Meet the Board of Directors

Kamal El-Wattar, Board President

Co-Founder and CEO, Sequoia Laboratories

Kamal El-Wattar is the co-founder and CEO of Sequoia Laboratories, a nutraceutical company bridging the gap between Western consumers and indigenous populations around the world (keepers of global bio-cultural diversity). Kamal is responsible for putting the vision into operational reality through Sequoia’s flagship product, VitaNova. He works closely with international minority language experts to support the maintenance and revival of plant knowledge. Traveling the world to uncover hidden botanical wisdom, Kamal is constantly seeking to bring forth unique combinations of healing vitamins and supplements. Kamanya (Kamal’s philanthropic family foundation) promotes language preservation workshops aimed at strengthening indigenous knowledge and helping stem the tide of cultural and ecological loss around the world. The foundation also supports K-12 biomimicry education, environmental education in California, and food-as-medicine programs.  Prior to this, Kamal had lived for 8 years in China, studying Chinese language and culture, including the vast history of Chinese medicine. Previously, Kamal spent 15 years overseeing localization strategies that translated software into more than 100 languages for the world’s largest companies. He holds degrees in both linguistics and biomedical sciences. He currently resides in San Francisco with his wife and four children. Learn more.

Janine Benyus

Partner & Co-Founder, Biomimicry 3.8

Janine Benyus is a natural sciences writer, innovation consultant, and author of six books, including her latest − Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. She co-founded the world’s first bio-inspired consultancy, bringing nature’s ideas to the design table and board room of 250+ companies including Nike, HOK, GE Procter and Gamble, Levi’s and General Mills; and an educational non-profit dedicated to promoting the study of biomimicry. In addition to her biomimicry work, Janine teaches interpretive writing, lectures at the University of Montana, and works towards restoring and protecting wild lands. She has received several awards including the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Design Mind Award, the 2011 Heinz Award, Rachel Carson Environmental Ethics Award, and the Lud Browman Award for Science Writing. Learn more.

Annie Berdy

Co-founder, Middle East Peace Funding Circle and Partnership for Peace

Annie Berdy is the granddaughter of refugees and raised in a working class family dedicated to Tikkun Olam, the Jewish concept of “repairing the world.” Her family legacy includes a commitment to social justice and activism. She left school at age 18 and took responsibility for a family business, after her father’s passing and immediately following her mother’s open heart surgery. She navigated that enterprise from financial challenge to stability.  At age 27, Annie earned a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from New York University, continuing to work throughout that process while matriculating part time. She went on to graduate the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation at Columbia University in 2006 as a widow and single mother, and the Biomimicry Specialist Certification Program in 2013. Annie has taught underserved communities with Arts Corp in Seattle and Audubon in New York City. She has been a member of Threshold Foundation since 1989, has co-facilitated the Sustainable Planet Committee, and is a co-founder of both the Middle East Peace Funding Circle and Partnership for Peace. Annie is also on the advisory board of Inside the Middle East at the Eisenhower Institute. Learn more.

Lauren Birney

Director of the STEM Collaboratory NYC™, Pace University

Lauren B. Birney Ed. D. is a pre-eminent urban STEM educator with a concentrated focus in obtaining STEM industry grants from the NSF and other agencies as well as private foundations. Dr. Birney has over 30 years of experience at secondary and university teaching positions on both the West Coast and East Coast. She currently is the Director of the STEM Collaboratory NYC™ at Pace University and an Assistant Professor of STEM Education in the School of Education in New York City preparing both pre-service and in-service teachers in the areas of curriculum and instruction, classroom management, teaching methodologies and research techniques. Her areas of research focus upon project based learning with an emphasis on environmental restoration based sciences. Establishing opportunities for underrepresented students in STEM Education continues to be an integral component of all her work. Dr. Birney earned a B.A. in Biology/Chemistry from the University of San Diego, an M.A. in Counseling and an Ed. D in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education. Dr. Birney enjoys traveling, running, swimming and yoga. Learn more.

Lisa Craig Gautier

President, Matter of Trust

In 1998, Lisa co-founded the ecological public charity, Matter of Trust (MofT) with her husband Patrice Gautier (VP Internet Software and Services – Apple Inc.).  Moft’s reuse, recycling, renewable resources and eco-educational programs concentrate only on what we DO want to see in our environment. As the pro-bono president since its inception, she has led MofT’s enthusiastic teams to provide pilot studies and real solutions for 19 current and over 50 completed projects and fiscal sponsorships. From revolutionary waste fiber collection and recycling mobilizations (Clean Wave program), to online matching and sorting for reuse and disaster relief systems (ExcessAccess.org), to the GlobalCompostProject.org for carbon sequestration, Lisa designs and implements inclusive, empowering systems for populations to join in and take action. In 2013, she and her staff opened an eco-center in San Francisco’s inner-city Mission District. In 2017, she moved MofT, expanding into 2 sites:  the Matter of Trust Eco-Industrial Hub in Civic Center / SOMA and the Matter of Trust Eco-Living Center in Haight Ashbury / Cole Valley. Lisa cultivates dedicated, project ownership for her staff, interns and volunteers. Through lectures and interviews, she promotes the joy of ecology, apprenticeships and importance of societal pride in high and low tech expertise.

