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The Institute was founded in 1985 as the International Academy for Preventive Medicine by the visionary Dr. Murdoch Head, a physician, lawyer, teacher and author.

Over time we have shifted our focus from human health to conserving the natural environment. Accordingly, in 2011, our Board of Directors voted to change our name to the Clifton Institute, which reflects the original name of the land where the field station is located, the Clifton farm.

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded and operated by scientists, educators, policy-makers, and physicians who are dedicated to advancing environmental education and conservation. We believe that introducing people, young and old, to the our natural treasures has a major positive impact on their health. Our office is located on 900 acres in the rolling foothills of the Northern Virginia Piedmont.

List of current staff

Board of Directors
Douglas Larson (President) was formerly a Vice President at the Piedmont Environmental Council with primary responsibility for the development program of the organization. He has had extensive non-profit experience serving as the Director of the Airlie Foundation, Board member of the Fauquier Hospital, and a variety of other community organizations. Following his graduation from Drake University he served in the US Peace Corps. His career took him overseas working for The Agency For International Development and later for The George Washington University in international health education programs.

Edward J. Bernacki, M.D. is Professor of Medicine, Director, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Medicine and Executive Director of Health, Safety and Environment for the Johns Hopkins University. He is past President of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and former Corporate Medical Director of United Technologies Corporation, Hartford, Connecticut and Corporate Vice President of Tenneco, Inc., Houston, Texas.

Melissa Johnson, MS was an adjunct professor in Health/Fitness Management at American University in Washington, D. C., She has served as Director of Operations for National Fitness Leaders Association (NFLA), and as vice president and western regional chair of the National Association of Health and Fitness, formerly the National Association of Governor's Councils on Physical Fitness and Sports. She was appointed Executive Director of the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and appointed by President Bush as Executive Director of the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness.

Robert C. Karch, Ed.D. (Vice President) has been a member of the American University faculty, in Washington, D. C., since 1969. He is a Professor in the School of Education, Teaching and Health and the creator of two academic programs at the University: the Master of Science program in Health Fitness Management, now 30 years old, and the Bachelor of Science program in Health Promotion, now in its 15th year. He is also the founder and Executive Director of the University's National Center for Health Fitness and the University's International Institute for Health Promotion.

Jocelyn Arundel Sladen is a conservationist and lifelong resident of the Warrenton, Virginia area. She worked closely with her husband, Dr. William Sladen, in founding the Environmental Studies on the Piedmont program (part of the Clifton Institute). She has served on numerous boards, including the Center for Plant Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife, Rachel’s Network and the Advisory Board of Virginia Working Landscapes.

David Snyder, M.D. is a founding member of Blue Ridge Orthopaedic Associates in Warrenton, Virginia and a diplomat of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery with extensive experience in reconstructive surgery. He has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Virginia and as Chief of Surgery and President of the medical staff at the Fauquier Hospital.

Phoebe Tufts, M.Ed has an M.Ed in English and an M.Ed in Special Education, is certified to teach Biology and has taught in both independent and public schools. She is currently teaching (Special Education) at Kettle Run High School in Fauquier County. Prior to teaching, she served as a humane investigator for the state of Virginia, as a member of the Head Start Parent Policy Council, Head Start Health and Education Advisory Council and as chairperson of the Fauquier County Public Schools Vocational Education Advisory Council. More recently she has served on the board of the Fauquier Mental Health Association.

Emeritus Board Members

John H. Dressendorfer recently retired as Vice President Government Relations for Titan/L-3 Communications based in Washington, DC. He was Vice President, Government & External Affairs for the American Forest & Paper Association. Mr. Dressendorfer served as a Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs in the Reagan Administration from 1981 to 1983. He also worked as an assistant to Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird from 1969 to 1973.

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