"Growing up in Michigan, we spent a lot of time in the Upper Peninsula on the shores of Lake Superior. When I was a child, it seemed so vast and unchanging. Today, we know that this lake is vulnerable to pollution, invasive species, and climate change. I love that Lake Superior is a unifying factor between the state where I grew up, and the state I call home today. I want my two children to grow up in a world with clean air, clean water, and a stable climate. I want them to grow up in a world where Lake Superior and all lakes and rivers are honored and protected as the life-sustaining systems that they are."
Kathryn graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2006 magna cum laude, and earned a Masters in Public Policy from the Humphrey Institute at the same time. After working in complex litigation in Zelle LLP in Minneapolis for four years, she joined MCEA as a staff attorney in 2010. She stepped into the CEO role in 2017, and she is proud of the way the organization has grown and changed since then. She has worked as adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota Law School, and is also a former Chair of the Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association. Kathryn is celebrating 10 years at MCEA in 2020.
"I was lucky to spend summers on a lake in the woods "up north" as a kid, and that continued through college and my early twenties when I was a camp counselor taking students on canoe and camping trips and developing environmental programs. The Northwoods -- the smells, sounds, solitude -- have always offered a simple, calming gift. Years later I realized that I'd been experiencing what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku ('forest bathing'). It's a privilege for me to get to work for an organization dedicated to protecting these special places and resources."
Kevin joined MCEA in 2005. He has a B.A. from Concordia College - Moorhead (German/Political Science), an M.A. from UW - Madison (Political Science) and a J.D. from Harvard. Kevin has been adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota and Mitchell Hamline and in 2016 spent the year as a Fulbright Scholar at the Namibia University of Science and Technology in Windhoek, Namibia. Prior to joining MCEA, Kevin was a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis.
"I grew up during the time of the first Earth Day and solar panels on the White House, which inspired my love affair with renewable energy. My favorite childhood memories were tent camping with my large family all over the U.S. and Canada. My parents also inspired me towards civil rights and social justice, and that motivated me to go to law school, work on political campaigns, and then run for political office. As a Minnesota State Senator for 18 years, I learned that making real environmental and clean energy progress is difficult and faces multiple obstacles, but that persistence, positive persuasion, following the facts and the voices of good people can prevail - and the stars align for bipartisan victories that make the future better. This happened in 2007 with the Renewable Energy Standard and the Next Generation Energy Act, and I believe it will happen again. MCEA has the expertise and tools that can drive that change and that's why I'm thrilled to be in the Climate Director position, at a time of urgency for equitable climate solutions. My special place is the St. Croix River."
Ellen clerked for the MN Court of Appeals, was a Hennepin County Public Defender, served as Chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Energy/Environmental Advisor to Governor Dayton, and led the Energy Transition Lab at the University of MN. Ellen grew up in New Jersey, came to MN for college and never left. Graduated from Carleton College, and UMN Law School cum laude.
"For me, environmental advocacy flows from a strong commitment to working collectively for the public good. As a lawyer, I realize I have training and advantages that many others don’t have. When I work with people from underprivileged communities, I can see the difference it makes that I know how to use the laws and the court system to protect people and the environment. I feel so fortunate to be able to dedicate my skills as an attorney to work with the team at MCEA to preserve a livable future for all of us."
Before joining MCEA, Joy was a shareholder at Minneapolis law firm Gray Plant Mooty, where she litigated cases and headed the firm’s pro bono program. Joy has provided more than 1,200 hours of pro bono service and was named a 2018 Minnesota Attorney of the Year for her work on a pro bono case. She earned her law degree at William Mitchell College of Law and her B.A. in English and print journalism from the University of St. Thomas.
"I grew up in with a paddle in my hand, and hiking boots on my feet, and the Ozark Mountains in my view. Why would people want to degrade and ruin this beautiful wild place? But they did: with dams, development, and uncontrolled industrial discharges and dumping. I always knew I would work to save our environment, the question was how? Would I be a reporter, a scientist, or a lawyer? After trying the first two careers, I settled on the law as my tool, and represented our state environmental agencies as an Assistant Attorney General for 32 years to help them acheive their mission to protect the environment of this state. I am happy now to bring my knowledge of administrative law and litigation to MCEA."
Ann graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Political Science in 1981, and obtained a J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1985. From 1985 until 2018, she worked for the Minnesota Attorney General's Office.
