Meet the People
Behind the Mission

Amanda Sturgeon, FAIA (she/her)

CEO

Sydney, Australia & Washington State, USA
As CEO of The Biomimicry Institute, Amanda fosters a thriving eco-system of innovators, educators and change-makers to bring about a world that works in harmony with nature and natural systems. Amanda is an award winning Architect, author and non-profit and thought leader on how people, buildings and cities connect to nature. She authored the book ‘Creating Biophilic Buildings” and has an essay in the best selling anthology ‘All We Can Save” , she has published articles across mainstream media, such as The Guardian, and is a frequent keynote speaker at global events. Amanda was previously the inaugural CEO of Built by Nature, a network and grant-making fund, focused on accelerating the timber and bio-based building materials transformation and she has also served as Regenerative Design Lead at global consultancy Mott MacDonald, working with clients across the Asia Pacific region to bring climate and biodiversity positive solutions to infrastructure, buildings and cities.

During her decade with the International Living Future Institute as CEO she authored and developed regenerative building programs such as The Living Building Challenge and founded the Biophilic Design Initiative. Amanda was elevated to be a Fellow of The American Institute of Architects in 2015 due to her extensive advocacy for buildings and cities that work in unison with nature. Amanda currently serves on the board of Climate Action Network Australia and is on the Biophilic Cities Advisory Group.

Miranda Berger (she/her)

Development Director

Seattle, Washington
Miranda seeks to align a career forwarding powerful solutions for global climate change with a personal life fostering a sustainable and inspired world. She manages the development work of the Biomimicry Institute, drawing on 20 years of experience writing proposals and managing funder and donor partnerships. Having led fundraising teams across the globe, Miranda’s work has supported everything from salmon habitats to living buildings. Now, she is thrilled to support Amanda and the Biomimicry team as they inspire the transfer of ideas, designs, and strategies from biology to sustainable systems design. When not writing, Miranda can be found reading a book dockside while watching her family sail across Puget Sound. 

Marc Cappelletti (he/him)

Director of Marketing & Outreach

Portland, Maine
Marc Cappelletti is responsible for the Biomimicry Institute’s development and marketing efforts. Previously, he served as a freelance marketing and content development consultant for a variety of nonprofit and private sector organizations. Marc brings a 15-year career in travel industry and international education marketing and development. He recently served as VP of Expedition Product Development for Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, doubling the organizations’ offerings in Alaska, British Columbia, and Central America. Marc is also a published writer and photographer. He lives in Portland, ME with his wife and two daughters, and together they seek out nature whenever possible. ​

Megan Dwyer (she/her)

Partnership and Brand Strategy Director, AskNature

Brooklyn, New York
Megan Dwyer brings a rigorous approach to research, insights, design, and communication to set the strategic plan for the AskNature platform. She also looks to create partnerships with like-minded organizations that inspire people to embrace nature-inspired solutions. Being a New Yorker, her passion is born from the importance of nature in cities, and she believes that everyone, regardless of background or location should be able to benefit from connecting with nature. Before joining AskNature, she led her own brand strategy practice working with purpose-driven brands and is committed to solving problems for people and the planet through innovation and sustainable design. Over the past twenty years, she has worked at advertising agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi and Joan, partnering with leading companies such as P&G and Google. She is currently studying at Columbia University’s Climate School getting an M.S. in Sustainability and holds a Design Certification from Pratt Institute, where she studied Sustainable Design and Biomimicry, as well as a B.A. from Georgetown University.

