2016 EcoHour Speakers

Monika Thiele; January 2016

Programme Officer, United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office North America

Monika ThieleMonika Thiele joined the United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office for North America (RONA) as a Programme Officer in 2010. She originally lead RONA’s work on marine debris and co-organized the 5th International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, HI (March 2011) with UNEP GPA and NOAA. Through 2013, she lead RONA’s contributions to the Spain-UNEP LifeWeb Marine Mammal Corridors project utilizing marine spatial planning tools to promote transboundary management of migratory marine mammals.

In her current capacity, Ms. Thiele liaises with U.S. and Canadian government agencies, civil society organizations, and other UNEP partners to advance support of UNEPs Programme of Work. Specifically, she builds support for UNEP’s activities on Illegal Trade of Wildlife, Arctic Conservation, Biodiversity, and Oceans. Since 2011, Ms. Thiele has been coordinating the production of an animated video series called “Two Minutes on Oceans with Jim Toomey” which helps to educate the North American public about pressing ocean issues. From 2011-2014, Ms. Thiele served as the North American Focal Point for the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), helping to increase understanding about CMS and build support for CMS species activities globally. Previously, Ms. Thiele worked for the World Wildlife Fund-US and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A native of Fort Kent, Maine, Ms. Thiele has a Masters in Marine Affairs from the University of Washington, School of Marine Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Environmental Science from Colby College in Maine.
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Nicole Steele; February 2016

Executive Director, GRID Alternatives

Nicole Steele, Executive Director of GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic, has over 10 years of experience in the environmental and energy fields in the areas of urban planning, grassroots advocacy, policy development, program design and implementation as well as many other disciplines. Nicole manages the Mid-Atlantic office and works with policymakers at the local and state levels to help them develop and implement inclusive solar policies. Prior to joining GRID Alternatives, she managed the Alliance to Save Energy’s Policy team’s development program and budget, external communications, and high profile initiatives including energy efficiency in city planning and the Alliance’s Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy. Nicole was also the Director of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, a 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) stimulus program, for Loudoun County, Virginia. While in that position she designed, commissioned and implemented twelve separate energy-related projects ranging from capital improvements to feasibility studies to education and outreach programs. Prior to moving into that role, Nicole was a legislative and long-range land use planner for the county. Ms. Steele also has a background in campaign management, grant management and review, state and local policy making, and green building.
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Rachel Buchholz; March 2016

Editor in Chief of the Kids Magazine at National Geographic

As Editor in Chief and Vice President of Kids Magazines and Digital, Rachel Buchholz’s job has included editing stories about ghosts in the White House, approving videos starring skateboarding dogs, testing online games about dung beetles and doing whatever it takes to inspire kids to explore the world they live in.

Buchholz began her career with National Geographic in 2000 as a senior editor with National Geographic World magazine, now National Geographic Kids. Over the years, she has served as special projects editor, managing editor, executive editor and editor for the award-winning National Geographic Kids, the largest children’s magazine in the country with 1.2 million subscribers. In 2007, she was a founding editor for the preschool magazine National Geographic Little Kids, which has won seven Parents’ Choice Gold Awards in a row. During her tenure, Buchholz helped NG Kids magazine readers set nine Guinness World Records. In the process, she talked Cameron Diaz out of her sneakers (Longest Chain of Shoes), took jeans from Ben Stiller (Largest Collection of Clothes to Recycle) and convinced Michelle Obama to do jumping jacks (Most People Doing Jumping Jacks in 24 Hours). In 2015, Buchholz took over leadership for the Kids and Education websites and launched Nat Geo Adventure Pass, a subscription website to help build a kids’ membership program. She continues to guide this new integrated team in producing daily, relevant, audience-first content across Kids and Education.

She is the author of “How to Survive Anything: Shark Attack, Lightning, Embarrassing Parents, Pop Quizzes, and Other Perilous Situations,” which was nominated for a 2012 Children’s Choice Award, as well as “True Love: 24 Surprising Stories of Animal Affection” and “The World Awaits.” Buchholz has appeared on CNN International; Good Morning, America; and local TV stations across the country. She has participated in a viral video about pandas with Jack Black and emceed a stage featuring Bill Nye the Science Guy and They Might Be Giants at the 2014 USA Science and Engineering Festival. Before joining National Geographic, Buchholz was an editor at Boys’ Life magazine in Dallas. Buchholz has a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Texas at Arlington. She lives in Washington, D.C.
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Rebecca Turner; April 2016

Senior Policy and Programs Director, American Forests

Rebecca Turner is Senior Director of Programs and Policy at American Forests. She oversees the formation of the organization’s policy agenda, government relations and external affairs, and advocacy efforts, as well as aids in the development of new programmatic work. She has dedicated more than 15 years to environmental and conservation work. Prior to joining American Forests, Becky was a mediator for The Keystone Center, a nonprofit dispute resolution organization, where she resolved multiparty, multi-issue environmental and natural resource policy and law conflicts. Becky earned a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Juris Doctor from Vermont Law School. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in environmental conservation from the University of New Hampshire.
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Lena Moffitt; May 2016