Prior to Matter of Trust, Lisa worked in the International Development and Treasurer departments at Valeo Headquarters – Paris (1995-1996), Logistics FedEx – Paris (1994) and at Cecchi Marlow & Massoni Atty and CPAs in San Francisco (1985-1993). Her unusual education includes: French at the Sorbonne (1993-4) and Breeding of Endangered Species and Zoo Management (surprisingly useful in all things) at the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust in the Channel Islands, UK (1983-4). Lisa currently serves on the boards of Biomimicry.orgDrawdown.orgRandallMuseum.org and MatterOfTrust.org. Lisa is fluent in French and the mother of 3 daughters. Learn more.

Erika Harrison, Board Vice President

Culture and Systems Change Advisor

Erika is a freelance culture and systems change advisor, leadership and organizational development consultant, and impact advisor. She has over 20 years experience in management, organizational development, media and communications with the education, non-governmental, environmental, philanthropy, and social sectors. Erika works with leaders and organizations contributing to a regenerative economy and society, and advises donors, donor networks, and conscious investors on aligning values with opportunities and structures to benefit future generations. She is dedicated to spreading whole systems thinking, interdisciplinary knowledge sharing, and applying principles of nature in social innovation, leadership, and human systems design. Erika also produces conferences, workshops, and retreats focusing on strategic visioning, personal mastery, new media, and social change. She is a natural organizer, educator, curator of fresh perspectives, and evangelist of good ideas for shared prosperity.

Erika earned her Master’s degree in Intercultural Media & Communications (Organizational Culture) from Royal Roads University, and her Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology & Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria (Culture Change and International Development). She is certified in both Knowledge Management and Adult Education and is currently studying Social Permaculture and Biomimicry for Social Design. Erika serves on the Board of Directors with the Biomimicry Institute and Threshold Foundation. Learn more.

Diana Lee, Board Secretary

Development professional

Diana Lee served as the Individual Giving and Outreach Manager for the Biomimicry Institute before retiring in 2016 and joining the Institute board. Prior to joining the staff of the Biomimicry Institute, she worked for Earthjustice; the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security; Redefining Progress; and Greenpeace. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Diana earned a B.A. at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she studied art, and later returned to Hawaii, where she co-founded a modern dance company. Learn more.

Alex O'Cinneide, Board Treasurer

CEO, Gore Street Capital

Alex O’Cinneide is CEO of Gore Street Capital where he manages significant capital on behalf of institutional investors for renewable investments. Beside his role in Gore Street he acts as a Senior Advisor to Kleinwort Benson Bank in London and a Senior Advisor to Paladin Capital Group in Washington DC, serves on the Investment Committee for SDCL (a global energy efficient fund), serves on the Investment Committee of IndoChina Capital (an Oryx Corp Asia Renewables fund) and is partner in Aqal Capital, a leading impact investment firm. Alongside those commercial activities he also serves on the board of the NGO Educate Girls Globally and the NGO thirst4water. Learn more.

Marilyn Waite

Founder, SustainableVisit, and Author, "Sustainability at Work"

Marilyn Waite’s vision is a world where sustainability values of social cohesion, environmental consciousness, intergenerational equity, and economic health drive decision-making and business practices. Marilyn has worked across four continents in venture investment, startups, and renewable and nuclear energy. Marilyn founded SustainableVisit, an app and online platform that provides users with sustainable travel and tourism suggestions for locations worldwide. Author of Sustainability at Work, Marilyn currently leads the energy practice at Village Capital, serves on the Board of Directors for Engineers for a Sustainable World, and is a former Senior Research Fellow at Project Drawdown. Marilyn holds a Master’s Degree with distinction in Engineering for Sustainable Development from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, magna cum laude, from Princeton University. Learn more.

Meet our Advisory Council

Ibrahim AlHusseini

Managing Member The Husseini Group | FullCycle Energy LP

Ibrahim AlHusseini is a venture capitalist dedicated to financing companies that implement market ready solutions to our bigger social and environmental challenges. Ibrahim has spent much of his earlier career as a sustainability-focused entrepreneur and investor, with significant experience in operations, sales, and finance. Currently, he is dedicating himself to addressing our growing garbage problem. By launching FullCycle Energy LP, Ibrahim and his partners are financing projects that revolutionize our relationship with waste by converting a costly environmental problem into clean, valuable fuel to power communities around the world.