Jen Fredette Visual Design Manager

Jen Fredette (she/her)

Website & Visual Design Manager

Western Montana
Jen is the Visual Design Manager for The Biomimicry Institute and its initiatives. She is a web and graphic designer with deep roots in communications and storytelling. Her work began in 2009 as the Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator for spectrUM Discovery Area, a not-for-profit science museum located on The University of Montana campus. After leaving her position with spectrUM, she went on to run a successful Web, Graphic Design, and Communications company where she supported independent businesses, non-profits, and public schools with their online presence and communication efforts. She and her husband live on a 20-acre homestead with their four children and a myriad of pets. Jen loves spending time rafting the amazing rivers of Western Montana and road-tripping around the United States with her family. She also volunteers in her community as the President of the local booster club, the lead planner of her town’s annual festival, and as the Marketing Chair of the Montana Youth Diabetes Alliance.  Jen graduated from The University of Montana with a degree in Communications but is continuously inspired by nature and all that it has to lend to positive and prosperous living.

Jen Fredette Visual Design Manager

Katia Hardgrave (she/her)

Design for Transformation Project Assistant

Orange County, CA
Katia is driven by a passion to meaningfully and sustainably address social justice issues. She brings a unique mix of experiences from living and working across North America, South America, and South/Southeast Asia. Katia draws from her roles at an impact startup, an early-stage impact VC, an impact-focused investment bank, and at an impact advisory firm. She applies these experiences and her international development background to support the systems change work at the Biomimicry Institute. 

Gretchen Hooker (she/her)

Visual Science Communications Manager

Missoula, Montana
A designer by training and nature nerd at heart, Gretchen manages visual communication on AskNature, working to reveal the mechanisms behind nature’s strategies with powerful illustrations and diagrams. Gretchen also contribues to overall content and product strategy for AskNature, drawing on more than 10 years of experience at the Institute managing and creating educational programs for learners of all ages. Before transitioning to the AskNature team, Gretchen founded and led the Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge and helped to establish the Institute’s Youth Education program as Interim Director. Prior to that, she was a core contributor to the Institute’s education programs for university students and young professionals. Gretchen is a certified Biomimicry Specialist and Montana Master Naturalist, holds a master’s degree in Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design, and earn her BA at Macalester College.

Andrew Howley (he/him)

Chief Editor, AskNature

Williamsburg, Virginia
Andrew is your guide through the vast collection of materials on AskNature, commissioning and curating an ever-growing body of stories of life’s innovations and adaptations. As a science communicator, he spent 11 years at the National Geographic Society, connecting audiences with explorers and grantees through websites, blogs, social media, and live-streamed interviews and events. He has also served as Communications Director for the conservation nonprofit Adventure Scientists, conceived and hosted a podcast on human origins, and aided various scientists and organizations with their online efforts. He also once spent an afternoon running the path of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. He studied anthropology with a focus on archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

Dave Hutchins (he/him)

Launchpad Program Manager

Butte, Montana
Dave manages the Biomimicry Institute’s Launchpad Program, supporting scientists and researchers as they take their nature-inspired solutions from the lab to the market. He has a background in environmental engineering with a PhD in materials science, where his research focused on remediating mining impacted waters. He has served as a research associate at the Center for Advanced Materials Processing and as professor with Montana Technological University. Dave is also a sculptor, entrepreneur, and amateur journalist who is passionate about science communication and the intersection of art and science. He has volunteered with Butte’s Citizens’ Technical Environmental Committee, the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program, and founded the community bicycle shop Bike Lab.

Angela Klinefelter (she/her)

Director of Finance and Administration

Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Angela manages the financial details of the Biomimicry Institute’s amazing projects and is also the assistant to the executive director. Before the Biomimicry Institute, Angela managed the finances for several other local non-profits such as Buffalo Field Campaign, Wind River Bear Institute, and Cold, Mountain Cold Rivers. She also worked as an accountant at Lambros Real Estate. Her past life was spent roaming Montana’s Glacier Country as a bear conflict specialist.

Sarah McInerney (she/her)

Ray of Hope Prize Program Manager

Cleveland, Ohio
Sarah manages the Biomimicry Institute’s Ray of Hope Prize Program, identifying, supporting, and accelerating the world’s most promising nature inspired startups to address humanity biggest environmental and social challenges. Traditionally trained as a zoologist and educator, Sarah completed her PhD in integrated bioscience focusing on the potential of biomimicry to advance the narrative of corporate sustainability through design and behaviour. Through this work she has provided professional biomimicry education and innovation services for a variety of audiences from Fortune 500 companies to K-12 institutions within academic, corporate, and natural settings. Sarah grew up on the west coast of Ireland and before completing her PhD she worked in wildlife conservation training as a falconer and volunteering with a variety of non-profits across Europe.

