Learn about the people working to strengthen the field and support professional development. This effort supported innovative leaders in the environmental education field through leadership training, state-of-the-art education materials and research, networking opportunities, and an online hub where educators can share new approaches and best practices.
Judy Braus (she/her)
Judy Braus brings to her role as NAAEE Executive Director a wealth of experience in the environmental education profession, with a focus on conservation education, diversity and inclusion, and using the power of education to help create healthier communities that empower local communities, stakeholders, and individuals to help restore and protect the environment. She comes to NAAEE from the National Audubon Society, where she was the Senior Vice President of Education and Centers, overseeing an extensive nationwide network of nature centers and educators. Prior to that, she led the education programs at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the U.S. Peace Corps, and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).
A former Chicago Public School Teacher, Laura moved to Kansas about 25 years ago and continued teaching K-8 students. In 1998, Laura was fortunate to join the staff with the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE) and in 2000 became the Executive Director for the organization. KACEE is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization with the mission of promoting and providing quality, non-biased and science-based conservation and environmental education for all Kansans. Laura currently sits on the steering committee for the Affiliate Network of NAAEE, the Educational Operating Committee with PLT, and is active with the National Science Teachers Association. She holds a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, a Master’s in Administration and Supervision and a Doctorate from Kansas State in Curriculum and Instruction for Math, Science and Technology.
Queta González is the Director of the Portland-based Center for Diversity & the Environment (CDE). CDE has been committed to diversifying the environmental movement since 2008. Today nearly 400 alumni representing 250 organizations have graduated from our trainings, with a broader program reach that includes over 3,500 individuals from nearly 300 organizations. CDE’s work focuses on the challenge and opportunity we have before us in our efforts to align the environmental movement with an increasingly multicultural and diverse society.
Ashley Hoffman has served as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education since 2010 and as the part-time Executive Director of the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA). The SEEA is a collaboration of environmental education organizations in the eight southeast states (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, and TN). Ashley Hoffman holds a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida and a Masters in Nonprofit Administration. Ashley is a Certified Professional Environmental Educator and the Kentucky State Coordinator for Project Learning Tree. In her free time, she enjoys traveling to new places and enjoying time outdoors with her husband and children.
Currently working at the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, heading up Project Learning Tree (PLT) and PLT Canada, connecting young to young adults to our forests, through meaningful school experiences, green jobs, and mentorship
Jean Kayira, Ph.D. is Associate Director of the Environmental Studies Ph.D. program at Antioch University – New England. Jean has a strong commitment to and passion for socio-ecological justice issues, community-based education, and collaborative inquiry. In engaging with these concerns, her work has focused on education as a sociocultural and critical practice, with an additional focus on epistemological and methodological issues of qualitative research. These foci draw on the practice of anti-oppressive education, social and cultural theory, postcolonial theory, and empirical research, which engage directly with educators as well as students.
Alex Kudryavtsev, a Russian citizen, completed his MS (2006) and PhD (2013) degrees at Cornell University. He explored urban environmental education and sense of place among students in community-based organizations and schools in the Bronx, New York City. Alex has a BS degree in environmental conservation from a Russian university, and worked in a Siberian environmental NGO for eight years. Through the EECapacity project run by NAAEE and Cornell University, Alex teaches online professional development courses for educators, and conducts environmental education research. Alex's personal website: https://www.alexruss.org/
Yue Li recently finished her PhD in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in soil and water conservation from Beijing Forestry University and a master’s degree in natural resources from Beijing Normal University. Through her research and outreach, Yue seeks to understand how networking among diverse environmental educators fosters innovation in their environmental education practice.
Lori Mann has nearly 40 years of experience in environmental education at the local, state, and national levels. Lori joined the NAAEE staff in 2012 as Program and Conference Manager and now serves as Director of Conferences and Programs. In this capacity, she manages all aspects of the NAAEE annual conference and coordinates several national projects related to building capacity to deliver high-quality environmental education.
