We help inspire a new generation of leaders to design a sustainable future for all. Our school-based programs empower youth to tackle real-world challenges in their schools and communities by teaching sustainability, design innovation, and social entrepreneurship.
In her current position as Deputy Director, Abby oversees the implementation of a wide variety of leading-edge educational resources including sustainability and design curriculum, a workforce development program focused on green building education, teacher professional development, and a K-12 grant program that brings students' green innovations to life. Abby also leads EcoRise's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives and is responsible for leveraging and streamlining technology to efficiently scale EcoRise's innovative programs to thousands of educators across the globe. In 2018 Abby was selected as an ee360 Fellow for the North American Association for Environmental Educators. In her free time, she enjoys tending her vegetable garden and backyard chickens, swimming in Barton Springs, hiking, camping, and traveling the world to visit friends and family.
Amaryllis received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas State University in 2012. She began her career at Birds, a locally owned and operated barbershop, then transitioned quickly into a fast-paced position at Whole Foods Market. The experience provided her the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge regarding efficient and effective operations—something she has grown quite passionate about.
Brittany is a graduate of Texas State University with a BA in Mass Communication and a graduate of Relay Graduate School of Education with an MA in Teaching. She has taught middle and high school humanities in large charter networks, tiny start-ups, and schools dedicated entirely to sustainability. Most recently, she served as one of 7 founding members of Rooted School in New Orleans. Brittany's efforts helped earn Rooted School the 2018 LAPCS Innovative Education Award and become New Orleans' highest performing new start-up school in the city's history. Joining EcoRise, Brittany is excited to bring her passion for sustainability and social justice education to a new generation of green leaders.
Gamal holds a M.Ed. in secondary education from Temple University, and an M.S.Ed in educational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Gamal earned the LEED Green Associate credential in 2015, and in 2017, became an ambassador with TeachSDGs, a global network of educators working to advance the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
Gamal enjoys a good game of disc golf, biking, and gardening with his family in their NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat.
Leading up to EcoRise, Gina spent 10 years working with innovative educational programs serving youth in Brazil, India, Nepal, and Guatemala, as well as in Harlem, New York, and Taos, New Mexico. In 2004, Gina moved to Austin, Texas, and pioneered a robust summer and afterschool program at a Title One middle school. She also built and led a youth cultural exchange program to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and served as a facilitator and counselor at the Global Youth Peace Summit. While in graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, Gina studied sustainable development and social entrepreneurship and earned a certificate in Nonprofit Studies at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Gina practices systems-thinking and human-centered design, and she recently completed the School of System Change program at the Forum for the Future. She currently serves on the SXSW Edu Advisory Board and is a former co-chair of Austin ISD's Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee. Gina has presented extensively at local, regional, and national conferences on the topics of green schools, design thinking, and sustainability education.
Holding a B.S. in Conservation Biology from Kent State University, Jaynell has invariably been eager to improve environmental quality and connect social-ecological systems. She has recently completed a dual Master's program at Indiana University earning a degree in Environmental Science and a degree in Public Affairs. Her graduate studies focused on finding equitable solutions to urban environmental problems. Her call to work in the non-profit sector was engrained after completing the Environmental Fellows Program in 2019.
Jaynell is elated to join the EcoRise team as the Gen:Thrive Project Manager which helps stakeholders visualize the impact of Environmental Education service providers through GIS mapping, Kumu systems mapping, and Tableau. Her passion for giving back guides her need for community involvement and volunteering in her spare time. She also enjoys hiking, cooking, and caring for her plants.
other publishers, corporations, and nonprofits. Throughout her career, Jenji has helped develop a number of influential and award-winning instructional materials, including environmental science field guides and virtual laboratories, critical thinking and habits of mind skill development resources, and online curricula for K–12 Science and Literature and college-level World History, Humanities, Web Design, Management, and Criminal Justice Ethics programs.
Jenji holds bachelor’s degrees in English and Philosophy from Southern Methodist University, a Master of Education in Educational Technology degree and E-Learning Certification from the University of Texas, and the LEED Green Associate credential. Since joining EcoRise in 2014, Jenji has overseen the development of curricular projects on sustainability, entrepreneurship, green building, biomimicry, design thinking, electric vehicle technology, water footprints, and environmental justice. Jenji is also using her attention to detail and writing aptitude to assist with other vital EcoRise needs, including program evaluation, reporting, and institutional giving. In her spare time, Jenji enjoys
gardening, writing, yoga, and spending time with her family and two border collies.
Jon has seven years of prior experience in education reform, focused on closing the achievement gap and increasing experiential learning opportunities for all students. As the founding Dean of Students at Codman Academy Charter Public School, Jon co-designed a tutoring program that increased student growth percentiles on state assessments, resulting in Codman posting the highest combined median student growth profile of any district in the state. In 2010, Jon became an independent project management consultant working with a range of educators and private and public sector leaders in support of innovative school design projects. In 2011, he helped successfully launch two schools, one of which was the first public dual-language high school in Boston. In 2012, he moved to Austin, Texas, and joined Idea Public Schools as a founding member of their Campus Leadership Team. At Idea, Jon helped ensure a successful launch for one of the first in-district charters in Austin, resulting in strong academic and operational performance.
Jon recently completed his Executive Masters in Nonprofit Leadership at the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Jon graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Environmental Studies. In his spare time, Jon enjoys cooking, backyard gardening, and exploring Austin by bike.
Kizzy has been an avid member of the nonprofit world since she finished college. She is also a founding member of the Amala Foundation and was its first Youth Program Director. In this position, she created and directed a groundbreaking program, the Global Youth Peace Summit, which unites immigrant, refugee, international, and local teenagers for a week dedicated to personal growth, cultural exchange,
leadership development, and community building. She held this position for five years before she helped launch EcoRise.
Kristi is a National Board Certified Teacher with a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. As the Program Director for EcoRise, Kristi continues to make curricula and resources easily accessible to educators in the state of Texas. She also leads the EcoRise PBL Academy, where she supports teachers, campuses, and districts in implementing authentic, engaging real-world learning through the lens of sustainability. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening with her kids in her NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat, camping, and hiking.
During undergrad, Laura co-founded a student TV station at St. Edward's, fostering a supportive community where students from a variety of backgrounds and with a range of interests could work together and tell their stories, fictional and non-fictional, through a tangible medium.
Laura is now telling EcoRise's story through the lenses of educators and students across the U.S. She is enthusiastic about continuing to elevate the EcoRise brand through design and storytelling and about growing her collection of personal talents and her soul with her amazing teammates.
In her current role, Zakhia provides professional development to K-12 teachers participating in the Sustainable Intelligence Program in the New York, New Jersey and Boston areas and support in applying for student-driven Eco-Audit Grants. Zakhia likes to spend her spare time enjoying the beach and giving back to her hometown community of Wyandanch, LI.
Our Board of Directors
Abi is an expert performance marketer specializing in customer acquisition with proven results both in generating demand and capturing it. Using both digital and traditional channels to drive results and establish high-performance go-to-market mechanisms in the process, Abi is used to working with companies who are looking for high-growth. On a personal level, Abi is passionate about environmental causes, sustainable living, and empowering younger generations. Having spent time volunteering with leatherback sea turtles in Costa Rica to teaching English in India, Abi is now excited to be part of the EcoRise mission.
Amy is a marketing leader possessing a diverse and unique skill set that draws from over 15 years of experience working for Fortune 500 companies and distinguished non-profit organizations. An expert in brand experience, marketing strategy development, and program design, Amy has been recognized nationally and internationally for her innovation and social entrepreneurship. Amy has a long history of serving the community through her work with the non-profit sector with agencies like Meals on Wheels and VH1 Save the Music Foundation. Her role at Austin Energy is rooted in building frameworks of equity and environmental justice through programs and collaborations with community stakeholders and underserved communities. She brings an experienced perspective and passion to her work by designing human-centered programs that ensure people are not left behind as emerging technologies become mainstream.
