Archive for the ‘Global Green Room Staff Interviews’ category

Staff Spotlight: Michelle Pyne

September 18th, 2014

MichellePyne Photo Collage

Sitting down with Michelle Pyne, Green Building Program Associate.


How would you describe your role at Global Green USA in five words?

Advance Sustainable Development through Pilot Projects

What is your biggest priority at Global Green right now?

My biggest priority is to complete the Holy Cross Project Community Development and Climate Action Center (CDCAC) in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. The CDCAC will offer community meeting space, a visitor center, small fresh food store, and office space for Global Green staff. The space will bring resources back to the Lower 9th Ward that have been absent since Hurricane Katrina (nine years ago!). In addition, the CDCAC will feature passive survivability features, including back up solar battery power, to be used when the utility grid is down.

What has been your biggest accomplishment at Global Green?

My biggest accomplishment has been in moving all three phases of the Holy Cross Project towards completion. The milestones include selling the LEED Platinum single family homes, breaking ground on the Community Development and Climate Action Center and obtaining letters of support for Phase III (an affordable multifamily building) from Mayor Landrieu, Senators Landrieu and Vitter, community organizations and Lower 9th Ward residents.

What do you hope to have accomplished by 2015?

By 2015 I hope to have the Holy Cross Project CDCAC up and running with programming to advance both local and national education about energy efficiency, green infrastructure and climate change.

What is your favorite thing about Global Green USA?

The Holy Cross Project! Global Green has made an incredible impact in rebuilding a more sustainable New Orleans. The HCP Visitor Center is a unique teaching tool that is able to engage residents, builders, developers, students and tourists in sustainable building.


Keep up with Michelle on twitter @mvpyne!

Staff Spotlight: Sharon Williams

August 26th, 2014

Sitting down with Global Green USA Receptionist Sharon Williams.

Sharon Staff Spotlight 2000

Sharon Williams (right) at Global Green USA Earth Day booth in 2000.

1. How would you describe your role at Global Green USA in five words?

Incredibly earthy dependable positive organizer.

2. You have been at Global Green for fifteen years! How has it grown and changed over the years?

When I started working with Global Green USA in 1999, we were the new kids on the block. With the organization only being about five years old, it was a challenge to capture people’s attention about the environment.

“The Green Power Campaign” totally captivated my heart and soon many others. Marching up and down the promenade, shouting “Go Green Power” and holding up signage reading the same, was the beginning of a new era for all. Thank you Joe Costello! We knew we had to become stronger advocates for the environment, and now we have the tools with legislators, celebrities, scientists, and community leaders on our side. We grew stronger in getting our message out, tabling at events throughout Santa Monica and surrounding cities. Now Global Green USA has a national presence with offices in New Orleans, New York, Washington, and San Francisco.

Yes, we have grown a lot, but our values remain the same.

3. What are your biggest accomplishments at Global Green?

- Greening the whole office with eco-friendly products.

- Keeping my ‘Diane’ tree (named for Global Green USA founder Diane Meyer Simon) alive and healthy for fifteen years.

- Teaching my grandchildren what I’ve learned at Global Green USA, and to watch/hear them implement it in their daily lives…is priceless.

4. What do you hope to have accomplished by 2015?

I want to implement a successful composting program that is supported by all our staff in the Santa Monica office.

5. What is your favorite thing about Global Green USA?

The Green Urbanism Program has been the most exciting program in the organization to me. It’s inspiring to see them transforming communities, cities to sustainable living.


Staff Spotlight: Keeley Locke

July 21st, 2014


Keeley Locke (center) with guests at Global Green USA's Millennium Awards.

Keeley Locke (center) with guests at Global Green USA’s Millennium Awards.

Sitting down with Keeley Locke, Development Associate.

How would you describe your role at Global Green USA in 5 words or less?

Facilitate Global Green’s Development Efforts

What’s your biggest priority right now at Global Green?

Connecting more people to our mission and sharing with them the powerful and important work we do.

Biggest accomplishment?

When I started at Global Green I was, no pun intended, green. Coming into the organization during a period of transition meant having to step up and take on multiple responsibilities including the planning of Global Green’s four title events:

The coordination of these events has been both the highlight and the greatest accomplishment of my tenure at Global Green. 

What do you hope to have accomplished by 2015?

