Green Festival Speakers

Chicago 2014

Speakers at Green Festival® are articulate, powerful advocates for a just and sustainable world. From authors and filmmakers to politicians, musicians and scientists, these renowned individuals inspire packed audiences with their expertise—one of the most compelling draws to Green Festival® since 2002. Our tremendous speaker line-up exemplifies why Green Festival® is the largest, most-respected event of its kind.


About Kim Amling, President and Owner of Grow Up Hydrogarden

With 35+ years of experience in product marketing and sales, Kim Amling became President and Owner of Grow Up Hydrogarden in 2013. Her leadership skills and expertise have quickly led Grow Up to become one of the highest rated hydroponic units available in retail stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Kim, her husband and their two children reside outside of Chicago Illinois. She is a professional speaker, event emcee and is the PTO President at her children’s school. Her passion for cooking organically and living healthy is what drives her to do her part to make healthy, fresh food accessible to everyone, everywhere.



Manda Aufochs Gillespie is The Green Mama and has spent 20 years as a green consultant, writer, and researcher of all things green. She is also the author of Green Mama: Giving your child a healthy start and greener future. Sadhu Aufochs Johnston is the co-author of The Guide to Greening Cities, Deputy City Manager of Vancouver, and former Chief Environmental Officer of the City of Chicago. The two are married and have two children.



I started Glass House shirtmakers to fill a menswear void by marrying my passions: shirts and sustainability. As other companies started for a similar reason, I couldn't find a simple, well-made shirt to fit my slim physique. Having learned the basics of solid tailoring from my mother, along with my education in the arts, I was inspired to create a menswear line based on aesthetic and construction using the finest and sustainable materials. Green production is more than sustainable fabrics, it's a series of conscious decisions regarding workers, factories, dyes, and every aspect of the business.



“Bringing It Home” is the second feature documentary produced and directed by Linda Booker, owner of By the Brook Production based in North Carolina. Linda completed the Certificate in Documentary Arts from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in 2005. “Bringing It Home” won the Jury Award at this year’s Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival and Best Environmental Film at Sedona International Film Festival. “Bringing It Home” has been part of a national outreach campaign to help educate consumers and lawmakers about hemp’s uses for healthy, sustainable products for nutrition, construction materials, bio-composites, textiles, body care and more and why policy change is needed to bring this beneficial crop back to all of America’s farmers for a greener future. By the Brook has produced videos for the City of Durham and Clean Jordan Lake on water protection issues in addition to work for numerous NC non-profits.



Karyn Calabrese is a successful entrepreneur and popular holistic health expert based in Chicago. For the past 35 years, Karyn has been committed to taking care of her body and helping others to do the same. In addition to a raw diet, she believes in regular detoxification and has developed a program that she teaches to hundreds of people each year. To facilitate this process of cleansing, she opened a holistic therapy center, Karyn’s Inner Beauty Center. Karyn’s business also includes 3 vegan restaurants and a line of all natural supplements, home care, skin care and makeup.


Cassie started her career in sustainable business by trying to answer the question of why University of Illinois U-C's main street, Green Street, wasn't very ""green"". Through her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from the U of I College of ACES, she, along with two friends, saw an opportunity to make a difference in one aspect of the triple bottom line - profit. From this, the Illinois Green Business Association was formed, where Cassie is Executive Director.

The Illinois Green Business Association (IGBA) is a non-profit that helps businesses implement sustainable practices, demonstrating that sustainability can be profitable. The IGBA is a 5 year old state-wide organization that has helped over 3,000 businesses connect with greener practices.

Cassie is a proud Champaign West Rotarian and volunteers with many state-wide and local organizations. She is also engaged in the Green Business Engagement National Network, bringing national expertise to Illinois.



Misha D. Clive is the Green Business Network Communications & Marketing Manager at Green America.. Before joining Green America, Misha was an entrepreneur in the international music industry. She combines her years of experience in organizing for social and environmental causes with her small business background to serve the green business community. Misha is proud to be the 50th Founding Member of Hub DC, a center-in-progress for social innovation in the WDC metro area that serves as an incubator for social enterprise.

Learn more at www.GreenBusinessNetwork.org.