Dan Jensen is an internationally experienced c-suite executive with expertise in finance, strategy, operations, and technology. Dan has developed and led teams in several industries from privately held start-ups to large publicly traded companies and has extensive experience in growth and turnaround stage environments. He has traveled the world and has lived in China twice and in Canada for over six years combined. As a recognized collaborator and leader, Dan thrives on the development of people and helping individuals and organizations understand and realize their potential.
Esther Nai is a seasoned corporate social responsibility professional who has spent eight years working in the intersection between the corporate and nonprofit sectors in various markets across Asia and the United States. At Salesforce, she oversees corporate citizenship programs across the East Coast hubs, focusing on building employee engagement initiatives and growing strategic community engagement programs in the areas of education and workforce development, with an eye towards scalable and sustainable impact. She is a strong believer in empowering future generations through sustainability-centered education and is excited in supporting EcoRise's mission-driven work.
With a well-cultured background in architecture, interior design, and brand strategy, Gerardo creates seamless user experiences and unified brand expressions. Gerardo works with some of Austin’s largest developers on the front lines of creating the vision for how the urban, cultural, and architectural landscape is transforming in Austin. As a result of his dedication to impacting lives through design and creative thinking, Gerardo was named the 2018 Associate Member of the year by the AIA Austin and is a finalist in the 2020 Austin Under 40 Awards in the category of Architecture, Construction, and Engineering.
Gerardo is the founding Chairman of the ACE Mentor Program of Austin, a non-profit program dedicated to educating high school students about careers in architecture and design. In addition, he serves on the Business Advisory Council for the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. He also serves as the Chair for the AIA Austin’s Exhibit Committee and as a member of the steering committee for Gensler’s Community Impact Program.
Jenny Robertson is director of corporate social responsibility (CSR) at AT&T, where she focuses on research and insights to inform strategy for the company’s environmental and social efforts. Previously she led sustainability reporting and oversaw the creation of AT&T’s 10-year CSR goals. Through her career, Robertson has worked on issues across the sustainability spectrum, including responsible supply chains, energy and resource efficiency, labor and human rights, and customer engagement. Prior to her role at AT&T, she worked in the technology and consulting sectors, focusing on sustainability, public affairs, and communications. Robertson began her career as a newspaper reporter, covering subjects such as higher education, business, government, and politics. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Kentucky and an MS in journalism from Northwestern University. She enjoys horseback riding, live music, Kentucky basketball, and getting outside with her husband, son and two dogs.
Josh Wiener is MetLife’s Assistant Vice President, Global Sustainability as well as the company’s environmental sustainability subject matter expert. He is tasked with leading the development and implementation of MetLife’s environmental sustainability strategies, associated programs and goals. Josh’s responsibilities cover a broad range of areas including corporate real estate, procurement, employee engagement, carbon footprint management, and climate change reporting. Outside of his role at MetLife, Josh serves on the Board of RideWise, a sustainable transportation organization in New Jersey; is an active volunteer on his city’s green team; and is the co-founder of the New York Area Sustainability Group (NYASG). Josh is a LEED AP O+M and earned his degree at Rutgers University where he studied Environmental Policy and Political Science. Having grown up in a family of educators and marrying a special education teacher, Josh is very excited to help EcoRise advance the intersection of sustainability and education.
Juan comes from a background in education and 7 years of commercial litigation experience in Massachusetts state and federal courts. Juan presently serves as corporate counsel at the tech company HubSpot, Inc. He is passionate about education, social justice, and sustainability. Juan drives an electric car and has solar panels on the roof of his house.