"I have always been happiest exploring the curiosities of untamed landscapes. For me, the beautiful chaos of nature is the tonic for the inevitable maladies affecting modern life. Sadly, increasing threats to these wild places forecasts a future bereft of the wonder of unspoiled wilderness. Preventing a bleak tomorrow demands a vigorous and inspired response today. As an attorney with MCEA, I am committed to wielding my talent and experience as a skilled litigator in the fight for clean air, water, and soil."
Jay holds a B.A. in communication and biology from St. John’s University and a J.D. from Vermont Law School. Prior to joining MCEA, Jay litigated wage theft cases on behalf of employees striving for proper wages and clerked for Judge Ann D. Montgomery in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. Jay serves on the board of SPAM FC - a local non-profit dedicated to offsetting rising college expenses - is a member of the Hennepin County Bicycle Advisory Committee, and co-owns an eco-tourism kayak guiding company on the Mississippi River.
"Growing up on Minnesota's Iron Range, and in the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg people, meant living on the edge of heavy industry and boundless beauty. To this day I recall my awe at sun-warmed taconite pellets on the tracks, strawberries and blueberries in the wild, and the endless wonder of northern lakes. Now I hail from Duluth, where the "Big Lake" also provokes the imagination and sustains the community. Unfortunately, our sensitive landscape is under threat, and we have not adequately respected the treaty rights of native nations. At our best, Northern Minnesota instills in each of us a love of place and a deep understanding of what is required to protect it."
JT holds a JD from the University of Virginia, MPP University of Minnesota, and BA from Northwestern University. He was formerly an attorney in Minneapolis and public-sector union representative in Duluth. JT is also the Co-founder of the grassroots advocacy group Duluth for Clean Water.
"I've been passionate about water quality for as long as I can remember. When I was in high school, a developer purchased the land around a small lake in my hometown. In response, I studied how the development affected the lake's water quality, studying the impact to aquatic insects. I took my research to the International Science and Engineering Fair, and expanded my research when I went to college to earn an envionrmental studies degree. Ultimately, I developed a health profile for the ecosystem that I shared with my local DNR. At MCEA, I continue to live out my passion to protect Minnesota's aquatic ecosystems as MCEA's Senior Water Attorney."
Elise graduated summa cum laude from Concordia College, Moorhead with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Political Science, and magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School. Prior to joining MCEA, Elise worked as a litigator at a large Twin Cities law firm and clerked for Chief Judge John R. Tunheim, U.S. District Court – District of Minnesota, Judge Myron H. Bright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea, Minnesota Supreme Court. Along with her work at MCEA, Elise serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and the treasurer of the MSBA's Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy Law Section Council.
I grew up in Makato (a.k.a. Mankato, Minnesota), named for a place where the Dakota harvested "blue earth" used in adoption and reconciliation ceremonies. This special place on the bend of the Minnesota River became the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history, with settlers cheering the death of 38 Dakota men. As a descendant of European immigrants, I ultimately benefited from mass land theft that led to horrific events in my hometown. Yet, I was privileged to witness reconciliation efforts between Dakota and non-Native Minnesotans, which continue to this day. My hope is that these lessons can be replicated on a larger scale. Our world increasingly needs common ground - perhaps it can be found beneath our feet. The land can divide us, but it can also connect us.
Mel holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and graduated summa cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law. Before joining MCEA, Mel clerked at all three levels of Minnesota's judicial system, represented tribal nations in complex federal litigation, and was an Indian law fellow at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.
"What motivates me is the opportunity to be a counterweight to the influence of money and corporate interests in our democracy. I believe that most people really want policies that will drive down carbon emissions, eliminate toxic chemical pollution, and protect our ecosystems, but their voices are often disregarded and their requests dismissed as impractical. As an attorney for MCEA, I'm proud to amplify those voices and to be an advocate for science and ecological protection.
I've always felt a deep connection with wild places and with nature. As a kid, I spent hours lifting rocks in the yard to check in on the beetles and centipedes. And my early experiences camping, canoeing, and, one summer, canoe trekking in the Temagami in Ontario led me to dedicate my career as a lawyer to protecting the environment. I'm happiest when I'm outdoors, in the woods, and living simply. "
Evan holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Brandeis University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an LL.M. in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. - Prior to working at MCEA, Evan was a Assistant Attorney General at the New Hampshire Department of Justice and served as Compliance Bureau Chief of the Air Resources Division at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
"My fifth grade science teacher showed our class a video about global warming. Before that, I had never heard of the greenhouse effect. Suddenly, I was ten years old and learning that if we failed to make big changes, the planet would be forever altered—in my lifetime. The issue was obvious, but surprisingly, the solution was too. I felt sorrow, but also, hope. I wondered, what were we waiting for? Decades later, I’ve made it my profession to keep asking."
Amelia holds a B.A. in English from Coe College and graduated magna cum laude from Valparaiso University School of Law. Prior to joining MCEA, Amelia worked on water policy and litigated factory farm and RCRA cases for the Hoosier Environmental Council.
"Facing the climate crisis takes all types of people. I'm not 'outdoorsy.' Given the choice, I would probably walk the urban core of a city before hiking a beautiful trail. I can't identify tree species. I don't really feel a spiritual connection with nature or bugs or dirt. My interest in the environment stems from an interest in reducing human suffering. I am motivated because I don't want my fellow man to suffer from catastrophic climate change. If I can work toward the goal of reducing suffering, I will consider my career successful."
Stephanie received her J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Arizona State University. Stephanie worked and volunteered with various environmental nonprofits before joining MCEA as a Legal Fellow.
"My favorite memories from growing up include running in the woods, swimming in the ocean, and hiking in the Adirondack Mountains. I have always found joy in nature, and I want future generations to be able to experience that same joy. For that reason, I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in environmental policy, so that I could spend my career protecting the planet I love. I'm proud that I get to do that at MCEA."
Carolyn holds a B.A. in International Studies from Stonehill College, and a M.A. in International Relations & Environmental Policy from Boston University.
"I have always had a passion for public health and through my graduate studies realized quite quickly just how consequential the environment is on public health. I am honored to be part of an organization that's mission is to promote environmental causes and the rippling positive effects on the health of all Minnesotans. Also, with a background in the legal field I am continuously intrigued by the various remedies available to impact the environment through the courts and other agencies."
Aaron holds a Masters of Public Health from Benedictine University-Lisle, IL, a B.A. from Winona State University, and an American Bar Association approved certificate in paralegal studies.
“I have been interested in environmental issues since I was very young, when I wore out my copy of “50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save The Earth” from repeated readings. Frequent camping trips with my Girl Scout troop gave me an appreciation for nature. One of my favorite things about working for MCEA is the way it has expanded my understanding of environmentalism – it not just about preserving wild spaces, but encompasses the need to ensure that our planet is a healthy home for all people.”
Steph joined MCEA in August 2018 as Data Manager. Originally from Lancaster, PA, she is a graduate of Boston University with a B.A. in American History and Political Science. She spent more than 8 years with the Public Charities Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office before relocating to the Twin Cities in July 2016. Before coming to MCEA, she worked as the Fund Development Assistant at Aeon, a non-profit affordable housing provider based in Minneapolis.
"I love the outdoors: camping with family and friends, hiking through new terrain, jumping in lakes, marveling at the vastness of Lake Superior, paddling through morning mist in the Boundary Waters. I’ll never forget my first trip into the BWCA alongside my two sisters now almost a decade ago. There were unexpected beaver dams and rain and aching muscles and power-struggles over steering, but there were also unforgettable sunrises and towering trees reflecting off glass lakes and newfound grit and a kind of quiet none of us had known before. It was a life-changing experience, and one that cemented in my soul the need to preserve wild places and protect our increasingly threatened natural world. It’s a privilege to bring my storytelling and media background to an organization working to do that everyday."
Sarah has over 15 years of experience working as a journalist in Minnesota. She landed her first job in the field just out of college at a daily newspaper in Fergus Falls, Minn., where she covered all facets of life and government in a small town. From there, she moved to the Duluth News Tribune, where she fell madly in love with the North Shore while reporting on the city’s education system. Before joining MCEA, she spent a decade covering government, education, crime and legal affairs for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, which also happens to be her hometown paper. Sarah is a fierce believer in the vital role journalism plays in maintaining a healthy democracy and global community. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005 from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.
"Since joining MCEA in 2011, I have been honored to support our organization mission through financial management and stewardship of resources so generously given by individuals and foundations. I am continually moved by the strength and dedication of MCEA's program and legal teams. I take great pride in supporting their work using my diverse background in nonprofit financial management"
Joan is a CPA (license inactive). She holds a B.A. degree in Accounting from Southwest Minnesota State University and a M.B.A. from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Her career finance experience includes public accounting, public utilities, banking, insurance, newspaper publications, community health and consulting services for growing non profits.