Katherine Bissell Cordova has over twenty years experience working for social justice, working for human rights, immigrant rights, and worker rights. Katherine serves as the Executive Director of Chicago Fair Trade, the largest coalition in the US dedicated to raising awareness of, demand for, and access to fair trade. Katherine first became involved with Chicago Fair Trade as a business member when she helped open Greenheart, a fair trade shop that is a project of Center for Cultural Interchange/Greenheart. Prior to that, Katherine served as the Executive Director of ARISE Chicago, partnering with low wage immigrant workers organizing for improvements in the work place. Katherine was field director of GreenWood Alliance in Honduras and served as a member of Peace Brigades International in Guatemala. She worked at Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors for Torture and the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago.



Davidson is the Director of Standards and Certification at Green America, a national nonprofit organization with over 30 years working with consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace to create a socially just and sustainable economy. Davidson works with companies across 45 industries to get the Green Business Certification and design standards/best practices for more sustainable businesses.

Davidson served as the Senior Regional Director for Green Festivals for 7 years. She has a BA from The Evergreen State College and an MS in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University.



Naomi is an urban theorist, attorney, activist, and proud granddaughter of Mississippi sharecroppers – the foundation for her course in Grannynomics/The Conservation Lifestyle™ and emerging “urban homestead” mixed-use developments. She is founder of BIG: Blacks in Green™- a national green economic development network. She authored and teaches The 8 Principles of Green-Village-Building™ and trains activists to lead where they live in establishing “walkable-villages” within a “city of villages.” Naomi is a Green For All Fellow, and for her work in green community economic development has been recognized with Governor Quinn’s 2007 Environmental Hero Award, the 2008 Chicago Magazine Green Award, the 2009 Jewel‐Osco Environmental Stewardship Prize, the 2010 Ebony Magazine Power100. In 2011 Naomi served on Mayor Emanuel’s Transition Team for Energy-Environment-Public Space and as 1 of 100 international thought leaders at Groupon’s First Annual Chicago Ideas Week. This year Naomi received ComEd's Power of One Community Heroes Award.



A vegan chef and healthy living educator, Leslie is the glowing face of a fresher plant-based movement that refuses to compromise style for sustainability. Walking the plant-based talk since age eight, this Southern California native has always been well ahead of the times with her meatless mindset. She currently broadcasts her farm fresh recipes and warmhearted sensibilities via LeslieDurso.com.

After establishing herself as a private chef for the NYC and Hollywood elite, Leslie emerged as a public persona, hosting cooking segments on television and online. Determined to inspire beneficial life-long eating habits for everyone, she has appeared on Food Network, Discovery Channel, Hallmark Channel, and written for VegNews, CNN.com, Redbook, Glamour, and more, evangelizing the benefits of a mindful lifestyle, delivered with her trademark blend of sunshiney sophistication and girl-next-door relatability. Maxim Magazine wrote: "We want to hire Leslie as our own personal chef! We'll even eat vegetables for her."


Jacq would love to live in a world where green juice flows from taps, going barefoot is totally cool, + homes downsize instead of up-size.

Plant-based cook + urban-minimalist, her un-fussy food and minimalist musings have been featured on Kris Carr, Happy Herbivore, Mint.com + The Local Beet Chicago.

When she's not simplifying busy people’s plates + getting more fresh whole foods people, you can find her devouring books on food and culture, flipping tractor tires like a boss (and whining about it later) + indulging in red wine with a hunk of raw chocolate.

She'll show you how to re-connect with food + un-fuss everything about your cooking + home, so you can have a more experience-rich life.


The uniqueness of Prophetik begins with the artist himself. Garner’s vivacity and his commitment to creating distinctive, sustainable, eco-friendly fashion is a reflection of his environment. Born in the Civil War town of Franklin, Tennessee, and raised on a horse farm, Garner grew with a connectedness to nature and a peaceful understanding of the world. The Prophetik label’s genesis came once Jeff made the decision to combine his love for his surroundings with his artistic desires.

Jeff Garner (born August 18th, 1978) is an American fashion designer and artist, best known for his sustainable plant dyed red carpet gowns made in TN.

Jeff Garner was inducted into the Smithsonian Museum, Renwick Gallery in July 2012 for the 40 under 40 Craft Futures Exhibition.



For nearly 30 years, Alisa Gravitz has led Green America, the national green economy organization. Green America develops marketplace solutions to social and environmental problems with a key focus on tackling climate change, building fair trading systems, stopping corporate abuse and growing the green economy. Green America operates the nation’s largest green business and consumer networks.