Elizabeth ‘Libby’ McCann, Ph.D. is Director of Environmental Education Concentration, Environmental Studies at Antioch University – New England. Libby received her Ph.D. in adult education, with an emphasis in environmental education, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her dissertation, “Passion and Persistence: A Study of Communities of Practice in Schools,” earned her the Russell J. Hosler Award for Outstanding Dissertation.
Vince Meldrum is President and CEO of Earth Force. Vince is an experienced nonprofit leader who has worked in environmental and civic education for 20 years. Vince leads Earth Force, a national organization with a unique focus on combining active civic education with environmental education to prepare young people with the civic skills, scientific knowledge, and motivation to improve our local environment.
Nearly 20 years ago, Christy took her first job in environmental education at a conservation summer camp, and she hasn't looked back. She has worked in universities, international nonprofits, local organizations, state agencies, and private companies—always with an eye toward helping people build environmental literacy and meaningful connections to nature. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida and a Master's Degree in Environmental Management from Yale University. When she's not working, Christy likes to swim, surf, and play with her family on the beaches of South Florida, where she lives and works.
Having co-authored 12 books and manuals (including three for NAAEE); published 33 book chapters, 80 peer-reviewed journal articles, and 198 extension fact sheets; and served on 160 graduate student committees in her 20 years at the University of Florida, Dr. Martha Monroe is a prolific leader and contributor for catalyzing environmental education research. Her accomplishments working at the nexus of EE research and practice are as diverse as they are numerous, blending expertise in program evaluation, learning, professional development, and behavior change to help build capacity and empower people to participate in addressing environmental issues.
Katie has been active in the field of environmental education for over 20 years. As the executive director of the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, she leads environmental literacy planning and implementation efforts and is active both locally and nationally.
As the Director of Technology, Mary serves as the project lead for NAAEE online technology, including the NAAEE website and eePRO, the hub for professional development. She collaborates with developers, designers, staff, leaders, and end-users in building out features and improving user experience; coordinates with NAAEE project managers to support the technology used to deliver their programs, including the in-person and virtual conferences; and leads and collaborates with the communications team on association newsletters, web content, and community outreach.
Stacie Pierpoint (she/her)
Stacie joined the NAAEE team in April 2020 as the Communications, Marketing, and Membership Specialist. Stacie has worked in the education field for almost two decades. Prior to joining NAAEE, she managed communications for Annenberg Learner, a leading national nonprofit that connects K–12 educators with classroom content and professional development to support and strengthen their practice. She also taught Spanish at a high school in Washington, D.C. for six years. She holds an M.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies from American University, and a B.A. in Modern Languages and Linguistics, and Certificate in Secondary Education from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She recently completed a Certificate in Social Impact Storytelling at Georgetown University. Throughout her career, she has been committed to bringing exceptional educational opportunities to underserved areas and educating to promote civic engagement.
Drew is an organizational and logistics specialist with nine years of project and program coordination. Drew has expertise in creating and implementing systems to ensure program success and federal regulation compliance, including budget management, reporting, and program activity coordination. Drew started working for NAAEE in 2012. Prior to that, he worked for ChemStewards, an environmental, health, and safety program, and as a Sustainability Assistant for the City of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, focusing on data management as well as community engagement. He has a bachelor's degree in Political Science, with a minor in biology, from the University of South Dakota.
Connections. Luciana Ranelli’s personal and professional life revolve around the theme of connections as she fosters relationships among people, sees connections between ideas, and invests in connection to place. Joining the ee360 project ties in her passions for communication, social justice, inquiry, outdoor exploration, and education. Luciana is currently at Antioch University New England working toward a Master of Science in Environmental Studies with an Environmental Education concentration. Prior to Antioch, Luciana dove deeply into environmental education practice as a Naturalist at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Northern Minnesota for three years. She’s particularly proud of her role at Wolf Ridge in which she facilitated educational culture and curricular shifts to include formative assessments and research on how people learn. Luciana holds a Graduate Certificate of Environmental Education from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a BA in Biology and Secondary Education from the University of Minnesota, Morris. An ice skating adventure on a pristine lake in Vermont stands among the most magical of adventures in her most recent memory...and she is always on the lookout for more.
