Meet the Summit Leaders

Click the pictures for information on each summit leader.

Sherri Billimoria is an Associate in the Electricity practice, focusing on the Leap Initiative which works to empower and improve the lives of low-income households and communities in a clean energy future. Her work has particularly focused on the development of new business models to connect low-income customers to clean energy benefits. 

Prior to joining RMI, Sherri received both her Bachelor’s degree in Atmosphere/Energy Engineering and her Master’s in Earth Systems from Stanford University. In addition to her energy-focused work, Sherri has also focused on food and agriculture. From being on the teaching team for several global agriculture and climate change classes to working with community farms and garden education programs, Sherri is interested in agriculture across many different scales. She has also interned at a smart meter startup in Germany, gaining an understanding of international solar and electricity regulation.

Senior Associate, Rocky Mountain Institute 

Courtney has worked with RMI’s Electricity Practice since January 2015. Her main focuses have been designing, executing, and facilitating multi-stakeholder convenings for the electricity industry as well as advancing the utility business model to better incorporate distributed energy resources. Courtney managed the Electricity Innovation Lab’s (eLab’s) Accelerator event, a 4-day working meeting designed to advance project teams at the electricity system’s distribution edge. She worked as a part of the team providing strategic advice to New York State’s Public Service Commission on the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) process. In addition, she has contributed to a number of engagements with both utilities and regulators across the U.S. working to progress different aspects of the utility of the future.

Prior to joining RMI, Courtney was a Senior Analyst at GI Energy, a distributed generation developer that specializes in combined heat and power (CHP) and ground source heat pumps (GSHP). As a part of the analytics team, Courtney was responsible for developing detailed energy and financial models for a variety of energy measures including CHP, solar panels, and demand reduction measures. Preceding her time with GI Energy, Courtney worked as a consultant for Sapere Consulting, a management consulting firm focusing in the technology, energy and natural resources, and media and communications sectors.

Courtney graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Business Administration from Washington and Lee University.

Vice President of Development

Environmental Working Group

Jocelyn Lyle has helped environmental health non-profit organizations for nearly a decade. Before joining EWG she focused on assisting environmental justice communities with public health solutions. At EWG she manages all development efforts. She graduated from Allegheny College with a dual degree in political science and communication arts.

Nicole Miller works with the Business Renewables Center (BRC) at Rocky Mountain Institute. The BRC is a member-based platform that streamlines and accelerates corporate purchasing of off-site, large-scale wind and solar energy. This summer, Nicole is supporting members by leading an analysis of potential value added by combining battery storage systems with renewable Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and is assisting on a case study involving a Dutch wind consortium. 

Nicole is receiving her masters at Duke University, The Nicholas School for the Environment where her concentration is energy management. She has participated in case study competitions that combine sustainability and corporate goals, worked on client projects that determine Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI) of new technologies, and serves as the Finance Director of student council. She graduated from Denison University in 2011 with a BA in Religion and Environmental Studies. 

Prior to returning to school, Nicole worked for 4 years developing and managing programs to increase residential energy efficiency in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. She helped build a coalition of diverse members with a vested interest in the environment, business and human health and partnered with various organizations to provide support to these programs. 

Marty Pickett is a Managing Director, Trustee, and General Counsel of Rocky Mountain Institute, an entrepreneurial nonprofit “think-and-do tank” that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources. An 18-year veteran at RMI, Marty focuses on the Institute’s advancement in alliances, funding, and governance as well as general strategy and legal counsel. Marty holds a Masters Degree in Community Development and Planning from the College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado, Denver, and a law degree, with an emphasis in environmental law, from the University of Denver. Prior to joining RMI in 1998, Marty practiced land use planning and land use and real estate law in Denver and Aspen Colorado. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for the Environment at Catawba College in North Carolina, the international jury of the Dutch Postcode Lottery’s Green Challenge prize, and the People and Planet advisory board of IKEA. 

