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.

Lex Amore

Communications Director

Portland, Oregon
Lex guides the communications strategy for the Institute and utilizes the power of public relations to build relationships with key influencers in an effort to further the practice of biomimicry across audiences. She has advocated for sustainability thought leaders for the past decade, bringing expertise in writing and strategic communications to each project aimed at making a positive impact on the world. Lex achieved her Master of Science degree in Biomimicry from Arizona State University in 2018 and bachelor’s degree in journalism from Georgia State University. She has also received extensive training from the Climate Reality Leadership Program, LEED, and in sustainable design by working with a multitude of industry leaders across the globe. Her ultimate mission is to inspire others with actionable, positive movement forward using bio-inspired innovation and community collaboration.

Rebecca Carlson

Program Manager, Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

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.

Jacques Chirazi

Innovation and Commercialization Manager

San Diego, California
Jacques Edouard Chirazi, Certified Biomimicry Professional, has managed the City of San Diego’s Clean Tech Initiative since 2007 and has served as the Biomimicry Institute’s commercialization advisor since 2015. His focus is to create economic growth while fostering sustainability. One emerging initiative is to bridge clean technology with biomimicry. He develops and supports a clean technology cluster in San Diego. As a critical thinker analyzing complex programs and policies, he leverages his strong communication skills while collaborating across a diverse range of private, public, and non-profit sector groups. With a passion for learning about the natural world and understanding how nature could transform the corporate environment, his long term vision is to create new business models and financial instruments to accelerate the commercialization of biomimetic solutions.

Renée Fidz

Communications, Web, and Design Manager

Portland, Oregon
Renée Fidz manages design and web projects and provides communications support to the Biomimicry Institute, in addition to developing and implementing visual solutions in the form of infographics, printed pieces, and digital communications to share the biomimicry story. She previously served as the Web and Design Director for Transportation Alternatives, an activist group dedicated to safer biking, walking and public transit in New York City, and worked as a consultant for the Roosevelt Institute. She began her work as a designer while on staff at the Brooklyn Arts Council, a not for profit that offers free arts programming in the borough of Brooklyn. She is also a nature enthusiast and studies and practices herbalism. Renée graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communications but is a life-long student of nature!

Adiel Gavish

Social Media and Communications Manager

New York, New York
Adiel manages the Institute’s social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and engages our global community in biomimicry news, events, research and entertainment. She has over 14 years experience in grassroots environmental advocacy and management, as well as social enterprise startups, and corporate sustainability consulting. Her favorite summer job was being a camp counselor for the Westchester County Parks’ Summer Ecology Camps. Adiel is the founder of the BiomimicryNYC regional network (one of our founding Global Networks), and is a graduate of Columbia University’s MS in Sustainability Management. Her favorite book is “Orbiting the Giant Hairball” and she enjoys fostering homeless dogs in Manhattan, where she resides.

Michelle Graves

Program Manager, Entrepreneurship

Kingston, WA
Michelle manages the Institute’s two entrepreneurship programs, Biomimicry Launchpad and the Ray of Hope Prize competition. Prior to joining the Institute, Michelle designed, marketed and led, expedition cruises to remote corners of the world as Director of Expedition Development for Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic. She has also worked as a naturalist guide in the temperate rainforests of Southeast Alaska and desert islands of the Gulf of California, Central America, and across the Indo-Pacific. Introducing people to the natural world, helping them understand the interconnectedness of living systems, and inspiring them to value a healthy planet has been her lifelong passion. Living and working aboard boats for 15 years, she and her husband sailed their 38 ft. sailboat from the Pacific Northwest to New Zealand via California, Mexico, French Polynesia and Tonga. Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology, and a master’s degree in marine biology.

Gretchen Hooker

Interim Director of Youth Education

Missoula, Montana
Gretchen manages the Youth Design Challenge and the development of educational resources that serve the Institute’s multiple 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.

Meghan Madden

Development Director

Seattle, Washington
Meghan directs activities to develop, implement, and coordinate fundraising for all of the Institute’s programs, including grants, corporate partnerships, individual gifts, and strategic partnerships.  Most recently, Meghan worked on government relations at Rainforest Alliance, an international environmental nonprofit focused on sustainable agriculture, forestry, and climate change. Prior to that, she supported institutional fundraising efforts at the Grameen Foundation, working on agriculture, health, and financial services for the world’s poorest communities.  She has a BA from the University of Oregon and an MA from Georgetown University.

Alexandra Ralevski

Director of AskNature

Seattle, Washington
Alex is the Director of AskNature, where she manages the Institute’s library of biological strategies and nature-inspired innovations. Her love for biology and passion for design thinking drives her to educate the public on the creative potential of nature and its applications. Prior to joining the Institute, she was engaged in translational research in plant biology and neuroscience as a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. She discovered biomimicry during her research and became passionate about using nature-inspired design to solve sustainability challenges in academia and industry. Alex holds a BSc from McGill University, an MSc from Concordia University, and a PhD from the University of Cologne and Yale University.

Megan Schuknecht

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.

Jared Yarnall-Schane

Entrepreneurship Director

State College, Pennsylvania
Jared brings his entrepreneurial background & startup coaching experience to the Biomimicry Institute to lead the LaunchPad program, with a goal of commercializing biomimicry innovations. Before joining the Institute, Jared developed and ran programs with Penn State University’s incubator and accelerator programs and was the Program Director of Thought For Food. He has directly worked with hundreds of social impact startups from around the world, helping them to secure a combined $20+ million in funding along the way. Jared was an initial founding member of GreenTowers (now known as BEEcosystem), and started a small food preservation company in rural Kenya (failed). He has an Executive Certificate in Social Impact Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State University.

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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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