Sierra Club, Beyond Fossil Fuels Campaign

Lena MoffittLena Moffitt is the director of the Sierra Club’s Dirty Fuels campaign. In 2015, Lena took over responsibility for the Club’s supply-side efforts in moving beyond fossil fuels to a clean energy economy—keeping oil and gas in the ground to protect our wild lands, communities, and climate. This as a top priority for the Sierra Club and a key initiative of the Club’s Our Wild America program. Prior to directing the Dirty Fuels campaign, Lena worked as part of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil program. More recently, she led the National Wildlife Federation’s Climate and Energy Program and worked for the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Clean Energy Works campaign, and Voices for Progress. Growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lena has always had a love for wild places and animals, and has spent her life fighting to protect our planet. She believes deeply in the power of grassroots organizing, having seen the impact that people can have when they are engaged, vocal and willing to stand together to demand change.
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Lydia Avila; June 2016

Executive Director, Energy Action Coalition

lydia_avilaLydia grew up in a working class home in Los Angeles, where she was taught that using your resources responsibly was an obligation to your family, to your community, and to the generations who would come after you. In college Lydia discovered the power of her voice and actions as a student activist fighting extreme student fee hikes. She then spent three years winning coal fights in Texas with the Sierra Club and a few more years in graduate school learning how to help organizations do their work as effectively as possible. Lydia now works to ensure that all youth discover the power of their words and actions and use them to fight for a just transition to the clean energy future we all deserve. When she’s not planning EAC’s next big endeavor, Lydia can be found attempting to master a sport she hasn’t played since she was nine, reading a book from her enormous “to read” list, or watching back-to-back episodes of her new favorite show.
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Patty Rose; July 2016

Executive Director, Greenspace, NCR

Patty Rose GreenspacePatty Rose is an experienced change-agent, with expertise in the fields of sustainability, education and organizational development. She has served as the leader of many start-up organizations and innovation projects, such as: Executive Director of Greenspace, NCR; strategy, marketing and organizational development consultant for clients such as the NYU School of Law and Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the Chicago Science Group; co-founder of Mindsai Productions, a multi-media edutainment production company; Special Assistant to the Executive Director for the St. Louis regional transportation and development agency during the development and implementation of their new light rail system; Assistant Director for Santa Monica Community College’s experimental College of Design, Art and Architecture; and Executive Director of Student Pugwash, a nonprofit focused on college student engagement at the intersection of science, technology and ethics.

Among her accomplishments are: the Washington, DC Green Building Act of 2006, which has catalyzed sustainability policies and practices throughout the city’s buildings and economy; innovative learning experiences for students and professionals: conferences on ethics in science and technology for college students; multimedia explorations designed for children in Discovery Communication’s first Animal Planet CDROM; and transformative trainings in green design and construction for building professionals from building maintenance engineers to architects, contractors and real estate developers. As a leader that has had experience in the nonprofit, business, public and academic sectors, Patty has been able to navigate agendas, vocabularies and comfort zones to build powerful partnerships between and among organizations for mutual benefit.

Patty has a Bachelor’s of Arts in architecture from the University of California at Berkeley.
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Emily Franc; September 2016

Riverkeeper, Anacostia Riverkeeper

Emily comes to the Anacostia Riverkeeper with extensive experience and background in environmental research, policy, and advocacy accumulated through years spent working on Capitol Hill for a prominent member of the House Energy and Environment Committee, as well as for various international agencies and non-profits including the United Nations Environment Program Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP), The Ocean Foundation (TOF), and Qatar Foundation International (QFI). She also has broad executive level experience in non-profit management, strategic development and effectiveness analytics, communications, and fundraising.

In 2014, Emily was on assignment for six months in Jamaica with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), where she focused on trash issues in the Caribbean. While with UNEP, she revised and updated the United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Action Plan for Marine Litter Management in the Wider Caribbean Region, 2014 (RAPMaLi), a comprehensive Toolkit for intergovernmental, municipal, and community-based action for improving the health of their rivers.

Emily is an avid explorer and has traveled throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. She has participated in riverbank cleanups and wetlands restoration projects in Washington, D.C., California, Florida, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Zambia, Jamaica and Qatar. A native Marylander, Emily enthusiastically supports the mission of Anacostia Riverkeeper and is looking forward to advancing the organization’s goals.
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Caitlin Wall; September 2016

MD/DC Policy Director, Potomac Conservancy

Caitlin joined the Conservancy in April 2016 as director of the Conservancy’s policy efforts in Maryland and the District of Columbia. She previously worked at Marstel-Day, LLC, leading policy efforts to develop compatible use partnerships between military installations and communities. Caitlin earned a BA from the College of William and Mary in public policy and environmental studies and an MA from Colorado State University in political science. She serves as a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a Senior Fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program, and enjoys hiking, camping, yoga, and triathlons.
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Anya Schoolman; October 2016

Founder and Executive Director, Community Power Network

Anya Schoolman is the founder and Executive Director of Community Power Network, a national nonprofit that helps communities build and promote local renewable energy projects and policies.

