We received so many amazing nominations for the 2021 Live Forward Awards! These awards recognize the innovation and change happening in our own neighborhoods. The nominees work impacts one or more areas of holistic sustainability: a healthy environment, equity & social well-being, and a just economy. Read on to learn more about this group of changemakers and inclusive leaders who are promoting local sustainability and community well-being. Join us at the 2021 Summit on November 18 to celebrate them and hear from the winners.


Caitlin Williamson

Conservation Programs Coordinator, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin

Caitlin engages conservation organizations throughout Dane County and the state in diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Her work supports priority State Natural Areas in Dane County, including Sugar River Wetlands and Cherokee Marsh, as well as county parks, protecting our healthy environments for generations to come.


Corey Meek

Promega Corporation

Corey champions renewable energy at Promega Corporation. In the last year, Promega installed the three largest solar arrays at our Madison campus on the Feynman Parking Garage, Feynman Center and their new Kornberg Center. In addition, they joined a new clean energy initiative with Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) on a 160-acre solar array in Fitchburg, WI, sourcing over 20% of their current energy needs from renewable sources.


Cristina Carvajal

Wisconsin EcoLatinos and Latino Academy of Workforce Development

In 2020 Cristina founded Wisconsin EcoLatinos and works to help the Latino community take action against environmental hazards like air pollution, water contamination and poor indoor air quality in their homes. Their goal is to connect the community to the available resources to protect their own health, their environment and reduce carbon emissions at this urgent moment of global warming. They are working to raise equity and increase participation in environmental quality and conservation efforts by empowering our community to act. 


Dave Ropa

Outdoor Classroom/Youth Gardening Program

He teaches sustainability in his classroom everyday and goes above and beyond to inspire his students to have a connection with the environment. Dave spearheaded a sustainable greenhouse at Spring Harbor middle school, which he now uses to teach garden summer camps and as an outdoor classroom year round. His work has directly helped students have hands-on outdoor experience and develop a connection to nature. 


Deirdre Steinmetz

Madison Reading Project

Deirdre works tirelessly with several Dane County nonprofits in efforts to coordinate all the logistics required for bringing a Madison Reading Project literacy program and/or free books to schools, neighborhood centers, social services agencies, parks, apartment complexes– anywhere kids in need of books gather.

She has become a trusted literacy resource for educators, social workers, counselors. During the height of the pandemic when volunteers were unable to assist, Deirdre put in extra time (many personal hours) to ensure kids quarantined in their homes got books — diverse books to match their ethnicity. Book topics and subjects are timely, including social justice and equity.


Elena Terry

Wild Bearies Catering

Elena is working to connect tribal communities through food, and promote traditional food systems and farming techniques. In addition to a mentorship program, she works with the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network and Dream of Wild Health farms to grow varieties of Ho-Chunk corn, beans and squash on their ancestral homelands. She aims to make these varieties readily available in the future for community members to grow, share and enjoy. These ancestral vegetables are crucial when correcting the damage that processed foodstuffs have done to tribal communities and allow tribal members to connect with their past. 


Elsa Caetano


BikEquity is a nonprofit whose mission is to support the health and wellbeing of black and brown individuals and communities through cycling. Caetano works for equitable, accessible, and safe cycling opportunities through offering free bike rentals, free repairs, and community rides. BikEquity also provides bicycle safety education through their Bike Club empowerment program.


Halie Tenor

Senior Sustainability Analyst at American Family Insurance and Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin Sustainability and Personal Resilience

Halie Tenor’s primary role is helping oversee and implement American Family Insurance’s ambitious sustainable goals: carbon neutrality and zero waste. She also is a leader of the Green Team, Youth Climate Collaborative, and Adopt-a-Highway at AmFam. Halie was unanimously voted on the board of directors of Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin becoming the youngest person to do so.


Ian Aley

UW Office of Sustainability 

Ian brings a background in food systems, social justice, capacity building, and solid waste to the Office of Sustainability. In his role as Green Fund Program Manager, he supports student-initiated projects that reduce the environmental footprint on campus. In addition to his work with the Office of Sustainability, Ian runs a small farm business at the Farley Center, a multicultural farm business incubator just outside of Madison, where he focuses on perennial fruit.


Ian Oestreich

Founder, Curbside Bicycles

Curbside Bicycles specializes in providing communities all over Dane County access to convenient and affordable same-day turnaround bike tune-ups through their pop-up bike shops. By removing the barrier of transport, time, and money, many more individuals who haven’t had previous bike maintenance opt to do so, which in turn supports low-carbon transportation in Dane County.


Ivo Rozendaal 

SmithGroup Architects

Ivo worked during the planning phase of Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison’s Historical Center project. He distinguished himself by taking the time to become educated with an understanding of the importance of incorporating traditional ecological knowledge as well as the cultural aspect of Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison’s project. Ivo took concerns and priority of incorporating essential, sustainable principles of design and architecture into the Ho-Chunk Historical Center.  Not only did Ivo use a sustainable design approach, it was deliberate, respectful, and meaningful by considering the environmental, social and economic impacts from the beginning through the life of the facilities. 


Janet Dyer & Eileen Otis

Madison School & Community Recreation Cares Team (MSCR)

The MSCR Cares Team went above and beyond to create options for equity and community well being for children and their families during the pandemic. From late spring 2020 through to the present, the dedicated team of recreation and childcare professionals have provided afterschool, camp and recreational programming for hundreds of Madison youth- most from our most economically challenged populations. 

