December 2021

Amy Dishmanis an NCIDQ certified and a LEED Accredited Professional at BVH Architecture with over 15 years of design experience in education, workplace, healthcare, government, and residential projects. She is a dedicated advocate for the practice of sustainable and evidence-based design with a strong belief that our surroundings have a direct role in our well-being, and our buildings have a direct effect on the health of our environment. She strives to design with empathy, equity, and dignity, putting human needs first in her practice. Jennifer Jorgensen is an assistant professor in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research primarily focuses on rural retail vitality and how small retailers utilize technologies and other resources to survive over time. This topic also involves the investigation of entrepreneurial ecosystems, as well as how to navigate the challenges encountered within the supply chain and retail landscape due to climate change and other types of disruption. Sharon Baum Kuska, Ph.D., P.E., LEED A.P. is Professor of Architecture and Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture. She also serves as Vice President of the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities. In addition, Dr. Kuska is the former recipient of the H. Robert Douglass Distinguished Professorship and the W. Cecil Steward Distinguished Professorship. She teaches classes in the areas of structures, sustainability, women in design, black architects in the US, and mentors thesis students. She is co-author, with Cecil Steward, of two books: Sustainometrics: Measuring Sustainability –Design, Planning, and Administration for Sustainable Living (2011); and the forthcoming Making Sense of Sensible Making: The Red Flag for Design.

November 2021

Brian O’Malley, Associate Dean of Culinary, Hospitality, and Horticulture

Chef O’Malley’s first experience cooking for others was on backpacking trips in Boy Scouts. There he learned the importance of bringing just what you need, cooking it right, feeding as many people as possible, and leaving the campsite better than you found it. This training has served him well on the boards of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, and various other industry organizations. At MCC, he continues to seek ways to integrate sustainability initiatives into the classroom.

Casey Craven, Culinary Lab Technician

10 years of working in the Omaha restaurant community has made Casey keenly aware of the need for increasing the care and attention with which we approach the stewardship of our resources. As the Lab Technician at a culinary school, Casey sees that this work has the chance to impact not only his current employer’s habits, but also impact the decisions made by the future leaders of our community.

Tyler Magnuson, Horticulture Operations Specialist & Culinary Liaison

Tyler Magnuson is the Operations Specialist & Culinary Liaison in the Horticulture, Land Systems and Management program. As the Operations Specialist, Tyler oversees the HLSM production garden, many ornamental and pollinator gardens, and the greenhouse and classroom material organization. Tyler also teaches in the HLSM department classes include Vegetable Production and Fruit Production. Tyler has earned a Bachelors in Sustainable Agriculture from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Prior to working at MCC, Tyler owned and operated a small vegetable production farm in Southwest, Iowa, was a farm manager on various operations including Community Crops in Lincoln and co-founded Big Muddy Urban Farm in Omaha.

October 2021

Leigh Neary, Exist Green

The founder of Exist Green, she came up with the idea for her zero-waste business in Nebraska while working as an engineer in Northern California. The zero-waste establishment sells a variety of environmentally conscious products such as stainless-steel razors, reusable bags, bamboo toothbrushes, and more.  

Dr. Jesse Bell, UNMC’s Water, Climate and Health Program

Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical College is the director of the Water, Climate and Health Program at UNMC and the director of Water, Climate and Health at the University of Nebraska’s Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute. His expertise and research are focused on understanding the impacts of changes in the environment and climate on natural and human processes.

Dawaune Lamont Hayes, founder of NOISE Omaha

An artist, journalist, and designer from Omaha who works at the intersection of visual and performative arts and regenerative futurism. By convening people through the appeal of art, Hayes invites us to imagine what our spaces and places could look like beyond the conventional and extractive design.

Jason Rose, Metro Transit

Communications Manager with Metro Transit in Omaha leads a small team dedicated to engagement strategies. Rose helps oversee public input, coalition building, brand management, and content creation.

September 2021 - Sarah Buckley

Sarah Buckley is a program coordinator for the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum (NSA) and the Nebraska Forest Service. Through Bloom Box, and other NSA programs, she helps gardeners across the state learn how to make their home and community landscapes more sustainable. The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum is a member-based nonprofit that believes fostering grassroots efforts are the best way to fulfill our mission. We plant Nebraska for healthy people, vibrant communities and a resilient environment through educational programing and funding assistance.

May 2021 - Finian Makepeace

Finian Makepeace is a renowned presenter, media creator, and thought leader in the field of regenerative agriculture and soil health. His dedication to Kiss the Ground’s mission of “inspiring participation in global regeneration, starting with soil”, has motivated him to empower people around the world to become confident advocates for this growing movement. Finian has worked with leading experts, farmers, and businesses to bring the ideas of regenerative agriculture and soil health as hopeful solutions to the world’s problems in clear, comprehensible and thought-provoking formats to audiences everywhere. His “calling” is that people experience being a part of making history” and he believes that with enough new advocates promoting the ancient wisdom and new science of regenerative agriculture and ecosystem restoration we can heal our planet.

April 2021

Ted Grudin holds a PhD from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management at U.C. Berkeley. Ted’s academic work revolves around Environmental History and Environmental Philosophy; his research focuses on how cosmologies of “nature” have been conceived and reproduced in American society. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Santa Clara University and recently published, How White Supremacy Caused the Climate Crisis. 

Dawaune Lamont Hayes is an artist, journalist, and designer from Omaha who works at the intersection of visual and performative arts and regenerative futurism. By convening people through the appeal of art, Hayes invites people to imagine what our spaces and places could look like beyond the conventional and extractive design around us. From this talk you will learn about a Regenerative Agenda for Omaha, Biophilic Urbanism, and Community-led Design that will shape what our collective can become in an effort to live beyond survival. Bring all of your crazy ideas, we want to hear them.

March 2021 - Amanda Gangwish

Amanda Gangwish is a Nebraska native with degrees in biology and environmental studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her passion for the natural world has taken her across the world, from researching the coral reef in Australia to studying bats on the Blue Ridge Mountains. Currently, Amanda serves as the Program Director for Conservation Nebraska and Nebraska Conservation Voters, a nonprofit based out of Lincoln that is dedicated to educating Nebraskans across the state about local conservation and environmental issues.

February 2021 - Craig Moody

Craig Moody is a small business owner, community builder, and chair of the OPPD Board of Directors. His personal mission is to catalyze large-scale, systemic change for the better. Over the last four years, he has collaborated with his board colleagues and OPPD staff to create a future for our city that is more sustainable and innovative while keeping electricity affordable. At Verdis, Moody is responsible for the firm’s day-to-day operations. He is uniquely qualified to help organizations make decisions that are good not only environmentally, but economically. Tune in to learn more about how Craig Moody got inspired to be so engaged in the community and motivated to make a difference!

October 2020 - Kate Bailey

Kate Bailey is the Policy and Research Director for Eco-Cycle, based in Boulder, Colorado. Eco-Cycle is one of the oldest and largest non-profit recycling organizations in the world and has 44 years of hands-on experience with nearly every aspect of the recycling stream, including hauling materials, MRF operations, education and outreach programs, local and state legislation, advocacy, and hard-to-recycle material collections. Kate is a national expert in creating community infrastructure, policies and programs to reduce waste and increase recycling, and has experience working with a wide range of stakeholders all along the supply chain to advance a circular economy.