Kara worked for seven years in the Minnesota Senate, including as committee administrator to the State and Local Government Committee for Senators Pappas and Torres Ray. During the 2017 session, Kara was a legislative coordinator and lobbyist for the Sierra Club; more recently she’s been Government Relations Manager for the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.
While working, Kara has been earning credits toward her law degree at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. She graduated with a B.A. and political science and global studies from the University of Minnesota
"When I was in elementary school, I did a book report on Love Canal, which had surged into the news even here in the Midwest. When I learned that a chemical company had dumped their toxic waste into an old canal, and then given the land to build a school and a neighborhood on, I was angry. How could they do that? And how could I stop them? From an early age, I've been passionate about standing up to bullies and defending people whose lives have been threatened by pollution. At MCEA, I'm thrilled to be able to do that every day."
Aaron holds two Masters degrees, one in Communications, the other in Advocacy and Political Leadership. He has over a decade of experience teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in policy and communications. Prior to working at MCEA, Aaron was the Advocacy Director at Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.
"As a kid, I grew up next to 'the woods'. It was a wonderful place to play and observe nature. I was able to catch tadpoles and salamanders, watch muskrats swim across the pond, and watch the red winged blackbirds that made it their summer home. Nothing says summer to me more than hearing their song. Years later, I learned it was an abandoned city dump. The cars that were partially submerged in the pond should have been a clue, but the ducks didn't seem to mind. When I decided to pursue a legal education (after years as a cost-accountant and later pursuing a horticulture degree), I hoped I could make a difference somewhere. I was interviewed as a non-traditional paralegal student at Inver Hills Community College (as an adult learner) and was asked what type of law I was interested in, I could only think of two areas, Elder Law or Environmental Law. A cousin, who worked as a district attorney, gave me the following advice: Be careful of pursuing work in an area of law you have a passion for, you might end up working for the other side. I worked in complex litigation for 12 years and found it rewarding but joining MCEA feels like my dream has finally come true."
Eric joined MCEA in 2016. Previously a Complex Litigation Paralegal in the areas of Antitrust Class Actions, Securities Lending, Title Insurance, and Reinsurance. A graduate of Inver Hills Community College’s Paralegal Program which is American Bar Association approved and a member of that Program's Advisory Committee since 2003. Eric also holds an AS degree in Horticulture Business and a Certificate in Accounting.
“I grew up in poverty in the Twin Cities, living mostly in areas surrounded by industry polluters and in communities that were predominately people of color. I have experienced first hand the ways in which pollution disproportionately affects people in poverty and people of color, and am proud to be working for an organization that tries to bring environmental justice to these communities. Every Minnesotan should have the right to enjoy the natural beauty of un-polluted lakes, streams, and rivers, and have safe drinking water at home, no matter where they live or who they are. MCEA gets us closer to living that reality.”
Andrea has spent several years working in politics and various grassroots advocacy organizations. She spent over a decade teaching argumentation, policy, and debate to high school and college students. She holds two master’s degrees, one in Advocacy and Political Leadership from Metro State, and one in Communication Studies from the University of North Texas.
"I am blessed with grandchildren who love the outdoors and spend weeks every year enjoying the family cabin in central Minnesota. Working at MCEA allows me to support important efforts to protect our environment and ensure our future generations can continue to appreciate our abundant natural resources."
Karen brings to MCEA more than 25 years of experience providing office management and administrative support in nonprofit organizations. She graduated Phi Theta Kappa from Inver Hills Community College with a major in Human Resource Management.
"I am a transplant from the Chicagoland area, and proud to now call myself a Minnesotan. We have a wonderful home; a place we need to protect, and a place we need to continue fighting to make safer and healthier for our overburdened community members.
Lake Superior is my special place. I went to college in Duluth and was able to soak in many of the amazing things that city offers -- easy access to the outdoors, live music, and great people and community. I am so proud to be able to be part of MCEA's mission and to now be playing a role in protecting those special places and building a more thriving future for our state."
Adam graduated cum laude with a BA in Environment and Sustainability Studies and a minor in Economics from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Prior to joining MCEA, Adam worked in the solar industry and held various roles at KUMD 103.3FM Duluth Public Radio, where he continues to volunteer as Producer of KUMD's environmental segment, Green Visions. While in college, he spent a semester studying Germany's renewable energy transition in Freiburg, Germany.
"Like a lot of Minnesotans, I feel a strong connection to lakes, my favorite being Lake Superior. I’ve lived on her shores for most of my adult life and have worked for environmental nonprofits since 2005, fueled by a desperate need to protect this amazing resource, this gift of 10% of the world’s freshwater, so massive, and yet so fragile. Working for MCEA doesn’t feel like a job: I simply share what I’m passionate about. I let folks who care about clean water, breathable air, and a livable world for the next generation know they can make a difference by supporting MCEA."
Carrie has a B.A in English from the University of Minnesota, Duluth and a Certificate in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Wisconsin, Superior.
"My seven year old will tell you that I work to save the planet for him and his friends. He’s right. At my core, I am driven by a love of children and the desire to help create the world they deserve. I love my job at MCEA, every day I get to give people the opportunity to change the world by investing in work that is improving the world for our kiddos. "
Chris began as a reluctant fundraiser nearly twenty years ago because to get paid to do the work she believed in, she had to raise the money. Now, she is clear that all of us are hungry for opportunities to change the world and she provides Minnesotans that opportunity by investing in the powerful work of her colleagues at MCEA. A lifelong Minnesotan, Chris is proud to have raised tens of millions of dollars that fueled work that has concretely improved Minnesota.
“Throughout the last couple of years, I have sought to express my passion and commitment to global health, environmental justice, and health justice. I have learned a lot about how dynamics in the world limit the full realization of health. I am interested in optimizing the leverage points to increase environmental and health equity in some of the most difficult places to sustain it. My purpose going forward is to continue to advocate, educate, and to build the next generation of health leaders from impacted communities.”
Mainhia is a 2021 Capitol Pathways Intern. She is currently a senior undergraduate studying Public Health: Public Policy and beginning her first year in the Master of Public Health: Global Health program at St. Catherine University.
Gabe Chan is an assistant professor and chair of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs' Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) area. Chan's research examines policies to stimulate innovation in energy technologies and mitigate global climate change in the United States, China, and internationally. Chan's research blends economic methods and theory with a broader set of social science and technical knowledge.
Peter's current research focuses on the impacts of global environmental change on terrestrial ecosystems. This includes effects of climate change, elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, other air pollutants, land use/management, fire and biotic invasion on health, biodiversity, and sustainability of forest and grassland ecosystems both in Minnesota and globally. This work simultaneously attempts to bridge the fields of physiological, community, ecosystem, landscape, and global ecology. We tend to focus on the broad ecotone of central North America, where boreal forests, northern hardwood forests, oak woodlands/savannas, and grasslands converge and mix. However, we are involved in projects that address similar themes and issues in many other biomes and geographic locations, including work in several other continents (Australia, Europe, South America).
Dr.Surapaneni is an Assistant Professor in the Department of General Internal Medicine. She holds a public health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Dr.Surapaneni’s area of interest is climate change and its impact on human health. At the Academic Health Center, she is the climate champion for the medical school. She works with an interprofessional group of champions to educate students about climate and health. She is the faculty advisor for Health Students for a Healthy Climate.
Professor Coggins works in environmental economics, with emphasis in the areas of air and water policy, air pollution and human health, and market-based approaches to environmental protection. Other areas of interest include welfare economics, the use of insurance and financial tools to address natural disasters, economic inequality, and policy analysis.
Daniel Engstrom is retired director of the St. Croix Watershed Research Station of the Science Museum of Minnesota. He is an internationally recognized expert on atmospheric mercury pollution and lead scientist for policy-critical studies of the effects of sulfide-metal mining on wild rice and mercury contamination in northern Minnesota, the impacts of agriculture on Minnesota’s lakes and rivers, and the role of climate change in altering our pristine northern lakes.
Doug is a retired lawyer and business executive. Prior to retiring in 2013, he was chief administrative officer for 17 years at Aetrium Incorporated, a publicly held manufacturer of production equipment for the semiconductor industry. In that capacity, he was responsible for all of the support functions for the operations, including legal, finance, investor relations and human resources. He also served as president of two of the company’s divisions in 1997-2001 and on the company’s board of directors. Prior to that, he was a partner at Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly, practicing in business transactional law. He received his J.D. degree cum laude from Harvard Law School and his B.A. magna cum laude from Dartmouth College.
Alexandra B. Klass is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. She teaches and writes in the areas of energy law, natural resources law, environmental law, tort law, and property law. Her recent scholarly work, published in many of the nation’s leading law journals, addresses regulatory challenges to integrating more renewable energy into the nation’s electric transmission grid, siting and eminent domain issues surrounding interstate electric transmission lines and oil and gas pipelines, and applications of the public trust doctrine to modern environmental law challenges. She is the co-author of several textbooks on energy law, natural resources law, and environmental law. Prior to her teaching career, Professor Klass was a partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP in Minneapolis. She is a member scholar at the Center for Progressive Reform and a Fellow and Faculty Leadership Council member at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.
Paige is a practicing attorney at Merchant & Gould where she focuses on intellectual property litigation. She received her J.D. degree magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School and a B.A. in chemistry and environmental science from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio). Paige currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Federal Bar Association and sits on various committees for that organization.
Andrew is the Vice President of Marketing and Customer Operations at AmeriPride Services, a leading provider of commercial uniforms, linens, and facility services. His responsibilities include marketing, customer experience, and digital strategy. Andrew also serves on the board of the Quetico Superior Foundation. He holds a Bachelors of Science in electrical engineering from Princeton and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Chicago.
Larry is a litigation attorney retired from 48 years of private practice in Rochester. Larry was elected national President of the Sierra Club for two terms (1986 to 1988), President of the Sierra Club Foundation for two terms (1990-1992), and Chair of the Sierra Club’s Centennial Capital Campaign. He has served on several Minnesota Governor’s task forces, including those for the Environmental Trust Fund, the Environmental Compact between the States, Minnesota Energy Policies, and Power Plant Siting. He was a Trustee of the John Muir Trust, an environmental organization in the UK devoted to preservation and restoration of wild lands. He was awarded the Silver Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in recognition of his service to the environment and received the prestigious Richard Leonard award for his leadership of both the Sierra Club and the Sierra Club Foundation.
Leili is a legal and public policy expert with ten years experience advancing research, facilitating dialogue, and catalyzing solutions at the nexus of science, technology, and society.
Her areas of expertise include emerging technologies, environmental and human health law, risk analysis, communication, and policy. As the founder of Apparatus, she provides both client-oriented consulting services and engages in independent and sponsored research and advocacy.
In addition to her work at Apparatus, she is a Legislative and Advocacy Fellow with the Sierra Club North Star Chapter and a past director of the Initiative on Governance of Emerging Technological Systems at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Chris Heeter is the founder of The Wild Institute ( http://www.thewildinstitute.com ), an organization that awakens people’s Wild spirits through professional speaking and wilderness trips. She was selected as a Top Ten Speaker of 2014 by MeetingsNet, and was the highest rated speaker of Meeting Professional International's 2014 World Education Congress. A wilderness guide since 1984 and professional speaker since 2001, Chris has led and worked with a diverse array of teams, both canine and human!
Featured on The Discovery Channel's “National Geographic Today,” she brings decades of leadership experience indoors, to conferences and offices, working with teams and leaders, helping us recognize that leadership and teamwork doesn't have to be so complicated. With remarkable parallels to the work world, Chris shares hilarious stories from her sled dog team with their quirky personalities and from guiding whitewater trips, where successfully navigating obstacles (mostly) is part of the journey.
She sat on the board of the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center for 9 years, is a certified Wilderness First Responder and a graduate of NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School). She holds a bachelor's degree in recreation and social work from George Williams College, where she recently received the Distinguished Alumnae Award. She is a poet and shares her writing through various Wild Institute newsletters. Chris challenges and inspires organizations and individuals toward Wild leadership, compassionate presence, and daring authenticity.
Susan Klapel is currently a Special Consultant to the Commissioner of Health and Human Service at the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Twenty years ago she started working as a conservation officer for the Mille Lacs Band. Eventually she was appointed to the Commissioner of Natural Resources for Mille Lacs Band. Being the first woman to hold this position was challenging enough, but adding concerns about pipelines, mining and declining walleye populations on Minnesota's premier fishing lake Mille Lacs, it was a struggle. Since then she has worked for the Chief Executive as the Deputy Assistant and to her current position in Health and Human services. Susan currently sits on the Woodland National Bank Board of Directors and was elected secretary for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission during her appointment to the Board of Commissioners.
Jane is the Director of the McVay Youth Partnership at Hamline University, and works part time at the Guthrie Theater. And since 2001, Jane has served as the Regional Coordinator for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL), with a particular focus on working with legislators in Great Lakes and Mississippi River states, as well as working with NCEL’s Chemical Policy Project, and helping to plan and facilitate regional conferences. Jane served as a Minnesota State Senator from 1993-2002, where she was Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and chaired the Environment and Agriculture Budget Division prior to that.
Fred is retired Senior Counsel at Stinson Leonard Street and has done pro-bono work for MCEA. He is President of the Caribou Lake Property Owners Association in northern Minnesota where he is primarily interested in watershed and water quality issues. He is a lifelong avid outdoorsman. A native of Indiana, Fred moved to Minnesota in 1975. He holds a BA from Yale University and a JD from Georgetown University.
A native of Saint Paul, Halston attended Tuskegee University, a Historically Black College and University in Tuskegee, Alabama where she received a B.S in Environmental Science, Plant and Soil Science with a concentration in Natural Resource Management.
Upon graduating from Tuskegee, Halston served as a Contract Management Specialist for the National Park Service in Denali National Park and Preserve, in Denali, Alaska. While in Denali, she worked on subsistence hunting policy reform with indigenous communities surrounding the Park.
Halston returned to Minnesota in early 2013 and began to work as a Planning Analyst for Hennepin County in the department of Environment and Energy. She also served as the Senior Policy Advisor for Environmental/Social Justice and Sustainability to the former Mayor of Minneapolis: Mayor Betsy Hodges. Her work prioritized advancing the Mayor’s sustainability agenda and establishing communal commitments for the City of Minneapolis.
Halston is currently serving as the Diversity and Inclusion Project Manager for Social Impact Team at Best Buy. In this role she works with company leaders who have direct connections to community partners in building their intercultural capacity. In addition to her executive mentoring and coaching, she assists the team in policy advocacy from an equity centered stance.
Ron is a retired business executive. After 25 years in the financial services industry, Ron retired in 2014 as Managing Director for Institutional Sales for Nuveen Investments. Prior to this, Ron was
with Control Data Corporation where he served in sales, sales management and marketing positions. He has also been a principal investor in several start-up ventures in technology, financial services and a sustainable bison business.
He received his B.A. from the University of Colorado (Boulder), and CIMA designation from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is an avid backpacker, wildlife watcher and global traveler.
Alan is the founding member of KACET LLC which provides M&A consulting, strategy, and project management services. His career in corporate finance encompasses commercial and investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, and private equity. He has advised clients in dozens of transactions totaling billions of dollars. He recently returned from a year in Beijing, where he helped develop the transaction advisory practice of Grant Thornton China. He works with public and private companies across a variety of industries. He specializes in the acquisition of middle-market companies and cross-border transactions.
Carol is a Lutheran (ELCA) pastor, serving as lead pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood of Saint Paul, a congregation very involved in the caring for creation movement of faith communities. She has formerly served on the board of MNIPL, the Minnesota affiliate of Interfaith Power and Light (formerly known as Congregations Caring for Creation). She has served as a pastor of a mountain retreat community committed to environmental justice, as well as of an international, ecumenical congregation (Stockholm, Sweden), both contexts offering alternative visions for environmental responsibility. She regularly leads pilgrimages to the Iona Community in Scotland and Holden Village in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. She received a B.A. degree from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and a M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School.
Professor Mitchell E. Zamoff is the director of the law school’s litigation program, chair of the civil litigation concentration, and co-director of the law in practice program at the University of Minnesota Law School. He teaches civil procedure, alternative dispute resolution, evidence, evidence drafting, and law in practice. He is a recipient of the Kinyon Teacher of the Year award. A member of the Council of the American Arbitration Association, Zamoff also serves as an arbitrator and mediator.
Prior to joining the UMN Law School faculty on a full-time basis in 2017, Zamoff was a litigation partner at the international law firm of Hogan Lovells and co-founder of the firm’s Minneapolis office. His law practice focused on class action and complex litigation, arbitration and mediation, and government investigations and enforcement actions.
Zamoff is also the former executive vice president and general counsel of UnitedHealth Group (UHG), a Fortune 10 healthcare company based in the Twin Cities, and the former executive vice president and chief legal officer of its health benefits business, UnitedHealthcare. Zamoff was recognized by Corporate Board Member as one of the “Top 10 GCs to Watch” in America during his tenure at UHG.
Zamoff is active in the community service arena in the Twin Cities. He is prior chair of the board of the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, and prior co-chair of the board of the Conflict Resolution Center of Minnesota.