Leadership Team

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is led by the state forester as established in the Code of Virginia §10.1-1100. The state forester is appointed by the Governor of Virginia and serves under the direction of the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.

The state forester, along with the Executive Leadership Team, are responsible for ensuring that the agency accomplishes its mission to protect and develop healthy, sustainable forest resources.


Meet the Executive Leadership Team

State Forester
Rob Farrell

As state forester, Rob Farrell serves as the director of the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and is responsible for ensuring that the agency accomplishes its mission to protect and develop healthy, sustainable forest resources.

Rob Farrell was appointed as the eighth state forester of Virginia by Governor Ralph Northam in January 2018. Rob joined VDOF as an area forester serving Gloucester and Mathews counties in 2000. He has also served the agency as the first director of the forestland conservation program and as deputy state forester. Rob has long been a leader in Virginia’s forestry community, and in 2017 he was recognized with the Outstanding Member of the Year Award from the Virginia Forestry Association.

Prior to VDOF, Rob worked as an arborist and urban forester in Virginia and Maryland. He is an ISA-certified arborist and has a B.S. and M.S. in Forestry from Virginia Tech.

When Rob is not performing his executive duties, his colleagues make use of his extensive experience and knowledge as an arborist.

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Deputy State Forester
Ed Zimmer

Ed Zimmer has served as deputy state forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry since 2018. In this capacity, he supports the agency’s primary mission of developing and enhancing the forest resources of Virginia by directly providing strategic guidance of the agency’s Forest Management, Fire and Emergency Response, Silvicultural Water Quality, and State Lands teams. He also oversees the Department’s two seedling nurseries, research initiatives, and the three operational regions.

Prior to this role, Ed served the Commonwealth as the agency’s chief of operations and as a regional Forester in Waverly and Charlottesville. Prior to Virginia Department of Forestry, Ed held several roles in forest industry in Eastern Virginia and served five years in the United States Army.

Originally from Maryland, Zimmer now resides in Fluvanna County with his wife and youngest son. He received his bachelor’s in forest resources management from West Virginia University in 1990 and his master’s in business administration from Averett University in 1998.

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Assistant State Forester
Terry Lasher

Terry Lasher was selected as the assistant state forester in 2019. In this role, he leads the Department’s Utilization and Marketing, Urban and Community Forestry, and Forestland Conservation Divisions. Terry also leads the state forester’s strategic initiatives with the Chesapeake Bay, Healthy Watersheds Forest program, Sentinel Landscapes Designation, the Albemarle-Pamlico Basin effort, watershed management programs, and alternative forest products markets, such as carbon and engineered wood industries.

Terry previously served the Virginia Department of Forestry in multiple positions from a resource conservation and development forester in the Tappahannock area, to local forester positions in Virginia’s Coastal Plain, Shenandoah Valley and Northern Virginia. Most recently, Terry served as the regional forester in the Eastern Region of Virginia.

Prior to his assistant state forester position, Terry spent the last 20+ years serving the Commonwealth and the forestry profession in multiple leadership roles while being an active member of forestry-based organizations and forming strong partnerships with agencies, non-profits, and localities. Since 2001, Terry and his teams of foresters created multiple inaugural programs around forest management, education, wildlife management, and internship programs.

Terry has a forest technician degree from the New York State Ranger School, a B.S. in Forest Resource Management from Virginia Tech, and a M.A. in Executive Leadership from Liberty University.

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Chief of Administration
John Colligan

John joined the Department of Forestry in 2019 as the chief of administration. His duties include management of financial accounting and operations, budget development and implementation, information technology system development and maintenance, and agency facility operation and management. In addition, he is also the agency contact with the Office of the Attorney General and is responsible for agency legislative and regulatory activities.

John has worked in Virginia state government agency leadership positions since 1995, having served at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development as chief deputy director and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) as director of administration. Prior to state service, he was a banker in the Washington Metro area with First Virginia Bank and Signet Bank.

While at DCJS, John was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) and also served as a regional representative of the NCJA Southern Region.

He has a degree in economics from the University of Richmond, and is also a graduate of the Virginia Executive Institute and the Virginia School of Bank Management.

John has been active in Rebuilding Together Richmond serving as a House Captain for a number of years, is a member of the Advisory Board of St. Mary’s Catholic School and a volunteer for the Richmond Folk Festival.

He lives in Hanover County with his wife and children.

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Chief Officer of Human Capital
Hector Rivera

Hector Rivera joined the Virginia Department of Forestry in 2017 where he serves as the chief officer of human capital. In this role, he leads all aspects of human resource operations, talent management, human resource information systems, diversity and inclusion, employee engagement, workforce planning, and safety.

Prior to his transition to our Commonwealth’s government and leadership, Hector honorably served our nation as an Army officer for more than two decades. An operational and strategic leader with extensive experiences highlighted by service in our nation’s capital as senior staff officer under the chairman of joint chiefs of staff in the pentagon, non-profit service as chairman of the board at various Hispanic ministries, and as pro-bono advisor to professional baseball leagues within the Caribbean on stadium security. Dedicated to building communities, he served in the Chesterfield County Public Schools’ Equity Committee and continues his role as advisory board member for Central Michigan University.

His education includes a bachelor’s in Business, master’s of public administration, master’s in political science and international development, and is currently a doctoral candidate at The College of William and Mary.

A native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico has called Virginia home for over 16 years and resides with his wife in Manakin Sabot (Goochland County) and are officially empty nesters, having raised their two boys into mature young men.

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Director of Public Information
Michelle Stoll

Michelle Stoll has served the Virginia Department of Forestry as director of public information since 2018. In this role, she provides strategic communication leadership for the agency and is responsible for media relations, publication development, outreach and education, and the integrity of the VDOF brand.

Prior to her current role with VDOF, Michelle served as the agency’s integrated media specialist. She entered the natural resources field with the U.S. Forest Service at Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Marion, VA, through the Student Conservation Association. She later served as the executive director of Friends of Chesterfield Riverfronts. Michelle has held a variety of communication and leadership roles within state government, including more than 10 years with the Virginia Department of Health on the risk communication team. Michelle is a graduate of the Commonwealth Management Institute and the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute. She has an English degree from the University of Central Arkansas and is a graduate student at Mississippi University for Women. In her free time, she is a poet and her work has appeared in domestic and international literary publications.

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Executive Assistant
Mary Weaver

As executive assistant, Mary Weaver supports the agency’s Executive Leadership Team and the Human Resources Office, serves as secretary for the Board of Forestry advisory board and liaison with the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.

Mary Weaver joined Virginia Department of Forestry as executive assistant in September 2014. Prior to VDOF, Mary worked as clerk to the Board of Supervisors and administrative assistant for Fluvanna County. She also proudly served in and retired from the Virginia Air National Guard.

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