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The Sustainable Connections Team

We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.
Derek Long

Derek Long

(he/him/his)

Executive Director
Connector, family man, thought-leader, runner, visionary

360.647.7093 x 101
derek@sustainableconnections.org

Read Derek's Bio

Derek has a long record of entrepreneurism and program development in government, for-profit, and nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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.

Sam Gearhart

Sam Gearhart

(he/him/his)

Development and Finance Director
Driven, solutions, systematic, ocean lover, sarcastic

360.647.7093 x 109
sam@sustainableconnections.org

Read Sam's Bio

After working for six years with a major humanitarian charity accredited by 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.

Mary Tully

Mary Tully

(she/her/hers)

Administrative Manager
Spreadsheet spelunker, homesteader, researcher, patient, generous

360.647.7093 x 104
maryt@sustainableconnections.org

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, and mission through careful listening, observation, and collaboration. Mary has experience with federal government contracts that involve complex environmental investigation and remediation services. She also comes to us with higher education administration experience from Western Washington University’s Computer Science Department, where her core focuses were to promote an encouraging and welcoming educational environment for all students, while expanding and 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 and expanding the breadth of valuable skill sets 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!

Rose Lathrop

Rose Lathrop

(she/her/hers)

Program Director
Vivacious, party-bus, imagination, bright, skillful, determined

360.647.7093 x 107
rose@sustainableconnections.org

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, and is a LEED Accredited Professional and Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. Rose was also 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.

Amy Vergillo

Amy Vergillo

(she/her/hers)

Communications Director
Designer, creative, visualizer, idea generator, helper

360.647.7093 x 105
amy@sustainableconnections.org

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.

Taylor Webb

Molly Bressers

(she/her/hers)

Business Engagement Specialist
Optimizer, water woman, loves to laugh, organized, determined

360-647-7093 x110
mollyb@sustainableconnections.org

Read Molly's Bio

Molly is a Bellingham native who grew up alongside her mom’s family-run restaurant, and earned her sustainability chops through a Masters of Urban Studies in Sustainable Development, and subsequent professional roles in the Campus Sustainability Office, at Portland State University. A systems-thinker, Molly loves process improvement and making connections between people to increase collaboration and maximize our collective potential. She knows that local businesses are an integral part of a thriving, sustainable community, and is passionate about supporting businesses while also promoting actions that honor and respect all members of our shared ecosystem. Molly joined the Sustainable Connections team in 2022. Outside of work, Molly loves being on the water in her kayak, bird-watching, family bike rides, yoga, and enjoying good, local food. (Ella habla español.)

Taylor Webb

Taylor Webb

(she/her/hers)

Housing & Smart Growth
Program Coordinator
Go-getter, cat mom, family, travel, integrity

360.647.7093 x 112
taylorw@sustainableconnections.org

Read Taylor's Bio

Taylor never quite felt at home until she moved to Bellingham in 2016. She joined the Sustainable Connections team in Spring 2018 as an intern before being hired on in 2019 to work in both the Green Building & Smart Growth and the Energy Efficiency & Renewables programs. Taylor graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and minors in Energy Policy and Economics. Her passions lie in urban planning where she has worked on projects locally and abroad. Taylor is honored to be a part of a team that puts community first, and she is committed to helping create a Bellingham that makes everyone feel at home.

Megan Madamba

Megan Madamba

(she/her/hers)

Communications & Events Assistant
Inquisitive, nature nerd, puzzle lover, observational, supportive

360.647.7093 x 106
meganm@sustainableconnections.org

Read Megan's Bio

Curious by nature (literally and figuratively), Megan is always up for learning a thing or two. She started at Sustainable Connections in 2021 with the excitement of sharing what Sustainable Connections is all about. With a B.S. degree in Environmental Science and minor in Geology from Western Washington University, Megan loves talking about all things science especially native plants and salmon. Her experience in environmental outreach and education make it easy for her to connect with anyone wanting to know more about science and sustainability. Megan loves calling Bellingham home and is ready to give back to her community in more ways than one!

photo coming soon

Annika Sampson

(she/her/hers)

Communications & Events Assistant
Storyteller, adventurer, curious, creative, islander, local food hypewoman

360.647.7093 x 116
annikas@sustainableconnections.org

Read Annika's Bio

Annika came to Sustainable Connections in 2021 with a deep love of community, food, justice, and sustainability. She gathered these interests as a student at Macalester College, an educator with nonprofits and public schools, a Fulbright Scholar in India, and an engaged public citizen in Bellingham. Annika is excited to facilitate meaningful connections that inspire people to create positive change not just in their lives, but in the lives of those around them. Outside of work, she spends her time hiking, biking, cooking, and reading.

Maressa Valliant

Maressa Valliant

(she/her/hers)

Eat Local First Manager

Details, connector, resourceful, nurturing, dance & music, kind

360.647.7093 x 103
maressa@sustainableconnections.org

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 nonprofits 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.

Taylor Webb

Elias Serras

(he/him/his)

Food & Farming
Program Manager
Creative, connector, pattern geek, somatic, playful, wilderness

360.647.7093 x 102

elias@sustainableconnections.org

Read Elias's Bio

Elias joined our team at the beginning of 2022. Food, community, and a deep love for the natural world have been central to his life and work. Elias was raised in his family’s seafood restaurant and spent the first decade of his career working in independent restaurants. During this time, he pursued a Degree in Outdoor Education and later a BA in Ecology and Sustainable Design from Evergreen State College. For the past 5 years Elias has worked with several nonprofits on a variety of community-building initiatives as a consultant, facilitator, and project manager. Much of his work has been inspired by the 3 years he spent researching and volunteering in Ecovillages across SE Asia, Europe, and North America. Elias is passionate about building bridges and finding creative solutions to complex challenges. He is grateful to be supporting local food and farming systems and the people who love them!