I hope we will have secured the necessary funding to:

1. Expand and grow our National Green School Makeover Competition.

2. Complete the Holy Cross Project Community Center in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. The center will be a multi-use facility with solar battery backup and will serve and support the needs of the neighborhood and local residents by providing community meeting and conference space, a fresh food retail store, and a shelter for the community and its first responders during a major storm event.

What is your favorite thing about Global Green

That despite being a national organization with an international affiliation, many of our programs and initiatives operate on, or started at, a grassroots level. Our vision might be from a macro perspective but our belief in starting with and working with communities and individuals is what makes us unique and, in my opinion, more effective.

Staff Spotlight: Policy Fellows

June 23rd, 2014

Over the past six months, Global Green USA has had the pleasure of working with two outstanding policy fellows: Sumin Sohn, MBA, MPP and Jenna Losh, PhD. Before they move upward and onward, we took a few minutes to hear about their experience with Global Green and their hopes for the future.

Policy fellows Collage

Global Green USA: Can you please share a bit of your background and your interest in working with Global Green?

Sumin: After getting an MBA and working in the private sector for 4 years, I realized that I wanted to combine my experiences in business with my passion for sustainability.  The fellowship at Global Green was a great opportunity to learn more about the field as well as the inner workings of a nonprofit organization.

Jenna: I first got interested in climate change at the end of my undergraduate work, studying biochemistry at the University of Illinois. I then knew I wanted to work on environmental policy issues, but with a strong technical background so I could interpret and explain the necessary science to decision-makers. I finished my PhD in Geosciences at Princeton University several years later, and was looking to get some experience working in the nonprofit sector on policies that address climate change. Global Green was a great opportunity to work on these projects on national, state, and local levels.

GGUSA: What was your primary focus during your fellowship?

Sumin: I worked on two projects: one was a research project looking at the challenges of accessing healthy food in urban food deserts.  For the second project, I supported Global Green’s partnership with the Santa Monica to launch a bike share program in the city.

Jenna: I focused mainly on energy and energy efficiency in Los Angeles. Both projects I worked on advocated for smart policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles by transitioning to clean and renewable energy sources.

GGUSA: What were you most surprised to learn about Global Green and/or the field in which we work?

Sumin: I was most surprised and impressed by how much importance Global Green puts on ensuring that sustainability initiatives are inclusive and their benefits can be shared by everyone, including low-income and marginalized communities.

Jenna: I was surprised to see the large range of issues and projects Global Green works on. Each office works on such diverse issues – but all under the same vision of building a more sustainable, secure future.

GGUSA: How has working with Global Green helped inform and/or inspire the next step in your career journey?

Sumin: As a career switcher, my experience at Global Green has confirmed my commitment and interest in pursuing a career in the field of sustainability.

Jenna: Global Green has reinforced my desire to address environmental issues on the state and local levels. While national (and international) policies are the end-goal, the current political gridlock has essentially halted most opportunities. I’ve learned how tight relationships with other organizations and with City leadership can lead to real, measurable progress. Cities and states are great incubators for new policy ideas, and California in particular has such progressive ideas that can help other cities, states, or even countries.

GGUSA: What do you hope the environmental community – or even the global community – will have achieved by 2050?

Sumin: I hope that the environmental community can inspire and help every single person make smart decisions that are beneficial to the individuals and to the planet.

Jenna: By 2050, I hope the global community will be many years (ideally decades) into the application of an ambitious and effective global climate change policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to minimal levels. I hope the United States is able to pave the way for this process, so by 2050 we (the USA) can again be an example in environmental leadership.

Huge thanks to both Sumin and Jenna for their phenomenal contributions to Global Green USA and our environment!

If you’re interested in becoming a Policy Fellow at Global Green USA, please apply here

Staff Spotlight: Charlotte Baskin-Gerwitz

May 19th, 2014

Charlotte Baskin-Gerwitz Global Green USASitting down with Charlotte Baskin-Gerwitz, Environmental Security & Sustainability Program Assistant

How would you describe your role at Global Green USA in 10 words or less?

Disarmament, mitigating environmental impacts of military.

What’s your biggest priority right now at Global Green?

The biggest goal of the Environmental Security and Sustainability (ESS) program is to rid the world of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.  We currently focus on how such weapons and their toxic byproducts impact environmental and public health.  We are trying to increase awareness of this issue with international organizations, national and local governments, and the military.  Many of the international arms control regimes lack transparency and public inclusion in the disarmament process, so we work to bring civil society into the mix.

Biggest accomplishment?

