Board Members

Brian Pelletier

Board President

Brian Pelletier is owner and chief chocolatier at Kakao Chocolate, maker of all-natural handmade confections in St. Louis. Kakao has been named “Best Chocolate in St. Louis” twice by the Riverfront Times and by the readers of Sauce Magazine, and Pelletier was listed among a handful of “Tastemakers” by Feast Magazine. Prior to Kakao, Brian spent 20 years in business marketing, helping organizations ranging from small businesses to global enterprises communicate with people who are important to them. Brian has a passion for local, sustainable businesses and how they engage with their community to everyone’s benefit. He also serves on the boards of directors for the Retail Confectioners International Association, Discovering Options, and St. Louis Slow Food.

Read more about Kakao and Brian’s adventures in chocolating.

Contact:  board.president@stlouisearthday.org

Board member since 2012

Laura Skiles

Board Secretary

Laura Skiles is currently Vice President and Director of Project Management for New Markets and Historic Tax Credit Investments at USBCDC. She oversees all aspects of origination, underwriting and approval for investments in businesses and real estate developments that serve low-income communities.

Laura and her husband, Mike, are also the Lead Pastors of a local church in the St. Louis community. Endurance Church in Fenton, Mo is lead with an intent to serve the community and build encouraging relationships between believers. Laura and her family moved to St. Louis in 2006 from Jefferson City, for the purpose of assisting with the launch of a new church plant in the St. Louis area. They have enjoyed working in a variety of ministerial areas for over 15 years.

Laura holds her undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering, and an Associates degree in Drafting Technology. She also holds a Masters Certificate in Project Management. She currently lives in Fenton, Mo with her husband Mike, two children Slate and Stella, and one yellow Labrador named Spike. Their family enjoys family walks, playing music, and are avid Disney World fanatics.

Board Member since 2016

Susan Zareh

Board Treasurer

Susan Zareh is a sixth grade math teacher at Forsyth School, a private independent school near Forest Park. Her interest in sustainability began when she was a student herself, which is why she believes that teaching students about being good stewards of the Earth and loving our planet is so important. This past school year, Forsyth School began a lease of a 105 solar array system, which Susan integrates into her math curriculum through a graphing project using a website which tracks the energy generated each day by the panels. Susan enjoys camping with her family during the summer months, visiting state and national parks. She is excited to be a part of the St. Louis Earth Day Festival and is looking forward to helping inform other teachers and families about this great event.

Board member since 2013

John Risberg

Board President-Elect, Chair: Strategic Planning Committee

John serves as Executive Vice President, Secretary & Counsel of Maritz Holdings Inc. His primary professional emphasis as a lawyer focused on transactional work, but he also has extensive experience in corporate governance, litigation management, and preventative law and counseling, including legal compliance and risk management issues. As a part of his responsibilities for Maritz, he provides guidance for the company’s corporate giving and environmental programs. John is active in philanthropic and civic affairs. In addition to St. Louis Earth Day, he currently serves on the boards of Teach for America-St. Louis Region, the World Bird Sanctuary, and the 24:1 Education Committee of Beyond Housing. He also volunteers as a middle school student mentor for Urban Future in the St. Louis Public School District. He is a past participant in the Leadership St. Louis program. John is an avid outdoorsman and traveler, who particularly enjoys fishing, hunting, biking, hiking, boating, golf, skiing and just about any activity that involves exploring someplace new. He also enjoys a broad spectrum of cultural activities, from theater to museums to live music of all sorts. John and his wife, Mary, have two grown children, David and Thomas.

Board Member since 2014

Cherie Beckmann

Board Member

Cherie has enjoyed a successful business career in Operations, Marketing, and Sales.  Since 2011, Cherie has been an Account Executive with Anixter, Inc., a global distributor of communications infrastructure and physical security products.  Anixter also offers Supply Chain Services that help customers reduce jobsite trash, labor, and shipments on their Construction and IT projects which can help in achieving certain environmental goals and sustainability certifications.  Cherie has been a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization since 2010.

Cherie’s interest in the earth’s plant and animal kingdoms started early.  Growing up in Creve Coeur, her family also had a weekend farm in mid-Missouri where they kept horses and other animals as well as a large, annual garden plot.  Cherie’s compassion for animals, and love of fresh foods, began there.  After graduating from Lindenwood University with a BA in Business Administration, Cherie became interested in natural, alternative healing.  Cherie achieved her Usui Reiki Master status in 2006 and is a passionate and knowledgeable practitioner of therapeutic-grade essential oil techniques; she uses both to help others elevate their vibration and maintain their own health.  Cherie is excited about the opportunity to work with St. Louis Earth Day to expand her impact on elevating the planet.

Cherie lives in Chesterfield and enjoys Pilates, reading, walking her dogs, photography, traveling with her boyfriend and her large, extended family.

Board member since 2015

Roland Biehl

Board member

Roland is an Environmental Specialist at the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) Division of Environmental Compliance and coordinates the St. Louis County Stormwater Phase II Permit activities and works closely with the St. Louis County municipalities on water quality education and regulatory requirements assistance. Roland is a dedicated public servant, good partner with many communities and organizations, and is a major player in our regional river clean-ups and a strong advocate of green infrastructure.  Roland has served on the St. Louis Earth Day Symposium Planning Committee for 5 years.  Roland received his BS in Civil Engineering from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and he has 21 years of regulatory affairs and permit writing experience while at MSD.

Roland lives in Smithton, Illinois with his wife and two daughters.   Their family enjoys taking trips, bike riding and looking forward to kayaking together this summer.  Roland also enjoys volunteering at his daughter’s school.

Board Member since 2016

Lisa Cagle

Board Member

 

Lisa L. Cagle advocates for expanded and improved transit in the St. Louis region as the Program Director for Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT). Her work focuses on educating the community on the benefits of transit for individual persons, the local economy, and the environment. At CMT, Lisa spearheads innovative transit ridership incentive programs such as the Try and Ride Program and the Ten Toe Express. Over the past 3 years, the Try and Ride program has attracted nearly 4000 new riders in the St. Louis region to try the Metro system for their work commute; the Ten Toe Express program encourages seniors to use transit to improve their health, decrease social isolation, and increase their independence through transit-centered walking groups. Ten Toe Express participants use transit to become tourists in their own city, seeing their hometown from a different perspective.

Lisa holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL), and studied at the University of Oslo in Norway on a Fulbright Fellowship focused on “Culture, Environment, and Sustainability.” While in Oslo, her research and firsthand experience demonstrated the value of quality transit in promoting equity in access to jobs, education, healthcare, and other resources. As a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at Washington University and an adjunct professor at UMSL, Lisa has worked in social and political philosophy with a focus on systemic gender and racial justice issues. Her current research examines local policy and the built environment from a social and racial justice perspective. Lisa lives in South City St. Louis where she stays busy outside of her work at CMT as a leader and active participant in numerous community action groups.

New Board Member

Dori Degenhardt

Board Member Chair: Marketing Committee

As part of the Marketing team for TierPoint, Dori leads all content development efforts for TierPoint.  Headquartered in St. Louis, TierPoint is a national provider of Hybrid IT solutions that help organizations drive performance and manage risk.  Dori uses her passion and voice to help grow local clientele as well as spread the word about more energy-efficient technology. Sustainability, recycling, composting and all-around Earth-friendly habits have always played a significant role in Dori’s day-to-day activities. Having spent her early years on a farm near Ironton, MO, “farm-to-table” was not a fad but a way of life. She credits her parents and her upbringing for her genuine love, care and sense of responsibility for our environment. Dori has spent more years in Missouri than not, however, college took her to Syracuse, NY and a post-college career choice led her to Chicago, IL for a handful of years. She and her family now reside in the Webster Groves neighborhood and can often be seen enjoying all of St. Louis’ amazing parks or tooling around on her bike with her two sons pedaling close behind.

Board member since 2015

Nick Frisella

Board member

Nicholas Frisella is an ALA certified Lighting Specialist (LS) with more than 15 years of experience in the lighting industry. His current role at Metro Lighting is Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Manager. Under Nicholas’ direction Metro Lighting has received 7 national awards from the DOE and EPA. In 2014, his energy efficiency team was awarded Top Performer from the Ameren Missouri’s BizSavers program. In 2015 his energy efficiency team completed the second highest amount of projects in the BizSavers program. This program cycle saved Metro’s commercial customers more than 18 million kWh of electricity (That equates to a lifetime savings of CO2 emissions from 106,654,504 pounds of coal burned).

Nicholas is active in promoting energy efficiency and has testified to the Missouri Public Service Commission. He is also a stakeholder in creating Missouri’s statewide technical reference manual (TRM). Nicholas has educated countless Missourians, of all ages, on how to be good stewards of the environment. He believes his crowning achievement is receiving ENERGY STAR’s Climate Communicator award. This award is typically given to international corporations for educating consumers about climate change. Nicholas is passionate about helping people reduce their environmental impact.

He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is proud to be a self taught environmental advocate. Nicholas also serves on The City of Maplewood’s Sustainability Commission.

Board Member since 2016

Tracy Haag

Board member

Tracy Haag works for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Tracy is currently working as the regional community assistance coordinator for DNR in the St. Louis Regional Office. Through her work Tracy assists local governments with developing plans to address their current and future environmental needs, such as drinking water, wastewater treatment, storm water management, solid waste management, and asbestos in older buildings. Tracy’s connections with the communities help to provide a linkage to the department to cultivate collaborative working relationships. Tracy has worked for the department for over 27 years in both the waste water and drinking water programs. Tracy volunteers with the Missouri Stream Team-The Great 168 in cleaning up streams around the St. Louis area. She has been actively involved with Earth Day activities in both Missouri and Illinois since the early 90s. And in her spare time she likes to upcycle mittens, scarves, and stuffed animals from old wool sweaters in her craft room (aka The Mitten Factory.)

She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Monmouth College in Monmouth, IL and her Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

New board member!

Kurtus Kahle

Board Member

Kurt is a mechanical engineer with CRB, a consulting firm that provides engineering, architecture, and construction services for the life sciences and food industries. Kurt focuses primarily on the design and evaluation of energy systems and high-purity utility systems in FDA-regulated facilities. Kurt has been a leader of CRB’s continuous improvement team focused on sustainability services, such as energy modeling and auditing, and on internal sustainability improvements. Prior to CRB, he has worked in the renewable energy industry, including power plant design and fuel cell research.
Kurt also volunteers as a congressional liaison for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nonprofit seeking to create the political will to drive action on climate change. He is heavily involved with The Gathering United Methodist Church, and enjoys playing music and riding his bike in his spare time. He graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Systems Science and Engineering in 2013.
New Board Member

John McElwain

Board member

John McElwain is school counselor, auxiliary programs coordinator, and summer camp director at The College School. He recently obtained his M.Ed. in Counseling from UMSL. John brings his passion for the environment and sustainable living in everything he does. Formerly, he owned Terrene restaurant in the Central West End. His restaurant was know for being environmentally conscious; from the recycled materials he used in it’s design, to the locally sourced food diners enjoyed at Terrene. He carried his passion for composting, recycling, and sustainability to The College School where he wrote the school’s application for the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon School Award that the school received in 2012.

Board Member since 2016

Maurice Muia

Board Member

Maurice K. Muia is an engineer for Ameren Transmission. He engineers transmission substations that will make our grid more reliable and robust for our community. Recently, he was selected for a special assignment in which he collaborated with other subject matter experts across the Ameren organization to conceptualize the “Energy Company of the Future”. Maurice, is actively involved in STEM related mentorship activities at Ameren that ranges from primary school to high school students. He was also part of the 2010 inaugural SLU Masters of Sustainability class. Maurice works hard professionally and personally to drive sustainability and its guiding principles through his works and actions throughout our community.

