Black Rock Forest Announces New Executive Director: Isabel W. Ashton, PhD

Current Executive Director, William S.F. Schuster, PhD, Steps Down After 30 Years

The Board of Directors has named Isabel Ashton, PhD as incoming Executive Director of Black Rock Forest. Isabel will formally assume office on Thursday, November 10, and Bill Schuster’s last day as Executive Director will be Wednesday, November 9. Bill will stay on for a year in the role of Senior Ecologist to continue his research-in-progress and to work on the Wildlife Connectivity Project. 

Isabel joins BRF from the National Park Service where she has worked as an ecologist for over 14 years. Most recently, she oversaw the development of science and resource management at Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument in northern Maine. Isabel’s research has focused on adaptive management and how to use long-term monitoring data to understand the effects of climate change, fire, and invasive species. Much of her work has focused on building partnerships and diverse teams to leverage science and conserve national park lands for future generations.   

She has spent most of her career in federal service, even her early time as an AmeriCorps Environmental Educator in 1998 when she got her start in conservation at Black Rock Forest. Isabel is a native of Brooklyn, New York and has a B.A. in Environmental Biology from Columbia University. She holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University. Isabel told us, “I am delighted to be returning to the Hudson Valley and joining the staff at Black Rock Forest. I look forward to reconnecting with old colleagues and friends and to meeting and working with new people. I am particularly excited by the challenge of building on Bill’s leadership and guiding Black Rock Forest into the next era.” 

Isabel will be moving to Cornwall with her spouse and two school-aged children. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and spending time outdoors with her family. 

Full press release available here