September 2020 - UNL's Sustainability & Resilience Master Plan Discussion

Executive Council and Co-chairs of UNL’s Chancellor’s Commission on Environment, Sustainability and Resilience



Prof. Wentz served on the Construction Management faculty in the College of Engineering for 25 years until being named an Emeritus Professor in 2018. He is also a very active volunteer within ASHRAE, where he has served as the Nebraska Chapter President for 1997-1998. He also served as Director and Regional Chair for Region IX of ASHRAE and was inducted into the Region IX Hall of Honor in 2005. ASHRAE also elected Tim a Fellow of the Society in 2005. Tim recently served as Society President in 2016-2017 and launched the Society theme for that year ‘Adapt Today to Shape Tomorrow’.


Adam Wagler, Ph.D., is an associate professor of advertising and public relations and director of undergraduate programs at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. He is an Adobe Education Leader, Apple Distinguished Educator, Student Success Fellow, and currently participating in the FLAIR program at UNL. Adam teaches design, development, and strategy courses using both interactive and traditional media.


Linda is a mechanical engineer and earth scientist. Her interest in sustainability started as a kid when she found any reason possible to be outside camping, biking, and hiking – and noticed the natural environment starting to change.  In the past she has worked for Boeing and the U.S. Geological Survey, and has taught geology and atmospheric science at Washburn University, and geology at UNL. For the last five years she has been helping UNL save energy by working as an Energy Engineer for Facilities.  Linda enjoys photography, camping, hiking and being a sci-fi nerd in her free time, and she plans to continue working in sustainability to help “save the world” and make people’s lives better.   


Dr. Nashleanas is a member of the School of Global and Integrative Studies Faculty, the Marquis Top Educator of 2020, 2018 National Council for Geographic Education National Distinguished Teacher for Higher Education, Lead Table Leader for the Advanced Placement for Human Geography evaluation team, Co-chair of the Teaching and Learning Action Team and member the Executive Council, Chancellor’s Commission on Environment, Sustainability, and Resilience. She has made numerous presentations at UNL’s Fall Symposia for Teaching and Learning as well as the Spring Symposia for Innovation and Pedagogy.  She is editor of the Human Geography Reader, and her most recent publication is as contributing co-author in Stanley Brunn (ed.), Handbook of the Changing World Language Map published in 2020 by Springer Forlag.


Dave Gosselin is the Director of Environmental Studies and a Professor of Earth Science in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  He also as the Director of the UNL Sustainability Initiative and co-chairs the Chancellor’s Environment, Resilience, and Sustainability Commission. He has authored or co-authored over 125 publications that include two books, refereed journal articles, non-refereed abstracts, and contract reports.


Prabs is UNL’s first sustainability officer. His ideas on sustainability are shaped by his activism days and being embedded in Eastern philosophy. In his free time, Prabs likes to work in his vegetable garden and play pickleball.

April 2020 - Jason Carbaugh

Jason Carbaugh is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at Hastings College. He completed a B.S. in Biology at Purdue University-Fort Wayne, a M.N.S in Biology at Southeast Missouri State University, and a Ph.D. in Entomology at Texas A&M University. He has taught at several higher education institutions before coming to Hastings College.

He is interested in the behavior and ecology of insects, especially of ants. Other interests include the impacts of invasive species on ecosystems, along with using macroinvertebrates as bioindicators to determine the health of aquatic and terrestrial habitats. He enjoys educating others about the diversity of animals and environmental issues.

March 2020 - Peter Berthelsen

Peter Berthelsen in a field of flowersPeter currently serves as the Partnership Director for The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund and provides consulting services for wildlife and pollinator habitat needs through Conservation Blueprint, LLC.   He previously spent over 29 years working with the Pheasants Forever Inc., starting as the Regional Wildlife Biologist and finishing as the Director of Habitat Partnerships. Prior to employment with Pheasants Forever, his work experience included employment with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in North Dakota, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the U.S. Forest Service in Michigan. He graduated with his B.S. in Wildlife from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1985 and then a M.S. in Wildlife Science from Texas Tech University in 1989. He is a steering committee member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition, Monarch Joint Venture, Monarch Collaborative, Boundless Impact Investing and the InSPIRE 2.0: Innovative Site preparation and Impact Reductions on the Environment committee. He was a recipient of the 2014 ‘Hoopingarner Award’ presented by the American Beekeeping Federation and the 2011 ‘Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award’ presented by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign. 

February 2020 - Frank Franciosi

Frank FranciosiFrank has spent over 27 years working with residuals management and composting both in operations management as well as sales and marketing. In 1993, he started North Carolina’s first source separated organics composting facility.

As past principal of Akkadia Consulting, Frank provided professional consulting services on projects of animal waste management, biosolids, coal ash residuals, composting of industrial residuals, product development and marketing.

He has facilitated the turnkey start-up of award winning composting facilities, taking them from concept to feasibility to operational, overseeing permitting, equipment selection, hiring and training of personnel, as well as the development and execution of the product marketing plan.

Frank also managed the Novozymes’ Nature’s GREEN-RELEAF™ composting facility from 2003-2015. In 2014, Frank was the recipient of the Hi Kellogg Award for displaying outstanding service to the US composting industry over a period of many years. He has a BS in Plant and Soil Sciences from West Virginia University.

December 2019 - Crystal Chissell

Crystal Chissell is an operations and governance specialist, working to champion diverse and collaborative leadership for a regenerative and beautiful future on Earth.

As Vice President of Operations & Engagement at Project Drawdown, Crystal draws on her deep experience and interdisciplinary background in local and state government, law, business and social equity to nourish a culture of excellence at Project Drawdown and to facilitate partnerships that move the world toward climate solutions. She also speaks publicly about Project Drawdown and serves as an expert resource for news media, interest groups and advocacy organizations.

Prior to Project Drawdown, Crystal was a practicing attorney, advising the City of Baltimore and the Maryland Environmental Service. She also served as Mayor of the Town of Highland Beach, Maryland. Crystal holds a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law, an M.S. in Environmental Science from Johns Hopkins University, an M.B.A. from the University of San Francisco, and a B.A. in Journalism from Howard University.

November 2019 - Graham Christensen

Graham Christensen PhotoGraham P. Christensen was born in Omaha and grew up nearby on his family’s farm. Graham first opened his eyes to activism during the 1980’s Farm Crisis in which many family farmers were losing their farms. Graham and his brother would often tag along with their parents to Washington DC and across the country during those years in order to better the lives of struggling farmers. This would have a heavy influence on Graham’s life direction.

Graham graduated from Midland Lutheran College in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, and shortly after graduation he started doing political organizing.

Then in 2007, Graham joined Nebraska Farmers Union. While at the Nebraska Farmers Union Graham helped enroll 1.2 million acres into a carbon sequestration program designed to incent farmers and ranchers for storing carbon through scientifically proven agricultural practices. Christensen also worked on agricultural and energy policy at both the State and Federal level while at the Nebraska Farmers Union.