Pro Picks Topic Expert
Youth and Family Programs Director, Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center
Bora Simmons serves as the founding director of the National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education. The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) initiated the Project in 1993 to help educators develop and deliver effective environmental education programs. The Project has drawn on the insights of literally thousands of educators across the United States and around the world to craft guidelines for top-quality environmental education.
Elena currently serves as Director of Leadership Development and Conservation Education at the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. From encouraging youth to recognize the ecosystem values of urban environments to providing leadership skills for professionals, Elena believes it is important for people to go beyond just understanding the world around them; they should have the opportunity to experience it through exploration, curiosity, and wonder.
Before coming to AFWA, Elena worked at the North American Association for Environmental Education, focusing on developing online modules for professionals. During her time at National Geographic Society, she managed the Chesapeake Bay initiative, funded by a NOAA grant, that involved uploading student water quality data to an online platform and creating curriculum and professional development opportunities to incorporate its use in social studies and science classrooms.
While at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Elena was the lead staff for the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature and coordinated education and outreach efforts for the state agency. Throughout her career, she has developed numerous curricula and lessons that involve student data collection and using that data to make informed resource management decisions.
Elena currently volunteers as a board member for the Natural History Society of Maryland, and as an advisory member for the North American Association for Environmental Education. Additionally, Elena has served as President of the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, where she is Emeritus and a member of their Maryland Environmental Education Certification program. Elena has served as Adjunct Faculty for Towson University where she supervised Master’s Education Students during their internships in middle and high schools, and she has led several study abroad courses in Costa Rica for pre-service educators.
Elena is a graduate of University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources (BS), University of Michigan’s School of Education (MA) and Johns Hopkins University (MS). She recently received a certificate in E-Learning and Instructional Design through Oregon State University.
Elena lives along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, with her husband Ryan, where they enjoy kayaking and spoiling their dog.
Anne Umali has been working in the environmental education field since 2000 and has built a strong passion for teaching and training others, especially when it comes to leadership training, community engagement, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Anne is the Project Manager for the ee360 Project at the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), U.S. EPA’s most recent National Environmental Education & Training Program. Before NAAEE, she was the Project Manager for EECapacity, the U.S. EPA’s National Environmental Education & Training Program housed at Cornell University 2011–2016.
Bruce Young (he/they)
Prior to coming aboard with NAAEE Bruce worked as a freelance environmental education consultant, educator, and volunteer for a variety of schools and organizations including the Rivanna Conservation Alliance, Greensboro Science Center, Tandem Friends School, and Free Union Country School.
Janet Ady is the Chief of the Education, Interpretation, and Partnerships Division for the Bureau of Land Management’s National Conservation Lands and Community Partnerships directorate. The division provides national level program support, training, and products for environmental education, interpretation, volunteer management, and partnership programs; leads the Junior Ranger initiative to connect people with nature; and coordinates the BLM youth and stewardship programs.
Nicole Ardoin is an associate professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University. She is also Stanford's lead researcher on the eeWORKS initiative in partnership with NAAEE. Professor Ardoin´s research focuses on environmental behavior as influenced by environmental learning and motivated by place-based connections. In particular, she is interested in considerations of geographic scale, which is an understudied yet crucial aspect of people-place relationships in a rapidly globalizing, urbanizing world. Professor Ardoin has current studies on the use of education, communications, and other social strategies in informal and community-based settings, including nature-based tourism programs, to engage individuals and communities in deliberate dialogue, environmental decision-making, and informed conservation behavior.