Ms. Gravitz is a leading expert on how families and businesses can “go green,” saving money and resources. She is also a nationally recognized leader in the social investment industry. She authored Green America’s acclaimed Guide to Social Investing, with over a million copies in print and the popular Guide to Community Investing.

Ms. Gravitz’s board service includes Ceres, Positive Future Network, Network for Good and People 4 Earth. She earned her MBA from Harvard University and her BA in economics and environmental sciences from Brandeis University. Green America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.


Rachel is working to expand the sustainability discussion to business strategy, innovation and product development where significant sustainability and competitive advantage gains await. Building on ten years of environmental and sustainability experience at URS Corporation focusing on business operations, Rachel is a Certified Biomimicry Professional Candidate (2015), redefining sustainable innovation through application of the biomimicry methodology and holding educational workshops with Biomimicry Chicago. She is also an Innovation Fellow at the 2014 Chicago Art of Science Learning Innovation Incubator focusing on urban nutrition.
Rachel is an Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP), has received Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) certified training, and was selected in 2011 to join the URS Emerging Leader program. As a URS regional leader of both the Sustainability Business Line and internal Green Team programs, Rachel works to increase sustainability services and support internal greening efforts, including development of employee sustainability training and office greening programs.



Dr. of Chiropractic, Certified GAPS practitioner, owner of Stockton Aloe 1


Jamie Hayes’ interests lie at the intersection of fashion, art, labor, and identity. Her approach is both collaborative and customized. She believes that clothes should fit one’s body (not the other way around); that people should wear what flatters and interests them rather than what someone else dictates is fashionable; that style is a form of self-expression; and that everyone in the chain of production of clothing should be paid a living wage.
She has explored these topics through her academic studies, earning a B.A. from Washington University in English Literature, a B.A. from Columbia College in Fashion Design, and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Chicago. Professionally, she has worked in the fashion industry since 1999.



"Audrey Henderson is a Chicago area writer, researcher and policy analyst. She holds advanced degrees from Northwestern University in sociology and law. She is also the founder and owner of an independent consulting practice, Knowledge Empowerment. Her areas of specialization include fair and affordable housing, socially responsible travel, higher education, popular culture and the arts.

Audrey was an invited speaker for the Chicago Green Festival in 2009, 2011, and 2012 as well as for the summer 2014 session of Green Tech U, administered by the Chicago Center for Green Technology. She also owns the LinkedIn group Sustainable Urban Development, which boasts nearly 10,000 members.

Audrey is also the initiator of the social justice initiative Legally Occupy, and is developing a web-based platform called Hidden Value in Abandoned Buildings (in partnership with programmer Dan Fehrenbach) that is designed to enhance the development of affordable housing and sustainable communities.


Erlene Howard is the owner of Collective Resource, Inc (CRI). With her strong interest in biology and business administration background Erlene started CRI in June of 2010. CRI is Chicagoland’s best door to door food scrap collection service working with over 300 households and 80 restaurants to reduce landfill through commercial composting. Her goal was to make composting easy so it would be accessible and repeatable. Through education and training CRI now collects 15 tons a week, and is on track to reach 1000 tons diverted from landfills since inception, by the end of 2014. Erlene holds the Walter Lucansky 2012 Award for Environmental Stewardship. Collective Resource was awarded a 2014 “F-SCRAP” Grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to expand compost services, and is also a Cook County certified woman owned business (WBE).



Wendy Irwin believes that sustainable greening of American cities will take coordinated collaboration and that public-private partnerships create the most sustainable solutions. She is the founder and CEO of Yellow Tractor and Co-founder of The Yellow Tractor Project. Wendy and her team plan to orchestrate collaboration between key civic organizations, universities, businesses and local governments in cities across the country to carry out a series of 1-day projects. These projects will help green multiple communities with environmental best practices while teaching fresh food solutions to address a number of social challenges. She has helped position Yellow Tractor as a national thought leader regarding wellness, education, and rethinking food in America. She was most recently named a member of the 2014 GOOD 100, a community of global citizens enacting real change and a winer in the GoodCity Chicago incubator competition.



Ruth Kerzee is the Executive Director of Midwest Pesticide Action Center a not for profit organization dedicated to reducing the health and environmental impacts of pesticide use. She has a Master’s of Science degree in Public Health from the University of Illinois Chicago, more than 15 years of experience working on occupational and environmental health issues, and is a licensed pest control technician.