Currently Christensen is the Founder and President of GC Resolve, a Nebraska business that focuses on grassroots community development, mobilization, and education with an emphasis on environment and the creation of sustainable communities. Current projects under GC Resolve include raising awareness about Nebraska’s rising water quality issues, and educating and advocating for a change in the food production system to “regenerative” farming and ranching principles. Just recently Christensen has teamed up with the Regenerative Ag Alliance, who is helping develop the industry side and marketplace for regenerative products including the Tree Range label for regenerative poultry.

Christensen owns and operates a second business GC ReVOLT, a solar and alternative energy development company, and is now the State Secretary and a Director for the Nebraska Farmers Union. Graham is still actively involved in operating Christensen Farms, Inc. with his family.

October 2019 - Randy Smith

Randy Smith photoRandy Smith is a Program Specialist II in the Energy and Assistance Division, where he also coordinates the Clean Diesel Program and the Nebraska Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program that administers funds from the Volkswagen State Trust.  He also serves as the Grants and Training Coordinator for the Air Quality Division. Randy is a graduate of Cornell University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of California Santa Cruz.

April 2019 - Andy Szatko

Andy Szatko PhotoAndy Szatko was born and raised in Ralston, Nebraska.  He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture and a Master’s in Community and Regional Planning, with a specialization in Water Resource Planning and Management. Andy has over 15 years in the landscaping industry as a landscape designer, installer, owner and manager. He currently works for the City of Omaha’s Stormwater Program managing the City’s Stormwater (MS4) Program. He is passionate about understanding, implementing, and educating the public about stormwater management and green infrastructure.

March 2019 - Nico Arcilla

Nico Arcilla PhotoNico is Lead Scientist at the Crane Trust, where she conducts collaborative research on migratory bird ecology and conservation in response to land management and climate change. She has 20 years of experience studying ecological communities and populations and their responses to human impacts. To date, she has coauthored nearly 40 scientific publications on birds and other wildlife in the Americas, Africa and Madagascar, Europe and the Middle East, and the tropical Pacific. Prior to joining the Crane Trust, she held postdoctoral positions in conservation biology and avian ecology at the Smithsonian Institution and Drexel University. She earned her BA from Yale University, MS from Cornell University, and PhD from the University of Georgia.

February 2019 - Carrie Morgan

Carrie MorganCarrie is Sheldon Museum of Art's curator of academic programs. In this role she manages the museum’s education department and liaises with campus partners to connect museum resources with teaching and research. Morgan also contributes to the museum's initiatives and planning as a member of the Senior Artistic Vision Team. Prior to arriving at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in July 2016, Morgan managed the Moriarty Art and Design Library for Lesley University and provided leadership in the provision of arts related library services across campus, particularly around visual literacy. Carrie has also held the positions of Instruction and Outreach Librarian at Sonoma State University; Fine Arts and Architecture Librarian at the University of Utah; and Assistant Curator for the University of California, Berkeley’s Environmental Design Archives. She has taught college art history courses and worked on several exhibitions at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City:  Spring Fashions, 1 BC (1998); Echoes of Eternity: The Egyptian Mummy and the Afterlife (2000); and Winslow Homer and the Critics: Forging a National Art in the 1870s (2001). Her recent publications include co-editing Landscape at Berkeley: The First 100 Years (2013, The UC Regents) and co-authoring “Factors Affecting the Successful Assessment of a Common Assignment for First Year Composition Information Literacy” (2014, College & Undergraduate Libraries 21(2), 193-209). Morgan holds graduate degrees in both library and information science (MLIS, San Jose State University) and art history (MA, University of Missouri-Kansas City).

December 2018 - Anne McCollister & Moe Alahmad

Anne McCollister

Anne McCollister is the executive director of the Nebraska Community Energy Alliance, a 33-member inter-local cooperative agency. McCollister began developing the Nebraska market for electrified transportation in Nebraska in 2009 prior to the availability of electric vehicles in the state. She co-founded the Nebraska Community Energy Alliance (NCEA) formally in 2014 with nine municipalities, writing the first top-rated Nebraska Environmental Trust grant for electric vehicles and ChargePoint charging stations. Since 2014, NCEA has invested over $8M in utility scale solar and EV infrastructure projects with the financial partnership of the Trust.

Moe Alahmad

Moe Alahmad PhotoMoe Alahmad is an Associate Professor with the Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, University of Nebraska—Lincoln. His research interests include electrified transportation, renewable energy systems, and remote energy monitoring. He is currently investigating the economic and environmental impact of battery electric vehicles, and charging infrastructure modeling and planning for electrified transportation.

November 2018 - Stephenie Presseller

Stephenie Presseller Photo

Stephenie Presseller has over 20 years of experience in environmental education program development, management and implementation; sustainability-related engagement, education and outreach; developing and organizing networks; and, professional development training and facilitation for a multiple audiences.

Stephenie is currently serving as the Sustainability Manager for Moraine Valley Community College located in a suburb of Chicago, Palos Hills, Illinois. Since she joined the college in 2009, she has led the college to a leadership position in sustainability among colleges and universities and among community college peers. Stephenie has also served as the South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium, Sustainability Taskforce Chair for the past 3 years. SMHEC Sustainability Taskforce organizes 11 higher education institutions to support one another in furthering sustainability goals. Recently, the Taskforce has taken its lessons learned on sharing resources to the communities each institution serves to make the Chicago Southland the greenest and most resilient region.

Stephenie is a graduate of Santa Fe Community College (AA), Hodges University (BS Interdisciplinary Studies) and American Public University (MPA: Environmental Policy and Organizational Development).

October 2018 - Jamie Carson
Jamie Carson founded Carson+Co Global in Washington, DC, in 2011.

Jamie Carson Photo

The business headquarters were relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2015. Carson leads CCG’s vision, strategy, management team, and business operations and development.
CCG is a federally certified Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) and a social enterprise business with a mission to “advance impact in the environmental sector”. Carson leads the team in implementing this vision into business operations, client work, and company initiatives. CCG founded the environmental community engagement organization, Envirorun in 2012 in Washington, DC, and CCG now manages the national nonprofit with chapters in DC, Lincoln, and Eugene, Oregon. Additionally, Carson leads two other CCG startup projects including an environmental sector decision-making tool, as well as a socioeconomic environmental magazine, a local collaboration with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Carson has advised associations, companies, government offices, nonprofits, and universities on their communication, brand and creative, event, knowledge management, media and public relations, and outreach efforts for more than a decade. Carson has breadth and depth working collaboratively with organizations large and small to integrate smart decision-making and communications strategies, especially related to environment and sustainability. Carson helped lead capacity building, communications and knowledge management activities under the U.S. Agency for International Development project, Climate Change Resilient Development (CCRD) including managing development of the USAID Advancing Climate-Resilient Development Symposium in Washington, DC, in March 2015. Currently, Carson is key personnel under the Abt Associates partnership on the USAID project — Climate Integration Support Facility (CISF). Carson and the team at CCG are leading a Comprehensive Residential and Commercial Recycling Program alongside the City of Lincoln. Carson’s educational background includes degrees in mass communications with environmental emphasis and Spanish, and continued studies under the Climate Change Officer (CCO) certification program. Carson has a vast network of professional relationships in the environmental and sustainability sector, including in national press.
Carson, her husband, and their young son returned to their midwest roots in 2015 after more than six years in DC, and are enjoying being surrounded by their families and the rich culture and quickly growing City of Lincoln.
April 2018 - Joe Higgs

