Natural Directions SC - Full Service Tree Care Company

Staff Directory

Kim Russell

Owner/Chief Executive Officer

  • CIC - Certified Insurance Counselor

Although Kim has newly acquired ownership of Natural Directions, she has been an integral part of the company since its inception in 2000.  As an office manager and human resources director, she has been an essential part of everyday operations.  From staffing and personnel management to employee benefits, Kim directs the company’s human resources functions.  As owner, she oversees the day-to-day requirements of the company’s Summerville headquarters.  She has also been influential in sustaining vendor and client relationships.  She brings to the company strong business ethics and integrity along with leadership and management.

Nearly twenty years’ experience as a licensed insurance agent has provided Kim Russell the foundation required to keep Natural Directions in compliance with ever-changing insurance related requirements.  As the person responsible for opening and maintaining a satellite branch of a major Charleston based insurance company, it is no surprise Kim took over to guide Natural Directions on our current path.  While managing personnel and office activities, Kim was able to become a top sales agent and marketing person for her insurance office.  Bringing these skills and her knowledge to Natural Directions was the next step to grow our company to what it has become today.

Mike Russell

Founder/Lead Arborist

  • SC Registered Forester
  • ISA Certified Arborist
  • Current Treasurer of Trees SC

Mike Russell, Founder of Russell Consulting, has served as the company’s managing partner since the company’s inception in 2000. Under Mike’s direction, the company’s growth has driven the expansion of services and the subsequent company name change to Natural Directions, LLC.  Presently Mike continues to serve as a consulting arborist and mentor to his staff and crews.

Mike has a strong foundation in sales and as a consulting arborist for a tree preservation company.  He has also held the position of the Coastal Region Urban Forester for the SC Forestry Commission, as well as Procurement Forester for a major timber industry corporation.   This past experience combined with his role as Russell Forestry Services’ entrepreneur played the integral part in providing him with the practical experience required to grow Natural Directions into what it is today.

Mike earned his B.S. in Forest Resource Management from Clemson University.  His minor encompassed Aquaculture, Fisheries, and Wildlife Biology. While at Clemson, Mike served as president of the Forestry Club and was honored as an Outstanding Member for his work with the club.  Post-college education includes Wild land Firefighting Training through the South Carolina Forestry Commission and yearly continuing education course work to stay on top of new techniques and tools of the trade.  He is past President and current Treasurer of TREES SC (formerly the SC Urban & Community Forestry Council).


Donnie Skinner

General Manager

  • SC Registered Forester
  • ISA Certified Arborist
  • SC Commercial Certified Pesticide Applicator

Donnie Skinner’s foundation as an environmentally responsible forester dedicated to reforestation of SC forests paved his way to Russell Consulting and Natural Directions. Since joining the company in fall of 2003, Donnie has assumed the responsibilities of scheduling, quality control, sales/estimating, and client relations. In addition to serving as the senior project manager, he performs consulting arborist work as required.

Donnie earned a B.S. in Forest Resource Management from Clemson University, while minoring in Wildlife Biology. As an award-winning student, Donnie earned the Mack R. Hayes Forestry Award. Further education includes American Tree Farm Quality Inspector certification, Longleaf Restoration & Management training, and Wildland Firefighter Training.


Paul Tuten

Project Manager/Quality Control

  • ISA Certified Arborist
  • CEPSCI - Certified Erosion Prevention & Sediment Control Inspector, through SCDHEC
  • SC Commercial Certified Pesticide Applicator

Paul Tuten’s strong base of landscape experience is utilized in the planning and execution of Natural Directions’ client landscape and retaining wall construction projects. He and his crews protect environmental assets through installation of silt fencing and tree barricades. In addition, Paul is a trusted equipment operator.

Prior to joining the company in 2004, Paul led crews landscaping residential and commercial properties for one of the leading Lowcountry landscape companies and served as a timber inventory specialist for the timber industry.

Paul was awarded his B.S. in Forest Resource Management at Clemson University.


C. David Grant

Arborist Representative

  • ISA Certified Arborist
  • Forester
  • Former Chair of the NC Urban Forestry Council
  • Municipal Forestry Institute Graduate
  • ISA Exam Proctor

David joined Natural Directions in 2013 to serve our expanding client base with a commitment to excellence and over 20 years of experience in the green industry. As a third generation tree care professional and second generation Certified Arborist, he is a valued part of the Natural Directions family. His diverse background includes an understanding of tree preservation, hazard tree assessment, routine tree maintenance, insect and disease diagnosis & management, urban forestry, environmental construction, and native landscapes. David is involved in sales, estimating, client relations, quality control, and consultation.

After receiving his B.S. degree in Forest Resource Management from Clemson University and becoming a Registered Forester he served as the Coastal Region Urban Forester for the South Carolina Forestry Commission. Later, he took a position with Union County in Charlotte, North Carolina as an Urban Forester. While in North Carolina, he received the award of Outstanding Professional from the NC Forest Resources Division Urban Forestry Awards Program. He has advocated and implemented development practices that preserve our natural environment and forest resources in many communities, both small and large, rural and urban.


Pedro Del Palacio

IT Technician/Erosion Control Compliance Technician

  • CEPSCI - Certified Erosion Prevention & Sediment Control Inspector, through SCDHEC

Pedro joined the company in 2005 to help ensure compliance with erosion control mandates. Today, in addition to his responsibilities for erosion control compliance, he is responsible for nature trail construction, silt fence and tree barricade installation and maintenance. He also serves as computer technician for the organization.

Prior to joining Natural Directions, Pedro served as an IT technician for a non-profit organization based in Middle Tennessee, where his primary responsibilities included network and IT set-up and maintenance. His bilingual skills were used in the translation of documents and publications. He also served as an interpreter for meetings and special events. His construction skills were utilized by office space remodeling and framing of new buildings.

Pedro holds a B.A. in Industrial Engineering from LaSalle University in Mexico City.


John Marone

Sales Representative
Direct Line:(843) 608-2257

John has been involved in the tree care industry for 30 plus years. John’s career started as a medic in the United States Army. Later in his career he worked for several major utility clearing companies traveling throughout the country. He owned and managed his own business in Syracuse, New York before moving to South Carolina.

Coming to Natural Directions in the spring of 2010 as a Sales Representative, John shares the company’s culture and mission with his attention to detail and customer satisfaction.  John has a Certification in Sports Medicine from the University of Miami of Ohio and received his Sawyer Certification and Lumber Grader Certification from the National Hardwood Lumber Association in Memphis, Tennessee.