John Leary, the Executive Director of Trees for the Future, has been leading international environmental and agricultural programs for a decade. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, he was determined to improve the environment by planting trees. He soon learned that working at the ‘grassroots’ level meant there was no grass and he ate roots. After discovering that the health and welfare of the land is directly related to the health and welfare of people, John focused on building programs which simultaneously combat poverty and restore the environment. While at ACDI/VOCA, John co-developed their Sell More For More™ program, linking farmer organizations to markets through improved management and marketing. John has extensive field experience, working closely with farmers in Africa and Central America to increase income and manage natural resources. Having completed a masters and doctoral coursework on training design, John is developing innovations in agricultural training and extension.



Born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1977, John grew up in St. Louis, MO. At a young age, he excelled in football and basketball. He continued his streak of athletic excellence throughout his high school and college years in Mc Cluer Senior High and Harris-Stowe State College respectively. Graduating with a Bachelors degree in marketing, he later went on to pursue his MBA from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He is now working on finishing his Master’s in Health Education to later go on to start his PhD in Holistic Sports and Nutrition. John’s education in business coupled with his love for health and fitness gave him the ability to start his venture – Bad Ass Vegan – a health and nutrition company that strives to educate individuals on plant based nutrition.



Lisa Lubin is an established travel/food writer, three-time Emmy® award winning TV producer, and travel industry expert. After more than a decade in broadcast television she took a sabbatical of sorts which turned into nearly three years traveling and working her way around the world. She documents her (mis)adventures on her blog, LLworldtour.com, with photographs, videos, and articles from the road/train/rickshaw/camel. Her writing and photography has been published by American Way Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, West Jet's UP, Smithsonian, the Malibu Times, Encyclopedia Britannica, Orbitz, Jetsetter.com, and Huffington Post. Lisa also owns LLmedia, a media & video consulting business. She has spoken about video and journalism at several conferences including the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX), the World Travel Market in London, the New York Travel Fest, the Women in Travel Summit, and "Visit Russia" in Yaroslavl.


Andrew Lueck is a consulting arborist with the SavATree Consulting Group, where he assists clients with tree and environmental management decision-making for corporate, residential, institutional and municipal clients. The Consulting Group provides expert analysis in a range of service areas including tree inventory and management planning, tree preservation during construction and tree risk assessment, among others.

Andrew has worked in the field of urban forestry/arboriculture since 2003. His experience includes past positions in the municipal, commercial and higher education sectors. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Urban Forestry from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point and a Masters in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Living green is important to Natural Awakenings Chicago publisher Peggy Malecki, who tries to incorporate sustainable habits into all aspects of her life. Peggy launched the magazine in 2010 and serves as publisher and owner, overseeing all aspects. She says her dynamite team makes it all possible.

In prior business lives, Peggy worked for companies of many different sizes, providing marketing, technical documentation, training and business services, as well as product and project management. She’s developed content for websites, penned newsletters and published an international sailing magazine. She was also the first woman commodore and board president of the North Shore Yacht Club, and served as Lakefront Commissioner with the City of Highland Park. In her spare time, Peggy loves caring for the earth and its inhabitants, sailing, cooking, gardening and exploring the world with her husband and business partner, and their treeing walker hound, Basil.


Nicole McCann is Food Campaigns Director for Green America. Nicole oversees and acts as a spokesperson for the GMO Inside campaign, and has been interviewed and quoted by a variety of print and broadcast media outlets, including The Guardian, Food Navigator, Food Business News, the Examiner, and King TV in Seattle. She received her Master’s Degree in Global Environmental Policy with a focus on sustainable food systems from American University. She has worked in the areas of plant-based nutrition, campaigning, community organizing, research, and programs supporting sustainable food systems for ten years. She conducted her graduate thesis research in the Eastern Coastal Plains region of North Carolina studying the impact of corporate industrial hog farming on the environment, local economics, and state politics.

