The Voices of 47 Women Taking the Lead on Climate Action

Women hold the majority of global economic power and make up a significant percentage of the labor force. Yet, women are disproportionately impacted by climate change and social justice disparities.

As the host of a podcast that focuses on ideas that will shape the future of our planet and ultimately, our existence, I actively seek out female voices to amplify. After all, it would be impossible and irresponsible to ignore the incredible force that is women working to stop climate change. Out of 140 episodes of Bigger Than Us, 47 guests have been women. It’s been an honor to learn about their careers, their challenges, and what motivates them on their journey. I look forward to growing this list and balancing the ratio to accurately reflect the role of women in securing a sustainable future.

For now, here are 47 women who are leading climate action in waste, energy, finance, fashion, social justice, and more.


Bigger Than Us #109 Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE)

Lisa Jacobson is the President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), a 55-member trade association representing the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy industries. In this role, Ms. Jacobson advises states and federal policymakers on energy, tax, air quality and climate change policy. She is a member of the Department of Energy’s State Energy Efficiency Steering Committee, the United States Trade Representative’s Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee, the Energy Efficiency Global Alliance Steering Committee and the Gas Technology Institute’s Public Interest Advisory Committee. Ms. Jacobson has testified before Congress and has represented energy industries before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Prior to her position with the BCSE, Ms. Jacobson was a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives. She has a master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Vermont.

Bigger Than Us #70 Julia Hamm, President & CEO of the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)

Julia is a visionary leader at the center of the transformation underway in the electric power sector to a clean and modern energy future.  For the past 20 years she has been advising and collaborating with utilities, solution providers and government agencies on business models, grid modernization, and clean energy policies, strategies and programs. Julia guides and oversees all of SEPA’s research, education, and collaboration activities for its 1,100 member companies, including over 725 electric utilities.  Julia has led the organization through significant expansion in recent years, including rebranding from the Solar Electric Power Association to the Smart Electric Power Alliance, and merging with both the Association for Demand Response and Smart Grid (ADS) and Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP).  Prior to joining SEPA, Julia worked for ICF International where she supported EPA’s implementation of the ENERGY STAR program. Julia – a graduate of Cornell University – walks the talk, driving an EV and living in a PV powered energy-efficient home in Northern Virginia.

Bigger Than Us #50 Sanya Detweiler is Associate Director of the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Islands Energy Program

Sanya Detweiler is Associate Director of the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Islands Energy Program, which provides technical assistance to island nations to advance their transition to renewable energy. The Islands Energy Program has worked in fifteen islands in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. Sanya has been spearheading the team’s solar microgrid projects in Puerto Rico since the devastating 2017 hurricane season.

Sanya previously worked in solar for the nationwide residential solar company, Sunrun, and as a volunteer team leader for GRID Alternatives. Prior to that, she worked on clean cookstove projects, primarily in Central and South America and Southeast Asia. Sanya has a B.A. in Architecture from the University of California Berkeley and a M.S. in Sustainable Energy System Management from Hanze University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. She completed her Master thesis on battery storage and electric vehicles with Mercedes-Benz Energy.

Dr. Jenkins leads the team responsible for Enviva’s environmental stewardship, from guiding the development and implementation of policies that ensure the sustainability and traceability of the wood supply chain, to interacting with policymakers and other stakeholders on regulatory matters. With a technical background in carbon cycling and ecosystem science, she brings more than 20 years of experience working in government, academia, and the private sector at the interface between forests and climate. She holds a Ph.D. in ecosystem ecology from the University of New Hampshire, an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland’s RH Smith School of Business, a Master of Forest Science from Yale University, and a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College.

Bigger Than Us #32 Julia Kumari Drapkin, CEO and founder of ISeeChange

Julia Kumari Drapkin is the CEO and founder of ISeeChange. Dedicated to connecting communities to each other and their changing environment, Drapkin created ISeeChange after over a decade reporting natural disasters and climate change science across the globe and in her own backyard on the Gulf Coast. Drapkin currently serves on the board of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and is a consultant for the think tank Resources for the Future and NASA. Prior to journalism, Julia did research anthropology and archaeology for over 7 years in Latin America, where she geeked out on Mayan farmer’s almanacs.

Bigger Than Us #6 Kimberly Britton Chief Executive Officer of EPIcenter

Kimberly M. Britton is the Chief Executive Officer of EPIcenter, a nonprofit created by CPS Energy, OCI Solar, Itron and Lyndis+Gyr to focus on innovation in energy. EPIcenter drives thought leadership, convenes human intelligence, galvanizes alliances, and catalyzes new technologies and concepts in energy.

She has cultivated extensive relationships with energy industry leaders and incubators across the U.S., rapidly raising the visibility and reputation of EPIcenter.


Elizabeth Sawin is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Climate Interactive and an expert on solutions that address climate change while also improving health, well-being, equity, and economic vitality, and she is the originator of the term ‘multisolving’ to describe such win-win-win solutions. Beth writes and speaks about multisolving, climate change, and leadership based on systems thinking to local, national, and international audiences. Her work has been published in Non-Profit Quarterly, The Sandford Social Innovation Review, U. S. News, The Daily Climate, System Dynamics Review, and more. She has trained and mentored global sustainability leaders in the Donella Meadows Fellows Program and provided systems thinking training to both Ashoka and Dalai Lama Fellows. 

A biologist with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Beth trained in system dynamics and sustainability with Donella Meadows and worked at Sustainability Institute, the research institute founded by Meadows, for 13 years.

Juliana Garaizar is an experienced global executive and general manager with demonstrated success working with entrepreneurs in angel investment, venture capital and private equity across multiple industry sectors including medtech, cleantech, fintech, consumer and impact. 

Most recently she served as the Director of the Texas Medical Center Venture Fund, and prior to that as the Managing Director of the Houston Angel Network. The Houston Angel Network is the most active angel network in the United States, and has invested in Greentown Labs companies AMS and Dynamo Micropower. Prior to this, Juliana managed the Antipolis Innovation Campus, a small business innovation and incubation center in the French Riviera. In this role she also served as the Managing Director of the Sophia Business Angels, investing in cleantech startups such as SunPartner, Solar Indice, Nheolis, Blue Group and Certinergy. A native of Spain, Juliana started her career in Singapore: first as an International Trade Consultant for the Trade Commission of Spain and then at Citigroup. Juliana earned her MBA at the London Business School and Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, with a concentration in entrepreneurship. She has also received recognition as a Kauffman Fellow, a highly selective two-year program for innovative venture capital leaders. 

Juliana has served on many boards and advisory boards in the areas of innovation, investment and civic engagement. She is currently a board member of the Angel Capital Association and is an advisory board member of the Israeli fund Sanara Ventures, the Houston Diversity Fund and the University of Houston Cougar Venture Fund. She has also served as a member of the Mayor of Houston’s task forces on Innovation and on Women and Diversity. 

As a globetrotter who has visited 60 countries, Juliana is passionate about experiencing different cultures and speaks five different languages. During her travels, she has been able to experience the impact of climate change firsthand. After her last trip to Patagonia and living through Hurricane Harvey, she felt she needed to step up her commitment to fight it. During her last eight years living in Houston, she has been able to see a shift in the city’s understanding of the impacts of climate change and the need for an energy transition. That is why she believes it is the perfect moment for Greentown Labs’ expansion to Houston.

Jo has responsibility for the development and execution of strategic direction and programs at VertueLab. With the organization since 2010, she translated her previous decade of experience leading sustainable design at ZGF Architects into the creation of a collaborative research program focused on the sustainable built environment, and then into expanding the set of services offered to cleantech startups. Jo’s current focus as deputy director is on VertueLab’s organizational excellence, partnering with VertueLab’s executive director in essential internal firm leadership activities. In addition, Jo leads the organization’s efforts for impact measurement and management, ensuring that VertueLab programs and supported companies are designed and managed to achieve ambitious triple bottom line impact targets.

Louisa Ulrich-Verderber is an artist, engineer, inventor, and founder of Undula Tech, a company dedicated to making renewable energy more accessible to those who need it most by taking inspiration from nature. She is currently a Senior Engineering and Management major at Clarkson University and has been a welding artist since age 12. Her dual passions for art and science have to lead her to the field of biomimicry and drive her to ask new questions and find answers in odd places. You can find out more about Undula Tech at, and more about Louisa, her story, and other projects at


Bigger Than Us #111 featuring Valerie Rockefeller, co-chair of BankFWD and chairs the Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Valerie Rockefeller chairs the board of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a private foundation advancing social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. She also co-chairs BankFWD, a network to persuade banks to phase out financing for fossil fuel and to lead on climate. Her professional background is as a middle school special education teacher for adolescents with learning differences and emotional disabilities. She began her teaching career at Central Park East Secondary School in East Harlem, New York, and also taught in Australia.