Beth Rattner (she/her)

Head, Design for Transformation

Bay Area, California

Beth Rattner has been the Biomimicry Institute’s Executive Director since 2012, leading its strategic direction in being the bridge between biology and design as it manifests in education and innovation. In 2020 she co-launched the Design for Decomposition initiative for the Institute to demonstrate a biomimetic systems view of transforming used garments into new, biocompatible materials. Prior to her work with Biomimicry Institute she was the executive director and vice president of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, a non-profit she co-founded. Beth has been speaking and writing about nature-based paradigms for reconceiving industry since 2005.

Beth’s background, however, was not on the non-profit side, but rather working in the tech sector — AOL, a Kleiner Perkins start-up, and Hewlett Packard — then with Fortune 500 companies as a sustainability management consultant. At HP, Beth helped establish the Emerging Market Solutions group, providing technology-based microfinance opportunities for those who earn less than $2 a day, specifically women, in India and South Africa.

Beth is a California attorney, creative writer, student of permaculture and herbalism, and advocate for the rights of nature.

Maëlys Renaud (she/her)

Program Assistant, Innovation

Los Angeles, California

Maëlys is a chemist, open-innovation enthusiast and former Science Diplomat. She joined the Biomimicry Institute Innovation team to identify, support and accelerate nature-inspired startups. Maëlys draws from her roles at a marine biotech company, a large plant-based cosmetic company, an innovation management and financing consulting firm, a law firm and an early-stage VC. Driven by an unwavering belief that we humans need to shift our relationship with our planet, nature and the resource that we use, she applies these experiences to empower creative ecosystems of leading scientists, innovators and founders, to support and invest in early-stage technology companies and to foster real and scalable impact. From Brittany, France and based in Los Angeles, Maëlys works internationally while connecting with the diverse creative scene, the growing tech environment and the beautiful outdoors. Outside of her professional life, she weaves her activities and her care for the Earth through cooking, hosting climate dinners, reading, horse riding, dancing and by founding the initiative Pole Dance for the Planet. Maëlys is LEED certified and holds two Master’s Degrees, in Chemistry from Université Pierre et Marie Curie – University Paris-Sorbonne and in Business Law and Intellectual Property from Sciences Po Paris.

Kat Sitnikova (she/her)

Development Assistant

Santa Cruz Area, California
Kat enjoys fostering connections with individuals who share her profound enthusiasm for the convergence of biomimicry and design, recognizing their collective potential to drive sustainable systemic change. She plays a pivotal part in the Institute’s fundraising efforts by helping to secure essential resources and nurturing relationships with individuals who support the Institute’s goals. Before joining the Biomimicry team, Kat has held roles at the Abundant Earth Foundation, Homeless Garden Project, H. T. Harvey & Associates, and the Los Padres ForestWatch. These roles have equipped her with a strong foundation in ecological principles, environmental advocacy, and organizational operations, as well as a love for research, collaboration, and connection with people who are passionate about sustainability. Outside of her professional life, Kat is a dancer, rock climber, pianist, amateur vineyard manager, theater lover, and avid-reader. Kat holds certificates in Permaculture and Nonprofit Management, and has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

CK Unsworth "Collin" (she/her)

Biomimicry Integrationist

Denver, Colorado
Collin believes that reconnection to nature can serve as a vehicle for human empathy and a catalyst for conservation. She is passionate about equity and waste reduction so that we may be kinder humans and honor the planet we share. Collin holds a PhD in Integrated Bioscience with a specialty in biomechanics, entrepreneurship, and bio-inspired inclusive design. With over a decade of research experience and seven years focused on biomimicry, she serves as the organization’s technical biomimicry expert. She has worked as a biomimicry leader at NASA GRC, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and NSF’s Innovation Corps through her bio-inspired assistive tech startup, Natraverse LLC. Collin has performed climate change and conservation biology research around the US and abroad in Mo’orea and Ecuador. She is I-180 Wildland Firefighter certified and has worked as a prescribed burn technician, a trail crew member for NPS AmeriCorps, a naturalist, and a caretaker for people with disabilities. Outside of work, she enjoys writing, climbing, trail running, cycling, and routesetting to foster inclusion in climbing.