I think the biggest accomplishment we in ESS have achieved since I started in October is increasing transparency, however incrementally, on the Syrian chemical weapon destruction process with the help of the Chemical Weapons Convention Coalition.  We’ve been releasing weekly blog updates on the destruction process, trying to gather as much information from as many sources as possible. Additionally, we’ve worked with both the OPCW, the Joint OPCW-UN Mission on Syria, the U.S. Departments of State and Defense to make more information on the process accessible to the public; and we were instrumental in enabling greater journalistic presence on the MV Cape Raythe U.S. ship on which the Syrian chemicals will be destroyed.

What do you hope to have accomplished by 2015?

By 2015, I think it would be great if the ESS prospective global task force on climate change and international security had its inaugural meeting and had set an agenda for the coming year(s).

What’s your favorite/most unique thing about Global Green?

My favorite thing about Global Green USA is that the overall organization encompasses such a wide variety of environmental and sustainability programs under one (proverbial) roof.

Staff Spotlight: Heidi Jensen

April 21st, 2014

Heidi Jensen staff spotlight.jpg

Sitting down with Heidi Jensen, New Orleans Office Manager, Assistant to the Director

How would you describe your role at Global Green USA in five words or less?

Creating sustainable coastal communities!

What’s your biggest priority right now at Global Green?

Louisiana and our neighboring coastal communities are ground zero for demonstrating the impacts of climate change and the importance of environmental responsibility—Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil spill disaster brought this home for us quite literally. With our NOLA Green Building Resource Center in Broadmoor, outreach events and workshops, and our Community Development and Climate Action Center (CDCAC) planning to open in Holy Cross later this year, we are able to enlighten, educate, and assist thousands of residents and visitors about the importance of building and living more sustainably.

Biggest accomplishment?

Here in New Orleans we have been involved in so many important aspects of rebuilding and protecting our region: influencing state and city policy, greening schools, educating and assisting residents and businesses with green building, energy efficiency and water management, creating green jobs, restoring and preserving our crucial wetlands—the list goes on and on!

What do you hope to have accomplished by 2015?

To continue to be a part of the revitalization of the Broadmoor neighborhood that is currently home to our office and Green Building Resource Center, while ramping up our capital campaign to successfully complete construction of our CDCAC/Holy Cross Project in the Lower 9th Ward—which will expand our offices, meeting space, interactive displays, and educational resources for NOLA residents and visitors.

What’s your favorite/most unique thing about Global Green?

In the devastating wake of Hurricane Katrina, Global Green was one of the first environmental non-profits on the ground in response to our community’s needs. Nine years later, we are still here—as committed and resilient as the City we’ve helped to rebuild. As a native New Orleanian, I’m grateful for Global Green and proud to be a part of what we do.

Staff Spotlight: Gina Goodhill Rosen

March 11th, 2014

Gina Staff Spotlight

Sitting down with Gina Goodhill Rosen, Senior Policy & Legislative Associate. 

How would you describe your role at Global Green USA in five words?

Advance sustainability through policy initiatives.

What’s your biggest priority right now at Global Green?

A big focus for 2014 is to make the City of Los Angeles a leader in sustainability. Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the United States, and has the largest municipal utility (and one of the dirtiest) in the U.S. With that in mind, we’ve set out to make LA one of the greenest cities in the Country.

Accomplishing that feat in LA could have huge national implications, both because the City’s energy demand is massive (which means that increasing the percentage of clean energy would result in removing millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions), and because the world watches Los Angeles: What we do here has the potential to be a model for the rest of the country. And with a new Mayor in office, we have a real opportunity to do something big.

Biggest accomplishment?

Three things:

  1. Helped adopt a new version of the building energy code (the IECC) used in almost 40 states that is 30% more energy efficient than the previous version of the code.
  2. Helped to implement a statewide program for energy efficiency that resulted in a $65.9 million investment in pilot programs for energy efficiency.
  3. Helped the City of Santa Monica secure over $2 million in funding to launch a bike share program.

What do you hope to have accomplished by 2015?

Two big things:

  1. To  help launch various bike share pilots in LA County, that will eventually be expanded into an interconnected system across the region.
  2. To secure a commitment from Mayor Garcetti and the LADWP to invest in clean energy. This means getting over 40% of our energy from clean renewable sources by 2020 (which must include local solar energy, such as a 600 megawatt feed-in-tariff); a quicker timeline to get off coal; a commitment that we won’t invest in any new natural gas; a bigger investment in energy efficiency; and more.

