Meet our staff

Beth Rattner

Executive Director

Bay Area, California
Beth directs the Institute’s strategic vision, managing the organization’s program development, fundraising, and marketing efforts. She speaks publicly on how biomimetic design in products, cities, and agriculture can bring about a new level of resilience to our economy and ecosystem, which in turn spur new levels of social equity.


Prior to this position, Beth worked with William McDonough and Michael Braungart on The Upcycle, the sequel to Cradle to Cradle, before she helped co-found the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and became its first Executive Director and then Vice President.

An attorney by training, Beth was also a managing director for one of the first sustainability business consultant firms, Blu Skye, and business manager for Hewlett Packard’s Emerging Market Solutions (EMS) group. This HP internal “start-up” championed a new lens on providing technology solutions to those who earn less than $2 a day. The team launched HP’s first multi-user, daisy-chained computer for poorly funded schools and a solar-powered printer. The printer provided microfinance opportunities for women who brought paid photography to remote villages, allowing people to photograph their family events for the very first time.

Beth is a graduate of U.C.L.A. and Loyola Law School and lives in Marin County, California.

Rebecca Carlson

Program Assistant, Design Challenges

Missoula, Montana
Rebecca is responsible for assisting with all aspects of the Global Design Challenges. Prior to her current role, Rebecca worked in a number of capacities around the world. Most recently she kept bees in the Peruvian Amazon, conducted environmental education outreach in rural Central American communities, followed legislation in the Vermont statehouse, and coached a youth bike program in Seattle, Washington. She has a BS in environmental policy from Champlain College, where she spent her undergraduate career working as the college’s Sustainability Liaison.

Erin Connelly

Director of Communications and Outreach

Portland, Oregon
At the Institute, Erin directs communications strategy, media relations, multimedia content creation, and digital engagement efforts. Previously, she worked as a film producer, managed projects at safety-net health clinics, coordinated National Institutes of Health-funded clinical and education grants, and was a journalist. The threads that bind all of these experiences together? A love of learning, sharing information, and working with people who want to make the world a better place. She earned a master’s degree in sociology and policy studies at Lehigh University and her undergraduate degree in journalism from Penn State University.

Gretchen Hooker, MID

Program Manager, Education Resources

Kalamazoo, Michigan
Gretchen manages the development of educational resources that serve the Institute’s design challenges and education outreach efforts. Before joining the Institute, Gretchen served as the founding director of the Sustainability Center at Montana State University, where she built a broad-based collaboration of students, faculty and staff to lead institutional change. She has also served in as a designer, writer, and co-curator for various sustainable design exhibits and publications. A designer and nature nerd at heart, her passion is creating educational content and strategic programming that builds design and ecological literacy. Gretchen is a certified Biomimicry Specialist and holds a master’s degree in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Angela Klinefelter

Financial Manager

York, Pennsylvania
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.

Jeanette Lim

AskNature Content Manager

Bellingham, Washington
Jeanette expands and curates AskNature content with the help of a collaborative community of students, scientists, and educators interested in biomimicry. Prior to joining the Institute, Jeanette conducted research on the form and function of biological systems using approaches from physics and engineering. She has co-authored peer-reviewed papers on this research, and presented her work at conferences. She brings enthusiasm for sharing science to her work with AskNature, and previously developed and delivered science education content in both formal and informal learning environments. Jeanette earned a PhD in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University, and previous degrees from St. Francis Xavier University and the University of British Columbia.

Megan Schuknecht, MSc

Director of Design Challenges

Missoula, Montana
Megan directs our design challenge offerings, with a special emphasis on using design challenges to help faculty and administrators incorporate biomimicry tools and concepts into university and college classrooms, curricula, and degree programs. Prior to her current role, Megan served as the Director of University Education for the Biomimicry Institute. Before joining the Biomimicry Institute, Megan worked and taught for a variety of sustainability and social justice non-profits and educational organizations. She also worked as a biologist at the design table with the Biomimicry Guild, helping global companies look to nature for inspiration to develop sustainable and innovative technologies.

Ethan Smith

Director of AskNature

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.

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.
Chameleon image via Shutterstock.

Owl image via Shutterstock

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