Katharine plays a key role at Austin Energy in the expansion of DC Fast EV charging infrastructure in Austin, TX. At SunPower and Incenergy, Katharine launched IOT software applications supporting solar energy production, energy monitoring, and thermostat management for both the residential and commercial market. Katharine earned a B.S. in electrical engineering with a minor in mathematics. Katharine's early career focused on software development and quality for enterprise web applications. At Incenergy, Katharine was the product leader for an IOT start-up managing thermostats in the small commercial market. More recently Katharine managed SunPower’s solar monitoring and energy management applications. Currently, Katharine is a senior member of Austin Energy’s Emerging Technology and Electric Vehicles team.
With 20 years of directing high-profile projects as a licensed architect, Kelley is known for delivering imaginative and intuitive design solutions to her clients at Gensler. Her leadership perspective and management approach is rooted in empathy and understanding, informed by extensive experience working on both sides of the built environment design process —as a client and a senior project manager. Kelley’s intention to design healthy spaces for future generations led her to EcoRise, first as a volunteer, and now as a board member, has continued to inspire her to help create positive global change through mentorship and education. She is both a LEED and WELL accredited professional, lending herself to inform future design solutions with sustainability and wellness in mind.
As Senior Vice President of Structure Tone’s STO Global, Rob is responsible for the management of top national accounts and international client relationships. Rob also acts as a brand manager by coordinating the market strategy for STO Global across geographic regions to bring the global strength of Structure Tone together with local experience to each client and project in the United States and abroad. Rob introduced green building to Structure Tone, launching the firm’s industry-leading sustainability program, and helped Structure Tone’s New York headquarters become the first WELL Certified project in the city. Rob helps cultivate Structure Tone’s next generation of thought leaders through the firm’s Emerging Leaders program giving future leaders the opportunity to see deeper into the culture of the organization, participate in workshops for their development as managers, and initiate evolution and change within the organization and the wider industry. Rob was a founding member of the Fifth Street Farm, a non-profit organization that provides hands-on education in food awareness and environmental sustainability by integrating urban agriculture and a rooftop farm into the classroom. Rob is on the Board of Directors at Alive Inside, a non-profit organization dedicated to healing loneliness through connecting the young with the elderly living with dementia using empathy, music, life story, and film.
Tommy is a seasoned creative marketing executive with expertise in branding, communications, messaging, and design. He is currently leading the Digital Customer Experience for WW Digital Channel at Apple. He has previously held roles as the VP of Marketing at Nano Global, a molecular data and technology company, as well as the Chief Brand Officer at Verb, a social enterprise focused on democratizing social impact by connecting entrepreneurs, individuals, and global brands to the resources they need to do good. Prior to Verb, Tommy was the Global Creative Director for Dell where he ran teams that spanned UX, Global Brand, and the Dell Blue internal agency. His work at Dell also included many years serving the corporate social responsibility team on projects such as the annual Sustainability Report, Dell’s Reconnect recycling program, Dell’s Plant-a-tree program, and the Dell Earth initiative.
Valerie brings over 20 years of experience working in and with public schools, with a particular interest in bringing together communities and schools to find solutions for local issues. As part of the Client Team at TNTP, a non-profit education organization that partners with school systems to achieve their goals for students, Valerie supports districts and charter networks across the country with a focus on academic strategy and teacher development. Prior to TNTP, Valerie taught and coached middle school science in Los Angeles and Texas and worked as a Research Associate for the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition in Washington DC.
Our Advisory Council
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Science Curriculum Supervisor
Austin Independent School District
People Operations and Technical Sourcing
Conservation Programs Coordinator
City of Austin Watershed Protection Department
Chief Executive Officer
Senior Research Fellow
The University of Texas at Austin
Founder, Sustainable Investments Director
Beyond Profits, LLC
Chief Sustainability Officer
City of Austin
Director of Engineering
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Director, Austin Technology Incubator
The University of Texas at Austin
Klante & Associates, LLC
Glimmer of Hope Foundation
Senior Director of Integrated Marketing
Founder and Chief Innovation Officer
Big Blue Fish
Chief Executive Officer