Valerie has a M.Ed. in Special Education from Bank Street College of Education and a MAT in secondary Social Studies from Columbia University Teachers College. She majored in International Relations at Stanford University, and worked as a confidential assistant to Secretary Richard Riley at the U.S. Department of Education during the first Clinton administration. She also serves as a trustee of Achievement First, the Asian Cultural Council, Columbia University Teachers College, Greenwich Academy, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. She was a trustee of Spelman College, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Valerie lives with her daughters Percy and Lucy and her son Davis in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.

Michelle brings legal, policy, and operational expertise to her role at the Long-Term Stock Exchange. Her experience includes serving in senior roles at the New York Stock Exchange and the US Department of the Treasury, as a consultant with McKinsey & Co., Inc. and as a securities lawyer. She teaches at Columbia University and has served on numerous non-profit boards and as a member of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Michelle is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School.

Marilyn leads the climate and clean energy finance portfolio at the Hewlett Foundation. She has worked across four continents in renewable and nuclear energy, startups, and venture capital and investment. Author of Sustainability at work: careers that make a difference, Marilyn is editor-at-large at GreenBiz.

She previously led the energy practice at Village Capital, modeled and forecasted energy solutions to climate change as a Senior Research Fellow at Project Drawdown, and managed innovation projects at AREVA (now Orano). She holds a Master’s Degree with distinction in Engineering for Sustainable Development from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, magna cum laude, from Princeton University.

Bigger Than Us #67 Vandana Harris, Managing Director of Investment Strategy for Unreasonable Group

Vandana is the Managing Director of Investment Strategy for Unreasonable Group, and is focused on driving investment to growth-stage entrepreneurs across the globe. In 2020, she will spearhead the formation of Unreasonable Group’s first Global Growth Fund. Her career has spanned three continents and includes substantive investment management, private equity, M&A and cross-border experience. Vandana has experience working in East Africa, London, New York and Seattle. She spent many years advising institutional investors (including governmental and corporate plans) on all aspects of their investments in domestic and international alternative investment funds, as well as structuring and negotiating some of the largest private equity funds, including impact-based investment funds. Vandana has extensive global experience and is often called on to counsel teams on investment strategy and creating complex and unique fund structures (including global impact funds). She was named as a Rising Star on Washington’s 2015 Super Lawyer list. Vandana has a passion for social value and impact investing, as well as various philanthropic causes. Vandana is an active member of the Boys & Girls Club of King County and has served as a Trustee of the Nature Conservancy’s Washington Chapter and on the board of the YWCA.  Vandana was born in Kenya and has had the opportunity to live and work in Africa, Europe and the United States.

Bigger Than Us #21 Elena Savostianova Managing Partner at Ember Infrastructure

Elena Savostianova has over 15 years of professional experience in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Prior to Ember, Elena served as a Principal with Global Infrastructure Partners CAPS team, focusing on renewable energy opportunities. Before GIP, Elena spent nearly a decade as part of Credit Suisse’s Power and Renewables group where she was responsible for coverage of energy corporates with a focus on renewable energy and infrastructure, as well as financial sponsors active in the energy and infrastructure space. Her responsibilities included deal sourcing and execution of the complete capital stack, from equity transactions on the corporate side to senior secured debt underwritings at the asset level.  Elena joined Credit Suisse in 2005. Prior to that Elena was a member of Deloitte’s Management Consulting division and the JPMorgan Chase Oil & Gas Investment Banking team.


Bigger Than Us #113 featuring Emily Stengel, Co-founder and Co-executive Director of GreenWave.

Emily Stengel is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of GreenWave, a non-profit organization dedicated to training a new generation of regenerative ocean farmers and building the foundation for a new blue-green ocean economy that creates jobs, mitigates climate change and grows healthy food for local communities. She brings to GreenWave a background in sustainable food systems, working for several years at a B-Corp catering company in NYC dedicated to supporting the regional farm and food economy, and more recently, working on a research team focused on workforce development in agricultural communities. Emily has an MS in Community Development and Applied Economics from the University of Vermont.

Tinia Pina accepted her Bachelor of Science in Business Information Technology from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2006. She began her career in sustainability as a former student pursuing a Masters of Science degree at Columbia University prior to becoming the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Re-Nuble, Inc., a waste-to-resource company headquartered in New York City. A strong advocate for sustainable waste management, regenerative agriculture, and urban resilience, she has been involved in management and business development roles within the sustainability industry for ten years. Her professional interests focus on using unique and distributed technologies to extract the optimal value from organic waste streams for upcycling into value-added products.

Sabrina is CEO of SEED and, with a background in architecture, law and urban planning, she has almost 25 years of experience working with groups in 40 states as a community organizer and organizational development specialist. In 2000 she founded a non-profit that addressed sustainability and food security in low-income populations, while challenging ordinances and public housing policies that restricted home gardening and urban farming. She organized “SEED Farming, Food Access & Entrepreneurship” workshops to support urban farming and community food systems in South Los Angeles and Cuba, before founding SEED in 2019.

Sabrina has been a professor at both California State University at Northridge and the University of Southern California focusing on city growth and food security. Her super powers are perfect pie crusts and ice cream wizardry.

Bigger Than Us #69 Virginia Emery, CEO of Beta Hatch, a pioneering insect farming company

Virginia Emery is founder and CEO of Beta Hatch, a pioneering insect farming company that is industrializing insects for agriculture. Beta Hatch is fueled by a passion to see insects reach their true potential in our food systems. The company has grown to be internationally recognized for its scientific approach to scaling insect production, and operates North America’s largest mealworm farm for animal feed production in Washington. Virginia is the country’s most innovative insect entrepreneur, recently recognized as a Visionary Grist 50 Fixer. Virginia has a PhD in entomology from the University of California, Berkeley, has been awarded over 20 grants and honors, and has published on subjects ranging from chemical communication to genetics to insect behavior. Her life’s mission is to breed a bug that tastes like bacon.


Bigger Than Us #124 Maxine Bédat, Founder and Director of the New Standard Institute

Maxine Bédat is the founder and director of New Standard Institute, a research and action think tank using data to drive accountability in the fashion industry. Prior to NSI, Maxine co-founded and was the CEO of Zady, a fashion brand and lifestyle destination creating a transparent and sustainable future for the apparel industry. For its work in sustainability, Zady was named one of the world’s “Most Innovative Companies” in retail by Fast Company. Bédat has been recognized by Oprah in her Super Soul 100, for leaders elevating humanity and serves as an ambassador for Rainforest Alliance. She has spoken at some of the world’s leading conferences, including the WWD Apparel/Retail CEO Summit, and has been regularly featured as an expert by Bloomberg, Forbes, Business of Fashion, CNN, and The Huffington Post. Bédat began her career in international law working at the Rwandan Criminal Tribunal and received a Juris Doctor with distinction from Columbia Law School.

Corporate attorney turned fashion tech and sustainability entrepreneur, Stephanie is the Co-Founder of Queen of Raw, a marketplace to buy and sell unused textiles, keeping them out of landfills and turning pollution into profit. Prior to starting Queen of Raw, Stephanie worked as a lawyer in the fashion, media/entertainment, start-up, and technology industries. An advocate for women in business and sustainability, her companies have been featured in NPR, Good Morning America, The New York Times, Vogue, WWD, ELLE, Cheddar, WCBS, United Nations, Fortune, Entrepreneur, WIRED, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and Fast Company. 

Stephanie is a NASA/NIKE/IKEA/DELL Innovator, a Grand Prize WeWork Creator Awards Winner presented by Ashton Kutcher, a Cartier Women’s Initiative Laureate, an MIT – Solve Global Challenge Winner, a thredUP Circular Fashion Fund Recipient, and an LVMH Innovation Award Finalist. She is a Member of Pledge 1% and New York Circular City Initiative and Founding Member of Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, along with Aveda, Kering, and Stella McCartney.


Bigger Than US #131 featuring Sarah Shanley Hope, VP of Brand + Partnerships at The Solutions Project

Sarah Shanley Hope is the VP of Brand + Partnerships at The Solutions Project following seven years as the organization’s first Executive Director. Under Sarah’s leadership, the organization transformed its mission and culture to center racial and gender equity, launched the field’s first and only award-winning intermediary climate and equity fund, and grew a celebratory, collaborative and inclusive movement for 100% clean energy. Sarah has held executive or leadership roles at the Alliance for Climate Education, Green For All, Cargill and Best Buy over her 15+ years of experience in brand strategy and social change. She has raised and helped deploy more than $50 million in support of a racial equity and climate solutions agenda over her tenure in the field.

Bigger Than Us #122 featuring Ashley Meeky, Youth Ambassador Board Member of the Foundation for Climate Restoration.

Ashley Meeky is a freshman at Vanderbilt University. She plans to double major in Economics and Communications and minor in Human and Organizational Development. She is the Youth Ambassador Board Member of the Foundation for Climate Restoration and is also a Content Creator Ambassador for Beauty and Brains Organization. She is an advocate for climate restoration, inclusivity, women’s empowerment, and domestic violence awareness. She also loves volunteering at South Suburban Family Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, and Progressive Housing. For fun, she enjoys reading, playing tennis, and operating her own natural hair care business called Hair Chronicles By Ashley. She aspires to be an international businesswoman that works for climate restoration and cultural awareness. Since she was young, she has longed to travel the world, which sparked her interest in restoring the climate so that we all can have the opportunity to experience the Earth’s beauty for years to come.

Dianna Cohen is Co-Founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) and a passionate advocate against plastic pollution. PPC is a growing global alliance of more than 1,000 organizations, businesses, and notable thought leaders working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals, and the environment. A Los Angeles based visual artist, Dianna has shown her work internationally at galleries, foundations, and museums. She uses plastic in her artwork to make a visual and social impact. With plastic bags as her primary material for the past 27 years, Cohen is interested in exploring its materiality through modifications and the material’s relationship to culture, media, toxicity, and the world at large and shared this in her 2010 TED talk “Tough Truths About Plastic Pollution.” Dianna is a frequent speaker and guest and has spoken at the UN and international conferences and symposia, and has been interviewed by Al JazeeraNBC Nightly News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, USA Today, Martha Stewart Living, and many others. She is the recipient of the Global Green Environment Award, the Snow Angel Award, and Environmentalist of the Year by SIMA, among others. Dianna studied Biology, Art, and Film at the University of California, Los Angeles and holds a BA in Fine Arts.

Bigger Than Us #27 Tracy Wallace, Justice Warrior

Tracy Wallace is a justice warrior—environmental, social, economic—who believes access and equity are the cures to poverty. With tenacity and passion, Tracy works to connect those with the greatest need for employment to employers in the rapidly growing solar industry.

Bigger Than Us #25 Korina Smith Founder at The Conscious Citizen Effect

Korina has over 20 years of experience leading teams on humanitarian missions to deliver humanitarian aid and facilitate sustainable projects in villages, relief camps, and orphanages around the world.  She has lived abroad and loves to travel internationally. She considers herself to be a global citizen and speaks Spanish, Portuguese and (used to speak) French.

Korina has served as a public speaker in various capacities, including as an advocate for education. She spent the last several years as an Executive Director for an international trade network and a community service and advocacy non-profit organization in Dallas, Texas. She now serves as a consultant to nonprofits and social impact organizations with Greater Society Consulting.

Korina recently launched a website, called “The Conscious Citizen Effect”, designed to help us all learn to make more conscious consumer choices and everyday habits that are kinder our planet, animals and our local and global communities.  


Lauren Robinson educator on the Bigger Than Us podcast

Lauren Robinson is currently an educator going on her 7th year of teaching in the greater Houston area and helping to develop Nexus PMG’s Mira & Nexi STEAM program. With a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Science from Texas Tech University, Lauren found a love for teaching during her time being a graduate assistant. She combined both her loves of teaching and science to become a high school teacher. Lauren is not only an educator but is married with two young children that she is excited to share this journey with. She is super enthusiastic to grow her reach of educating children on Science, Math, and Technology. She is very active in the education field, and can’t wait to continue to inspire students to love all the fields that the STEAM programs influence.

Bigger Than Us #133 Featuring Dr. Caye Drapcho, Associate Professor in the Biosystems Engineering program at Clemson University in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences.