Joe Higgs is the executive director of the Institute for Public Leadership and an organizer for Omaha Together One Community (OTOC). He has worked as an organizer for nearly 30 years in Texas and more recently in Nebraska with several different coalitions of congregations and community organizations. Joe worked with OTOC and Sierra Club leaders as they pushed the OPPD Board to adopt a long-term plan to increase energy from sustainable sources. Rep. Don Bacon joined the bi-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus at the request of OTOC, which is educating legislators about promising strategies like Carbon Fee and Dividend to address climate change. Locally, OTOC leaders are working to shape the City of Omaha’s 10-year garbage contract to minimize the impact that it will have on our environment. 

March 2018 - Daniel Lawse

Daniel Lawse is the Chief Century Thinker and co-owner of Verdis Group, a sustainability consulting firm based in Omaha. He has undergone his own journey of finding personal sustainability while being a sustainability leader. He has journeyed through varying degrees of community engagement and burnout to a dynamic ebb and flow of personal, family and community thriving.

Under Daniel’s leadership, Verdis earned the Greater Omaha Chamber’s 2015 Small Business of the Year award and is working with some of Nebraska’s largest employers, including Omaha Public Schools, Nebraska Medical Center, Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and Methodist Health Systems. 

He is a husband and father of two daughters and one son, an active commuter, meditator and graduate of Creighton University. He thrives in the wilderness, where he has completed two vision quests. He serves on a handful of community boards and committees, including as board chair for Omaha’s bus system, Metro Transit. He earned a Ten Outstanding Young Omahans Award in 2010 and was recognized as an Aspen Institute Environment Scholar in 2012.

Daniel’s passion is cultivating adaptive and resilient solutions for communities and organizations to flourish now and for generations to come. His Gallup strengths are restorative, connectedness, belief, achiever and communication. Mostly though, he is a human being trying to live as authentically as possible.

February 2018 - Jeff Berggren

Jeff Berggren has worked in the renewable energy field since 2007 when he founded Husker Wind Power. With his construction and agricultural background, he has managed multimillion-dollar energy efficiency projects for counties, school districts and municipalities across Nebraska while working as project manager for a large-scale energy service organization.

Jeff currently manages GenPro Energy Solutions projects in Nebraska from Grand Island. He oversees the turn-key development of projects from design through construction and commissioning.  Community projects to date include Lexington, Gothenburg, Aurora, Central City and Fremont. 

Jeff holds a bachelor of arts degree from Hastings College and an MBA from Marylhurst University in Marylhurst, Ore., with concentrations in renewable energy and sustainability. He is a Nebraska native and a lifelong Husker fan.

December 2017 - W. Cecil Steward

W. Cecil Steward is founder, president and CEO of the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities.  A world expert on sustainable development and sustainable design, he is dean emeritus and emeritus professor of architecture and planning at the University of Nebraska College of Architecture in Lincoln.

Steward, a past president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), has served on the boards of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the AIA and on the charter board of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium. He served on the boards of directors of the Asia/Pacific Center for Architecture, national Design Futures Council and steering committee of the United Nations Center for Human Settlements Best Practices Network and its international Dubai Award for Best Practices in Sustainable Development. He is a former member of the boards of the Downtown Lincoln Association, Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission and Lincoln Children’s Museum.

He started the Nebraska Center for Sustainable Construction, which operates Nebraska EcoStores, a recycled building materials store in Lincoln. He has been a member of the Nebraska Capitol Environs Commission where he assisted in the writing of the first design guidelines for urban protection of the Nebraska Capitol building. His initiatives in Nebraska's two largest cities established the Green Omaha Coalition and Lincoln Green by Design, aimed at fostering sustainability policies and practices in city government. During the Obama Administration, Steward served on the national Peer Review Committee for design reviews of selected General Services Administration projects, including buildings within the U.S. Capitol complex and as a member of the Pennsylvania Avenue Design Charrette Team in Washington, D.C. At the international level he served as a member of the National Committee on U.S./China Relations, and the UNESCO-sponsored design charrette team for the Memorial to West African Slave Trade, Dakar, Senegal. Since 1984, he has served as a consultant to the People’s Republic of China in establishing accreditation and licensing for architects. He is involved in several more groups working to promote sustainable development in urban areas throughout the world.

November 2017 - Ben Vogt

Benjamin Vogt has a doctorate in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His writing and photography have appeared in over 60 publications from journals and magazines to anthologies. He writes a native plant gardening column at and speaks nationally on sustainable and wildlife landscapes. He owns Monarch Gardens LLC, a prairie garden design firm, and lives in Lincoln.

October 2017 - Rachel Anderson

Rachel Anderson works in Lincoln as the community landscape specialist of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum. Rachel holds a master of landscape architecture from Iowa State University and a bachelor of science in horticulture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is passionate about how ecological garden design can connect people to the outdoors while protecting our wildlife, water and soil.

April 2017 - Daniel Gompert

Daniel Gompert is an information technology and systems instructor at Central Community College-Hastings. He has been involved in the information technology (IT) Industry as an instructor and consultant for the past 25 years. He has been a member of the Environmental Sustainability Across the Curriculum Committee at CCC as well as being involved in the development of the e-Badge Award Program and other sustainability initiatives. In addition, Daniel has developed and taught courses in green technology, wind energy fundamentals, wind turbines and solar energy. He currently is involved in developing sustainability awareness in students at CCC in various career fields. He earned associate of science degrees from Central Community College in computers and automation and electronics technology. He also has a bachelor of science degree in business information systems from Bellevue University of Omaha. Daniel is a certified Cisco Networking Academy instructor, VMware Academy instructor and EMC Academy instructor.

March 2017 - Michael Helgerson

Michael Helgerson is transportation and data manager at the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) – the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Omaha-Council Bluffs region. In this role, he leads the transportation planning process for the three-county MPO region that includes Douglas, Sarpy and the urbanized portion of Pottawattamie counties. Michael is leading the development of MAPA’s 2050 long-range transportation plan, an effort that is tying the Heartland 2050 Regional Vision to the region’s transportation planning process. In addition to these roles at MAPA, Michael has served as the regional active transportation coordinator for the City of Omaha, advising on the development of the Complete Streets Design Manual and the incorporation of recommendations from MAPA’s regional bicycle-pedestrian master plan. He received his bachelor of science degree in community and regional planning from Iowa State University in Ames and his master of public administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

February 2017 - Dr. Greg Norris

Dr. Gregory Norris is an internationally acclaimed life cycle analysis expert. In addition to serving as the Living Future Institute’s chief scientist, he is the co-director of the Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise within the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health. He has taught life cycle assessment (LCA) at HSPH since the late 1990s. Gregory is also the founder of New Earth, a nonprofit institute developing technologies that enable people across the globe to drive sustainable development “from the bottom up.” Its projects include Earthster, an open source platform for product-level sustainability assessment; Handprinter, which helps people take actions at home and work that more than compensate for their environmental and social “footprints;” and the Social Hot Spots Database, a transparent data source on supply chain impacts and opportunities for improving human rights, working conditions, community and other social impacts.

