DC EcoWomen is an exclusively volunteer-run organization. We are who we are today thanks to our Executive Board members and the help of volunteers beyond our Board. Learn about the committees that make DC EcoWomen a well-oiled machine and the rock-star women who run them.

DC EcoWomen Board


Membership Committee

Communications Committee

Professional Development Committee

Programs Committee

Alyssa Ritterstein; President

Alyssa Ritterstein is a driven communications professional, with a proven track record of creating and executing successful communications and media relations strategies for nonprofit organizations, associations and a public relations firm. Her career spans various climate, energy and environmental communications work. She was previously a press secretary at Earthjustice, the nation’s original and largest nonprofit environmental law organization, where she develops and leads communication plans around current case work. Prior to Earthjustice, Alyssa was a press secretary at Green For All, an organization focused on building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty, where she managed media relations and public relations projects. She has also worked at Tigercomm, a leading cleantech public relations firm, and the Solar Energy Industries Association, the national trade association for the solar industry. Alyssa earned her M.A. in Public Communications and B.A. in Psychology from American University. She loves to read and write. She enjoys watching the latest blockbuster and finding new restaurants to try in DC’s bustling food scene. Find her on LinkedIn.

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Maia Foster;  Treasurer

Maia is environmentalist and concert enthusiast who recently moved into the downtown area. While a new DC resident, she has lived in the DMV for the past 10 years (but her hometown is Nashville, Tennessee!). Currently, she is the Program Associate for The Climate Leadership Council, an environmental think tank that advocates for a carbon dividends policy. She graduated in 2017 from the University of Virginia with a degree in Economics and Environmental Thought & Practice. She enjoys visiting DC museums, finding the best coffee shops in the city, and watching shows at the Kennedy Center.

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Stacy Knight; Vice President,  Membership

Stacy Knight is a marine scientist with expertise in fisheries sustainability, ecosystem restoration, environmental science, and conservation biology. Much of her career has been in front facing science and has involved extensive interaction with the public. She has worked for Walt Disney World as an Aquatic Researcher studying coral ecosystems and fish health and has rehabilitated hundreds of injured sea turtles while working for Sea World’s rescue program. She has experience writing technical reports for Seafood Watch and as an Adjunct Professor in environmental science. Stacy grew up in Des Moines, IA and moved to Orlando, FL for graduate school and a career in marine science. She recently moved to D.C. to apply her diverse science skills to the environmental policy arena, and currently, works for the Consortium for Ocean Leadership on the Political Affairs team. She is passionate about science literacy and enjoys making science and policy understandable to the public, politicians, and scientists. A science nerd at heart, she loves nature, the ocean, and photography. In her free time, she can be found enjoying local restaurants, sampling craft beers, and taking landscape photographs.

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Nicole Batemen;  Membership

Nicole Bateman is a true west coaster, spending most of her life in Boise, Idaho and Seattle, Washington. From an early age, she spent many of her days outside hiking, camping, and swimming in lakes across Washington and southern and central Idaho. After a couple eye-opening courses on environmental policy and climate change during her senior year at Seattle University, Nicole realized protecting those natural places and the people who enjoy them through equitable and science-based environmental policy would be her lifelong passion. This interest took her to the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, at the University of Washington, where she earned a Masters in Public Administration with a specialization in Environmental Policy and Management. Shortly after completing her MPA, she moved to D.C. to join the research team at the Brookings Institution. After moving to D.C., Nicole found a welcoming and passionate community in D.C. EcoWomen and is excited to have a leadership role nurturing that community for existing and future members. Outside of Brookings and DC EcoWomen, Nicole loves to explore D.C., travel, read, and root (from afar) for the Seattle Sounders. You can find her on LinkedIn.

