The Biomimicry Institute welcomes four new board members

Annie Berdy, Lauren Birney, Erika Harrison, and Marilyn Waite are the newest members of the Biomimicry Institute Board of Directors.

(PRESS RELEASE – August 21, 2017) – The Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit that empowers people to seek nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet, has named four new members to its board of directors.

Board Chair Kamal El-Wattar and Biomimicry Institute Executive Director Beth Rattner welcomed Annie Berdy, Lauren Birney, Erika Harrison, and Marilyn Waite to the Institute board this summer, where they join six other members in providing guidance and leadership to the Institute and its staff.

“Each one of these new board members brings the precise support we need now in our development and we are so grateful for their commitment to the biomimicry movement and to our Institute, in particular,” said Beth Rattner.

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.

Lauren 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 NYCTM 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. Birney earned a B.A. in biology/chemistry from the University of San Diego, and an M.A. in counseling and an Ed. D in educational leadership from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education.

Erika Harrison is principal of her social impact consultancy based in Vancouver, Canada. She works with leaders of social purpose and not-for- profit organizations as a management coach, strategist, and consultant and advises donors and donor networks on aligning vision and values with giving structures. Erika is an educator and evangelist of good ideas, a blogger of ‘Stuff that Makes Me Think,’ and curator of fresh perspectives. Early in her career, Erika taught language and intercultural communication skills in Asia for business executives, university students, and private groups. From a decade living abroad, Erika gained her unique ability for understanding people. She mentored new teachers, designed “train the trainer” programs, and led workshops on learning and systems change. After returning home, she was hired in the private education, health research, and philanthropic sectors to lead change initiatives and revitalize program delivery and launched her consulting company. Erika has degrees in Media, Culture and Society from Royal Roads University and in Cultural Anthropology and Environmental Studies from UVIC. She volunteers on select nonprofit boards, all working towards a more just, joyful, and regenerative world.

Marilyn Waite 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. Marilyn’s vision is a world where sustainability values of social cohesion, environmental consciousness, intergenerational equity, and economic health drive decision-making and business practices.

“The addition of TBI’s new board members brings increased field expertise in STEM, entrepreneurship, organizational development, and more,” said Board Chair Kamal El-Wattar. “These industry leaders are an important resource to staff in achieving the ambitious program goals of the Institute.  It’s an honor and a privilege to co-create with them.”


Erin Connelly
Ph:+1 (415) 800-1401

About the Biomimicry Institute

The Biomimicry Institute is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that empowers people to seek nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet.

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