December 2016 - Milo Mumgaard

Milo Mumgaard is the Executive Director of Legal Aid of Nebraska, the statewide provider of free civil legal aid to low-income Nebraskans, with eight offices across the state.  Legal Aid’s role is to help these Nebraskans get up and out of poverty and achieve stability through the power of the law.  In 2017, Legal Aid will focus on enforcing laws and protecting rights in housing, debt, income, and family security.  Prior to assuming this position in 2015, Mumgaard served as General Counsel and Senior Policy Aide for Sustainability with Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler.  Mumgaard provided legal and policy counsel on, among other things, energy efficiency programs assisting over 3,000 homeowners, new solar and wind renewable energy installations and policy, energy upgrades in municipal operations, neighborhood-based educational campaigns, new bike lanes and public transportation options, expanded local food initiatives, and multiple other efforts to lower carbon emissions and address impacts of climate change in the City of Lincoln.  Mumgaard participated in numerous state and regional initiatives to identify impacts of climate change on municipal operations, and drafted many commentaries and articles on the role of today’s modern city in responding to climate change.  Mumgaard has a BA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a JD from New York University.

November 2016 - Leila Nadir

Leila Nadir is an acclaimed Afghan-American artist and writer investigating evolutions of food, ecology, media, and memory. She is currently Lecturer in Environmental Humanities and Sustainability at the University of Rochester and former Andrew Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Environmental Humanities at Wellesley College. She earned her PhD in English from Columbia University. Her creative practice involves the production of participatory, public situations and social sculptures that facilitate recovery from a cultural memory disorder that she and her collaborator call “industrial amnesia.” Through open-ended, experimental collaborations with the public, their projects bring endangered food and environmental practices into poetic visibility, feeling-perception, and the simple acts of everyday life and have taken form as architectural interventions and urban wilderness tours, net art and public performances, scholarly articles and poetic essays. Her research has earned awards and support from Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Center for Land Use Interpretation, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, K2 Family Foundation, Franklin Furnace Fund, and numerous academic fellowships. Her artworks are in the collections of the Whitney Museum, Walker Art Center, of New Radio & Performing Arts, and Cornell University Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art.

October 2016 - Dr. Prabhakar Shrestha

Dr. Prabhakar Shrestha is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s first full-time employee dedicated to sustainability affairs. Hired soon after his graduation with a doctorate in human dimensions of natural resource sciences in UNL’s School of Natural Resources, Shrestha has been instrumental in setting up the university’s first office of sustainability and leading efforts to lower its carbon footprint. Since his tenure, UNL has gained a silver rating in its sustainability affairs from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and has made it into the Princeton Review's "Guide to 353 Green Colleges" and Sierra Magazine's list of Top Cool Schools 2016. Under his leadership, UNL has seen remarkable progress in its sustainability operations, planning, academics and engagement.

April 2016 - Dave Gosselin

Dave Gosselin is the Director of Environmental Studies and a Professor of Earth Science in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  His research focuses on Earth, environmental, and interdisciplinary education, workforce issues, sustainability education, ground water quality and quantity issues and the application of geochemistry to understanding water systems. His water-related research has focused on using chemistry and basic principles of water flow to understand both basic and applied scientific problems. Examples include assessing: local and state-wide groundwater quality; the physical and chemical variations of groundwater resources; the behavior of trace elements and natural occurring isotopes in groundwater; the potential impact of environmental change on Sand Hills environments; groundwater management strategies, and water quality variations in public water supplies.  In October 1999, he was recognized by the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science with their Catalyst Award for leadership, dedication and service to science education. In 2014, he received the Omtvedt Award for Innovation in Teaching at UNL.  In his capacity as the Director of the Environmental Studies program, he currently serves on the executive committee of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, a program of the National Council for Science and the Environment. He has authored or co-authored over 125 publications that include refereed journal articles, non-refereed abstracts, and contract reports. 

March 2016

Just Step and Repeat

The Nebraska Walkable Communities project aims to make walking easy; the purpose of the project is to:

  • Directly engage and empower communities to create strategic plans and multi-year initiatives to increase walkability and overall health in each community;
  • Create on-the-ground successes that result in positive key health indicators, updated master plans, passage of policies including complete streets, or link together other tools and strategies to promote walkable communities; and,
  • Create a strong Steering Committee that provides a network of experts and technical assistance providers allowing Nebraska communities to achieve increased, long-term, walkability and overall health, even after the project goals are realized.

This unique approach to community-driven strategic direction increases buy-in and action by the communities served and across the state, as a whole.

It is easy, just Step and Repeat.

Amy Houser, MPH

Amy Houser is a Health Educator at the Central District Health Department in Grand Island, Nebraska. She earned her Master of Public Health from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health, with a concentration in Health Promotion. Prior to joining the Central District Health Department, Amy completed a year with AmeriCorps at the Siouxland District Health Department in Sioux City, IA where she worked on issues related to childhood obesity and childhood wellness. She also completed an internship with Live Well Omaha Kids in Omaha, Nebraska where she continued her work with child and family wellness.  While at the Central District Health Department, Amy received a fellowship with the America Walks, Walking College Program.  During this program, she completed a six week walking advocate educational course and an independent study project.  Her current work duties include initiatives to improve community walkability, physical activity, healthy food retail, and healthy vending.

Andy Wessel, MPH

Andy Wessel is a community health planner with the Douglas County Health Department.  He leads Build withHealth, a collaboration between the Health Department, the City of Omaha, and eight other partners.  Build with Health focuses on using community design and neighborhood engagement to create healthy, thriving places throughout Omaha.  In addition to focusing on walkability and active living, Andy is passionate about using facilitation to increase stakeholder participation in decision-making.  

Becky Sullivan, MS

Becky Sullivan is the Wellness Manager at Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings.  She earned her Master of Science Degree in Health Promotion from Nebraska Methodist College.  In her role at the hospital, she works with local businesses in setting up wellness programs and activities, coordinates community health education programs and directs the Mary Lanning employee wellness program.  She also works with numerous community wellness groups including chairing the Healthy Hastings committee.  She is a self-proclaimed enthusiasm expert and loves to share the message that healthy living doesn’t need to be nearly as difficult as we make it.   