Jared Yarnall-Schane (he/him)

Director of Innovation

State College, Pennsylvania
Jared brings his entrepreneurial background and startup coaching experience to the Biomimicry Institute, where he supports startups as they commercialize biomimetic innovations that are addressing major climate and environmental issues. Before joining the Institute, Jared developed and ran startup training programs with Penn State University’s incubator and accelerator programs and was the Program Director of Thought For Food, a global community of food and agriculture entrepreneurs. He is the creator of the open-source startup training toolkit Startup Guts, was an initial founding member of the AgTech company GreenTowers, and started a small food preservation company in rural Kenya. He has an Executive Certificate in Social Impact Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State University.

Kelli Young (she/her)

HR Generalist

Bozeman Area, Montana
Kelli brings over 15 years of Human Resources experience to the Biomimicry Institute, where she works directly with the Director of Finance and Administration. She earned her BA in Psychology from Roanoke College, VA and a Masters of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations, with an emphasis in Compensation and Benefits from Penn State, PA. Kelli also holds a certificate in Supervisory Leadership from the University of California, Irvine. Kelli and her husband enjoy the outdoors, specifically hiking, and together have visited roughly half of the national parks in the United States. 

Meet Our Board

Janine Benyus

Co-founder

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 Biomimicry 3.8 – the world’s first bio-inspired consultancy, bringing nature’s ideas to the design table and boardroom of 250+ companies including Nike, HOK, GE Procter and Gamble, Levi’s and General Mills; and the Biomimicry Institute, 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.

Kent Snyder

President

Kent is an attorney, consultant, and CEO who has devoted much of his public service career working on collaborative solutions to complex problems. He served 10 years on the Sustainable Development Commission of Portland including three years as co-chair, working on Economic Development, Green Building, and development of the city’s Climate Action Plan. He chaired the National Board of Trustees of the American Leadership Forum, whose mission is joining and strengthening collaborative networks of diverse leaders to serve the common good. Kent was the founding Board Chair of the Green Electronics Council and works as a consultant to organizations on sustainable supply chain development. As an attorney, Kent was a nationally recognized expert and author in bankruptcy law with a focus on business workouts and turnarounds. He holds a B.S. cum laude in Environmental Biology from Kansas State University and a J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School.

Mary Davidge

Secretary / LEED® Fellow

Mary is a leader in design strategy and the creation of places that foster the health of the occupants and the environment. In 2021, she retired from her position as Google’s Directory of Global Design in REWS (Real Estate and Workplace Services) to focus on environmental advocacy. Mary established her career in Silicon Valley’s architecture and design firms working primarily with rapidly growing technology companies such as Apple, Ebay, and Yahoo!. For over four decades, the focus of her work has been to facilitate design process, helping owners to define values for the built environment, identify associated goals and strategies, and execute those strategies.

Mary has served in a volunteer capacity on multiple boards and advisory groups, she has a particular passion for work at the intersection of design, health and nature. She was recognized as a Living Building Challenge Hero in 2012, a LEED Fellow in 2014 and received the IIDA Leadership Award of Excellence in 2017. In 2022 she served as the chair of the Living Future Conference, bringing together leaders in the design and construction community under the theme of Restoration and Justice. From 2012-2014 she was a founding member of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative Board (HPDC), she served on the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute Certification Standards Board from 2013-2016, and the Healthy Building Network Board from 2016-2020. She currently serves on the Biophilic Institute Board, the Advisory Board of the ILFI Biophilic Design Initiative and The Sierra Institute for Communty and Environment Board.

