Whats App Image 2022 09 16 At 5.10.30 Pm

Matthew Jeffery

Executive Director

The son of a zookeeper, Matt has been working in conservation and the environment his entire life. His career has taken him to Europe, Southeast Asia, and across the Americas from Canada to Chile. Matt’s accomplishments include creating more than 1.5 million acres of new protected areas, improving the knowledge and livelihoods of more than 700 community guides, strengthening the capacity of non-profit organizations across Latin America and the Caribbean, and establishing market-based approaches to conservation—including in the areas of regenerative agriculture and coastal resilience. Matt comes to Perfect Earth Project from the National Audubon Society where he spent 16 years building Audubon’s strategies and programs to support migratory bird conservation across the Americas.

Along with his wife and two children, Matt is based in the Washington, D.C., Metro area. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from King’s College, University of London.

Untitled (200 × 200 Px)

Whitney Beaman

Managing Director, Education

Whitney Beaman fell in love with soil, birds, bees, and native plants while working harvests in the New York wine industry. Vineyard work inspired her to combine her B.S. in Viticulture and Enology from Cornell University and M.S. in Sustainability Management from Columbia University to pursue a career in environmentalism as the Program Manager of Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, the first environmental certification for East Coast wine. She later expanded her audience to include farmers of all kinds as the Organic Transition Educator for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) where she launched a flagship Organic Transition Program aimed at removing barriers to organic certification and supporting farmers as they adopt organic practices. Most recently, she returned to the wine industry as the Sustainability Program Manager of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation where she launched and directed a statewide grower education and vineyard certification program. She is excited to grow her audience for nature-based land care and climate smart growing practices once again as the Managing Director, Education for the Perfect Earth Project.

Untitled (200 × 200 Px)

Toshi Yano

Managing Director, Earth Equity

Before receiving his degree in Ornamental Horticulture from The City University of New York and embarking on his gardening career at Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Spring, NY, Toshi studied philosophy at The New School for Social Research, and for two decades thereafter was a Dabbler in Many Things, working in various capacities in music, film, retail, and supply chain management.

Toshi comes to Perfect Earth Project from Wethersfield Estate and Gardens, a 1,000-acre landscape in New York's Hudson Valley, where he was the Director of Horticulture. He is a Director At Large at the American Public Gardens Association, where he chairs the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility Committee; a co-founder of BIPOC Hort, an advocacy group for people of color working in designed landscapes; and a member of the Design Council at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.

Toshi enjoys spending his spare time searching the woods around his home in Putnam County, NY, for the smallest, most secret plants, and is the proud father of a 12-year old girl who helps him find the especially small, especially secret plants that elude his aging eyes. He's grateful to his grandmothers for the deeply etched memories of dappled light, dirt under foot, and the dizzying perfume of Rosaceae in the air.

Melissa 200 X 200

Melissa Ozawa

Director of Communications

Melissa Ozawa’s love for gardens and nature began when she was a small child in Tokyo, playing among the cherry blossoms in Aoyama cemetery and irises at the Nezu museum garden. She has been writing and editing stories about gardening and sustainability for two decades and was recently the features and garden editor at Martha Stewart Living, where she traveled around the country to create and write stories for more than 10 years. She has also held editorial roles at House & Garden and Country Living magazines, and worked at the Garden Conservancy, planning garden tours and lecture series. She got her start at the Academy of American Poets, where she was editor of the journal American Poet and helped to promote a slate of national literary programs. She lives in New York City and works in her garden in New York’s Columbia County every chance she can. Photo by Joanna Garcia.