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Ivory Clarke;  Membership

Ivory Clarke is a proud Texan who currently resides in Washington, DC. She is an avid explorer of the natural world, which was fostered by her many summers spent camping. She enjoys traveling the world off the beaten path and exploring various cultures and foods. In her professional life, Ivory is an Associate Program Officer at the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). She has been with the Academies for more than 5 years supporting a range of projects focusing on environmental health, risk assessment and toxicology, one-health initiatives, education and population health. Currently, she co-directs the NAM Culture of Health Program, a multiyear collaborative effort funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to identify strategies to create and sustain conditions that support equitable good health for all those living in America. She previously directed the Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth through Age 8: Pathways to Implementation project. In this role she worked directly with state teams to develop actionable implementation plans, grounded in the science and recommendations from the 2015 IOM Report Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A unifying Foundation. Prior to joining the Academies, Ivory was a high school math and science instructor in Atlanta, GA. While teaching she was very active in improving educational outcomes for her students and enhancing their potential as future innovators through interactive learning and challenging curriculum development. Ivory nurtures her passion for fostering improved educational and health outcomes for all Americans through the lens of environmental health and sustainability through her professional and volunteer activities. She holds a master’s degree in Environmental Planning and Management from the Johns Hopkins University, Whiting School of Engineering and received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a focus on economics and policy from the University of Chicago.

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Sierra Dakin Kuiper,  Membership

Sierra grew up in Alberta, Canada — where the mountains meet the prairies. She is passionate about community-based conservation, rural livelihoods, and outdoor recreation. A public outreach and development professional, Sierra currently works as a Senior Associate on the environment team at Waxman Strategies. Prior to Waxman, Sierra worked for five years as a Park Ranger in the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, generating impactful messaging and inspiring thousands of visitors to connect with the area’s rich cultural and natural resources on ranger-led programs. She has also served as a Community Advisor for Harvard University’s Graduate Commons Program and a Board Fellow on Land’s Sake Board of Directors, a community farm in Massachusetts. Sierra holds a research-based master’s in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from Brandeis University. For her graduate studies, she conducted fieldwork to explore the social dimensions of land management practices related to tribal sovereignty, national park creation, and large landscape conservation in the Northern Rockies. She enjoys gardening, rock climbing, fly-fishing, and skiing.

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Jenn Perron;   Vice President,  Communications

Jennifer Perron has worked on climate change for over a decade— in non-profits, and in academia, and currently at a think tank. She has a strong background in the science & policy dimensions of global climate change, and holds a Master’s in Environmental Policy from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, and a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science. She also serves as the Director of the Discussion Group Program for Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. Her areas of interest include U.S. and international climate policy and the UN climate negotiations, linkages between countries’ national climate targets and international development goals, stakeholder engagement and civil society access in climate policy decision-making, and the role of networks in advancing multilateral environmental governance processes. She has conducted social science research on urban climate change adaptation and adaptive capacity, explored the uptake of scientific information on climate impacts by agricultural decision-makers, examined the effects of Latin American climate mitigation strategies on livelihoods, tracked the UN climate negotiations, and written on climate policy, finance, sustainable land use, and food security. Originally from Vermont, Jenn enjoys camping, kayaking, yoga, gardening, travel, & meditation. She wishes she had a bigger garden, and escapes to the ocean every chance she gets. You can find her on LinkedIn.

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Nikita Naik;  Communications

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Nikita has been living in Washington, DC for over five years. She is currently a senior researcher at Food & Water Watch, where she works on climate and energy issues and advocates for clean air and renewable energy. Her prior experiences include working as a consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council and as a researcher for Beyond Pesticides on issues ranging from particulate matter pollution to pesticide residues on food. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Emory University and a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in environmental health sciences from U.C. Berkeley. Nikita loves going to museums, reading, writing and drawing, and cooking in her free time. You can find Nikita on LinkedIn.

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Erin Powell;  Communications

Erin is a digital strategist and communications professional with nine years of experience, writing, editing, creating digital campaigns, and producing multimedia for nonprofits and media outlets. She is passionate about wildlife conservation, environmental education, social justice, diversity and inclusion, and mental health. She is currently the digital and social media strategist at IFAW, a conservation and animal welfare organization, where she leads global social media marketing and develops a wide range of digital strategies, policies, and content. Erin has an MA in International Media from American University and a BA in Global Affairs concentrating in International Development from George Mason University. For her master’s capstone thesis, she conducted field research in Namibia on human-wildlife conflict and the use of wildlife conservation as a sustainable tool for human economic development, which she developed into a multimedia journalism project. In her spare time, she volunteers as a mentor with BEST Kids, a nonprofit that empowers youth in foster care to build better futures. She enjoys hiking, exploring, wellness, and spending time with her chocolate lab mix, Ruby. You can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Emilie Karrick Surrusco;  Communications 