Mark Silberg is the Network Manager for eLab (Electricity Innovation Lab) at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). eLab is a collaborative platform to accelerate the economic deployment of distributed energy resources. In his role, Mark coordinates and engages eLab's community of 1500+ decision-makers with influence over the majority of U.S. electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions. The network includes electric utilities, DER providers, regulators, environmental NGOs, consumer advocates, national labs, and others. 

Before joining RMI, Mark was the founder and director of Spark Clean Energy, a nonprofit curating funding, mentorship opportunities, and educational resources for emerging sustainability leaders. In 2016, Spark Clean Energy delivered the U.S. Department of Energy’s Cleantech University Prize business plan competition, awarding $150,000 to promising startups.  

Earlier, Mark conducted research for the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern University exploring how market structures and regulation influence technology experimentation in the electricity sector. Simultaneously, he was a policy analyst for E9 Energy Insight. He has interned with Clean Energy Trust, The Sustainability Exchange, and the Center for Environmental Initiatives, and participated in research on environmental ethics, fuel poverty, and the history of international climate change negotiations, including the book Changing Climate Politics: U.S. Policies and Civic Action (Yael Wolinsky-Nahmias, Editor; CQ Press, 2014). He has been an advisor to the Echoing Green Fellowship, Village Capital’s U.S. Energy incubator, Blockchain Ideapod Contest, Engineers for a Sustainable World, Energy Thought Summit, and UIC's Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy.

Mark graduated from Northwestern in 2014 with a degree in philosophy. In 2016 he ​was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Energy.

 

Executive Director, Center for the Environment

Dr. John E. Wear, Jr., is the Founding Director of the Center for the Environment at Catawba College and Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science. During his tenure at Catawba, he assumed responsibility for establishing the college's Environmental Program, coordinating the faculty's creation of four different degrees.

He has committed his energies to environmental initiatives at the local, regional and state level. His leadership has been instrumental in launching a number of sustainability initiatives in the state relating to air and water quality and land conservation.

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Heather White is president and CEO of Yellowstone Forever, the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park. She oversees the $20-million organization with more than 65 year-round employees and 75 seasonal employees in two offices and 12 Park Stores, more than 50,000 supporters, and an online community of more than 300,000 worldwide.

Heather is a nationally recognized sustainability leader, proven nonprofit executive, and expert on environmental law and policy, with deep roots in environmental education and conservation biology. Heather joined the team in Yellowstone after serving as the executive director of Environmental Working Group, where she guided the organization’s fundraising, advocacy, and outreach strategies, managed four offices, and oversaw the engagement of more than two million online supporters. White previously worked as the director of education advocacy for National Wildlife Federation, the nation’s largest conservation organization, counsel to United States Senator Russell D. Feingold, a litigation associate at Bass, Berry & Sims law firm, and served as an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University Law Center.

A native of East Tennessee, Heather spent her early years hiking and camping with her family in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She first visited Yellowstone when she was 11 as part of a cross-country national park tour with her dad. When she saw Old Faithful on that trip, she connected with something larger than herself. The whole experience sparked a deep, lifelong commitment to conservation and a keen interest into the connections between public lands, open spaces, wildlife conservation, and our overall well-being. Heather is an avid hiker and backpacker.

Heather has been widely praised for her work, including being named one of the “Top 20 Women Leaders in Sustainability” by Green Building & Design magazine in 2015 and “100 Women to Watch in Wellness” by MindBodyGreen. Heather is often cited in national press outlets on conservation matters, including MSNBC, PBS, CBS, New York Times, The Guardian and The Washington Post. She serves on the board of directors of the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum (now the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument), Maryland League of Conservation Voters, The Center for the Environment at Catawba College, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Erin Brockovich Foundation, and Cookies for Kids Cancer.