Kathayoon Khalil, PhD is the Associate Vice President of Conservation Learning at the New England Aquarium. Prior to joining the New England Aquarium, Kathayoon was the Director of Engagement for Canopy Strategic Partners. She has also held positions as the Conservation Impact Manager for the Oregon Zoo, the Principal Evaluator for the Seattle Aquarium, and the Director of Evaluation for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. She received her PhD in Learning Sciences and Technology Design from Stanford University, her Masters of Environmental Science from the Yale School of the Environment and her Bachelors in Organismal Biology from Claremont McKenna College.
Parker McMullen Bushman
Dr. Medina is an environmental education consultant. His areas of work include professional development, program design, cultural competency, strategic planning, facilitation, and project management. He has helped to write several funding proposals and reviewed numerous requests for funding. Dr. Medina has worked both nationally and internationally. For 18-years he served as Project Manager of the U.S. EPA National Environmental Education Training Program. Prior to that he was a Senior Program Officer with World Wildlife Fund. He has facilitated environmental education courses and workshops in the Caribbean, Central and South America, China, Thailand, and India.
Dr. Medina has played a leadership role in making environmental education more culturally relevant. He served on the North American Association for Environmental Education’s Diversity Committee and chaired its sub-task force to ensure the Association welcomes and values ethnically and culturally diverse educators. Dr. Medina was the first instructor for the online course, Making Environmental Education Relevant for Culturally Diverse Audiences, offered by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. In addition, he served as project leader for the publication, What's Fair Got To Do With It: Diversity Cases from Environmental Educators. Dr. Medina helped to design and facilitated workshops that use cases from this book to promote discussion on how to make environmental education organizations and programs more inclusive.
For 11-years, Dr. Medina worked as a program officer with World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US and WWF Canada). In that capacity, he worked with numerous government and private conservation groups throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to design and implement conservation, sustainable use, and environmental education projects. During his tenure with WWF, he designed environmental education programs, public awareness campaigns, education resources, and conducted environmental education professional development workshops.
Dr. Medina is on the Board of Directors of Environmental Education and Conservation Global, a U.S. based organization that uses the power of education to help create a global population that ensures the equitable and sustainable use of our planet’s natural resources. He is a member of NAAEE’s Advisory Council and ee360+. He served on the editorial board of the journal, Applied Environmental Education and Communication and the Journal of Environmental Education. He is a former President of the North American Association for Environmental Education and served on its Board of Directors for five years.
Dr. Medina holds a B.A. in Biology from the State University of New York, Brockport, an M.S. in Outdoor Teacher Education from Northern Illinois University, and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources Management from the University of Michigan. He has written on environmental education and presented at state, provincial, national, and international conferences.
Dr. Diego Román is an Assistant Professor in Bilingual/Bicultural Education at the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to this appointment, he was an Assistant Professor in Bilingual Education at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Román holds a B.S. degree in Agronomy from Zamorano University in Honduras and an M.S. degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He also earned an M.S. degree in Biology, an M.A. in Linguistics, and a Ph.D. degree in Educational Linguistics, all from Stanford University. At the K-12 level, Dr. Román taught middle school science to English Learners and newcomer students for seven years, first in rural Wisconsin and then in San Francisco, California.
William ‘Billy’ Spitzer, Ph.D., is Vice President for Programs, Exhibits, and Planning at the New England Aquarium. He is responsible for oversight of exhibit design, visitor experience, volunteer, and education programs as well as institutional strategic planning. He has served as Principal Investigator for numerous informal science education projects funded by the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency. He is currently PI for the 5-year NSF-funded National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation, as well as the 3-year NOAA-funded project Visualizing Change: Training and Tools to Support Informal Educators.
Dilafruz Williams is Professor and co-founder of Leadership for Sustainability Education and Fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, Portland State University. Among her long-term partnerships are the founding of: an Environmental School, several school gardens, and a Learning Gardens Laboratory on a 12-acre property that functions as a research and education site serving educators and their students many of whom are low-income, immigrants, and/or refugees.