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: LoaTree. Believing business is one of the most powerful and dynamic agents for making a better planet, LoaTree focuses on inspiring change with successful and sustainable business models and lifestyles.
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 is now the lead facilitator for both the Santa Barbara and Ventura AFA’s, serving as 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!
Abby Wolff, Program Associate
Hailing from the Midwest, Abby came to Santa Barbara for the Environmental Studies Program at UCSB. Graduating in three years as the program’s “Outstanding Senior of the Year,” she has had her eye on LoaTree since the beginning, when she was inspired into action by a talk given by our very own, Dave Fortson.
Her passion for sustainability began in the Galapagos Islands where she worked with the Galapagos National Parks Service to eradicate native species in 2006. Since then, she has exercised her activism on the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Campus Program as Team Manager, and successfully managed “Project We Own It,” a campaign to raise $200,000 to purchase the Isla Vista Food Cooperative. Engaged in each and every green organization on campus, she has earned environmental “street cred,” that led to her positions as the UCSB Associated Students Commissioner of Sustainability and the Chancellor’s Sustainability Student Champion.
In her free time, Abby enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, riding horses, and following her favorite bands all over the country. She is passionate and enthusiastic to spread the Loa lifestyle wherever she goes.
Rachel Hommel, Team Writer and Food Researcher
A new member of the tribe, Rachel graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2008, creating her own Interdisciplinary Studies major. Always a free-thinker, she spent the last four years in the hospitality industry, working as a Concierge at some of the top hotels in Los Angeles and San Francisco. For this self-proclaimed “foodie,” restaurants and the chefs that inspire them quickly became her passion.
Her involvement in the natural food industry lead her to work several national trade shows, including Fancy Food Show in Washington D.C. and the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Ca. Yet once a Gaucho, always a Gaucho. Finding her true calling in academia, she is thrilled to be back at UCSB as an Academic Advising Associate.
Rachel assists LoaTree with food research and writing and covers all food stories for our blog. When not rallying for fair food, Rachel can be spotted at the local farmer’s market, practicing yoga, and dancing to the beat of life.
Matthew Scott, Video Production
Following his graduation from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Aquatic Biology, Matt sought to work with those UCSB laboratories whose field research took them to the exotic and remote. Through the lens of science, video and film production, Matthew found himself below the ice sheets of Antarctica and the deepest jungles of the Amazon rainforest. Matt soon discovered his love for the unfolding drama of the human experience within a changing environmental landscape through the use of multimedia. He has worked on surf films that found him in South Africa for two months as well a spending four weeks with the Cousteau team and the Ocean Futures Society, traveling 1400 miles down the Amazon River.
Matt works with LoaTree through video and event production, engaging himself in projects that make an impact and catalyze the imagination, while focusing strongly on collaborative partnerships.
Meghan Hart, Intern
Meghan Hart is in finishing her last year at UCSB, acquiring a BA in Environmental Studies. Meghan spent a semester abroad in Costa Rica where passion for the outdoors, environmentalism, and humanitarianism was ignited. Upon returning to the US, she was inspired to share her passions and get connected with those in the local community, which brought her to the LoaTree team. Art is another passion of Meghan’s. Her talent as a painter has brought her local and national recognition as a young artist. When not at school or interning with LoaTree, you can catch Meghan serving up healthy and delicious food at the Natural Café.
With her creative eye, Mehgan brings a unique artistic flare to the LoaTree team, assisting with events, writing and research. During her free time, Meghan enjoys hiking, spending time at the beach, surfing, skateboarding, attending music festivals, and good happy hours.
Laura Ingulsrud, Intern
Laura will be graduating from UCSB this June, with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Professional Writing for Business Communication. Laura has always been an environmentalist at heart, beginning with childhood backyard creek explorations and elementary school “Nature Bowl” competitions. Since attending UCSB, she has been involved in multiple environmental organizations on campus, such as the Environmental Affairs Board, Student Food Collective, and Sprout Up. She would love to combine her writing and communication skills with a career that embraces her passion for the environment.
Laura assists LoaTree with content creation and communication, including researching and writing new stories for the LoaTree blog, working on social media, and researching best practices for communication strategy. Laura loves traveling, long runs (or walks) on the beach, playing volleyball and soccer, good music, and spending time with her friends. She believes everyone should adopt the LoaTree motto and “live for a better world.”
Emily Oberhand, Intern
Emily is one of LoaTree’s newest bloggers and social media coordinators. She will be graduating this June with a B.A. in Economics and Accounting, with a minor in Professional Writing. Emily has helped create a draft for UCSB’s Sustainability Report, and hopes to continue promoting environmentally friendly organizations. While studying abroad in Madrid, Emily gained a passion for community involvement and is excited to be part of a team based on the Law of Attraction (LOA). Her involvement in community building and sustainable practices will continue after graduation, as she hopes to volunteer abroad this summer.
Durin her free time, Emily takes advantage of Santa Barbara’s beachside location, from paddleboarding to just strolling and looking for starfish. Emily has also gained a new passion for travel and culture, which she hopes to feed when time permits. And for the weekends, she can never pass up live music.
Sarah Clark, Contributing Writer
Sarah Clark graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from Brown University in 2008 and received her Master of Environmental Science and Management degree from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara in 2012. Her areas of work have included community research for state brownfield rehabilitation programs, climate change adaptation strategies for small island nations, and more. She currently works at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS).
An avid nature-lover since her childhood in Maine, Sarah shares an equal passion for the great outdoors and writing. As a contributing writer, blogging for LoaTree is her opportunity to exchange ideas about current environmental issues with the community and to spend time writing about what she cares for most.