Erin Rovalo

Treasurer / Certified Biomimicry Professional

Erin Rovalo, Ph.D. is a Certified Biomimicry Professional since 2010 and was among the inaugural graduates from the MSc Biomimicry program at ASU in 2016. She is an experienced scholar and researcher holding a PhD in Design Practice focused on biomimicry design and has published academic research as well as editorial articles in Fast Company, Greenbiz, and Metropolis among others. She serves as Faculty Associate in the MSc Biomimicry program jointly offered by Arizona State University and Biomimicry 3.8 where she teaches Biomimicry & Design and iSites: Nature Journaling for Biomimicry. Erin is the Director of Education at the International Living Future Institute where she leads the education team in their mission to empower an international and diverse community of practice with the skills, values, and knowledge necessary to take bold action towards a built environment that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative. In this role, she is responsible for ILFI’s educational strategy and oversees curriculum design, course development, and credentialing.

Angela Nahikian

Angela Nahikian heads a cross-company effort to ensure that Steelcase achieves its global sustainability goals. As the world leader in contract furnishings, the company is committed to leadership in environmental sustainability. In her role, Ms. Nahikian is responsible for sustainability strategy and program development as well as integration of the key environmental platforms of life cycle management, materials assessment, and designing for recycling-reuse in new products. Ms. Nahikian also leads environmental research programs and corporate collaborative efforts with sustainability experts. With a BSEE and a background in architecture, she has filled diverse roles in architectural systems design, product and strategy development, technology licensing, futures exploration, and management strategies for environmental issues. In addition to her responsibilities at Steelcase, Ms. Nahikian serves on the board of advisors of Today’s Facility Manager, and is a LEED-accredited professional. She has been with the Steelcase family of companies since 1990 and was named to her current position in 2005. She is a native of Traverse City, Michigan, and is a graduate of Lawrence Technological University.

Jim Bunch

Jim is passionate about investing in businesses that drive social and environmental benefit, while generating attractive returns for investors. Over the last decade, he has worked for two family office impact investment platforms, deploying over $100 million into venture capital and private equity investments in clean tech, agriculture, and broader economic development.

Evelyn Arce Erickson

Founder and CEO of Indigenous Resilience Consulting

A descendant of the Muisca people of Colombia, Evelyn is passionate about Indigenous self-determination and Indigenous-led philanthropy. She is the Founder and CEO of Indigenous Resilience Consulting (IRC), with the mission to build Native-led capacity and serve as a strategic advisor to both donors and Indigenous communities. She is the former Vice President for Native Conservancy, the first Native land trust in the US where a fundraising campaign she led raised millions and played a pivotal role managing daily operations with a focus on development, program, financials, and forward-looking strategies.

Evelyn helped to found and ran for 15 years the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP), a donor affinity group dedicated to supporting Indigenous communities. It was the first organize effort to bring hundreds of millions of dollars directly into Indigenous communities globally. Evelyn was one of the first voices for Indigenous-led philanthropy and notably led the effort for several donor publications, including the Foundation Center’s Funding Indigenous Peoples: Strategies for Support.

She currently serves on the Board and Development Committee for three NGOs: Biomimicry Institute, Fortunate Farm and Love Wild Horses, and is an advisor to Earth Codes Observatory. She is the co-found of Coastside Friendship Organize Garden (c-FOG) and served on the HMB Parks and Recreation Commission. She served as a board member of Cultural Survival for nearly a decade.

She obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Cornell University. She is a Goldman Environment Prize nominator and a Donella Meadows Leadership Fellow. A Master Gardner of San Mateo and San Francisco County, California, Evelyn lives in the territory of the Pomo tribe (now called Mendocino) with her husband and three children. She spends her free time gardening and exploring the raw beauty of the land.

