Going Sustainable Events Live Forward Blog About Us


Meet our Badger Bioneers 2014 Distinguished Speakers and Presenters. For a full conference schedule, click here.


Sara Ansell 

Porch Light Program Director

City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Sara Ansell, Program Director for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Porch Light Program, joined Mural Arts in May 2011.  She manages all aspects of the Porch Light Program and works closely with Yale School of Medicine to support their evaluation efforts of the program. Sara graduated with a Masters of Social Work and a Masters of Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. During her time in graduate school Sara focused on food policy and how the built environment impacts health of individuals. After graduate school, Sara worked as a Health Policy Analyst at Mathematica Policy Research. During her time at Mathematica, Sara conducted research on federal food assistance programs and on foundation grants and their impact on the non-profit programs. After Mathematica, Sara took a leap into the arts administration field and is thrilled to be working as Porch Light Program Director where she can live out her passion of implementing programs with a strong evaluation component. She believes strongly in the role public art plays in improving community and individual health.


Roald Gundersen 


Whole Trees

Roald Gundersen has devoted over 20 years to exploring and experimenting with natural building and the architecture of small-diameter round timber. He has designed and built small-diameter round timber and branching column assemblies into structures ranging from passive solar greenhouses to residences, ecotourism resorts, restaurants, educational facilities and office buildings. In 2007, Gundersen co-founded WholeTrees Architecture and Structures, a custom architecture and building products firm in southwestern Wisconsin, which has distinguished itself as a leader in sustainable design and natural building. He received his Bachelor of Architecture and BS in Environmental Design from the University of Minnesota in 1984. The following three years, Gundersen worked as a project designer on the restoration of a hundred-year-old timber and masonry cathedral in San Jose, CA. From 1989-1992, he served as project architect on the Human Habitat portion of the Biosphere 2 in Arizona. After returning to Wisconsin in 1993, he has taken a hands-on-learning approach to architecture, building projects from abundant, farm-based local and low energy materials. Gundersen has more than 50 building projects under roof since returning to Wisconsin. In 2011, WholeTrees began partnering with the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, WI to conduct research and testing through a highly competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant funded by the USDA. This work documented and verified the strength and structural characteristics of branching timbers. In 2012, WholeTrees was awarded a second SBIR grant to develop the technology and digital engineering required to profitably bring to market the architecture of the tree.


Chris Kucharik 

Agronomy Graduate Studies Chair

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences &

Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE)

Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Chris Kucharik is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Agronomy and The Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment. He previously earned a B.S. and a Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences(minor, Soil Science) from UW-Madison. His faculty position is part of the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI) and he has affiliate appointments with the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Agroecology, the Center for Climatic Research, and Freshwater and Marine Sciences (FMS). He is a member of the Working Groups Council for the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI), serves as co-chair for the WICCI Climate and Agriculture Working Groups, and is an active member of the WICCI Central Sands Hydrology working group. He is also part of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) - focusing on sustainability issues related to bioenergy production.

Kucharik currently serves as the lead investigator on the NSF funded Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) project, which includes Yahara 2070, a set of four scenarios about the Yahara Watershed in the year 2070. The scenarios combine science, public participation, computer models, storytelling, and art to create snapshots of how life in the region might look under differing conditions of change. The primary goal of Yahara 2070 is to understand the range of potential conditions for the region’s ecosystem services that can help communities and decision makers prepare for change and work toward a desirable future.

Learn more about Chris's research


Erika Janik

Historian & Author

Erika Janik is a historian, writer, and the executive producer of Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio. Originally from Redmond, Washington, Erika now knows more about Wisconsin than she ever thought possible. She's the author of five books, including Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine, A Short History of Wisconsin, and Odd Wisconsin, and her writing on topics as varied as women's history and 19th century medicine to Alice in Dairyland and lutefisk suppers has appeared in Smithsonian, Midwest Living, the Onion, and Edible Milwaukee, among others. She's also active in the local food community and is the board chair of the FairShare CSA Coalition.

Erika has a BA in history from Linfield College (2002), an MA in American history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2004), and an MA in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2006).  


Brennan Nardi 


Madison Magazine

Brennan Nardi has been with Madison Magazine for 14 years, writing and editing the city’s history as it unfolds, speaking and lecturing about what she’s learned and what she’s passionate about, and participating in communitywide causes that she hopes help Madison strive to achieve its fullest potential.

During Brennan’s tenure as editor, the magazine has received more than thirty Milwaukee Press Club Awards for editorial and design and four national journalism honors from the City-Regional Magazine Association for multimedia convergence and general excellence. In 2007, the Milwaukee Press Club named her Editor of the Year. In 2013, she created and co-produced the Madison Magazine TV show, attracting a wider audience to the magazine’s brand and focusing on culture and diversity.

Brennan is a founding community board member of the Clean Lakes Alliance and vice president of the board of the Madison Parks Foundation. She’s been a coach for Girls on the Run Dane County, serves in advisory roles for the women entrepreneurs organization the Doyenne Group and the Moxie Exchange Movement for women’s leadership development and professional growth. She also edited the book ReGENERATION: A Manifesto for America’s Future Leaders (2013) by Rebecca Ryan.

Brennan received a B.A. in Women’s Studies from The University of Virginia and M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from UW–Madison. In her companion life, Brennan and her husband, Brad, own and operate the Harmony Bar & Grill on Madison’s east side, and they are the exceedingly proud parents of a thirteen-year-old daughter.


Rebecca Ryan 

Next Generation Consulting

Rebecca Ryan is a human sparkplug.

Part futurist, part economist, and always engaging, Rebecca is one of America’s most influential thought leaders, helping cities and companies think around the corner to what’s next.
Rebecca Ryan is the author of ReGENERATION: A Manifesto for America’s Future Leaders (2013) and Live First, Work Second: Getting Inside the Head of the Next Generation (2007). As founder and coowner of Next Generation Consulting, Ryan leads the team that best-selling author Richard Florida calls, “One of the most reliable sources for leaders who want to attract and retain the next generation of creative workers.

Ryan is the Resident Futurist at the Alliance for Innovation and a Senior Fellow at CEOs for Cities. She serves on the board of the World Academy for Entrepreneurship & Enterprise (WAE2) and has also been named:

  • Top 100 Most Influential People, Accounting Today
  • Communicator of the Year, Women in Communication
  • Woman of Influence, Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee
  • Entrepreneur of the Year, U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Ryan lives in Madison, Wisconsin.