Dr. Caye Drapcho is an Associate Professor in the Biosystems Engineering program at Clemson University in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences. She is the past Chair of the Clemson University Sustainability Commission. Dr. Drapcho teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate level in biological kinetics and reactor modeling, heat and mass transfer in biological systems, and sustainable engineering design. Her research focuses on modeling, design and optimization of biological reactor systems for the production of sustainable biofuels, capture and sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide using phytoplankton, and treatment of organic wastewaters. She is co-author of the textbook Biofuels Process Engineering Technology (Drapcho, Nghiem and Walker, McGraw-Hill 2008, 2020)

Bigger Than Us #120 Laura Schifter, Ed. D., Senior Fellow K12 Climate Action with the Aspen Institute

Laura Schifter, Ed. D., is a Senior Fellow leading K12 Climate Action with the Aspen Institute, a lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a fellow with the Century Foundation. Previously, she worked as a policy and research consultant, a senior education and disability advisor for Rep. George Miller (D-CA) on the Committee on Education and Labor, and an education fellow for Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. After graduating from college, she taught elementary school in San Francisco. Laura earned an Ed.D. in Education Policy, Leadership, and Instructional Practice and an Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in American Studies from Amherst College. Laura is also the mother of three daughters, Ellie, Issie, and Thea, and she hopes that engaging more people on climate change can help build a sustainable future for them and the next generation.

Bigger Than Us #49 Meghna Tare, Chief Sustainability Officer at the University of Texas Arlington

Meghna Tare is UT Arlington’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, Meghna works collaboratively to foster partnerships among academic, research, and operational departments at UT Arlington. She leads institutional sustainability efforts in support of the UT Arlington 2020 Strategic Plan- Bold Solutions | Global Impact that is enabling a sustainable megacity that centers on four themes: health and the human condition, sustainable urban communities, global environmental impact and data-driven discovery.

She also works to address opportunities to promote sustainability in several areas, energy efficiency, resource conservation, waste management, transportation, education, outreach, community engagement, supporting and encouraging student initiatives, and implementing an interdisciplinary and sustainability-focused curriculum.


Bigger Than Us #71 Pharr Andrews, Senior Climate Coordinator for the City of Dallas

Pharr Andrews currently serves as the Senior Climate Coordinator for the City of Dallas, where her primary function is to coordinate the development and implementation of the City’s first Comprehensive and Climate Action Plan (CECAP). Previous work experience includes Environmental Outreach Manager for the City of Richardson and Air Quality Manager for the City of Austin. She has over 20 years of experience working on a variety of environmental and sustainability issues with a demonstrated record of success in project management, climate planning, state and local policy/rulemaking projects, communication of complex information, and management of climate protection, air quality, pollution prevention, water conservation, and land development programs. Her experience paired with a strong commitment to preserving our natural environment has earned her a reputation as an eco-champion.While in Austin, she chaired the region’s Clean Air Coalition Advisory Committee, and helped develop and implement three regional air quality improvement plans. She was also a founding member of the City’s Climate Protection Team and played a vital role in the development of multiple climate plans. Prior to serving at the City of Austin she worked for the Texas commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on environmental policy issues.

Bigger Than Us #61 Lara Cottingham, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Houston

With 13 years of communications and public policy experience, Lara is the Chief of Staff of the Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department and the Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Houston. In addition to leading the Mayor’s Sustainability Office, Lara is the public face of ARA in the media as well as before City Council, industry stakeholders, and customers.

Prior to joining the City of Houston, Lara was a member of Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ Houston office, providing strategic counsel in sustainability and social responsibility issues for a broad range of clients across the energy sector. Lara worked in Washington, DC and served as Communications Director for the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Vice Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Caucus, as well as for congressional campaigns in Colorado, West Virginia, and Texas. She also produced a web-based reality show for CNN and served as a Government & Marketing Consultant for SXSW Interactive in Austin.

Lara attended the University of Texas in Austin where she graduated magna cum laude with degrees in History, Ancient History & Classical Civilizations, and Government. In 2013, she earned an MBA in Energy Finance and Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, where she co-founded the UT Energy Savings Fund.


Stacy Savage was born and raised in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area of Southeast Texas where her parents worked at oil refineries for a collective 75 years. Her personal experience with air pollution and cancers in her family guided her professional career path to empower others to protect the planet.

Stacy has been a Texas “waste nerd” for 17 years starting in 2003 as a grassroots, door-to-door community organizer tackling local landfill expansion issues in Austin. From 2015–2017, Mrs. Savage served as a City Council appointee on the Austin Zero Waste Advisory Commission (ZWAC). Her peers on this Commission elected her as their representative on the Joint Sustainability Committee, allowing her to provide a deeper level of service to the community.

In 2013, she founded Zero Waste Strategies (ZWS), an environmental consultancy specializing in Zero Waste and Circular Economy concepts. ZWS works with leaders in the business, government, and nonprofit sectors who are serious about reducing waste to drive increased profits, deeper customer loyalty, employee empowerment, and a green marketing edge. With 17 years’ experience in Zero Waste policy development, business implementation, and education training, ZWS has adjusted entire corporate and municipal waste protocols for optimization and has empowered thousands of employees through engaging training sessions, ensuring program success.

Bigger Than Us #63 Dana Gunders, ReFED’s Executive Director

Dana Gunders serves as ReFED’s Executive Director. Dana is a national expert and one of the first to bring to light just how much food is wasted across the country. For almost a decade, she was a Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). She then launched Next Course, LLC to strategically advise on the topic. Some of her career highlights include authoring the landmark Wasted report and Waste Free Kitchen Handbook, launching the Save the Food campaign, testifying in Congress, consulting to Google, appearing on John Oliver, and perhaps most importantly, being a founding Board Member of ReFED.

Bigger Than Us #46 Nicole Grossberg, Co-Founder Zero Waste NYC Workshop Series

Nicole Grossberg co-founded Zero Waste NYC Workshop Series in August, 2019 to take action against climate change by educating people on how to live a low waste lifestyle. Nicole believes that by reducing consumption and diverting trash from landfills, humans can ultimately lower their impact on the planet.

With her workshop series she hopes to bring together the zero waste community in New York City and provide as many tools as possible to make zero waste an approachable way of life. Prior to her work in sustainability Nicole obtained a Masters degree and spent seven years in social media and event advertising.

Bigger Than Us #36 Lauren Clarke, CEO and founder of Turn Compost

Lauren Clarke is the CEO and founder of Turn Compost. Turn is a DFW-based social enterprise with a vision to change how our urban environment is utilized. Turn works with consumers, businesses, and non-profits in ways which support sustainable development within our communities. Lauren’s experience in Culinary school and the Texas A&M master gardener program opened her eyes to the whole issue of food waste and how horrible it is in our environment.


Passionate and driven, Holly Elmore is Founder & CEO of Elemental Impact (Ei), a U.S.-based global non-profit committed to bringing regenerative operating practices to the corporate community. Beginning her career as an auditor and CPA with Arthur Andersen, Holly worked nearly seven years in the corporate arena. Within her entrepreneurial spirit, Holly created Executive Catering & Events, a prominent corporate-catering company. Over the next fifteen years, Holly operated Executive Catering along with two successful restaurants in the Atlanta market.

Following her restaurant and catering years, Holly served as Founder & Executive Director of the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA), an affiliate of the Georgia Restaurant Association. During her GFA tenure, Holly created and launched the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) program. In 2010, Holly founded Ei as the new home for the ZWZ. The National Restaurant Association acquired the ZWZ in 2012.

Holly utilizes her extensive business skills to make a difference through Ei, now in its 10th year of Regeneration in Action. Holly channels her energy and enthusiasm into Ei, spearheading initiatives that benefit the community, the environment, and the bottom-line.

As the “pen” behind the Fingertip Press, Holly is the author of the Ei website and the two Ei Online Magazines: Regeneration in Action and The IMPACT that document the organization’s journey and successes. In addition, Holly is a professional photographer and published photojournalist.

Bigger Than Us #56 Julia Craighil, Founder and President of Ensight Consulting

Julia Craighill provides sustainability strategy development and execution plans that enable clients to improve financial and environmental performance as the founder and president of Ensight Consulting. She is a driven, award-winning sustainability expert committed to helping organizations build value through green strategies. With more than three decades of experience in architecture, construction, and sustainability, she provides pragmatic guidance to building owners, managers, and occupiers for their workplace and building operations.

Julia also offers specialized services for the real estate industry. As one of the first certified BREEAM USA In-Use Assessors in the United States, Julia leverages her considerable knowledge of the system for clients seeking certification.

A frequent speaker and author on issues of sustainability and resiliency, Julia is known for her ability to inspire organizations to make the leap from good intentions to long-term, profitable performance.

Bigger Than Us #47 Jessica Marschall Co-President and CEO, The Green Mission

Jessica I. Marschall, Co-President and CEO/CFO of The Green Mission, has a Masters in Accounting from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and an undergrad from the University of Virginia. She has been a practicing CPA for 18 years and also runs a small accounting and tax practice. Her background includes public accounting consultancy and internal auditing. Jessica currently works as an adjunct professor in tax and accounting, volunteers in local community groups, and sits on the Board of two not-for-profit organizations. Her greatest accomplishment is being a mother to five children and a wife of 20 years. Jessica ensures proper research of IRS codifications and relevant case law as well as conferencing with other personal property appraisers and industry leaders to ensure the mission of waste diversion shared by nonprofits, government entities, deconstruction contractors, and individual and corporate donors can be realized with utmost attention to detail from a tax standpoint.