Jessica Davies

Jessica Davies is the Wellness Coordinator with Panhandle Public Health District and coordinates the Panhandle Worksite Wellness Council.  With over 12 years of experience at the health district, she has been afforded many opportunities to become adept in the development and implementation of preventative, evidence-based programming at all socio-ecological levels.  Much of Jessica’s work has been collaboratively strategizing on population-based approaches towards the prevention of chronic disease through the primary prevention areas of increasing physical activity, improving nutrition, and decreasing environmental tobacco smoke.  She has extensive experience with grant administration in both the logistical and financial components and is trained to facilitate utilizing nationally recognized participatory group processes.  

Jessica is a certified Worksite Wellness Program Coordinator and Manager, providing ongoing technical assistance to worksites through an evidence-based process, reinforcing environmental and policy strategies.  She helped bring the Panhandle Worksite Wellness Council to fruition which provides significant benefit and ongoing resources to organizations throughout the Panhandle region.  Jessica is a certified group fitness instructor and is co-owner of a non-profit fitness center, The Body Shop, providing fitness for the Hemingford community where she teaches kickboxing. 

Jeremy Grandstaff

Jeremy Grandstaff is the process architect for the Nebraska Walkable Communities Project and a co-founder of S & G Endeavors (a consulting firm helping clients use collaboration to create change and take action). Some clients with which he has worked include The City of Detroit Health Department, National Wildlife Federation, American Public Health Association, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Douglas County Health Department, National Physical Activity Society, South Heartland Health Department, and America Walks.

Before returning to consulting full time, Jeremy most recently served as the full-time Member Services Director for Alliance for Biking & Walking, a coalition of over 200 advocacy organizations, all working to improve biking and walking in their respective communities. Jeremy’s education and background include a master’s degree in organization development, BS in Management Information Systems, and four years as a production/quality manager for IBM Global Services.

February 2016 - Greg Fripp

Greg Fripp is the founder and Executive Director of Whispering Roots, Inc. Whispering Roots is an award-winning non-profit organization dedicated to bringing healthy food, S.T.E.M. education and economic development to underserved communities by using aquaculture, aquaponics and hydroponics. After his highly rated service in the U.S. Navy, Fripp had a successful career as Head of Talent Acquisition for TD Ameritrade. In July 2010, he left the corporate world to pursue his passion for growing food and developing vibrant communities, leading to the creation of Whispering Roots. Fripp travels nationally and internationally consulting on techniques to increase the availability healthy food while enhancing the educational and economic opportunities for people in need. His work has garnered the following awards and honors: Presidential Award for University of Nebraska –Omaha Service Learning Collaboration; Presidential Award for Environmental Education, King Science and Technology Magnet Middle School; Samsung Solve for Tomorrow S.T.E.M. Competition State Champions and National Finalist; Campus Compact Outstanding Community and Collaboration Award; and American Culinary Institute Local Foods Champion.

December 2015

Mark Dekraai

Dr. DeKraai, J.D., Ph.D. received a law degree and doctorate in Social Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Prior to joining the University of Nebraska, Dr. DeKraai dedicated 18 years to administering mental health and substance abuse services for the state of Nebraska. He has been with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center for 13 years. Currently he directs projects related to natural resources, public health and behavioral health evaluation.

Dr. DeKraai has extensive experience with qualitative and quantitative research methodology and analysis. He is a Courtesy Research Associate Professor with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Psychology, a faculty affiliate with the UNL Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families, and Schools, and a Research Participant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is a member of the American Evaluation Association and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

Carrie Hakenkamp

Ms. Hakenkamp has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has been involved in recycling and environmental issues for nearly 15 years.  She has been the Director of WasteCap Nebraska since 1998.  In that time, WasteCap has performed over 100 waste assessments for businesses, hosted over 30 workshops and educational tours, and written 12 publications for business recycling.  Ms. Hakenkamp completed an intensive, 9-month Executive Director Leadership Training program offered through the Institute for Conservation Leadership in 2007 and earned certificates in Project Management, Leadership, and Management from the Nebraska Business Development Center in 2009.

November 2015 - William R. Blackburn

William R. Blackburn is president of William Blackburn Consulting, Ltd., focusing on sustainability; environment, health and safety management; and emergency and crisis response. The firm is a social enterprise with all revenues beyond taxes and other expenses going to The Green Hollow Center, a nature preserve and sustainability learning center in the Loess Hills of Southwest Iowa.  He has served companies like Novartis, United Stationers Supply, ConEd, Continental, Covanta Energy, General Dynamics, Genentech, Hospira, Southwire, Medtronic, SPX, Integrated DNA Technologies and Follett Corporation, as well as a number of business associations, major universities, and nonprofits.  

Bill is a frequent lecturer around the world.  He has over 40 years’ experience in environmental law and management.  Until 2003 he was vice president and chief counsel, Corporate Environment, Health and Safety and the sustainability leader at Baxter International Inc., a $14 billion global manufacturer of health-care products based in Deerfield, Illinois.  At Baxter, he led efforts in pioneering innovative environmental management standards; EHS performance measures and goals; public reporting on corporate EHS and sustainability; environmental cost and income statements; and emergency response programs. Under his leadership, the Baxter EHS program received over 300 external awards.  The company is in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and has regularly been recognized at the Davos World Economic Forum as among the top 100 most sustainable large companies in the world.  Bill’s book, The Sustainability Handbook—The Complete Management Guide to AchievingSocial, Economic, and Environmental Responsibility, was published by the Environmental Law Institute and Earthscan in 2007, (2nd edition in 2015), and is used for course work at Harvard and other universities.  It is also available in Mandarin Chinese.

Bill is former chair of Chief EHS Officers Council I of The Conference Board, a business association, and the former senior research fellow at the organization’s Center for Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability.  From 2007-09, he was co-chair of the Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Ecosystems Committee of the American Bar Association, which was selected the top-rated committee among 40 in its section.  At the ABA, he led the development of a model sustainability policy and implementation guide for law firms. Bill is a member of the Sustainability Leadership Council of Loyola University’s Quinlan School of Business in Chicago.  In addition, he is a founding member of the Stakeholder Council of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a coalition of non-profits, investors, academics, companies, and others promoting public reporting by organizations on sustainability performance. 

October 2015

Kathleen Smith

Kathleen Smith, a LEED Fellow in the inaugural class and nationally recognized expert in sustainable design, is the Technical Director of the International Living Future Institute. She is an architect by training with over 25 years of experience in sustainable design, construction and education. Prior to her role at the Institute, Kathleen served key roles in several other organizations including principal of her own firm, Ecosmith Architecture & Consulting; national sustainability service line leader for AECOM; and project architect and director of consulting for Van der Ryn Architects.

Kathleen has worked on dozens of high performance buildings in the commercial, residential, healthcare, and institutional sectors. She has also worked with various institutions to develop policies, programs, and trainings to establish, measure, and document sustainability goals and performance. 

Kathleen has also played a leadership role on projects to develop policies and codes for various government agencies that have had far reaching impacts in advancing green building and sustainability beyond a single building.

Kathleen is recognized as an inspiring and highly effective educator. She has lectured and taught workshops and classes extensively. As a member of the USGBC’s LEED Faculty since 2003, Kathleen has taught numerous workshops nationwide. She is also the co-author of two books: Rebuilding Community in America and The Northwest Green Home Primer.

Over her career, Kathleen has been an active volunteer in many non-profits: including USGBC, GBCI, Cascadia Region Green Building Council, Northern California Chapter of the USGBC, Urban Ecology and Architects/Designers/ Planners for Social Responsibility. 

She currently lives with her family in a cohousing community on Bainbridge Island.

Brad Liljequist

As director of the Institute's Net Zero Energy and Living Community programs, Brad is at the forefront of a global transformation toward a carbon-free future. He directed development of the Petal and Net Zero Energy Certified zHome, the first multifamily zero net energy community in the United States, as well as Issaquah Fire Station 72, the world’s most energy efficient fire station and recipient of the international 2012 ASHRAE Technology award. Brad has nearly three decades of experience catalyzing change in the fields of planning, environmental policy, urban design, construction management and sustainable building.  

He was educated at Georgetown University, the University of St. Andrews and the University of Washington Evans School.

June 2015 - Cecil Steward

W. Cecil Steward, FAIA, is a world expert on sustainable development and sustainable design. Dean emeritus and emeritus professor of architecture and planning at the University of Nebraska College of Architecture in Lincoln, he is president and founder of the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities, Omaha/Lincoln. A past president of the national American Institute of Architects (AIA), Steward has served on the boards of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, the AIA and on the charter board of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium. He serves on the boards of directors of the Asia/Pacific Center for Architecture, the national Design Futures Council, and the steering committee of the United Nations Center for Human Settlements Best Practices Network and its international Dubai Award for Best Practices in Sustainable Development, among others.

In public service he is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Downtown Lincoln Association, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission, and the Lincoln Children’s Museum Board of Directors. In 2005, he started the Nebraska Center for Sustainable Construction, which operates Nebraska EcoStores, a recycled building materials store in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a member of the Nebraska Capitol Environs Commission where he assisted in the writing of the first design guidelines for urban protection of the Nebraska Capitol building. His initiatives in Nebraska's two largest cities established the Green Omaha Coalition and Lincoln Green by Design, aimed at fostering sustainability policies and practices in city government.

At the national level he has served on the national Peer Review Committee for design reviews of selected General Services Administration projects, including buildings within the U.S. Capitol complex, and as a member of the Pennsylvania Avenue Design Charette Team in Washington, D.C.

At the international level he served as a member of the National Committee on U.S./China Relations, and the UNESCO-sponsored design charette team for the international Memorial to West African Slave Trade, Dakar, Senegal. Since 1984, he has served as a consultant to the Peoples Republic of China in establishing accreditation and licensing for architects. He is serving as advisor to the World Olympiad for Urban Design, and is involved in several more groups working to promote sustainable development in urban areas throughout the world.

May 2015

Daniel Lawse

Daniel is co-owner and Chief Century Thinker at Verdis Group, a sustainability consulting firm in Omaha. Daniel exemplifies biomimicry leadership every day by engaging organizations to evolve their business approach to one that supports people and their well-being, heals the earth, and allows their operations to flourish for generations to come. He leads this new operational paradigm with some of Omaha’s largest employers, including the Omaha Public Schools, Nebraska Medicine, UNMC, and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.

Daniel has studied nature, systems, and the human desire to be both professionally and personally fulfilled. With over a decade of training and experience in leadership and the environment, Daniel brings humans and nature together to inspire and empower people and organizations to co-create a sustainable world where they can thrive.

As part of his commitment to all generations, he shares his time and energy to build a vital community. He serves on the Metro Transit Authority Board of Directors, Creighton University’s Energy Technology Program Advisory Board, the Environment Omaha Implementation Team, Omaha by Design’s Livability Roundtable, and is a founding member of the Green Omaha Coalition.

Lily Livingston

Lily is an architect and Sustainable Design Project Manager for HDR's Sustainable Design Services team with over 20 years of experience. In late 2013, Lily transferred to HDR’s corporate headquarters in Omaha after working in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 18 years, with 5 of those years in HDR’s SF office. She is thoroughly enjoying Omaha and pleased to bring her sustainable expertise and passion to the central region of the country.

Lily facilitates the complex integrative process of greening building projects. Her range of work has included residential, retail, institutional, commercial, urban development, transit oriented design, international development,  healthcare and laboratory projects. She is active in the green building community and affiliated with AIA, Center for Health Design, Bioneers, Biomimicry, National Charrette Institute, US Green Building Council (USGBC), Toastmasters, and the International Living Future Institute and the Living Building Community. Lily chairs the USGBC Nebraska Flatwater Chapter board of directors. She speaks and teaches widely on sustainable design including internal courses at HDR and externally. 

Lily believes that it is people in collaboration, not just technologies, that truly manifest successful high performing projects; that environmental innovations can be pragmatic and within a project’s budget; that we don't need one leader, we need hundreds of them. She loves to help project team’s collaborate and think about future generations; to think beyond the boundaries of the building, the property line, and our current green building metrics towards healthy and restorative projects. Lily likes to remind people that we are not just connected to nature, we are “nature”; we are walking eco-systems, designing buildings as eco-systems in relation to the larger eco-system.

April 2015 - William Powers

William Powers is the executive director for the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society. Along with his wife Crystal and sons Aiden and Liam, they have a small diversified farm in the saline wetlands of Saunders County near Ceresco, Nebraska, that features Guernsey dairy cows and heritage breed poultry. Darby Springs Farm is grass-based and focused on sustainable agriculture and holistic management principles. Powers currently serves as president of Slow Food Nebraska and on the board of directors for the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center and the National Young Farmers Coalition, where he is a past president. He also serves on the Slow Food USA Policy Task Force.

March 2015 - Adam Hammes

Adam was raised on a farm in southeast Iowa.  He holds a BA in Human Services with minors in Environmental Studies and Business from the University of Northern Iowa.  He earned his MBA with a focus on social and environmental performance from Maharishi University of Management. He has launched dozens of community initiatives, including: a Sustainable Spring Break, a Transforming Business speaker series, the annual Hope for the Hungry local foods conference, a local ZipCar car-sharing program, Solidarity Microfinance for women in poverty, and more. He led Kum & Go to become the only convenience-store certified in the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Volume Program and organized a new committee to create the first Energy Star category for convenience-stores.  Adam created new recycling programs at-the-pump for customers, managed energy– and water-efficiency retrofits, piloted alternative fueling stations, designed marketing and communications programs, developed strategic plans and metrics for reporting, and championed social and philanthropic initiatives to build the company’s brand.  He has taught as an adjunct business faculty member for William Penn University – College for Working Adults (leadership courses in AA, BA and MLA programs), and the University of Iowa – Tippie College of Business (the “Sustainability in Business” course for the MBA).

Adam holds professional certifications, including: LEED AP (BD+C), Energy Star Portfolio Manager, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Manager Certificate, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) 4.0 Bridge Training, Training for Transition, The Natural Step: 1 & 2, and more.

Today, he is an author, speaker, and consultant who helps companies define sustainability and identify their relevant issues, meaningful metrics, actionable data reporting, and project priorities. He led the creation of the Iowa Sustainable Business Forum and directs its state-wide efforts. In his free time, he works on large community initiatives, like “A Garden for Every School,” and enjoys traveling and being outdoors.

