Core members

Invest the most time in the network and receive the most benefits.

Ally members

Similar types of activities as core; however, their less frequent involvement results in fewer benefits.

GrassTops members

Primarily interested in collaborating with the network as an institutional partner.

Core Members

Photo of Simone Alexander
Simone Alexander

Simone is active on CSLN’s policy team and formerly served as a CSLN Shared Leader. She is passionate about working with community leaders and stakeholders to create strong, sustainable communities through community-driven planning and development.

Photo of Richard Alton
Richard Alton

Dick has been a part of the green movement for over five years, bringing his passion to the One Earth Film Festival. He sees the festival’s expansion throughout Chicago as a lever for strengthening communities through network and collaborative efforts. Prior to working with One Earth Film Festival and Green Community Connections, Dick was actively involved in community development and supporting local non-governmental organizations internationally.

Photo of Toni Anderson
Toni Anderson
Founder and Executive Director, Southside CSLN Liaison Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab

Toni is Founding Executive Director of Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab. Toni is passionate about the “outdoor divide” and promoting climate change education as a tool to create cohesive community classrooms for our youth and communities to learn and grow. She facilitates environmental workshops on sustainability, consumer economy, monarch and urban ecology.

Photo of Susan Ask
Susan Ask

Susan is an ecologist, educator, and founder of Animalia Project. The Project is a new endeavor that bridges science, action, and education to create a better environment for all of us in the animal kingdom, with a focus on climate change and urban habitats. She has migrated between research and education—working as a conservation land manager, field ecologist and university extension agent— since receiving an M.E.S. in ecosystem science and management from Yale University. She appreciates the holistic view of sustainability that is embraced by CSLN.

Photo of Matt Cardoni
Matt Cardoni

Matt runs Green Lightning Marketing, a vehicle for teaching and consulting on digital marketing. He aims to bring environmental awareness and activism to a wider audience through optimistic and engaging messages, with a particular interest in the intersection of art and environmentalism. He has helped many environmental nonprofit organizations develop their digital marketing platforms, including Climate Cycle, where he volunteered for four and a half years and served as a board member for two of these years.

Photo of Romina N. Castillo
Romina N. Castillo
Community Planner Muse Community + Design

Romina graduated from UIC Master of Urban Planning and Policy. Her goal as a planner and organizer is to contribute to the creation of healthy, sustainable, and resilient communities through the implementation of asset-based community-driven initiatives, best practices, and through efficient public and private funding leverage strategies. Romina loves being a member of a network with individuals so passionate and committed to improving our communities through collaboration and active participation. She has also worked with Openlands, Slow Roll Chicago, Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, and Enlace Chicago.

Photo of Richard Dobbins Jr.
Richard Dobbins, Jr.
Principal and Founder South Side Roots

Richard founded South Side Roots, a sustainable horticulture and landscaping service firm. He has served as a landscape garden judge for the City of Chicago’s Community Gardening and Landscape Award program. He has also held instructor roles with Openlands’ Community Garden Training program, GreenCorps Chicago, and the Chicago Botanic Garden. He is most passionate about horticulture and its relationship to urban communities, particularly the rich conversation around the concept of “sustainability”.

Photo of Melanie Eckner
Melanie Eckner
Northside CSLN Liaison Clarendon Park Advisory Council

Melanie is an editor, communications strategist, and consultant who specializes in community-based sustainability initiatives, multilingual publications, and communications coaching. She is an active volunteer with the Clarendon Park Advisory Council and was a co-founder of the Uptown Coastal Initiative, a 3-year educational and planning effort funded by Illinois Coastal Management Program grants and designed to raise awareness of and engagement in assets for sustainability in the Uptown neighborhood.

Photo of Steve Ediger
Steve Ediger

Steve works in facilitation, strategic management, information technology management, civic tech, and development of a commons-based economy. A veteran of sustainability efforts since the first Earth Day in 1972, he has expanded his concept of the word to encompass personal, community, and economic aspects, and understands that sustainability cannot exist without justice for race, gender, ethnicity and culture. Steve lives in the ICA GreenRise Intentional Community. 

Photo of Terry Edlin
Terry Edlin

Terry’s passion for joyful community living and shared housing has evolved since 2008, when she founded New Community Vision and launched its website and blog. She believes that safe, secure, affordable housing is ground zero for sustainability. No one can do their important work unless they are securely housed. Terry has been involved in the National Association of Housing Cooperatives, the National Housing Conference, the Center for Cooperative Housing Development, the Chicago Fair Housing Alliance, and more. She graduated from the GoodCity Chicago Fall 2015 cohort. She has a BBA in Economics from Loyola University of Chicago.

Photo of Nurul Eusufzai
Nurul Eusufzai

Nurul is a program, project, and change management practitioner with extensive business process design and improvement experience in the private sector. He is also a leader within Net Impact Chicago, a local chapter of the global network that brings together professionals from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Nurul is invested in creating a positive environmental, social, and economic impact across local, regional, and global communities by volunteering and building alliances. His interests include cultural and educational events, travel, and international food and culture.