Bigger Than Us #43 Katie Wallace, Founder of Hux Sustainables

Katie Wallace is the founder of Hux Sustainables and Chief Marketing Officer at eCarra, an all electric car service. She is an international speaker, eco-entrepreneur, and consultant focused on building a more resilient world. She also does social media and content consulting, working with partners to raise awareness around sustainability, personal discovery, and mental health. Beyond that, she is an avid adventurer and host of an online series and podcast, Sustainable League, discussing what it really takes to build a more resilient world.


Bigger Than Us #54 Joan Michelson, award-winning business and communications leader, host of the acclaimed podcast series, Green Connections Radio™

Joan Michelson is an award-winning, marketing communications leader, journalist, trainer, speaker and coach who brings 20+ years of experience in the media and leading ground-breaking communications and marketing in Fortune 50 companies.  She is host of the acclaimed podcast Green Connections Radio, which was chosen by USA Today as one of the top six podcasts for business travelers, and she writes on social innovation and careers in Forbes.

In addition to Forbes, her work as appeared in HuffPost,,, The Washington Post, The New Economy magazine, CBS “60 Minutes,” ABC News, NBC, WTOP-FM and in various other outlets across the globe.

Bigger Than Us #8 Sonal Patel Senior Associate Editor at POWER magazine

Sonal Patel is a national award–winning multimedia journalist who has, for more than a decade, covered a wide range of technology, business, and policy issues related to energy and the environment worldwide. She is currently a senior associate editor at POWER magazine, a 137-year-old trade publication dedicated to chronicling power generation history, currents, and advancements


Bigger Than Us #62 Emma Rose Cohen, CEO and founder of Final, the company that created FinalStraw

Emma Rose Cohen, 34, is the CEO and founder of Final, the company that created FinalStraw—the world’s first reusable, collapsible straw that raised nearly $2 million on Kickstarter. Prior to launching Final, Emma earned a Master’s Degree from Harvard in Environmental Management and Sustainability and spent four years working in waste minimization at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In the last decade, Emma’s passion for sustainability motivated her to help create a nonprofit called Save the Mermaids, to educate children about the harmful effects of single-use plastics. Emma has also spoken about the harmful effects plastic straws have on the environment on the TEDx stage and in numerous podcasts.

Emma’s love for both the ocean and the mountains has resulted in a semi-nomadic lifestyle—she calls Santa Fe, New Mexico, Santa Barbara, California, and Whistler, British Columbia home. Emma continues to lead Final’s entirely remote team as they develop an entire line of Foreverables™—items designed to replace single-use plastic and last forever. Final launched its second product, FinalWipe, on Kickstarter in March 2020 and has plans to release several additional products, including FinalFork and FinalSpork, later in the year.

Bigger Than Us #55 Amy King, Co-Founder of Good Co-working in Dallas, TX

Amy is the Co-Founder of Good Coworking in Dallas, TX, the first coworking space in the world focused on inclusive sustainability, powered by solar.

As an evangelist for the triple bottom line, Amy champions entrepreneurs who are building profitable businesses that allow people and the planet to thrive. Her flagship space in Dallas is pursuing LEED and WELL building certification, as well as JUST. She plans to use these certifications to educate the entrepreneurial community on how to be successful in a global, purpose-focused economy.

Prior to her migration to Texas, she led the incubation and leadership development of 80 USGBC chapters for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and their green rebuilding support to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

When she isn’t at work, you can find Amy volunteering to find homes for rescue dogs, or traveling the globe.

Bigger Than Us #40 Amy Hall, CEO and Founder of Goldilocks Wraps

Amy is an Ontario native currently living in Victoria, BC. She received her Master’s Degree in Art History from Queen’s University before working as South Pond Farm’s Wedding & Event Coordinator where she was featured on the series Taste of the Country on Netflix. Growing up in lake country instilled a deep appreciation for the water at an early age and she was able to combine her passions of art and ocean conversation by founding Goldilocks.

Is there a woman or person you’d like to hear featured on the podcast? Send us an email at Subscribe to hear from more inspiring industry leaders on the Bigger Than Us podcast, and share your feedback about the show on iTunes.

Raj Daniels

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