Mr. AlHusseini is concurrently manages his Family Office in Los Angeles, CA. The Husseini Group LLC, has over a decade of funding ventures that embrace social enhancement and ecological sustainability. Ibrahim is a frequent speaker at Family-Office and wealth conferences, colleges and universities nationally and internationally promoting the merits of impact investing and the solution economy. Learn more.

Lynelle Cameron

President and CEO, Autodesk Foundation

Lynelle Cameron is President and CEO of the Autodesk Foundation, and the Senior Director of Sustainability at Autodesk, Inc. She founded both to invest in and support people who are using design to solve today’s most epic challenges. Prior to Autodesk, Lynelle led sustainability teams at HP, and has 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector at the intersection of conservation and economic development with WWF, TMI, and NOLS. Lynelle serves on the Board of CEH, Innovators International, UC Berkeley CRB, and previously on Biomimicry 3.8 and Net Impact. Lynelle has degrees from UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, and Middlebury College. Learn more.

Karen Cowe

Chief Executive Officer, Ten Strands

Karen Cowe, CEO, is an education-industry executive with over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, professional development, business development, and operations. She most recently acted as President and CEO at Key Curriculum Press. She has worked with curriculum leaders and teachers to introduce innovative, inquiry-based math and science instructional materials and learning tools to students. Karen combines her deep personal interest in environmental stewardship and place-based education with her education industry experience. Learn more.

Brian Dougherty

Founding partner and creative director, Celery Design Collaborative

Founding partner and creative director at Celery Design Collaborative and co-founder of the Charlie Cart Project. Brian works across multiple media, including brand strategy, packaging, print, digital and 3D design. He has over 20 years of experience specializing in socially and environmentally responsible design and business strategy. He advises Fortune 500 corporations, local and global non-profits, and innovative start-ups. Brian is the author of Green Graphic Design and lectures internationally on the topic of sustainable innovation. Learn more.

Natasha Giraudie

Creative Director and Founder, Micro-Documentaries

Natasha founded Micro-Documentaries with a vision to make compelling cinematic filmmaking accessible to all social innovators. Natasha regularly writes and teaches on topics related to storytelling, social innovation, and short documentary film production, and distribution for purposeful businesses and nonprofits. Prior to Micro-Documentaries, she was CEO of Papilia, where she helped nonprofits raise millions of dollars with an innovative stewardship software that showed donors the difference their gifts make. She started her career in her native Venezuela filming adventure and nature documentaries distributed through the Discovery Channel. She went to film school at the University of Texas at Austin and received her Master’s degree in Journalism from Stanford, where she was awarded a Stanford Haas Center for Public Service fellowship to pursue documentary work in Nepal. Natasha combines her passion for film with a lifelong commitment to the nonprofit sector. She co-chairs the Advisory Board of the Dalai Lama Fellows and serves on the Board of Directors of the Biomimicry Institute and the Advisory Board of Tools for Peace. Natasha lives in the Bay Area with her husband and daughter, where she enjoys paddleboarding with sea lions and discovering the joys of the violin. Learn more.

Ashok Goel

Professor, Computer and Cognitive Science, Director, Design and Intelligent Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology

Ashok Goel is a professor of computer science and cognitive science in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. He is director of the school’s Design & Intelligence Laboratory (DILab)and a co-director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Biologically Inspired Design (CBID). He serves on the advisory board of the Bioinspired! digital newsletter. Ashok recently co-chaired two workshops on Computer Aids for BioInspired Design sponsored by the US National Science Foundation. He is co-editing a volume on Computational Methods and Tools for Biologically Inspired Design to be published by Springer in late 2012. Learn more.

Paul Hawken

Executive Director, Project Drawdown

Paul Hawken is one of the environmental movement’s leading voices, and has authored best-selling books on environmental movements and the impacts of commerce on living systems, founded successful, ecologically-conscious businesses, and consulted with heads of state and CEOs on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy. Paul is one of the pioneering proponents of corporate reform with respect to ecological practices, one of the themes on which he often focuses in his writing.

Paul is the founder and Executive Director for Project Drawdown, a non-profit that describes when and how climate change can be reversed. He has appeared on numerous media including the Today Show, Larry King, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and has been profiled or featured in hundreds of articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Washington Post, Business Week, Esquire, and US News and World Report. He authors articles, op-eds, and peer-reviewed papers, and has written seven books including four national bestsellers The Next Economy (Ballantine 1983), Growing a Business (Simon and Schuster 1987), and The Ecology of Commerce (HarperCollins 1993) and Blessed Unrest (Viking, 2007). Learn more.