Photo of Stef Funk
Stef Funk

Stef is a South Chicago native who has worked with various nonprofits and farmers markets all around the city. After receiving her degree in Environmental Science from Clark University, she has been a strong advocate for environmental justice, sustainable policy, and food and water security in Chicago. She is extremely interested in learning more about how urbanized areas interact with their surrounding ecosystems.

Photo of Seva Gandhi
Seva Gandhi

Seva earned her Master’s in Social Work from University of Michigan with a focus on community organizing within the international context. Throughout the years she has worked on various rural community development initiatives in other countries. In recent years, Seva’s interest had come back to her native Chicago, and more specifically, focusing on access to local, organic, and affordable food within an urban context.

Photo of Timothy Heppner
Timothy Heppner
Executive Director Ecotelligent Design

Tim is the Executive Director of Ecotelligent Design, where he expands knowledge, develops skills, changes attitudes, and transforms habits which inspire people to become more sustainable. He is an international consultant specializing in sustainable performance metrics that identify opportunities for capturing and reducing energy, purifying and managing water, and cleaning and improving air. Tim is the designer, builder and curator of Charles Heppner Artist Studio, one of the most environmentally friendly homes in Chicago. 

Photo of Belinda Li
Belinda Li
Founder and CEO CiTTA Partnership

Belinda is the Founder & CEO of CiTTA Partnership, a Chicago-based firm that helps socially-minded companies and organizations become more sustainable and create greater social impact. Belinda believes that we can collectively create a smarter world in which we can thrive economically while achieving positive environmental and social impact, which is her vision of sustainability. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of both the Illinois Environmental Council and the Social Enterprise Alliance in Chicago. She is thrilled to be a member of the CSLN, to help create a powerful platform that allows collaborations and best practice sharing between communities.

Photo of Lorena Lopez
Lorena Lopez
Community Engagement Specialist The Field Museum

In addition to working at The Field Museum, Lorena also serves on the Advisory Council of Environmentalists of Color. Her past work experience includes Faith in Place and Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), where she led community mapping to demand a new, clean, safe park in Little Village. She and her team won major victories, including the clean-up of 171 homes from cancer-causing toxic chemicals and the addition of new infrastructure around a park site. Lorena’s passion for nature grew when she started her first community garden at age 10.

Photo of Deloris Lucas
Deloris Lucas

Deloris is the Founder of We Keep You Rollin’, and is also involved in F.R.E.S.H., South Side Trail Blazers, Calumet Underground Railroad Monument Committee, Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council, and Equiticity. “Sustainability, to me, means lasting forever or as long as it’s feasible. And as you know, things change and I believe change is good! You just have to adapt to change, and adaptability complements sustainability!” She appreciates CSLN because she believes in the “if you care, do something” approach, and therefore helps to educate the community—especially youth—to make better life choices.

Photo of Nicole Machuca
Nicole Machuca
Director of Environmental Education and Neighborhood Parks Friends of the Parks

Nicole is Director of Environmental Education and Neighborhood Parks with Friends of the Parks, where she delivers youth education programming and builds capacity within adults to support their open spaces. As a native Chicagoan and the product of diverse households, she is deeply connected to communities around the city and is invested in improving the quality of life of all residents. Nicole has spent over a decade dedicated to local social and ecological sustainability via formal and informal education, social science research, and community engagement work, and looks forward to continuing pursuits as an environmental and social activist with CSLN.

Photo of Johnnie Owens
Johnnie Owens

Johnnie works with the Bronzeville Alliance and Bronzeville Urban Farm, establishing an urban garden and organizing corner stores. He serves on the steering committee of Place Matters and as a chairperson for the Planning and Zoning Commission of Hazel Crest. Johnnie holds an MA in Urban Geography from Chicago State University, where he periodically teaches classes in Urban Planning, Environmental Geography, and Psychology of Urban Youth. Previously, he has worked for the City of Chicago as a City Planner and at Friends of the Parks, where he worked with Barack Obama, who exposed him to community organizing.

Photo of Jamie Ponce
Jamie Ponce
Director of Strategic Partnerships City Tech Collaborative

As Director of Strategic Partnerships with the City Tech Collaborative at UI Labs, Jamie works to make urban technology and infrastructure more relevant, useful, equitable, and sustainable. His previous Chicago-based roles with the Environmental Law & Policy Center, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, and A.T. Kearney focused on clean energy, environmental innovation, corporate strategy, and economic development. Jamie has been involved with CSLN since the early days of the Accelerate 77 initiative, and he’s an avid hiker, adventure diver, local food advocate, and (aspiring) banjo player.

Photo of Olatunji Oboi Reed
Olatunji Oboi Reed
President and CEO Equiticity

Oboi is the President and CEO of Equiticity, a racial equity and mobility movement that seeks to normalize, prioritize, and operationalize racial equity to make our neighborhoods and cities more liveable for people of color. Oboi was previously the Co-Founder and President of Slow Roll Chicago. Oboi works at the intersection of community, advocacy, economics, health, and technology, with an extensive background in both nonprofit management and corporate social responsibility. Oboi is an African-Brazilian by way of cultural adoption, he is studying the health economics of Candomble traditional healing in the African-Brazilian population of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

Photo of Emily Rhea
Emily Rhea
Assistant Project Manager Eco-Achievers

Emily’s life passion is to help merge the built and natural environment and to uplift communities through sustainable design. While her main focus is currently on the consulting and performance-testing work she does with high performance buildings, she aspires to expand her efforts to incorporate more biophilic design aspects. She sees great value and importance in community and imagines all of Chicago as one community that works together to strengthen all of its parts.