Maurice is a member of the Parish Council for St. Francis Xavier; there he actively participates and contributes to building a solid foundation for the future. He was also a member of the Sustainability Commission for the City of Maplewood. Being a commissioner for sustainability in Maplewood was a great learning opportunity, it taught me a lot about the political economy of sustainability initiatives and how to execute them successfully.

Maurice, graduated from Florida A & M University with his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Master of Science in Sustainability from Saint Louis University and a Certificate in Green Economy Training from the United Nations Environmental Programme.

New board member!

Krupa Panchal

Board member

Indian by birth, Krupa received a bachelors in optometry (India) and Masters in Gerontology (USA) – practicing Optometry for 10 yrs before getting a masters degree from Webster University. Currently owns Bombay Food Junkies Food truck, Bombay tiffin Club (meal delivery service), as well as restaurant. Bombay Food junkies was born 3.5 yrs ago, for the love of street food that she and her husband grew up on and 90% of which is vegetarian!! She wanted to share that love with the St Louisians to have them experience the unique Street food that can be vegetarian, tasty and well balanced!

In India, where she grew up recycling news papers to bottles to old clothes and utensils, Mahatma Gandhi, well known Indian leader, taught them how to re-use papers – by writing on the back side! So using limited resources and making the most out of it is in their blood. The same philosophy carries through the food truck as the restaurant with a very unique dinning concept where food is made fresh and served in smaller portions on the table to avoid wastage. People can re-order whatever they loved as many times as they like and we are happy to serve them!

She first became involved with St. Louis Earth Day and the Green Dining Alliance 3 yrs ago and were very excited to learn that they promote vegetarianism! They decided they had to join to celebrate as well as pass on a message that its not only good for your health but also for mother earth!

In addition to her culinary career, Krupa is a mother of a 7 yr old daughter, and a professional juggler (trying to maintain a good balance between home and work). She loves music, feels dancing is in her blood, and considers herself a foodie and curious by nature!  She feels lucky to be born as human and believes in leaving a positive foot print on this beautiful earth, considering it her little contribution.

New board member!

Pete Salsich III

Board member Chair: Development Committee

Pete Salsich III (psalsich@coolfire.com) is General Counsel for Coolfire Studios, Inc. (an entertainment content creation studio), Coolfire Solutions, LLC (a mobile software development studio focused on the military and commercial enterprise), and MedAware Solutions, Inc. (a mobile software platform company focused on the healthcare industry).

Pete graduated magna cum laude from St. Louis University School of Law in 1996, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the St. Louis University Law Journal. He was awarded a judicial clerkship for the Honorable Paul J. Kelly, Jr. on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and began his practice with Freeborn & Peters in Denver before moving to St. Louis with Stinson Mag & Fizzell in St. Louis in 1999. He was an intellectual property partner at Husch Blackwell in 2009 when he left to found his own intellectual property and entertainment law boutique firm, The BrickHouse Law Group. Pete left BrickHouse in 2013 to move in-house to the Coolfire companies, which had been among his biggest clients. Pete was recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America in Entertainment Law every year from 2007 until leaving private practice in 2013.

Throughout his career, Pete’s practice has focused on advising large and small companies regarding the creation, protection and use of intellectual property, particularly in the media, technology and entertainment industries, in both litigation and transactional counseling. He is licensed to practice in Missouri and Colorado.

Pete is also a bit of serial entrepreneur as well as a lawyer. Before law school he was a free-lance illustrator, and a partner in a playground equipment company in St. Louis and a bar at the Lake of the Ozarks in southern Missouri. These days you can occasionally find him playing guitar with The Occasionals.

In addition to serving on the Board of St. Louis Earth Day, Pete also serves on the Board of The Angel Band Project, and the Executive Board of the St. Louis University Billiken Club.

