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.
Board member since 2012
Board Treasurer Chair: Finance Committee
Jake Barnett’s focus is at the intersection of economics and environmental/social good. This interest has led Jake to his work at Morgan Stanley, where he helps educate individuals, businesses and institutions in the St. Louis region about how to intentionally implement sustainable investment strategies. Jake is excited to be joining the Board of St. Louis Earth Day, and is committed to helping the organization demonstrate how sustainability can make economic sense within the St. Louis community.
Jake originally came to the region as a FOCUS St. Louis Coro Fellow in Public Affairs where he worked with the City of Maplewood Sustainability Commission and the Enterprise Holdings Inc. Corporate Sustainability Department to adopt best-practices in their respective fields. Before moving to St. Louis, Jake worked with a domestic microfinance group in Chicago and fundraised for a local orphanage in Ghana. Jake holds a B.A. in International Studies and Economics from Ohio Wesleyan University and grew up in Chicago and England/Ireland. Jake now lives in Tower Grove East with his wife and two dogs.
Board member since 2015
Laura Skiles is currently Vice President and Director of Renewable Energy Asset Management at US Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC). She oversees all aspects of renewable energy tax credit asset and risk management activities for USBCDC. As a primary tax credit equity provider for wind and solar projects, USBCDC has invested in over $5B in equity commitments towards renewable energy projects that provide clean, lower cost energy to communities and energy providers across the country. Laura focuses on the successful management of not only the projects themselves, but also on growing the relationships with the renewable energy developers who need the resources, flexibility and support of their investor.
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.
New board member
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
Traci moved to St. Louis in 1999 from Nebraska to pursue a degree in Biology. Upon graduation she accepted a job in the laboratory at Missouri American Water, which complimented her interests in natural resources, science, and policy, and led to a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science investigating wetland policies and water quality. She now works as a Water Quality Supervisor ensuring water systems across the state are meeting state, federal, and local water quality standards. She enjoys sharing information on watersheds at elementary schools, fairs, and festivals, and has coordinated trash pick-ups and volunteer monitoring of streams.
Her passion for the environment began early in life while spending time on family farms and going camping. In high school, working at an Audubon Sanctuary for Sandhill Cranes and at State Historic and Recreation Areas taught her the importance of quality habitat and taking care of natural resources. She is thrilled to be able to share these life-long interests through St Louis Earth Day. She now lives in South City with her husband and two children who enjoy the outdoors whether in their own backyard garden, playing in St. Louis’ many parks, or traveling.
Board member since 2011
Cindy Bambini is currently the Director of Business Development for CRB. CRB provides engineering, architecture, construction and consulting expertise for the design and implementation of greenfield facilities, renovations of existing facilities, warehouse expansions, and small room additions for the life sciences, food and consumer goods industries.
Prior to CRB, Cindy worked for Brightergy where she provided solar and other alternative energy/energy efficiency solutions for schools and non-profits; 3Degrees, the San Francisco-based vendor/partner selected by Ameren to market and manage their Voluntary Renewable Energy Program, Pure Power and Ameren Missouri.
A LEED Green Associate, Cindy is a member of the USGBC Missouri Gateway Chapter, Vice-President of the Kirkwood School District Foundation Board and Development Chair of the Missouri Alumni Association’s Griffiths Leadership Society for Women.
A lifelong St. Louis resident, Cindy is a 1985 Industrial Engineering graduate from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Cindy also earned a Masters of Business Administration in 1989 from the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis.
Board member since 2009
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 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.
New board member
Board Member, Fundraising Committee
Laura Cohen has worked on a variety of community issues in St. Louis for 35 years. She was project director for The Confluence Partnership (1997-2012), coordinating a collaboration of public and non-profit organizations to plan and implement a conservation, heritage and recreation corridor along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Cohen served as Assistant to the Mayor of the City of St. Louis (1993-97) where her responsibilities included the master plan for Forest Park and liaison for the Sister Cities program. She also served as executive director of Missouri NARAL, a statewide advocacy organization (1983-93).
Laura has a B.A. from Hampshire College. She is currently a member of the Missouri History Museum Subdistrict, and on the boards of St. Louis Earth Day, the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis and Gateway Housing First.
Board member since 2008
Board Member Chair: Marketing Committee
As the Regional Marketing Manager for Cosentry, an IT Solutions company, headquartered in Omaha, NE but with a central office in downtown St. Louis, Dori uses her passion and voice to help grow local clientele as well as spread the word about more energy-efficient technology. Cosentry’s data centers (9 total in the Midwest) boast efficiencies throughout, including solar panels on the roof of their primary St. Louis location. 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 at the WG Farmers Market or tooling around on her bike with two young her sons pedaling close behind.
Board member since 2015
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.
New 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.
New board member
Pete Salsich III
Board member Chair: Development Committee
Pete Salsich III (email@example.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.
New board member
Lori Strawbridge, CPA
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
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.
New board member
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