Stefan Heck

Consulting Professor, Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University

Stefan Heck is a Consulting Professor at the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University, teaching courses and conducting research on innovation, energy, and resource economics. Stefan lectures widely on his new book Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century to long-term investors, academic audiences, and the broader public. Previously he was a Director (senior partner) at McKinsey and he co-founded the Cleantech and Sustainability Transformations practices.  Stefan has worked extensively with Fortune and Global 100 technology, industrial, infrastructure, building systems, retail, utility and energy companies across the US, China, Korea, Japan, India, and Europe. Stefan is on the Innovation Advisory Board of United Technologies, the advisory board of New World Capital, the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford, and now the Biomimicry Institute. Stefan received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from UCSD and a B.S. with honors in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University. His research focused on neural network algorithms and the neural basis of reasoning. Learn more.

Sara Nichols

Environmental lawyer, activist

Sara R. Nichols is a graduate of Syracuse University and Villanova University Law School with a Master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of New Hampshire. She was an international flight attendant for TWA, a public defender then the staff attorney for a public interest environmental organization in Pennsylvania before running for US Congress in 1994. Currently, Sara is an environmental and political activist in Los Angeles. Sara and her husband, Frank Arentowicz have one son, Drew, and one granddaughter, Lucja. In her free time, Sara enjoys skiing, reading, political and environmental activism, organic gardening, water sports, travel, hiking, and horseback riding.

David Oakey

Founder, David Oakey Designs

David Oakey founded David Oakey Designs in 1985 and leads global efforts in sustainable or “smart design” by learning from nature. Oakey challenges industrial designers, architects, teachers, and students to take action and impact change today. He has been featured in Business Week, Fast Company, Interior Design magazine, The New York Times, Green Futures magazine, I.D. magazine, and Smithsonian magazine. Learn more.

Will Parish

Founder and President, Ten Strands

Will is a credentialed public high school science educator with a 30-year record of innovative accomplishments in the environmental and educational fields. He taught Environmental Science at Gateway High School in San Francisco, and now serves on their board. He served on the California State Board of Education’s Curriculum Commission and then founded Ten Strands as a nonprofit organization to support California’s efforts to achieve statewide penetration of high-quality environment-based education into schools. Learn more.

Ahmed Rahim

Co-Founder, CEO and Chief Alchemist, Numi Organic Tea

Ahmed Rahim is the Co-Founder, CEO and Chief Alchemist behind Numi Organic Tea, the largest premium, organic, Fair Trade Certified tea company in North America. Ahmed is responsible for all of the unique Numi blends and products that the company launches every year. Before starting Numi in 1999 in Oakland, California with his sister, Reem, Ahmed studied Theater & Psychology in New York City. He then spent a decade living, working and traveling throughout Europe as a professional filmmaker and photographer. At Numi, Ahmed travels to remote regions of the world seeking unique herbs and teas unknown in the United States. Numi has developed meaningful partnerships based on mutual gratitude, and has proudly been involved in sponsoring schools, hospitals, community centers, road construction and other needs to improve living standards in farming communities. Since 2009, Ahmed and his sister Reem have been evolving their vision for Numi through the Numi Foundation, with initiatives that focus on acknowledging and addressing the challenges within inner city Oakland; from education to health and nutrition. Ahmed sits on various boards and works with many non-profit organizations to focus on infusing art and nature into inner city communities, and mentors for-profit companies on enhancing their growth and sustainability goals. In 2011, Ahmed helped launch the nation’s first Waldorf-inspired multi-lingual, multi-cultural K-4 charter school: Community School for Creative Education. Learn more.

Duke Stump

Executive Vice-President, lululemon athletica inc.

Duke Stump is the executive vice president for community and brand at lululemon athletica, where he works to amplify lululemon’s global impact. Prior to this position, Duke was the principal and chief architect of The Northstar Manifesto, a dynamic culture and leadership studio focused on cultivating and nurturing bonfires with soul—positive systemic change-makers who are out to transform the world and have a great time along the way. Before creating The Northstar Manifesto, Duke worked as a brand builder for more than 20 years, most recently as the chief marketing officer for Seventh Generation and prior to that as a senior executive for NIKE. Learn more.

Join us, wherever you are:

We believe that the widespread adoption of nature-inspired solutions will catalyze a new era in design and business that benefits both people and the planet. Let’s make the act of asking nature’s advice a normal part of everyday inventing. We hope you will join us.

Tap into nature anywhere: