Our organization would not be what it is without the hard-working people who have committed themselves to our cause.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Thomas H. Culhane, Ph.D., Founder & Board President
T.H. is a passionate educator specializing in renewable energy technology. Currently a professor at South Florida University and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. As a father and teacher, he is passionate about creating solutions to world challenges, wanting to leave a better world for his children. He was first introduced to biogas in Egypt in 2003. It wasn’t until 2009 that T.H. developed urban home-scale biogas, that biogas education became his mission. As an individual, or as part of a team, T.H. sparks that same passion in others, to be as inspired as he is, to leave a better world for all.
Janice Kelsey, Executive Director
Janice has a background in alternative education and a career in vertical aeroponics. With an interest in finding a more sensible and natural alternative to the minerals currently used in hydroponics and aeroponics, Janice is one of the founding members of Solar CITIES. She has been active in several youth organizations and volunteers her time in support of refugee efforts in the U.S. and abroad. Janice enjoys teaching people of all ages how to combine old world skills with modern simple technologies. Her passion is in helping people to help themselves.
Kathy Puffer, Haiti Program Coordinator & Curriculum Developer
As the owner of Hudson Valley Vertical Farms, Kathy has her International Permaculture Design Certification and continues to study and work in urban and regional planning. She is currently working as a speech pathologist and enjoys raising chickens, bee keeping, designing and expanding her food forest, with her family on their small homestead in Tillson, NY. Kathy is an activist for positive change, helping to work toward an ever more sustainable community, not only in her own neighborhood, but also around the world. Hudson Valley Vertical Farms is open to tours of the first indoor IBC Tank Biodigester and what Kathy has coined her “Homestead Eco-System”.
Jody Spangler, Board Treasurer
As the owner of Adragone Aeroponics, located in Gap, PA, Jody currently manages a 10,000 square foot vertical aeroponic greenhouse farm. She has a passionate desire to leave a better world was instilled by a childhood spent on the family farm.
Receiving the 1st Solar CITIES Puxin 10 cu. meter concrete biodigester in North America on her homestead in Glenmoore in 2014 was the catalyst for being a co-founder of Solar CITIES. Using the biodigester for manure management for her Miniature Jersey Cows seemed a natural extension of her “leave it better” philosophy – keeping the closed loop system at work on the homestead farm.
Jody and her family uses the fertilizer from the biodigester to amend and rejuvenate the soil in the fields used to create the hay eaten by the cows. Welcoming visitors to the farm to visit the “baby dragon”, pet the cows and learn some gardening tips.
Leonel Ponce, Board Secretary
Leonel Ponce is the Acting Academic Coordinator, SES at Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment in Brooklyn, NY. He brings his well-honed professional skills in sustainable planning, design, and architecture. He is committed to participatory, environmentally, and socially sustainable processes, particularly toward resilient and decentralized infrastructure solutions. Passionate, idealistic, and dedicated, he is always willing to learn from a variety of stakeholders and environments. He believes in the power of architecture, design, and planning as a social and cultural instigator. As Leonel says, “Architects and planners should be agents of progress and enhancement. We are all in this together, so we need to start acting and working like it!”
Sharon Whiteside, Fundraising Chair
Sharon Whiteside is an International Sales Associate at Green Magic Homes in Toronto, Canada and Panama. Not only does she bring her years of experience in sales and marketing, but as an experienced board member and Fundraising Chair of both the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and the Foundation Fighting Blindness, Sharon brings her skills and knowledge for successful fundraising with a focus on good governance needed to build a strong financial foundation for any organization.
Jason Mesiarik, Board Member
Jason Mesiarik is a Commercial Learning Leader with DLL, a Certified Carnegie Trainer, and owner of Four Sisters Farm in Chester County. He describes himself as a “grower” planting the seeds that feed and empower the world one person at a time. Jason has a background in telecommunications with AT&T, MCI, and Verizon and brings a wealth of knowledge and training in all aspects of social media marketing and sales. He believes in the power of trusting relationships, sustainability, and collective communities partnering together to create a better future. He enjoys bringing people together for a cause.
Christopher Rockefeller Lindstrom, Board Member
Christopher Lindstrom is committed to his work to help transition the economy from a paradigm of extraction to one of regeneration. He has had an interest in and passion for the area of alternative monetary systems and local currencies since 2002. In 2003, he became a volunteer staff member at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics which led to his co-founding BerkShares in 2006, a local currency for use in the southern Berkshires of western Massachusetts, which continues to receive international media attention and has served as a model for other communities interested in creating their own locally circulating currency.
Chris has been active in the bioenergy sector as an investor and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of Catalyst Bioenergy Group, has served on the Board of Directors of the Slow Money Institute, and currently serves as a director of the David Rockefeller Fund. He is also the co-founder of CyclEffect, a new model of cooperative investing and business incubation that enables companies in their early stages to own a stake in a growing ecosystem of mission-aligned businesses.
“As a kid, I was struck by the iconic scene from Back to the Future where Doc Brown shows up out of nowhere in his updated time machine and frantically stuffs garbage into its fuel intake. Perhaps this was some kind of subliminal message for our modern era. Perhaps, the future will require going back to our past for solutions to the present crisis. As it turns out, there have been two basic technologies from the 1800’s (if not earlier) that can sustainably generate energy from waste: anaerobic digestion and gasification. But up until now, they have been seriously marginalized. Whether it be intentional marginalization by fossil fuel interests or complexities in maintaining a consistent output from a complex process, anaerobic digestion and gasification are barely included in the lexicon of sustainability. However, they both generate renewable fuel while recycling waste resources. This gas can be used as fuel for transportation or for generating electricity. But more importantly, they also produce valuable soil by-products. And this is a key carbon mitigating aspect. While aerobic digestion produces a bio-fertilizer rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, gasification produces a char that is a very stable form of carbon, which, if placed in the ground, can store that carbon for hundreds or even thousands of years.”
Chris received an A.A. from Bard College at Simon’s Rock in 2001 and a B.A. in Integral Economics from Goddard College in 2009.
Brian Falcon, Board Member
Brian Falcon is a registered Project Architect with ARCUS Design Group who has a passion for regenerative design. A Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED®AP), and a Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC), as certified through the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), he focuses on sustainability and energy efficiency within the built environment. Brian is married with four children. At home Brian leads the family in exploring the world of permaculture to learn how to live more holistically by designing and building fun and multi-functional projects on their property which provide food, energy, aesthetics and natural habitat for beneficial animals.
Stephen B. Smith, Board Member
Stephen most recently served as Director of Business Development at RideCell, a car and ridesharing software platform. He brings 33 years of Silicon Valley tech sales and business development expertise and has built and managed teams evangelizing new technologies across both the consumer and enterprise marketplace. He has been a contributor and manager of emerging technologies on teams that introduced the Apple Macintosh, Apple Laserwriters, Wireless data devices (with Novatel Wireless), in car GPS Navigation systems (with Magellan) and Navigation and Advertising Saas solutions for mobile devices (with Nokia.). Stephen has a proven track record of building channels and leveraging partnerships internally and externally to generate significant partnership and revenue opportunities.
Jilianne Turner, Administrative Coordinator
Jilianne is a college bound high school student with exceptionally diverse tech and organizational skills. She is currently working with us part-time on website content, video production, transitioning our team over to Microsoft 365, and assisting with IT issues. With her interest in space exploration, she is considering a degree in aeronautical engineering with her eyes on a career with NASA, SpaceX, or the Space Force.