Taylor Webb

Jess Meyer

(she/her/hers)

Food & Farming
Outreach Coordinator
Enthusiastic, conscientious, food nerd, adventurer
360.647.7093 x 111

jessicam@sustainableconnections.org

Read Jess's Bio

Jess has a diverse background in the food industry. She’s been a cook, farmer, waitress, bartender, and food educator and spends a lot of her free time talking, reading, and writing about food. She is a firm believer that if we improve our relationship with our food, we can improve our relationships with each other. Since moving to Bellingham in 2018, she has been an active participant in our vibrant community and has loved connecting with local growers, restaurant owners, and food producers in this place we’re so lucky to call home. Jess joined Sustainable Connections at the start of 2022 and is excited to help connect food industry partners and members of the community through the relationship building power of food!

Taylor Webb

Jenna Deane

(she/her/hers)

Towards Zero Waste Program Manager
Planner, Gardener, Relationships, Trails, Laughter

360.647.7093 x 108
jennad@sustainableconnections.org

Read Jenna's Bio

Jenna has spent over a decade in the field of environmental education and brings a passion for supporting climate change solutions and community resilience. From sharing tide pools and redwood trees with fifth graders, investigating science topics in the garden with elementary students, to providing experiential workshops on teaching climate change to local teachers, she believes that people are most likely to take action about things they feel a connection to. She’s excited to be a part of the Toward Zero Waste Program because along with reducing and diverting waste from the landfill she gets to support the Food Recovery Program and help connect good food to those who need it.

Jenna has a B.A in Environmental Education from Western Washington University and has worked in residential outdoor education, school gardens, and for environmental education non-profits. She loves spending time outdoors and fills her free time gardening, running or hiking local trails, or in the bay paddling an outrigger canoe.

Brandi Hutton

Brandi Hutton

(she/her/hers)

Toward Zero Waste Coordinator
Energetic, creative, plant nerd,
hiker, mom

360.647.7093 x 119
brandih@sustainableconnections.org

Read Brandi's Bio

Brandi loves connecting with our community and helping to inspire a brighter future. She’s beyond ecstatic to be part of the Toward Zero Waste and Food Recovery Initiatives where she has the opportunity to have an active role in shaping effective programs that promote sustainable practices. Originally a Midwest native, Brandi arrived in Bellingham in 2006 to pursue a degree in Environmental Conservation from Fairhaven College at Western Washington University. Since graduating, she has passionately pursued and developed an authentic understanding of practical approaches to natural resource management. Whether it be working with private landowners through Whatcom County to protect water quality, or educating the public through specific outreach programs, Brandi’s unwavering commitment to our community is a constant.

Outside of work, Brandi enjoys participating in all of the unique and exciting community events in Bellingham, as well as hiking the hundreds of trails nearby with family.

Elodie Cerauskis

Elodie Cerauskis

(she/her/hers)

AmeriCorps Vista
Food Recovery Program
Curious, energetic, kind, granola enthusiast, daredevil  

360.647.7093 x 118
frpvista@sustainableconnections.org

Read Elodie's Bio

Elodie came to Bellingham in 2017 from California, to pursue her education at Western. Inspired by her previous community service educating youth about their environment and farming local foods, she decided to pursue an Interdisciplinary Concentration at Fairhaven College. Where she wrote her concentration titled, “Global Energy, Policy and Food Systems” she also majored in French (her native language) and minored in environmental justice. While on her educational journey she decided to pursue her culinary passion and has cooked at several restaurants in Bellingham over the years. Through her work in the food industry and regular visits to the Outback Farm at Fairhaven College, Elodie began volunteering for several food recovery and distribution programs in town. Such as the Foothills Food Bank, the Ferndale Food Bank, and Sustainable Connections’ Food Recovery Program. When Elodie saw an opportunity to become an AmeriCorps Vista for the Food Recovery Program she seized this opportunity shortly after graduating.  

Her hobbies outside of work include automotive repair, carpentry, cooking, laying in the sun, skiing and community service.

Emily Kubiak

Emily Larson Kubiak

(she/her/hers)

Energy & Green Building
Program Manager

Proactive, geek-out, efficiency fiend, adventure, coordinator, laughter

360.647.7093 x 113
emily@sustainableconnections.org

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 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 change-makers and innovators.

Orion Eaton

Orion Eaton

(he/him/his)

Senior Energy Analyst
Artist, efficient, reflective,
camper, father

360.647.7093 x 117
orione@sustainableconnections.org

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.

Katy Coleman

Katy Coleman

(she/her/hers)

Energy & Green Building Assistant
Nature enthusiast, Artist, adventurer, powder seeker, coffee lover

360.647.7093 x 114
katyc@sustainableconnections.org

Read Katy's Bio

Katy came to Bellingham searching for a home away from home. She grew up in Jackson, WY with the Grand Tetons as her backyard. After moving to Washington, she became enthralled by the North Cascades and the Salish Sea. Katy inspired her peers to challenge themselves in these spaces by guiding backpacking trips for WWU’s Outdoor Center and teaching kayaking lessons at the Community Boating Center. Her love for the outdoors influenced her career path of working within the energy and climate industry. Katy earned her B.S. in Energy Science and Technology at Western Washington University in 2020. After completing her degree, she explored a few industry-related opportunities such as conducting a Greenhouse Gas Inventory and calculating the Carbon Offset Credits for Methane Reduction Projects. She is excited to be a part of the Sustainable Connections family and to continue to learn about energy efficiency technologies and green buildings in the greater Bellingham Area.