Sarah Moskowitz has been with the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) for over 14 years. As a consumer rights counselor, Ms. Moskowitz became an expert on utility billing issues, helping people with questions and complaints about their utilities, and saving individual consumers thousands of dollars. She now works as CUBʼs director of outreach, managing the consumer groupʼs statewide efforts to educate consumers about utility and efficiency issues. Under Ms. Moskowitz’s leadership, CUB has developed one of the most sophisticated and far-reaching web-based outreach operations in Illinois, holding hundreds of money-saving events each year across the Land of Lincoln. Her team helped manage the launch of CUB Energy Saver, the first online service in the country that in effect pays people to be energy efficient, and effectively developed an outreach strategy that built a network of community groups to support the site. Ms. Moskowitz graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Anthropology in 2000. She earned her Masterʼs Degree in Social Service Administration there in 2004



Designer and wellness advocate Jessica Murnane is the creator of the website and restaurant program, One Part Plant. In addition to the voice behind her inspirational show - One Part Podcast. She's dedicated to helping the world find a happier and healthier way of living – one step at a time – by encouraging positive, incremental changes in the way we eat, think, live, and love.



Tom Nowak is a Certified Financial Planner® practitioner and has been providing, hourly, as-needed investment advice for 10 years. He is a member of The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF), Green America®, the International Environmental Forum, the Garrett Planning Network, Inc., and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). In early 2012, he self-published a book titled “Low Fee Socially Responsible Investing: Investing in your worldview on your terms”. His first career as an analytical chemist provides him with an additional perspective on developing sustainable investing strategies. His practice is located near Grayslake, IL and he can be contacted at info@quantumfinancialplanning.com.


Adam Olson leads Oxfam's campaigns to right the wrong of global poverty in Illinois and neighboring states. He works with ally organizations, Congressional offices, food companies, and other stakeholders. He is particularly interested in the intersections of human rights and environmental advocacy. Before Oxfam, Adam held policy jobs in the public and nonprofit sectors.


Harish I. Patel, chief connector at Ishi Vest is a serial social justice entrepreneur who was also a founding board member of Chicago Votes, a youth civic engagement organization. Harish works as ""Innovator"" at Accelerate Change and previously co-founded a youth-led initiative of artists, writers, activists and students committed to educate, inspire and empower youth through art and creative projects called Project FOCUS.

A fellow of Green For All, New Leaders Council, and South Asian American Policy and Research Institute, Harish holds a Masters Degree in Urban Planning and Policy from UIC, where he helped launch a social justice initiative and taught a class entitled, ‘Youth Engagement in a Globalized World.”


Lindsay joined the staff at Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA) in 2006 and became Program Director in 2013. Lindsay provides program oversight and reaches out to farmers, consumers, restaurants and retailers in central Illinois to promote locally produced foods and connect local growers and producers to new markets.

Prior to coming to Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Lindsay studied Policy Advocacy and Social Justice at the School for International Training and received a B.A. from Arizona State University with concentrations in Anthropology and Sociology. Throughout her studies, Lindsay kept her connection to the land by working on farms in Arizona, Illinois and New Hampshire. Lindsay is a Central Illinois Farm Beginnings graduate. Lindsay, her husband and two children hope to help both of their central Illinois based family farms flourish in becoming diversified sustainable operations.


Health and wellness writer and speaker Renita Rietz has spent over a decade researching nutritional strategies to increase the innate rejuvenative capacity we all possess by harnessing the pharmacologic and phytotherapeutic potential of indigenous foods and plants for prevention and regeneration. From the array of competing nutritional ideologies, Renita weaves together multiple paradigms focusing on the importance of high vibrancy, nutrient dense, plant-based superfood nutrition, fermentation and germination as the cornerstones of a healthy diet.


Shelly received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Intercultural Studies with a focus on Developed-Developing World Relations at Elmhurst College and received the Founders Award for Service, the college’s highest honor awarded a student. She has participated as a former grantee representative on a Crossroads Fund grant-making committee, presented at a Center for Nonprofit Success Fundraising Summit, and has provided peer support on fundraising and administrative systems to other worker centers around the country. Shelly also serves as Co-Chair on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fair Trade, and on the Upstart Board at Crossroads Fund. As Director of Operations, she manages communications, volunteers, office management, fundraising, and finances for Arise Chicago. She has blogged for Gapers Block, Labor Notes, and Dignity at Work; and has photos published by The Nation, Dissent, Gapers Block , Popular Resistance, and Dignity at Work. Shelly speaks English and Spanish.


Jim Slama is a national leader in promoting environmental sustainability and the Good Food Movement, including founding FamilyFarmed.org and the Good Food Festival. Jim launched several campaigns, including Sustain in 1996 that shut down an incinerator that released 150,000 pounds of lead into the air annually; and Keep Organic Organic, with the Organic Trade Association, generating 275,000 comments to the USDA opposing standards that would have allowed food that was genetically engineered irradiated and grown in sewage sludge to be called organic.

