The Sustainable Connections TeamWe are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.
Connector, family man, thought leader, runner, visionary
Read Derek's Bio
Derek has a long record of entrepreneurism and program development in government, for-profit, and non-profit sectors. He co-founded Sustainable Connections in 2002 and became Executive Director of Cloud Mountain Farm Center prior to an anticipated merger with Sustainable Connections at the end of 2018. Derek was also the first co-National Coordinator of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) in 2002. He is deeply committed to creating a community that works well for all people, and believes our region is rich with the potential to do so.
Before his foray into the non-profit world he co-founded Viatru, an online Fair Trade retail service, and also worked with the Federal Reserve Bank. Derek attended the University of Toledo, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with honors. He has served on the boards of the Washington Business Alliance, Waterfront Advisory Group, Countywide Affordable Housing Task Force, Community Food Co-op, and Cloud Mountain Farm Center.
Driven, solutions, systematic, ocean lover, sarcastic, native
Read Sam's Bio
After working for six years with a major humanitarian charity accredited to the UN, Sam has spent the better part of the last decade helping nonprofits succeed financially. He is deeply committed to growing Whatcom County and Sustainable Connections, into the very best possible versions of themselves. Sam has an incredible eye for detail and ability to manage the minutia of local and federal grants – a skill all of our program managers are exceeding grateful for! He graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s in International Studies and currently manages all of Sustainable Connections’ donor programs, grants, and financial engagement strategies.
Spreadsheet spelunker, homesteader, researcher, patient, generous
Read Mary's Bio
Mary joined our team in Spring 2019, eager to demonstrate her commitment to providing attentive service and support for Sustainable Connections’ staff, stakeholders & mission, through careful listening, observation, and collaboration. Mary has experience with federal government contracts that involve complex environmental investigation & remediation services. She also comes to us with higher education administration experience at Western Washington University’s Computer Science Department, where her core focuses were to promote an encouraging & welcoming educational environment for all students, while expanding/growing to meet a significant increase in student demand. Mary has been a volunteer organizer for the Cascadia Skillshare Faire, to build community resilience by sharing & expanding the breadth of valuable skillsets our community members possess. She is personally passionate about each of our programs, which increases the excitement, anticipation and shared joy of witnessing well-thought out ideas put into action to bear fruit!
Food & Farming Director
Inspired, high fives, culinarian, idea-maker, convener, bold
Read Sara's Bio
Sara has been with Sustainable Connections since 2010 and works closely with local food businesses, farmers, and regional organizations to help create a food renaissance here in Whatcom County. She is also a bona fide renaissance woman! She has been the lynchpin for many key programs including the Eat Local First Campaign, NW Chefs Collective, Demo Days at the Market, Farm Fresh CSA Fair, and Whatcom County Farm Tour. She was a co-founder of local food business Electric Beet Juice Co., and is incredibly active in the community – from teaching raw dessert classes at the Co-op to hosting film screenings at the Pickford’s DOCtober series. She received a degree from University of North Texas in Journalism, and has an abundance of communications and outreach experience in nonprofits. Food is the vehicle that drives Sara’s inspiration – bringing all the right people together around a table, working with innovative social entrepreneurs, turning creative ideas into action, and facilitating good food for all.
Food & Farming Marketing Coordinator
Details, connector, resourceful, nurturing, dance & music, kind
Read Maressa's Bio
Maressa has a wide range of marketing experience, garnered from working with all kinds of organizations from small family businesses to high volume retail outlets. With over ten years in graphic design, website development, and communications she is a wealth of knowledge. She’s also passionate about creating a sustainable food system, and educating people – especially children – about how to find, prepare, eat, and enjoy fresh local food! She has held a variety of roles for both non-profits and private entities, managed retail stores, and previously helped a manufacturing company excel as its Director of Marketing. She has volunteered with the University of Washington Autism Center, and multiple community based organizations. Spend a few hours with Maressa, and you will be sure to notice a deep love for Bellingham and the Pacific Northwest.
Food & Farming Outreach Coordinator
Curious, passionate, musician, gardener, sometimes chef, systematic
Read Alex's Bio
Alex has worked in many different parts of the food sector, bringing an exceptional skill set to the Food & Farming Team – from running his own small organic farm, to working in kitchens and coordinating community wellness groups. He is dedicated to building a community where local farmers and food businesses can thrive, and residents have ample access to healthy, whole foods. Alex graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. He has always been passionate about food, from seed to skillet.
Event & Development Coordinator
Compassionate, nature lover, musical, gardener, community-minded
Read Abbie's Bio
Abbie feels most herself when she is creating a sense of community; big or small. She brings that enthusiasm for togetherness when working with all of Sustainable Connections programs, organizing events, coordinating volunteers, and assisting with development. Abbie is a Washington State University graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a minor in Mathematics. After graduating, she participated in two years of AmeriCorps building her skill set with science and nature based education and outreach. Abbie also worked as the environmental coordinator for a ski resort, helping to streamline their waste and planning large scale events with the environment in mind. She enjoys being part of a team that makes such a huge impact in the community and is full of creative ideas for her coworkers and the community.
Designer, creative, visualizer, idea generator, helper
Read Amy's Bio
Amy makes our world beautiful and is the genius behind Sustainable Connections’ communications strategy! She has an extensive background in various marketing and sales roles, including owning her own firm, Fidalgo Designs. She’s been with Sustainable Connections since 2013, and has headed several large communications projects like the Bellingham Energy Prize, in addition to being the artistic force behind our content and collateral for programs and events. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the University of Minnesota – Duluth, and is driven to create messages that inform, motivate, and inspire action through thoughtful design.
Membership & Think Local First Manager
Effervescent, purposeful, determined, loves local anything
Read Becca's Bio
In her role as Membership Coordinator, Becca is passionate about helping local business owners build successful enterprises with a strong local following. She believes that a prosperous independent business community is closely tied to the health and success of our region. Becca has been with Sustainable Connections since 2010, and has built close relationships with owners in all sectors. She also heads the Think Local First Campaign – one of the first and most successful in the United States – and loves finding new and unique ways to encourage our community to always Think Local First! She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Policy and has volunteered with Lydia Place, Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center, Recreation Northwest, Planned Parenthood, Nooksack Valley School District, and Sean Humphrey House. She is also an active member of Whatcom Women in Business and Whatcom Young Professionals.
Program Director, Green Building & Smart Growth, Energy, and Sustainable Business
Vivacious, partybus, imagination, bright, skillful, determined
Read Rose's Bio
Rose has been involved with Sustainable Connections in one way or another since the very beginning! As a local leader in the green building movement, she has been instrumental in establishing some of Bellingham’s most loved building projects including Millworks Cohousing, KAPOW!, and Solarize Whatcom. Rose obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Planning and Environmental Policy from Western Washington University, is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor, and was named as one of the 2016 Under 40 Honorees by the NW Energy Coalition. She is continually energized by the innovation and creativity in our community and is committed to helping Bellingham create spaces that transform, nourish, and reflect the beauty of our place.
Sustainable Business Manager
Enthusiastic, committed, soccer fanatic, thoughtful, family
Read Mark's Bio
As the Sustainable Business Manager, Mark helps our business members successfully navigate greening their businesses with ease. With a varied work history across multiple sectors, he is sensitive to the pressures owners face, from limited time to limited resources. Mark is a LEED AP, achieved his Low Impact Development Certification, and is a certified Project Management Professional. He has helped many local businesses create and measure a variety of sustainability projects from Towards Zero Waste to assisting with B-Corp certification. He believes in giving back to the community you’re rooted in, and has served as President of the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, Co-Chair – Bellingham Public School Citizen Advisory Committee, the Bellingham Public School Facility Task Force, the Lake Whatcom Watershed Advisory Committee, and is former Chair of the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. Currently, Mark is a member of the Whatcom County Solid Waste Advisory Committee. Mark graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Visual Communications, and is grateful to be pursuing a purpose-driven career and for the opportunity to work with a wide array of incredible local businesses!
Emily Larson Kubiak
Energy Advisor & Program Coordinator
Proactive, geek out, efficiency fiend, adventure, coordinator, laughter
Read Emily's Bio
Emily believes there are exciting and elegant ways to help people use fewer resources, while at the same time increasing their happiness, comfort, and prosperity. She is a Certified Energy Manager and also a certified energy efficiency enthusiast! Emily pursued a Bachelor of Environmental Science and minor in Sustainable Design from Western Washington University. She has previous experience educating residents around recycling for Whatcom County and also low-income weatherization for the Housing Authority of Skagit County. Whether she is performing energy assessments at local businesses or educating homeowners about the Community Energy Challenge, she is excited to help people find the sweet spot between reducing environmental impact and increasing well-being. Emily is also a mentor with Women in Energy Mentoring Network, helping to inspire the next generation of changemakers and innovators.
Energy Project Advisor
Artist, efficient, reflective, camping,
Read Orion's Bio
Orion holds a degree in Clean Energy Technology, many certificates in green building, business, and sustainability, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Energy Management and Policy at Western Washington University. Orion loves big picture thinking and is inspired to find energy solutions for the complex and interrelated systems energy is a part of (we think he may be the key to solving our regional energy challenges by 2040!). He also enjoys educating people about how to find energy efficient strategies that work for their buildings and finances. With nearly 20 years of experience in carpentry and construction, including commercial solar installation and LED lighting design, Orion understands how to navigate the art and science of energy efficiency so that it makes practical sense for any business.
Explorer, sister, outgoing, coffee drinker, diligent
Read Stella's Bio
Stella recently graduated with honors from Western Washington University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Energy Policy and Management. She expressed her passion for energy as she directed Women in Energy Mentoring Network and initiated a zero net energy tiny house project. Outside of the University, Stella has worked and volunteered for various environmentally focused organizations, including the Student Conservation Association and North Cascades Institute. She is a firm believer in energy efficiency as a resource and strives to incorporate energy awareness into all aspects of life. Dedicated to finding creative solutions that support prosperity and sustainability, Stella loves taking on new challenges.
Dedicated, compassionate, crochet-enthusiast, systematic, improvement
Read Tiela's Bio
Tiela is a recent graduate from Western Washington University with a degree in Business Management and Business & Sustainability. Her dedication to advocating for those with disadvantages led her to assist in the creation of safe housing resources for individuals with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and volunteering at the foster care transition house, Skookum Kids. She believes that individuals and local businesses offer the strongest positive impacts in our communities, and strives to help others and the environment thrive.