February 2015 - Jim Powell

Jim is an Assistant Professor at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), where he teaches natural resource policy, sustainability, and public administration.  His research includes community and institutional response to climate change in Alaska, including Alaska Native observations and adaptation to total environmental changes. Before his position with UAS, Jim spent 28 years in environmental management, focusing on water quality issues and wetlands management. Among  other appointments, Jim served Alaska state government as Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation and Assistant Director for the Division of Environmental Quality. His public service includes nine years on the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly with 3 years as Deputy Mayor. The deepened understanding of municipal decision-making and local environmental systems he gained during his years on the Assembly inspired his passion to improve city-level planning through sustainability assessment, monitoring and adaptation.  Today, Jim balances his teaching with serving on several state and local nonprofit boards.  He also lectures and consults on sustainability planning. 

Jim has a PhD in Natural Resources and Sustainability Science from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a Master in Public Administration from the University of Alaska Southeast, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from Eisenhower College at Rochester Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Ecological Society of America’s Rapid Response Team and for 14 years he has been on the board of the Arctic Winter Games, which sponsors a yearly international competition for youth involving culture and sports among Arctic Nations.

December 2014 - Mayor Bob Dixson

Mayor Bob Dixson is a native Kansan and he has been a resident of Greensburg since 1985. Dixson took office as Mayor of Greensburg in May 2008 and he is leading the way in the process of rebuilding Greensburg following the May 4, 2007 EF5 tornado that destroyed 95% of the community. Sustainable building, renewable energy and “green” technologies are the cornerstones of the recovery of Greensburg. Community involvement and public/private partnerships have been essential in the recovery efforts. Mayor Dixson has presented to groups around the world on post-disaster recovery and sustainability.

November 2014 - Julia Hailes

Julia has authored and co-authored nine books, including the very successful, The Green Consumer Guide. She is a consultant, a writer, a speaker, and a green entrepreneur. In 2002, Julia co-founded an African charity, Haller, which is launching a new app on sustainable farming in Kenya, this November. In 1987, she co-founded SustainAbility, an environmental consultancy focused on providing sustainable solutions to businesses. Julia was the recipient of the UN Global 500 Award in 1992 for outstanding environmental achievement; and in 1999 received a MBE, which is an award presented by the Queen for serving as an outstanding example and for service to one’s country.

October 2014 - Discussion Panel

Bill Moore

Bill Moore is the founder and publisher of EV World.Com. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theology from Ambassador College, St. Albans, England. He launched EV World in 1998. He is the 'godfather' of the OPPD/NPPD PowerDrive, a statewide, high school program to build and race electric vehicles, now entering its 15th year. He is also the co-author of several legislative bills in Nebraska promoting electric vehicles. Currently, he is developing a new spin-off of EV World called ePEDALER, an electric bicycle rental enterprise.

Jim Stark

Jim Stark is Vice President of Investor and Media Relations for Green Plains Inc. and has served in this capacity since March of 2009. Jim has over 25 years of experience, with 15 years in investor, media and government relations in a variety of industries, including transportation and wireless communications. Jim has a MBA and a Bachelor of Science in economics from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Dr. Williams

Scott H. Williams, Ph.D. was born and raised in Omaha. Dr. Williams attended Iowa State University as a National Merit Scholar, receiving a Bachelor of Science in materials engineering in 2005, and a Ph.D. in materials science in 2009. As an undergraduate, he worked as a researcher at Ames Laboratory, and as an engineer at Mercury Marine, and John Deere. During graduate school he worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he studied in-situ neutron diffraction of ductile intermetallic compounds. After graduation he worked for 6 months for a clean energy legislation campaign in Omaha, before accepting a postdoctoral appointment at Helmholtz Center Berlin, Germany. Dr. Williams used neutron tomography and radiography to study a variety of engineering systems, including hydrogen fuel cells, agricultural seedlings, and magnetic domain structures. He also implemented a new detector system which achieved world-leading neutron radiography resolution. From Berlin, Dr. Williams accepted a position at Johns Hopkins University, working under grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. There he studied advanced biofuels derived from algae, and along with his adviser, filed a patent for a process to use two-phase solvent systems to separate oils from algae. In April of 2014, Dr. Williams returned to Omaha to serve as the Managing Director of the Omaha Biofuels Cooperation, a not-for-profit organization he founded with his twin brother Eric Williams. Dr. Williams was accepted into the Year Of The StartUp, an entrepreneurship residency program, as one of the 2014 inaugural fellows, with the goal of expanding the capacity and reach of the biofuels cooperative.

Chris Swanson

Christopher Swanson is a Grants Program Manager and adjunct instructor at MCC, in many sustainable technologies, including: Alternative Fuels, Compressed Natural Gas, Electric Vehicles, Weatherization, and Solar Photovoltaics. Chris is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies at the University of Iowa. His research interests center around social stratification in educational opportunities and outcomes, and the role credentialism plays in institutional policy. He is involved in a number of local sustainability organizations and is an ambitious DIYer.

September 2014 - Dan McGuire

Dan McGuire lives in Lincoln but grew up on a diversified farm at Greeley, Nebraska. He is a 1976 graduate of the University of Nebraska - Lincoln with a BA Degree in Journalism. Dan's career work has been dedicated to policies and programs that improve the rural economy through federal farm and trade policy and through renewable energy, ethanol, wind energy, and solar. His professional career positions include: Copywriter and Account Representative with the agricultural division of Bozell and Jacobs, Inc. in Omaha; Agency Director of the Nebraska Wheat Board; and Executive Director of the Interstate Grain Commission. Dan has served on the Nebraska Farmers Union board of directors for 17 years and was the 2012 National Policy Chair of the National Farmers Union Policy Committee. He has been an independent consultant since 1999.

Dan is Co-Chair of the Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference. Additionally, since 2007 Dan has been the Nebraska Facilitator for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Wind Powering America Wind for Schools program and works closely with the University of Nebraska Wind Applications Center. Dan serves on the wind technician advisory committees of both Northeast Community College and Southeast Community College. Since 1999 Dan has been a consultant and project director of Wealth from the Wind, a national outreach and stakeholder engagement program of the American Corn Growers Foundation (ACGF). Dan represents the ACGF with both the American Wind Energy Association and the Distributed Wind Energy Association, of which ACGF is a member.

Dan has carried out rural/agriculture outreach for the U.S. Department of Energy Wind Powering America program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Dan is the 2009 recipient of the U.S. Department of Energy Wind Powering America Midwest Regional Wind Advocacy Award. He also served on the first steering committee of the Wind Energy Works Coalition, an alliance led by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Dan has participated in all the national AWEA WINDPOWER conferences since 2002, and spoke on the “20% wind energy vision” and its benefits for rural America at WINDPOWER 2008 in Houston, Texas, where 13,000+ attended.

Dan has received numerous awards for his work on national and international farm and trade policy. In support of this work, he has traveled to twenty countries in Europe; the Baltic States; Asia; and North, Central, and South America.