In 2007, Anya found Mt. Pleasant Solar Co-op with her son Walter after helping 45 neighbors in her Mount Pleasant neighborhood go solar. Anya then went on to foster the creation of 11 other solar co-ops in DC, eventually forming a city-wide organization DC Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN) to make solar accessible and affordable to all Washington DC residents. Since 2011, in her role as President of DC SUN, Anya has helped more than 700 homeowners in Washington, DC go solar and passed numerous pieces of critical solar legislation.

In 2011, Anya also founded Community Power Network (CPN), a national organization that supports grassroots, local, state, and national organizations working to build, and promote locally based renewable energy projects & policies. CPN has provided technical assistance to hundreds of citizens and organizations around the country. Community Power Network is currently supporting state projects in Washington, D.C. (DC SUN), Maryland, (MD SUN), Virginia (VA SUN), West Virginia (WV SUN), and Ohio (OH SUN), as well as policies and project models for bringing solar to low-income households. In 2009 Ms. Schoolman was honored as the MDV-SEIA Solar Champion, as well as one of CALFinder’s 10 Amazing Activists in the Name of Solar. In April 2014, Ms. Schoolman was selected as one of 10 White House Champions of Change for Solar Deployment for her groundbreaking work to deploy solar in the National Capital region.

Anya holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Barnard College and a Master’s Degree in International Affairs, with a concentration in International Environmental Policy and Management, from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. In her previous work, Anya served as a consultant for grant makers and organizations on environmental strategy. She also spent nearly 10 years working for the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of the Interior.
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Danielle Nkojo; November 2016

Program Analyst for Waste and Materials Management, DC Department of Energy and the Environment

Danielle Nkojo is a Program Analyst for Waste and Materials Management in the Urban Sustainability Administration at the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE). In this role, Danielle works collaboratively with other government agencies, residents, businesses and institutions to promote sustainable consumption and increases waste diversion in the District of Columbia. Previous to joining DOEE, Danielle founded Perfectly Good, a company that supports participants in the “Informal Waste Diversion Economy” through an online resale marketplace management tool. Danielle was the Commercial Recycling Manager for Arlington County, Virginia where she led a team of Recycling Specialists to manage a countywide program to promote sustainable waste management practices (principally recycling) among the local commercial and multifamily sector. Prior to joining Arlington County, Danielle was a partner in DKH Property Consultants, a local environmental consulting Company that provided subject-matter expertise to local government sector clients for regulatory compliance with environmental policies and procedures. Danielle has also served as DC’s Brownfields Program Manager and as an Assistant Regional Counsel at the US Environmental Protection Agency. Danielle holds a B.A. in Economics from Pace University and is a proud alumna of Vermont Law School.
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Shanna Gidwani; November 2016

Senior Marketing Manager, Goodwill of Greater Washington

Shanna Gidwani is the Senior Marketing Manager at Goodwill of Greater Washington where she is responsible for the management and implementation of marketing strategies for Goodwill’s business and mission operations including retail, contracts, fundraising, and workforce development. Shanna’s responsibilities also extend to the Goodwill Excel Center adult public charter school. She is well versed in a variety of marketing vehicles including traditional media, experiential, and special events, with a heavy emphasis on digital, mobile, and social media. She has been with the agency since 2008 after completing an internship with Goodwill. Shanna’s award winning creativity and strategy are well known and highly respected throughout the Washington D.C. business community. She played a key role in helping Goodwill win $7,500 for Best Co-Branded Campaign during the United Way of the National Capital Area’s (2013) Do More 24 campaign and was awarded a Gold Award from Association Media & Publishing (in 2014) for “Media Innovation – Social Media Strategy for the DC Goodwill Fashionista”. For two years Shanna led the Mid-Atlantic Goodwill Industries Coalition social media sub-committee. She also volunteers at her church, McLean Bible Church, as their social media manager. Shanna earned her BS in Public Administration from George Mason University.
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Brea Ellis; November 2016

Blogger, What I Wore: tip to toe!

WHAT I WORE: tip to toe! is a glimpse inside the life (and closet) of Brea Ellis, a third generation native Washingtonian with a background in Communications and Retail Buying. Posts include her daily outfits, which serve to encourage women to shop their closets, rethink the way they style themselves and to live their ordinary lives in extraordinary clothing! Brea has appeared in the Style Section of both the Washington Post and New York Times. Follow along on all social media channels @breaellis and on the blog at WhatIWoreTipToToe.blogspot.com
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