Meet the Summit Leaders

Click the pictures for information on each summit leader.

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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Marty Pickett, Managing Director and General Counsel, joined Rocky Mountain Institute in 1998. She focuses on institutional advancement and takes an active leadership role in RMI’s strategic direction, fundraising, and board governance. She has been instrumental in leadership in the Snowmass office and in the new Innovation Center under construction in Basalt, Colorado, which will be the most energy efficient commercial building in the coldest climate in the U.S. Marty is a juror for the international Green Challenge hosted annually by the Dutch Postcode Lottery in Amsterdam. She serves on the Planet & People advisory board of IKEA and on the Advisory Board for the Center for the Environment at Catawba College, Salisbury, NC. Marty received her law degree at University of Denver and a master’s degree from the College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado.

Robert McIntosh, a Sr. Associate at Rocky Mountain Institute, entered the energy field after a high school major in auto mechanics and a Bachelor’s concentration in History and Science (Harvard 2007). Prior employment included advanced biofuels, California advanced grid/transportation planning, and renewable startup financing before earning a master’s at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources (graduated 2012). After working for a waste-to-biogas project, he traveled to Kibera, Kenya to facilitate a water/energy project. Robby’s work at RMI includes the transportation/industrial component of energy planning around China’s next 5-year plan, distributed solar costs in the US, and engineering the future of passenger and freight transportation in the US. A skier, swimmer, and NCAA sailor, he is from urban Los Angeles and rural upstate New York.

Christa Owens, an associate at Rocky Mountain Institute, works with the electricity and communities practices to make energy use more sustainable, affordable, and secure. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Carleton College in Minnesota and her Master of Environmental Management in Environmental Economics and Policy from Duke University. She has extensive experience in international climate change negotiations and a passion for community organizing. In her free time, Christa is an avid runner, hiker, and gluten-free baker.

Heather White, Executive Director of EWG, is a nationally-recognized expert on federal environmental law and policy and a campaign strategist with more than 15 years experience.  

EWG, the nation’s most effective environmental advocacy organization, uses game-changing, original research to help individuals, businesses, and governments make better decisions to protect public health and the environment.  White guides EWG’s policy positions, advocacy strategies, communications plans, development and administration, manages EWG’s three offices and oversees the engagement of EWG’s 1.3 million online supporters. She leads the legislative activities of EWG Action Fund, EWG’s related lobbying organization.

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Assistant Professor of Biology

B.S., Virginia Tech; M.S., Ph.D., Old Dominion University; Post-Doctoral study, Smithsonian Institution Dept. of Botany

Dr. Jay Bolin holds a Ph.D. in Ecology from Old Dominion University and a B.S. degree in Environmental Science – Plant Resources from Virginia Tech. Jay has been a faculty at Catawba College since 2011 and is crazy about plants and plant ecology. Prior to coming to Catawba, he was a fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s Botany Department. In addition to interests in our indigenous plants he has botanized  (studied plants) all over the world including South Africa, Namibia, Borneo, Turkey, and Greece.

Summit Focus Group: Invasive Alien Plants and Animals: Friend or Foe to the Environment?

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

Dr. David Lee Fish, Ph.D., serves as the chair of the Music Department as well as the director of both the college's Popular Music and Music Business degree concentrations. He is also the current chair of the Association for Popular Music Education, a national organization he helped found that is made up of leading colleges and universities with programs of study in that area. At Catawba, Fish teaches courses on music business, songwriting, the theory of popular music, music technology, and world music. He also directs the Vernaculars, a contemporary popular ensemble.


Summit Focus Group: They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

B.S., College of William and Mary; Ph.D., Old Dominion University; Post-Doctoral work at the American Type Culture Collection, Malaria Research and Reference Reagent Resource Center Division

Dr. Carmony Hartwig holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from Old Dominion University and has experience in both academic and industrial research. Hartwig joined the Catawba faculty in August 2011 and is actively conducting student-involved research on disease vectors in the Fred J. Stanback Ecological Preserve on the Catawba campus. She loves the opportunity that Catawba provides to work closely with her students in the laboratory and in the field.  Prior to coming to Catawba she served as a senior authentication biologist in the Malaria Research and Reference Reagent Resource Center (MR4), where she worked on developing standardized fluorescence-based assays to monitor anti-malarial growth inhibition in Plasmodium falciparum in addition to continuing her dissertation work on artemisinin-class compounds. Her interests and expertise include aspects of molecular biology, parasitology, microbiology, biochemistry and disease vector ecology.

Summit Focus Group: Climate Change and Biodiversity: Rethinking the Ecology of Disease Vectors in the Face of Global Climate Change

 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.

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

Lecturer in Communication Arts

M.A., Southern Methodist University; B.A., North Carolina State University; Over 20 years as Freelance Newspaper, Magazine and Internet Writer; Freelance Writer for SAS Software (Cary, NC).

Wittum has been writing professionally for over thirty years and has been publishing online for about fourteen years. She owns her own blogs and web sites as well as freelancing with major corporations. “I take a few projects each year to stay in the loop and on top of what’s going on in the world of online media,” says Wittum.

Journalism, new media, online publication, blogging and public speaking are Wittum’s key areas as a faculty member at Catawba College. She is also the advisor of the student campus newspaper, The Pioneer, and advisor for the Communication honor society, Lambda Pi Eta.

Summit Focus Group:  Green Reporting: Backpack Blogging for Digital Natives