Board Member since 2016

Lois Sechrist

Board Member

Lois Sechrist, LEED AP, manages the Ascension Environmental Stewardship Program, including sharing best practices throughout Ascension’s 141 hospitals in 24 states and Washington DC. She taught the LEED Green Associate exam prep course for several years for the USGBC – Missouri Gateway Chapter and is past Chair of the University City Green Practices Commission. Lois has an Interior Architecture degree from Kansas State University and was a project manager and interior designer with Sverdrup (Jacobs), Arcturis and Christner for many years prior to her current role at Ascension.

New board member!

Lori Strawbridge, CPA

Board Member

With over 15 years of service to Saint Louis small businesses, individuals, and nonprofit organizations, Lori is dedicated to assisting her clients with their accounting and tax needs. Lori earned Bachelors and Masters of Accounting degrees from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, and has been a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor since 2007. With a full range of professional solutions to meet your needs, Lori’s focus is on simplifying client accounting systems to provide accurate and relevant information in the most efficient way possible.

In addition to her professional work, Lori has taken a dynamic leadership role in the community beginning in 2003 when she joined the board of directors of Saint Louis Earth Day, an organization that has transformed the City’s sustainability landscape. She also serves on the board for Middlewest Movies and Sustainable Backyard Tour. Previously, Lori was a long standing board member for the Judevine Center for Autism, where she chaired the Fundraising Committee for 5 years. Lori also served on the board of Artscope as Treasurer, and was Vice President of the Professional Women’s Alliance.

Board member since 2003

Angie Weber

Board Member

Angie brings over 10 years of experience to the St. Louis Earth Day Board in the fields of conservation planning, volunteer management, and environmental consulting. Since 2015, Angie has served as the Conservation Program Manager for Great Rivers Greenway whose mission is to connect the St. Louis Region with a network of greenways so people can explore their rivers, parks, and communities.  Angie’s vision and expertise has established the organization’s first conservation and volunteer programs.  Through these efforts, Great Rivers Greenway is improving the quality of life for all by creating and restoring healthy habitats and educating people to be good stewards of our region’s watersheds.  With Angie’s leadership, Great Rivers Greenway has removed over 15 acres of invasive plants, 200 tons of trash from local rivers and streams, and engaged 6,500 volunteers through the events that they coordinate and sponsor in the community. Angie received her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Biology from Drury University and earned a Master of Science in Biology from St. Louis University. Angie previously served on the Young Zoo Friends and Metropolitan Volunteer Management Association executive boards.

Angie was born with a love of nature and the outdoors. Her favorite childhood memories include creekin’ and camping with her family at the Paddy Creek Recreation Area located in the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest.  In her spare time, Angie also enjoys hiking, canoeing, landscaping with native plants and spending time at her parents’ 111- acre rustic Bed & Breakfast located just south of Fredericktown, Missouri.

New board member!

 

Colin Wellenkamp

Board Member

Colin Wellenkamp is Executive Director of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI). Colin has extensive experience in representing the interests of public entities in Washington, DC. Advocating for the welfare of some of the Nation’s largest cities and non-profit organizations, Colin has spent the last fifteen years advancing the causes around sustainability, transit growth, water system improvement, sustainable economic development, first responder resources, renewable energy, and private sector partnerships for sustainable projects. Colin brings this experience to MRCTI to build a new organization around the cities that reside along the Mississippi River. This relatively new organization provides the only forum in the nation through which local leaders can advance the matters around river management for the entire 10-state length of the waterway.

Colin is also a trained environmental scientist and has participated in some of the nation’s largest human health assessments involving water bodies in the Midwest. Colin has also worked with companies such as Union Pacific Railroad and General Motors in implementing environmental management standards to make their operations more sustainable.

Colin has served in the American Bar Association House of Delegates where he lead an effort to provide more resources to law schools to increase their curriculum offerings on Constitutional Law. Colin has also served as the Washington Director of National Registry of Environmental Professionals where he developed the Registry’s first accreditation on sustainable business development.

Colin is an adjunct professor of Public Policy at Washington Adventist University in Maryland.

Born and raised in Missouri, Colin has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Saint Louis University, a J.D. from Creighton University School of Law, and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Sustainable Development Law from George Washington University Law School.

Board Member since 2016