Meet our Team
Karen Crossley, Interim Executive Director
Raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Karen Crossley received her BA from Colby College in Maine majoring in Environmental Studies, MS in Botany from the University of Washington in Seattle, and landed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison seeking a PhD in Botany, but chose not to complete her degree. Karen worked for The Nature Conservancy for nearly ten years in Washington, Maine and Wisconsin. She received her Executive MBA from UW-Madison’s School of Business and worked at the University of Wisconsin Foundation for nearly seventeen years, first as lead development officer for the Business School and then for six years as vice president serving on the Foundation’s Senior Leadership Team, overseeing development efforts for the Business School, Law School, College of Engineering, Division of International Studies, and cluster of environmental units at UW, and helping grow major gift activity outside of the U.S. Karen served as Director of the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission/Dane Arts, for nearly six years, supporting her lifelong enjoyment and appreciation of arts and culture.
As an encore to her professional career, Karen was associated with UW-Madison's Morgridge Center for Public Service for five years, serving as Special Projects Director. She helped launch a sustainability focus area for the Center's Badger Volunteers program and The Philanthropy Lab course and program in partnership with UW's School of Human Ecology. Karen participated in the 2nd class of Leadership Greater Madison and her volunteer community involvements mostly relate to education, youth leadership development, and the environment. Madison residents for 30+ years, Karen and her husband have three adult children and enjoy athletic pursuits, outdoor adventures, and traveling together. Karen most recently served as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer, working on organizational capacity building with a local NGO, in Kutaisi, (Republic of) Georgia.
Jessie Lerner, Development & Partnerships
Jessie is always in motion. When Jessie joined Sustain Dane in November 2007, she was still working with the Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Monona, trying to engage an appreciation in the outdoors in young children, and she would bike furiously between the two jobs. She hasn't slowed down since. Between 2008 and 2013, Jessie coordinating the MPowering Madison campaign, working one-on-one with local businesses, helping them go more sustainable. In 2013 she stepped up as Interim Director and in 2014 she became Executive Director. She previously worked in program development and environmental education at the Kigio Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. Jessie earned a B.S. in zoology and psychology from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Learn more about Jessie's story.
Lorenza Zebell, Sustainable Business Initiative Associate
Lorenza is a recent graduate with a degree in Operations and Technology Management and a certificate in Sustainability from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Lorenza believes a sustainable, healthy and just world is possible, if we all work towards the wellbeing of our communities. In her time at school she enjoyed running WSUM 91.7 FM, UW Madison's award-winning nonprofit radio station, and to this day WSUM is still number one on her radio dial. In addition to her work with the Sustainable Business Initiative at Sustain Dane she works as a Tea Tender and Blender at Macha Tea Company.
Jenna Mrotek, Development Assistant
Jenna Mrotek graduated in 2018 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with dual degrees in Environmental Studies and Political Science, and a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies. As a student, she led the UW campus chapter of the National Organization for Women, and served as an ambassador to the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. These experiences taught her the power that community organizations have in working toward the public good and encouraged her to seek further experience in Madison’s robust nonprofit sector, where she has now worked with Sustain Dane and Olbrich Botanical Gardens. In her free time, she enjoys reading, thrift shopping and working as a barista.