Daniel Kinzer

Pacific Blue Studios

Daniel is at home in Hawai’i –  inspired by the Polynesian Voyaging Society (as well as other indigenous movements around the world); their traditional Polynesian wa’a, or voyaging canoes; and the story of Hōkūle’a and her worldwide voyage. He holds a Masters of Science degree in Biomimicry – innovation inspired by Nature -and is a Biomimicry Professional with Biomimicry 3.8  where he’s concentrated on marine ecology and innovative solutions to climate change and ocean-related challenges, as well as applying biomimicry to complex social issues, especially reimagining education. He is fascinated by the natural world, and particularly the Ocean and other wild places, and the intersections of these places and human culture and consciousness.

Since graduating from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Psychology and Neuroscience, he has been nurturing a global network of explorers and change makers by growing a learning ecosystem that can inspire and empower them. An avid traveler and adventurer, Daniel has spent the past two decades living, working and learning in international schools, nonprofits and social enterprises across more than 70 countries, all 7 continents, and all 5 of our planet’s oceans, including an expedition to Antarctica in December 2018 as part of a fellowship with National Geographic. Since arriving in Hawaii’, Daniel has led sustainability, service and entrepreneurial learning programs at Punahou School and Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu; served as a Fellow for National Geographic, Ocean Exploration Trust and Ecology Project International; and co-created place-based bio-cultural innovation platforms with Purple Mai’a Foundation, Mālama Maunalua and Polynesian Voyaging Society. He has focused on understanding and developing transformative action-learning curriculum with several partners in education, exploration, conservation and innovation, and is using that experience to support schools, innovation programs and environmental organizations around the world.

From his place in Hawai’i, Daniel launched Pacific Blue Studios: a Pacific network of community and place-based, youth-powered, design and impact studios leveraging biomimicry, indigenous perspective and cutting-edge technologies as vehicles to grow, connect and amplify a (k)new intergenerational learning ecosystem and help realize a resilient, regenerative and inclusive future in Hawai’i, around the Pacific, and across our Blue Planet.

To express interest in joining the Board of Directors, you may fill out this Interest Form and we will be in touch.

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.

Billy Almon

Billy Almon is a biology-inspired storyteller and inventor who highlights the connection between nature, technology, and design.  A co-host on Animal Planet’s “Little Giants” television show, Billy harnesses the power of entertainment to demonstrate the ingenuity and strategic creativity found in nature. Through his Billy Biology platform, Billy guides the next generation of scientists and students in exploring the natural wonders around us. Previously, Billy worked as an Imagineer for the Walt Disney Company, leading multi-disciplinary teams that dreamed up, designed and built new attractions, cruise ships, real estate developments, and regional entertainment venues worldwide. While an Imagineer, Billy received the prestigious “Inventor’s Award” for creating a patent-winning design during his first year on the job. He has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Howard University and a Master of Science in Biomimicry from Arizona State University.

Annie Berdy

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Annie built a successful commercial real estate company and now applies her resources to supporting perception, practice and policy that creates conditions conducive to peace and health. While working, Annie earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from New York University in 1987. As a widow and single mother she graduated the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation at Columbia University in 2006, and completed the Biomimicry Specialist Certification Program in 2013. Annie has been a member of Threshold Foundation since 1988 and has co-facilitated the Sustainable Planet and Middle East Peace initiatives. She is a co-founder of Partnership for Peace and Friends of Taghyeer Movement, both under the Peace Development Fund. Annie is on the Board of Inside The Middle East and American Friends of Combatants for Peace.

Lauren B. Birney

Director of STEM Collaboratory NYC, Pace University / Assistant Professor of STEM Education, School of Education NYC

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. Lauren 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. 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.

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.

