as a team. 

Monica Poletti 

Senior Software Engineer 

What woman has inspired you most in your career?

I’m typically inspired by women who improve our physical condition day-to-day—my friends who are therapists, campaign workers, advocates for our environment, in the medical field, etc. They make me want to do work that contributes to the upward trajectory of the health and equity of our planet.

I’d also put writers up there in that list. I get super inspired reading Terry Tempest Williams, a nature writer who talks about the earth and human ecology in this really beautiful and poetic way. Her books have pushed me to apply what I do to something that helps people understand, protect, and be stewards of their environment, which is one of the things I care most about.

What brought you to Better Place Forests?

I took a quiz once about what book I should read next and it suggested a mortician’s memoir, which gave some structure to all of my clouded thoughts on dying and the funeral industry. At the time I was considering a job change to something more conservation-focused, but I became really drawn to death care and feel like I’ve been able to strike a nice middle ground between those two realms here.

To continue celebrating Women’s History Month, we’ll be hosting an informational webinar on March 30th. We’ll be joined by a panel of women who’ve chosen to leave a meaningful legacy for the planet and the people they love. Sign up today to get a limited-time offer and learn what women can teach us about end-of-life planning. 

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