Jim and his companies have received a great deal of recognition. FamilyFarmed.org’s work earned the Yahoo! for Good Green Award. Jim also received the Chicago Tribune Good Eating Award. Jim was the founding publisher and editor of Conscious Choice magazine. His work has been featured in Crain’s Chicago Business, The New York Times, Ode Magazine, Chicago Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle.


Sarah Small is a Research Associate for Food Tank: The Food Think Tank, a nonprofit organization focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. She manages research and content related to environmentally sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty. She has been published in The Christian Science Monitor, The Telegraph, The Huffington Post, TakePart, and The Chicago Council on Global Affair’s Global Food for Thought blog. She writes regularly on food and agriculture issues for FoodTank.com. Sarah received her M.A. in International Public Service with distinction from DePaul University and B.A. in Biology and Art from Kalamazoo College.

Sam Spitz is a strategic communications consultant, food activist, and frequent speaker with Food Patriots, a film and public engagement campaign by Groundswell Educational Films. Sam graduated from the University of Oxford with his Masters in History in July 2014. Prior to Oxford, Sam played fullback for the University of Wisconsin-Madison football team before transferring to Colgate University, where he graduated summa cum laude. As a student at Colgate, Sam lobbied Congress with Pew Charitable Trusts to reduce antibiotic use in food animal production after a foodborne superbug nearly took his life. Sam is also the writer, director, and co-producer of the short documentary "The Greens," which he and the co-producer have used to start conversations about race and space in urban America at universities across the US and UK.


Mariyana Spyropoulos is Commissioner and Chair of the Finance Committee at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. With her law degree and MBA, she brings a unique legal and business perspective combined with her environmental activism. She has spoken to many groups on the issues of the environment and specifically water issues.

Commissioner Spyropoulos is a principal with the Law Offices of Mariyana Spyropoulos & Associates.
Prior to opening her own law office, Commissioner Spyropoulos worked as an Assistant Cook County State's Attorney and then as a Hearing Officer for the State of Illinois.

Commissioner Spyropoulos received her law degree from The John Marshall Law School and her MBA from Loyola University Chicago. She also completed graduate work in American government at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.


Drew Thomas is the school garden coordinator for Chicago Public Schools. In this role, he provides technical assistance to school gardeners, connects schools to garden resources, and oversees the implementation of a school garden food safety program - Eat What You Grow - which allows garden produce to be served in the school's dining center. Drew has a Masters in Social Science from the University of Chicago and a background in grassroots organizing, environmental advocacy, organic farming, and urban agriculture.


Jeff Uehlinger is a third year student at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and is majoring in Urban Planning. He is a member of USAS Local 15 and over the past year they successfully won their End Deathtraps Campaign to have UIC cut ties with VF Corporation. They were also part of a Campus Workers Students Coalition that fought alongside the UIC United Faculty union to establish a fair contract for faculty members. Jeff is a New Jersey native and loves his family and friends, spicy food, and hanging out with dogs. As a USAS Regional Organizer, Jeff is excited to organize alongside other Midwesterners and build solidarity within the student-labor movement.


Jason’s background, education and experience:

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, New York City Professional Training and Certification Program

National Academy of Sports Medicine, Chandler, AZ
Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist

Certifications and Accreditations
American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP)
Board Certified and Accredited Member (March 2013)

Natural Health News Newsletter
Used for email subscribers

WellFit Radio Chicago
On Blogtalkradio.com


An entrepreneur and strategist, Keith Wakeman is President of Cherry Street Innovation, a new venture development company that partners with organizations seeking to identify, develop, incubate & launch impactful businesses built upon scalable health behavior change models and food innovations.

Prior to founding Cherry Street in 2004, Keith spent nearly 20 years in the food industry where he created and launched over $1 billion in new products for leading companies including Kellogg, Keebler and Nabisco.

Keith is currently CEO of a digital health startup at 1871 in Chicago. He serves on the Board of Directors for PRE Brands, Living Abundantly Ministries and Building a Healthier Chicago; and is leading the development of Powered by Faith, Chicago, a city-based faith and health model.

Keith earned his MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Marketing & Finance, and a B.S. degree in Marketing from Illinois State University.