Emilie has spent the past two decades as a journalist, speechwriter and communications strategist. She has written for several progressive leaders and served as a senior speechwriter in the Obama administration. She also spent five years as the communications director for Alaska Wilderness League, where she helped spearhead efforts to successfully keep Shell out of the Arctic Ocean. She currently runs her own communications firm – Ellsworth Media Group – where she works with Earthjustice and other eco-minded clients to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and efforts to transition to clean energy. She earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Goucher College and a degree with honors in Political Studies and Asian Studies from Pitzer College. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband, three children and two dogs. She is a proud DC native and avid women’s soccer fan. You can find her at www.ellsworthmediagroup.com.

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Sarah Weber;  Communications

Sarah is a native of the Adirondack region of Upstate New York, but has been living in DC for the majority of the last decade. She is a strategic environmental communications professional with a B.A. in Journalism and History from American University and an M.S. in Environmental Conservation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Beginning in August 2019, she will be enrolling at George Mason University to start her Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy. Currently, she leads communications and marketing at the Society for Conservation Biology and has previously worked at World Resources Institute (WRI) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in communications. Sarah is an enthusiastic amateur baker who experiments with different recipes whenever she’s not traveling or spending time with her dogs.

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Claire Jordan;   Co-Vice President,  Professional Development

Claire got her start as an environmental advocate from spending her childhood summer and winter breaks in Hayward, Wisconsin, exploring the isolated wooded areas surrounding her family’s cabin and out on the lake. Originally from Chicago, Claire’s passion for environmental justice has taken her all over the globe and in and out of different intersecting environmental issues. She started her education studying plastic contamination of oceans and the impacts on sea turtle habitats, which brought her to food systems and food packaging. Claire holds a Bachleor’s of Science from Michigan State University in environmental science and women’s studies, where she focused on the intersections of social justice and agriculture. Since moving to DC, Claire has been actively involved in the local politics and is excited to continue that with DC EcoWomen. Claire currently works as a Library Associate for the DC Public Library and is excited to pursue a career as a librarian to continue her love of community-based solutions to environmental issues. Claire loves to read, drink tea, ride her bike, cook, and hang out with furry friends. You can catch her at the Petworth Public Library or hanging out at the arboretum.

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Jessica Marx;   Co-Vice President,  Professional Development

Tar Heel born and bred, Jessica has lived in the DC metro area for the past 6+ years. She currently works as an Associate Program Officer at the National Academy of Medicine where she provides support for initiatives focused on improving health for all. Prior to this role, she served as the research program manager at SESYNC, an environmental research center that brings together scientists and policymakers to tackle social and environmental issues through synthesis research. She has also worked for organizations focused on water management, natural resources, and conservation, as well as coexistence programming in the Middle East. Jessica holds a BA in Anthropology from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master’s degree in Human Ecology: Culture, Power, and Sustainability from Lund University. In Sweden, she gained a deep appreciation for bike-commuting, composting, advanced recycling systems, and people-centric rather than car-centric cities. She is passionate about social and environmental justice, and is interested in the social dimensions of environmental change and sustainability and how communities can be included in decision-making processes. She enjoys baking, DC theater, BBC crime dramas, and buying more books than she can possibly read. Find her on LinkedIn.

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Elizabeth Schuster;  Professional Development

Elizabeth Schuster is the Energy Policy Manager for the Climate & Energy program at Food & Water Watch. She advocates for energy and water issues.

Elizabeth Schuster is the Energy Policy Manager for the Climate & Energy program at Food & Water Watch. She advocates for energy and water issues. She is a licensed attorney in the District of Columbia, New York and Florida, and previously worked as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, where she represented seniors, children, disabled and the impoverished in state court.

She holds a B.B.A. from Loyola University in Maryland, a J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law, and an LL.M. in law and government with a specialization in environmental law and policy from American University Washington College of Law. She can be reached at eschuster(at)fwwatch.org.

