Team LoaTree

David Fortson, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Arriving at UC Santa Barbara in 1993, David immediately dove head first into environmental activism on campus and the surrounding community.

Upon graduation, David worked for, or served on the board of a handful of community environmental policy organizations and government agencies.

After 10 years as a full time activist, David moved into business working for a then start-up company called Sonos. While at Sonos, he invented and nationally launched a dog product, “The Brush Buddy.”

In 2008, David and a few friends seeded the idea of a ‘lifestyle company’ and in 2009 David took the helm of “LoaTree,” a company that combined his experiences as an eco-advocate and businessman. Believing business is one of the most powerful and dynamic agents for making a better planet, LoaTree focuses on connecting and inspiring people to live for a better world.

A lover of art, music and being surrounded by all-star humans, he founded LoaTree as a means of living the dream, living intentionally and living inspired.

When not burning the midnight oil, David chases his daughters, plays music, surfs and hangs with his lovely lady.

Eric Cardenas, Chief Operating Officer

Eric Cardenas graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 1998 with degrees in Political Science and Environmental Studies. Eric joined the LoaTree team in 2011.

Eric has worked as director of the Central Coast Environmental Health Project, a project of the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), aimed at protecting human and environmental health from the risks associated with pesticide use through education, policy development and advocacy.

After nine years at EDC, Eric went on to work for the Orfalea Foundations, serving as the s’Cool Food Initiative’s Agriculture and Infrastructure Manager responsible for developing farm-to-cafeteria programs for local school districts. There, he helped oversee and manage grants while establishing relationships between school personnel and the agricultural community.

Eric was founder of the Santa Barbara Ag Futures Alliance (AFA) and has served as a consultant to the Ag Innovations Network. He is a former Planning Fellow for the Roots of Change, served on the state of California’s Ag Vision Process under California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary AG Kawamura, and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Johnson-Ohana Charitable Foundation. He served on the grant making committee for the Fund for Santa Barbara for six years.

Eric enjoys listening to and playing music, the outdoors, frisbee on the beach, game nights with good friends, locally grown food, sipping good tequila and drinking great beer. Guests always welcomed!

Riley Hubbell, Production Administrator

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 11.42.22 AMThe newest addition to the LoaTree team, Riley Hubbell recently graduated from UCSB with majors in Global Studies, Sociology and Professional Writing. She previously served as the Director of Education for environmental education non-profit Sprout Up.

Riley has joined LoaTree to lend a hand with event planning and production. She’ll focus her time and energy Santa Barbara Green Drinks, Earth Day efforts, and a managing new writing internship program hosted by LoaTree.

Summers spent in the Sequoia’s cultivated Riley’s desire to care for the natural world. She’s passionate about backpacking, farmers markets, beach volleyball and travel. Riley’s commitment to community engagement, youth outreach and a general love of life is a perfect compliment to our team!

Aaron Roessler, Web & Graphic Artist

IMG_4937After exploring careers and lifestyles from San Jose to Hawaii, Illinois and Austin Texas, Aaron is now married and settling his roots in Santa Barbara. His constant love for graphic and web design lead him to pursue what he loves best. He combines his creativity with helping people and companies turn their ideas and visions into reality.

Now a new member of the Loa team, Aaron is responsible for web development and graphic design. He will continue to do what he loves so much – building friendships, enjoying laughter and life to its fullest while establishing a solid career in anything design oriented.

Jesse Colorado Swanhuyser, General Counsel

JesseOriginally from the Bay Area, Jesse graduated from UCSB in 1999 and UCLA Law in 2011 focused on environment and global trade issues. He enjoys surfing, photography and woodwork when he isn’t doing his part to make a better world.



Elizabeth Davidson, Social Media Intern

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Elizabeth Davidson is a senior at UCSB majoring in communication and comparative literature, and is our newest intern at LoaTree. She has joined the Loa team to manage and enhance social media ventures and to assist in event planning, which has been a passion of hers for nearly three years.

Her love of nature has inspired a continuous involvement in environmentally conscious organizations and her passion for people has kept her actively involved in our community. She has a nearly-unhealthy infatuation with creative foods, and is always happy to spread smiles through cooking.

Catherine Courtier, Writing Intern

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Catherine graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology. After four years in college and spending time backpacking in Thailand and Mexico, Catherine has made her home in Santa Barbara where she works as a barista at Coffee Cat.

In her spare time she enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, and sharing her love of the environment with friends. Catherine will be joining the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama come January. 

She has a passion for environmental conservation and outreach and is stoked to be a part of the LoaTree family as a new writing intern! 

Shelan Zuhdi, Photography Intern

IMG_0496Shelan graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Environmental Studies. After graduating college and traveling all throughout Europe and Canada, Shelan as returned to the Santa Barbara community to embark on new endevours.

Shelan enjoys traveling, nature photography, and spending time in the outdoors. She is very passional about environmental and coastal conservation and plans to attend graduate school for environmental management in the near future. Shelan’s love for the environment is what brought her to join the Loatree family as a photography intern!