Dr. Sylvia Hood, an Oberlin College graduate and a graduate of Case Institute
of Engineering /Case Western Reserve University: PhD-History of Science,
Technology and the Environment. She also is alumnus of UIC School of Public
Health – MPH Epidemiology. She is the President and founder of
Environmental Health Research Associates, LLC. Sylvia a recognized
environmental scholar and founding Editor in Chief of the international
Environmental Justice Journal (Mary Ann Liebert Publishers), and a published
author of several environmental books/chapters. She is currently an appointed
member of Govern Pat Quinn’s Environmental Justice Commission, Co-Chair of
the Illinois EPA’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board, board member of
the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois and past board member of the Aldo
Leopold Foundation. Her company recently received from the IL DCEO Ventures
program to create “green jobs” for low income and minority populations in



At Freshwater Future, Melanie Napoleon Welch works as a Movement-Builder – the organization works on both policy and capacity-building for the needs of grassroots and citizens groups, providing personalized services that tailor-fit the needs of each group; provides unique, and much needed, grant funding opportunities to these groups for grassroots environmental advocacy work; and connects these groups and efforts to the issues. Melanie has spent her career in non-profits and museums, and has expertise in conservation programs, community engagement, informal education and Great Lakes ecology and regional issues. She is also a member of the 2010 class of Catto Fellows, an environmental leadership program at The Aspen Institute in Washington, DC. Melanie received a B.S. degree in environmental biology from Bradley University and a M.S. degree in biology from Northern Illinois University. She lives with her family in walking distance of Lake Michigan.


Dr. Mary (Clifton) Wendt, M.D. has been an Internal Medicine doctor for almost twenty years. She specializes in weight loss, osteoporosis and menopause, disease prevention, management, and reversal. She regularly speaks at health and inspirational seminars, medical and heath conferences, corporate wellness events, Universities, and for private groups. Dr. Mary is the author of the best-selling book, Waist Away, co-author of the book Get Waisted: 100 Addictively Delicious Plant-Based Entrees, and co-founder of the healthy weight loss program Get Waisted.


Timothy Westbrook hails from Wanakena, NY. He received a BFA in Fiber Arts and Material Studies from Syracuse University. Nine months later he moved to Milwaukee WI as the first out-of-state Artist-in-Residence at the historic Pfister Hotel. He first gained national attention when he spoke at the GreenBiz conference in NYC in 2013. He then went on to participate in the 12th season of Project Runway. He identifies as a Sustainability Driven Fiber Artist. While rejecting electricity and processes that harm the “natural world” he builds his artwork out of that which is rejected by society. This process has become an analogy for interpersonal respect. Using fairytales as an environmentalist metaphor he attempts to approach this somewhat gloomy topic with playfulness and whimsical sensibility.



MITCH WILLIAMS is an accomplished artist, athlete, speaker, and writer, bringing a wide variety of talents, skills, and expertise to his work.
Mitch is also a competent teacher and workshop presenter, with an extensive background in such areas as magic; art; the martial arts, and his ongoing studies in psychology, motivation, philosophy, science, creativity, and esoteric spirituality. For over twenty-five years, he has been an avid student of the ""Ageless Wisdom Teachings"", and their relevance to the monumental changes taking place on the planet. He has presented seminars and workshops for Unity, Religious Science, and other ""New Thought"" groups throughout the country, to rave reviews.
With keen insights into modern political and social issues, and the connection between modern life and the ageless spiritual teachings, Mitch’s unique approach to the spiritual life enables people to see their lives and society at large in a totally new perspective.

Jerry Zeifman is the President of Advantage Health Matters, a company that distributes Certified Organic natural health and wellness products. Jerry is passionate about offering holistic strategies to help one achieve optimal prevention and longevity. Having found no solutions to his own health issues, he turned to enzyme therapy and natural remedies and discovered the answers he needed. He has since embarked upon a path to inspire others with powerful tools for transformation.


After graduating with an engineering degree from the University of Illinois, he joined Teach For America and taught high school science in inner-city St. Louis for two years. His experience in the classroom opened his eyes to the issues regarding nutrition facing many low-income students. Last year, Adam met up with May Tsupros, another Teach For America alum, and the two joined forces to co-found Gardeneers - a nonprofit organization. Still in its first season, Gardeneers supports eight gardens at high-need schools in Chicago - providing garden-based lessons to more than 300 students every week. Adam is also an MBA graduate from Harvard Business School.