What’s your favorite/most unique thing about Global Green?

That we do both project work and policy work. So many groups do just one or the other, but I find it gives us a real advantage when talking to legislators to be able to let them know about the physical projects we are working on in their district—all of which result in cleaner air, more jobs, and dollars saved for their residents.

Global Green Room Staff Interview: Sharon Williams

September 20th, 2012

staff_sharonMeet Sharon Williams, the receptionist in our Santa Monica office.

Who is your hero?

My sister Linda, battled cancer for over three years and put up a good fight. She was a caring and loving person who fed the homeless in her neighborhood. She taught me to never give up on what I believe in; stay true to myself and do something in life that’s going to have a positive impact on people.

What has been your greatest success at work?

Sharing what I’ve learned at work with family and friends.

What about a failure or challenge?

Failure is not an option when you’re an environmentalist. You are determined to succeed in order for your great-great grandchildren to live in a sustainable world. It’s the challenges we face today with non-believers.

Favorite green book?

“The Lorax.” As an environmental grandparent, I try to find ways to engage my grandchildren in caring more for the environment. This was perfect for that.

Favorite green movie?

“The 11th Hour.” It reveals the challenges we’re facing on this beautiful planet and easy, simple solutions every individual can participant in.

Favorite way to spend a free day?

I love spending time with my grandchildren, teaching them about the environment and having fun while doing it.

If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?

I would free the world of nuclear power and install solar panels for every household/business. Then, build green urban communities for all in need of housing (clean water, organic gardens, green schools). No more poverty.

Global Green Room Staff Interview: Ted Bardacke

August 29th, 2012

staff_tedMeet Ted Bardacke, Senior Program Associate of our Green Urbanism Program, based in our Santa Monica office.

What would surprise us about your work?

How much time we spend walking the fine line between winning trust from our partners and getting them to work outside of their comfort zone.

Who is your hero?

I have people I admire — Bill McKibben, Aung San Suu Kyi, Michael Bloomberg, Jason McLennan — but no heroes. Heroes always disappoint and antiheroes are much more fun.

What has been your greatest success?

Proving that net zero energy affordable housing can be financed and built.

What about a failure or challenge?

Not being able to keep up with the pace of change in the world. Being deliberative and slowing down leads to better decisions with more long-term durability, but the world today doesn’t value slowness or deep thinking. We are worse off because of it.

Favorite green book?

“The Hanover Principles” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Part design brief, part philosophical manifesto, it is also highly readable and has stood the test of time.

Favorite green movie?

“In Our Own Backyard,” a documentary about the Love Canal released in 1983. I saw this while I was in high school and it made a big impression, probably similar to how people a generation earlier felt when they read “Silent Spring.”

Favorite way to spend a free day?

Swimming in the (warm) ocean. And then cooking a meal.

If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?

Have everybody live walking distance from their work.

Global Green Room Staff Interview: Walker Wells

August 29th, 2012

staff_walkerMeet Walker Wells, the Director of Global Green USA’s Green Urbanism Program, based in our Santa Monica office.

What would surprise us about your work?

I often find it surprising that much of the Green Urbanism Program’s work relates to coordinating the efforts of different design professionals to get an efficient and integrated use of currently available systems and equipment, rather than what people expect, which is to promoting bleeding edge technologies and materials.

Who is your hero?

There a number of people I respect and am inspired by, but I do not have a hero.

What has been your greatest success?

My greatest sense of success comes being able to create a spirit of respect and collaboration within the Green Urbanism program that allows us to be curious, creative, and focus our work on emerging challenges.

What about a failure or challenge?

Sometimes great ideas emerge that are not in synch with the spirit of the times. This doesn’t mean the idea is not valid but rather that it either needs to be presented differently or there needs to be a shift in perspective to enable the idea to take hold.

Favorite green book?

“Design with Nature” by Ian McHarg because it is an early inspiration for the urban sustainability work we do in the Green Urbanism program.

Favorite green movie?

“Where the Green Ants Dream” because it reveals that there are a diversity of cultural, historical, and spiritual experiences related to the environment, and that the human time scale is often out of sync with and thus unable to fully comprehend the processes and patterns of nature.

Favorite way to spend a free day?

Exploring L.A. with my kids.

If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?

I would make completing a class in urban planning a mandatory requirement for high school graduation.