Follow @LizSchusterFWW

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Darya Minovi,  Professional Development

Darya is a DC native (Ok, Arlington native) who is passionate about the the intersection of environmental conservation and public health, with a specific interest in environmental justice, climate resilience, and food systems. Her love of nature was sown by summers camping, hiking the Billy Goat Trail, and traveling, but her decision to spend her life as an environmental advocate was sparked by watching An Inconvenient Truth (yes, really) as a child. Darya currently advocates for state and local policies to improve healthy food access at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Prior to this, she lived in Portland, OR (west coast, best coast), working at a non-profit that delivers health care and restores rain forests in Indonesian Borneo. Darya graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2014 with a degree in Environmental Policy and Public Health, and her received her Master of Public Health from Harvard University in 2019. When she’s not lecturing her family about going zero waste, you can find Darya at the farmers market, spending hours in coffee shops, or trying to keep up with her boyfriend on jogs around the city.

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Melissa Lembke;  Vice President of Programs

Leaving her Midwest roots, Melissa journeyed to Washington DC after studying at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. In addition to her passion for the environment, Melissa is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP). She currently works at the International Dairy Foods Association as the Director of Programs and Partnerships. Throughout her career, Melissa has worked at a handful of environmental organizations, an international law firm, and some of DC’s most icon venues including Union Station and the Folger Shakespeare Library. She has served on the Programs committee of the DC EcoWomen Board since 2014 and remains motivated to create a community for like-minded professional women in the DC area.

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Julia Goss;  Programs

Julia grew up in St. Louis, Missouri but, like many others in the ocean conservation field from landlocked states, annual trips to the coast inspired her passion to improve the overall health of our oceans. Julia earned a B.S. in biology from Rhodes College and a Masters in Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University. Her interest in international conservation motivated her to obtain a Fulbright scholarship to work for the World Wildlife Fund in Cambodia where she conducted research on the critically endangered Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin population. After working abroad, Julia started at the Pew Charitable Trusts, first on their Global Shark Conservation Program where she advocated for better regulation of the trade in threatened species of sharks. She currently assists other nations create large-scale marine protected areas to safeguard vital ocean spaces and increase the future productivity of their fisheries. Julia’s favorite activities include anything outdoors whether it’s hiking, playing recreational sports, training for triathlons, or if lucky, scuba diving (especially with sharks).

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Erica Meier;  Programs

A tree hugger since childhood, Erica’s interest in environmental protection was inspired by the magical discovery of watching plants, flowers, and fruit grow from a single tiny seed — and the wildlife who shared in the garden bounty, including a rabbit family rooting their home under her backyard shed. In college, Erica studied and engaged in environmental policy interests, narrowed her focus into animal protection advocacy, and has been vegan for over 25 years. Having spent her career working for non-profit animal protection charities, including serving as an animal control officer in DC, Erica is currently the president of Compassion Over Killing. Under her leadership for the past 14 years, the organization has grown into one of the most powerful, national voices for farm animals; going undercover inside factory farms, fighting for animal justice, and promoting plant-based eating. Her passion for turning lawns into gardens still runs strong, and she also nourishes her soul through hiking and other adventures in nature. She lives in Takoma Park with two feline family members.

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Benay Brotman;  Programs

Benay’s connection to conservation stems from strong ties to the San Miguel Mountains of Colorado and to the outdoors she experienced growing up in and around Washington, D.C. While working in higher education and corporate communications, she spent her free time volunteering for environmental causes. Now, she is thrilled to have transitioned her personal interests into purposeful work at The Nature Conservancy and is grateful to spend each day working alongside colleagues driven by a common mission. Prior to TNC, she worked as an account director for Sage Communications, a marketing/PR agency, where she managed marketing communication projects for a variety of non-profit, for-profit, and government clients. There and in previous roles in design and publishing, she developed a particular love of working with creative teams. Originally from Washington, D.C., Benay lived in Colorado, Alaska, New York and Italy before making her way back to her hometown. In her free time, she works at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, volunteers with the Sierra Club DC’s Zero Waste Committee, Circular Economy Working Group, and DC Environmental Film Festival, and loves to travel, try new foods, go forest bathing, and teach others how to compost.

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In back row (left to right): Jessica Marx, Ivory Clarke, Jennifer Perron, Stacy Knight, Emilie Surrusco, Colleen Haley

In front row (left to right): Alyssa Ritterstein, Maia Foster, Benay Brotman, Claire Jordan, Darya Minovi, and Erin Powell


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