Heather received a B.A. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia as an Echols Scholar and a J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law magna cum laude. Early in her academic career, she also studied conservation biology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand and comparative natural resources law in Nairobi, Kenya. She lives in Bozeman, Montana with her family.

Faculty

Dr. Norris Feeney joined the Catawba College Department of Politics in August of 2013. Before he started teaching students about the variety of political systems around the world and the dangers faced when these systems interact, Dr. Feeney spent much more time, for pleasure and for pay, in the tamed wilderness of his home state of Tennessee. In these fields, woods, and mountains he stared at a good many trees and wildflowers, some whose names he still remembers, others he has momentarily forgotten.

Summit Focus Group: Water Wars

 Assistant Professor of Philosophy and is serving as Chair of the Religion & Philosophy Department

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Since 1998 he has been at Catawba, where he teaches almost all of the philosophy courses. He is the advisor for the Department's club, Catawba Conversations. His most recent publications are several articles in Routledge's Encyclopedia of American Philosophy. He opposes the dominant scientistic philosophy of scientific naturalism, instead defending a philosophy of the humanities worked out by his mentor, the late E. M. Adams.

Summit Focus Group: "Go Ahead: Change Your Mind" this summer.

Professor of Theatre Arts

Now in her 14th year at Catawba College, Professor of Theatre Arts, Dr. Beth Homan is an accomplished director and teacher who enjoys working on original texts and devising piece with students and colleagues. Past directing projects include Rent, The Dining Room, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Pirates of Penzance, Songs for a New World, The Tempest, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  At Catawba, Beth teaches a wide variety of classes from Acting and Directing to Theatre History and Hatha Yoga. Dr. Homan received her BFA in Performance from the University of Florida, her Masters in theatre from the University if Miami at Ohio and her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Salisbury with her photographer husband, Sean; her beautiful daughter, Emmaline; and a menagerie of family pets.

Summit Focus Group: Learning to Pay Attention: Yoga, Mindfulness, and Our Environment.

Assiociate Professor of Biology

B.S., Butler University; Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Prior to coming to Catawba College, Dr. Poston was a Postdoctoral Fellow and Adjunct Instructor at the University of Kentucky. He is a member of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology, the Association of Southeastern Biologists, the North Carolina Academy of Science, and the American Ornithologists’ Union.

Summit Focus Group: A Backbone for Conservation

Lisa Wear is an environmental professional who works with Catawba College, the N.C. Office of Environmental Education, and other agencies and organizations across the state to provide individuals with opportunities to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving and take action for a sustainable environment.

Wear served as science specialist and director of Horizons Unlimited, an environmental education center located in Salisbury, where she enjoyed facilitating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education experiences for teachers, students and the community.  She also served as a curriculum director and grant writer for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.   

She is currently teaching in the Environment and Sustainability Program at Catawba College with a focus on environmental and outdoor education. Wear holds a BA in biology, certifications from Duke University’s Center for Inquiry-Based Learning, and is a N.C. Certified Environmental Educator.  She received her education from UNC-Greensboro and N.C. State University.

Summit focus group: Trace: Wildlife Forensics

Erin Wood received her B.S. in psychology, with a minor in biology, from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. She later earned both her M.S. and Ph.D. in biopsychology also at VCU. Her research as a graduate student centered on behavioral pharmacology and behavioral genetics using rats and mice. Nowadays she enjoys teaching a range of psychology classes, from first-year seminar and honor courses, to behavioral statistics, health psychology, and the fundamentals of neuroscience. Her research interests are focused on the intersection between technological advances and health behaviors, as well as the role of technology in education in post-secondary institutions. Dr. Wood also serves as the College’s Title IX Administrator. She enjoys working with students in conducting, analyzing, and presenting research, as well as pushing themselves toward growth and inclusivity. She also relishes being active with her son, deep and humorous discussion, gastro-adventures, and jogging… sometimes.

Summit Focus Group:  Death, Skulls and (Re)cycling: Investigating Humans in Their Nature.