Denise DeLuca

Director, MA in Sustainable Design, Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD)

Denise DeLuca is the Director of MCAD’s MA in Sustainable Design program.  She was co-founder of BCI: Biomimicry Creative for Innovation, a network of creative professional change agents driving ecological thinking for radical transformation. Denise is author of the book Re-Aligning with Nature: Ecological Thinking for Radical Transformation, which was illustrated by MASD alum Stephanie Koehler.  She also teaches a BioEmpathy course for the Amani Institute. Denise’s previous roles include Education Director for the International Living Future Institute, Project Manager for Swedish Biomimetics 3000, and Outreach Director for The Biomimicry Institute.  Denise is a licensed civil engineer (PE) and holds a Master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on modeling landscape-scale surface and ground water interactions.  In addition, Denise is a Biomimicry Fellow of The Biomimicry Institute, on the editorial board of the Journal of Bionic Engineering, and a Researcher with Katerva. Denise is based in Montana. 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.

Kamal El-Wattar

Kamal believes that the collective knowledge of all human languages and nature holds vital solutions to humanity’s survival. With the coming wave of AI upon us, he focuses his efforts on the intersection of intelligence technology and nature’s knowledge as the fastest way to scale up solutions. In his previous life, Kamal managed software localization companies in the Middle East, Asia and South America. For 17 years, his teams adapted software into more than 100 languages for HP, Microsoft, Nokia, Adobe, Medtronic, Sanofi, Ford and others. Kamal co-leads the Kamanya Foundation which is dedicated to supporting knowledge preservation and revival, whether biological or cultural. Examples are minority language revival through The Answers Project (theanswersproject.net) and Wikitongues (wikitongues.org), and natural solutions through AskNature (asknature.org) at The Biomimicry Institute. He is a graduate of linguistics and biomedical sciences from The University of Manchester, UK.

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.

Erika Harrison

Founder and Principal, EcoTone Advisors

Erika is a social impact advisor, investor, and a life-long learner at the intersection of culture and living systems. She is principal of EcoTone Advisors, serving leaders creating purpose-driven organizations and building legacies benefiting the greater good. In 2012, driven by her passion for education, Erika founded the New Literacies Fund, a private philanthropic fund to support lifelong learning in ecosystem-based leadership skills and essential competencies for regenerative society. Erika holds a Master’s degree in Media & Communications from Royal Roads University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology & Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria.

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.

Daniella Pigossa

Associate Professor, Technical University of Denmark

Daniela Pigosso is currently Associate Professor at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and co-founder at essensus, a spin-out from DTU supporting companies to mature the integration of sustainability into their core business. Daniela has dedicated her career to developing science-based knowledge for solving the current sustainability challenges faced by humanity within the fields of Sustainable Design, Product/Service-Systems, Rebound Effects, Circular Economy, and Business Model Innovation. Her research and innovation activities are carried out in close collaboration with stakeholders from industry, governmental organisations, and research institutes mostly in Europe, North America and South America. Daniela is a member of the Advisory Board at the Design Society, where she also serves as Steering Committee member of the Sustainable Design and Product/Service-Systems Special Interest Groups. Daniela received her PhD from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, in 2012. Her first degree is in Environmental Engineering, also from the University of São Paulo in 2008.

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.

Ethan Smith

Life-Centered Strategy + Concept Designer

Bellingham, Washington
Ethan is passionate about cultivating great ideas, talented people, and symbiotic relationships to develop products and services that empower innovators to help create a healthy and vibrant future. Ethan has collaborated on numerous award-winning products, services, and media for clients and employers in the outdoor recreation and environmental conservation industries. He holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial design and has received extensive training in sustainable development, LEED, biology, and biomimicry. His professional background spans creative direction, business strategy, marketing, product design and development, web design and development, and 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.

Marilyn Waite

Program Officer in Environment, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Marilyn leads the climate and clean energy finance portfolio at the Hewlett Foundation, is author of Sustainability at Work: Careers that Make a Difference, and serves as editor-at-large for GreenBiz. She founded SustyTrip and SustyJobs and serves on the boards of COI Energy and the Kachuwa Impact Fund. Marilyn previously worked across four continents in renewable and nuclear energy, energy modeling, and venture capital. She 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.

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