Photo of Elvia Rodriguez Ochoa
Elvia Rodriguez Ochoa
Neighborhood Programs Director Open Lands

Elvia is a multi-disciplinary artist, educator, and administrator, active for over twenty years. Steeped in community based practices, Elvia has helped foster the creative community in Chicago by collaborating with a variety of groups and individual artists.

Photo of Samantha Sainsbury
Samantha Sainsbury
Program Coordinator Institute of Cultural Affairs

Samantha is the Program Coordinator at ICA, where she facilitates the collaborative projects and events working group of CSLN.  She is an alumnus of the Public Allies Chicago AmeriCorps program and Northwestern University. She was drawn to the ICA as an intern after learning about the participatory ways of engaging grassroots organizations in the accelerate77 project, and continues to value the realization of holistic, collaborative sustainability through the CSLN. She appreciates continuously learning about the city, the way organizations work within it, and the potential to strengthen collaborations within and across communities.

Photo of Caitlin Sarro
Caitlin Sarro

Caitlin is the Program Manager with the Institute of Cultural Affairs. She has been working on the accelerate77 project since in 2012, and currently facilitates the CSLN Policy Working Group. In addition to valuing the project’s participatory process, she is most drawn to its inclusive definition of sustainability. Believing that community-led planning leads to more meaningful action, Caitlin is proud to work on a project that requires the collaboration of different approaches to make sustainable communities. Caitlin is a graduate of UIC’s CUPPA program and alumnus of the Public Allies Chicago AmeriCorps program.

Photo of Lesley Showers
Lesley Showers

Lesley is the Property Manager at the Institute of Cultural Affairs, where she oversees the transformation of the organization’s ICA GreenRise building into an energy efficient demonstration of a mixed-used landmark building. She is also a resident of the GreenRise community, where she is working towards a local solution to waste water management that will make the GreenRise even more sustainable. She became interested in sustainable design while studying architecture.

Photo of Mike Strode
Mike Strode
Founder and Exchange Coordinator The Kola Nut Collaborative

Mike is Founder and Exchange Coordinator of the Kola Nut Collaborative, a Chicago based timebanking initiative aimed to promote and sustain a robust timebanking infrastructure which supports non-monetary transactions among individuals and organizations. Mike’s previous work has included leadership positions with the Chicago chapter of Red, Bike & Green, Fultonia, and Art Is Bonfire. He draws on these experiences to interrogate the intersection of timebanking, social economy, and community resiliency with skill based asset mapping as an essential tool for understanding neighborhood infrastructure. Mike is a writer, tech enthusiast, urban cyclist and kitchen alchemist who resides in South Chicago.

Photo of Jospeh Taylor
Jospeh Taylor
Farmers Market Lead Urban Canopy

Joseph currently works with the Urban Canopy, which was a natural progression from years spent years coordinating urban agriculture projects, including the aquaponic and hydroponic systems, the rooftop garden, and the compost system at the ICA GreenRise. He first became passionate about sustainability as an intern with ICA’s Summer Youth Program in 2011, when he began to learn about the delicious potential of fresh, local foods. In addition to connecting him to partners for collaborative projects, he appreciates CSLN for its collective energy that motivates him and broadens his perspectives regarding sustainability work.

Photo of Alvyn Walker
Alvyn Walker
Property Team Leader Windsor Park Lutheran Church

Alvyn is a Property Team Leader and member of Windsor Park Lutheran Church in South Shore. He is involved in a number of projects that make the church a community hub, including a partnership with Leave No Veteran Behind and Cambium Networks that installed an antenna on the church to enhance wi-fi access for the neighborhood. He is a self-described gardening steward and civic tech advocate.

Photo of Orrin Williams
Orrin Williams

Orrin is the Food Systems Coordinator for the Office of Community Engagement and Neighborhood Partnerships and Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion at UIC. Orrin is a Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Urban Transformation, and works in advisory roles with the Sweet Water Foundation, the THEN Center, and the Teamwork Englewood Health and Wellness Task Force. He is interested in applying a whole systems approach to the development of healthy and sustainable communities. Orrin prefers to think of “sustainability” solutions as regenerative and restorative design and development systems.

Photo of Ted Wysocki
Ted Wysocki

Ted Wysocki is the CEO of ICA, whose mission is to “build a just and equitable society in harmony with planet Earth.” Based on his more than 40 years of community development experience, Ted launched his blog u2cando in 2014. Previously, he was CEO of the Local Economic & Employment Development Council, now called North Branch Works, and CEO of the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations (CANDO). He started his community development career in 1974 with Gale Cincotta, the mother of the Community Reinvestment Act. Ted is a director emeritus of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.