This group kicked into high gear in late Spring 2020 to provide safe, caring care and extended learning and learning support for hundreds of Madison youth. 


Jessica Awe + Dustin Klubertanz (Aldo Leopold Elementary) & Sarah Galanter-Guziewski + Summer Hillman, (Stephens Elementary) 

Aldo Leopold Elementary and Stephens Elementary Schools

Jessica, Dustin, Sarah, & Summer  did an amazing job leading Aldo Leopold Elementary over the past year to spearhead carton recycling at Leopold and Stephens and integrate recycling education into meals in the classroom procedures amidst changing COVID-19 conditions. They used the new pandemic procedures as an opportunity to include teaching students the new process for recycling cartons. The students did a great job of emptying milk from cartons and tossing them into the recycling bin. 

Their team is action oriented in integrating sustainability procedures at their schools, and was able to make process changes during a challenging year. They also are excited to involve students in leadership roles in this work. ​​Recycling education had a ripple effect on families at home. During a waste audit at Stephens Elementary School, one Stephens Elementary student stopped by and stated that he intervened when his dad was about to throw a carton in the trash at home. The student indicated that the carton could be recycled instead.


Jessy Servi Ortiz

Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, Women in Sustainability (WIS)

Jessy has been working in sustainability for over a decade. She co-founded Women in Sustainability (WIS), a network of professional women working to advance social and environmental sustainability while fostering collaboration and inclusivity in Wisconsin. In 2019 she took over the role of managing director for the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. She oversees The Green Master Program, which helps businesses create systems for integrating sustainability into their organization.


John Welch

Dane County Waste and Renewables

John and his team led efforts to find a ne use for landfill emissions in 2019 when the 1995 agreement expired. This new proposal involved the construction of a $28 million facility next to our landfill which can capture and convert methane into renewable natural gas (RNG). Often considered carbon neutral, RNG is derived from plant matter and can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the air. 


Kathy Kuntz

Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change

Kathy is responsible for cutting carbon emissions in Dane County. She brings her deep commitment and broad past experiences working in energy policy, energy efficiency, regulation, environmental education, and climate change behavior modification to this enormous task. She understands how human social behavior impacts our individual choices and has a crystal ball vision of what it could look like if we do the right things. She also knows the value of partnerships and brings together county & municipality resources, non-profits, commercial companies, and individuals to address sustainability. 


Kristie Goforth

Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison

Free Bikes 4 Kidz is a nonprofit that refurbishes and redistributes donated bicycles to low income families and communities of color throughout Dane County. A free bike helmet, headlight, taillight, and locks are always included to help further reduce barriers. FB4K keeps thousands of pounds of waste out of the landfill, offers eco-friendly recreation, and provides a mode of transportation. 6,600 bikes have been reclaimed since their first bike giveaway in 2017, over 2,000 of which were given away this year.


Oscar Mireles

Omega School

Oscar has been director of Omega School for over 25 years, which offers access to General Education Degrees and High School Equivalency Degrees. The students served by Omega School have either left high school or at risk of doing so. These students confront many challenges: from teen parents to youth involved in the criminal justice system. While director of Omega school, Oscar served two terms as the Poet Laureate of Madison. In that role he made certain that his work was accessible to and representative of the diverse community in Madison.

Oscar is a founding member of Adelante Madison, a group that seeks to train and give technical support to people of color seeking political office or administrative appointments. In three years, dozens of participants in Adelante Madison training have gone on to run successful campaigns for office, changing the landscape of representation in Madison and Dane County.


Sarah Voss

Community & Weekend Program Coordinator, Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Sarah is committed to inclusion, sustainability and community well-being, personally and professionally. She has championed sustainability across ALNC through: developed & facilitated new Community Engagement Program geared towards diverse & inclusive audiences; worked with Rentals team, wedding couples & community partners to bring weddings to near-zero waste; completed Master Recycler course & improved recycling systems; worked to increase sustainable transportation options through grants, partnership & public education; implemented composting in our preschool, training educators and creating kid-friendly signage, and more!


Dr. Nicole Andersen and Scott Andersen 

Artisan Dental

Artisan Dental is the first carbon neutral general dentistry practice in the nation and Wisconsin’s first general dentistry practice to earn Certified B Corporation status (second in the US). Since 2015 they’ve used 100% renewable electricity. Artisan Dental is a member of 1% for the Planet, with 1% of all revenue derived from the Artisan Dental Health Plan donated to environmentally oriented non-profits. They were also recognized as a Climate Champion by Dane Co Office of Energy & Climate Change.


Tara Wilhelmi


Tara focuses work at EOTO on creating a just economy to work towards a sustainable, inclusive community through three primary pillars: (1) meaningful work with just pay; (2) meaningful inclusion of the harmed in systems change; and (3) placing value on lived experience. They work with creative entrepreneurs to control their own wages while working in fields that they love and giving back to their communities, and with youth and young adults providing peer-to-peer support and wrap-around support service. They work on the issue of “Lived Experience Empowerment.’ so that efforts for diversity, sustainable communities, and a just economy are informed and guided by those marginalized communities that they directly effect.

Join us in person or online at the 2021 Summit on November 18 to celebrate these nominees and hear from the winners in a panel discussion. Thank you to all the Live Forward Award nominees for their dedicated work towards a thriving and inclusive community with a sustainable environment and economy. Change happens when inspired people take action!