Vision and Mission

Sustain Dane’s vision is a thriving and inclusive community with a sustainable environment and economy we are proud to pass on to future generations. Our mission is to inspire, connect, and support people to accelerate equity and sustainable actions for community wellbeing.

Meet Our Team

Claire Oleksiak

Executive Director

As Executive Director Claire aims to accelerate a sustainable environment and economy that benefits all members of our community. Claire is passionate about innovation, collaboration, and social impact. Prior to joining Sustain Dane, she worked as the Community Services Manager for the City of Madison Parks Division.  In that role, she facilitated partnerships with public and private organizations, managed community facilities, and implemented the Connecting Children to Nature Initiative. Claire also worked on local community and economic development in Washington, DC for 10 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s degree from Oxford University. She grew up in Madison, WI. Reach out to Claire about strategic partnerships, your thoughts on sustainability opportunities and challenges, and any other questions related to Sustain Dane overall

Lorenza Zebell

Sustainability Project Manager

Lorenza develops and manages the Accelerate Sustainability workshops, one-on-one assistance, and tracking of our partner’s sustainable impacts. She believes taking sustainable actions large and small can create a more secure, fair, and prosperous future for our community and beyond. Lorenza was a dedicated volunteer with Sustain Dane for years before accepting this position. She holds a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Operations and Sustainability. Prior to her work with Sustain Dane she ran WSUM 91.7 FM Madison’s student radio station. Reach out to Lorenza for more information on engaging with sustainability at your organization.

Lucia Hunt

Member Relations and Development Specialist

As the Member Relations and Development Specialist at Sustain Dane, Lucia leads membership outreach and engagement, grants, and program sponsorship. Previously, Lucia worked with REAP Food Group to promote a more equitable and interconnected local food system in South Central Wisconsin. Before that, she worked as a project manager for Epic Systems. Lucia holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography from Macalester College, and she is passionate about analyzing and engaging with the layered systems and actors that play into urban sustainability. Reach out to Lucia with questions related to membership, donations, or sponsorships.

Maggie Radl

Communications Specialist

In her role as Communications Specialist, Maggie aims to promote environmental conservation on all levels while continuing to uphold the vision of Sustain Dane. Maggie graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a focus on Environmental Studies, Geography and Chinese. Her prior environmental work at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies as well as her brief time interning on an organic farm in Shanghai helped solidify her passion for environment, and after teaching English in China post-graduation she is eager to help engage the community of Dane County in their mission of sustainability. In her free time you can always catch Maggie outside, whether it’s fishing Lake Wingra, pulling invasive plants at her neighborhood park, or soaking up the sun kayaking in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.  Reach out to Maggie for more questions or  information regarding Sustain Dane and Relay Network Communications.

Kai Brito

NOAH Outreach Specialist & Multimedia Producer

Kai coordinates the Naturally Occurring and Affordable Housing (NOAH) projects at Sustain Dane. He also is a video producer and content creator with a passion for sustainability. His personal experiences with poverty and race drew him to the affordable housing sector, an area where improving sustainability metrics can improve both financial wellbeing and personal health. That is why he holds dual roles as a housing advocate and media personal, to help tell the stories of the most vulnerable people who are fighting for our planet. As an environmental storyteller, his secret for creating compelling narratives is to focus on human subjects and their relationships with their communities and the Earth. Kai graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in Environmental Science – Geospatial Focus. Additionally, he creates content for the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and produces a morning talk show on WORT Radio. Reach out to Kai for questions on NOAH incentives and home-installations or photography & video project proposals.

Valora Gutierrez

Efficiency Navigator & NOAH Outreach Specialist

Valora engages directly with community members as the Efficiency Navigator and Natural Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) Outreach Specialist. She advocates for energy efficiency in low-income and workforce housing, in order to foster economic and environmental sustainability. With a holistic vision of environmentalism, she is committed to serving under-resourced residents of Dane County. Growing up in California, environmental justice issues are quite literally close to home for her. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she double majored in Environmental Studies and Geography with an emphasis in People-Environment Interaction Studies. While there, Valora was a Chancellor’s Scholar. Prior to her work with Sustain Dane, she researched habitat conservation and mitigation banking in UW-Madison’s Geography Department. More recently, she managed environmental health and safety campaigns within the Wisconsin Environment and WISPIRG nonprofit network. Reach out to Valora for questions about energy efficient home upgrades and how we can build a more equitable, resilient future.

 

Interns & Volunteers

Trey Owens

Summer Intern

As an Intern, Trey wants to help promote the education pertaining to sustainability in the community and learn things himself about sustainability. Trey found his passion for sustainability through a high school paper about climate change and the solutions to the issue. Since that experience, sustainability is something that Trey has continued to educate himself on and continues to apply it to his life. Trey is entering his second year at UW-Madison pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies and Psychology.

Jamie Gray

Summer Intern

Jamie is a junior at Northwestern University majoring in Environmental Science. He is passionate about fighting climate change, and believes the kind of sustainability work Sustain Dane is doing is key to protecting our planet and ourselves. He is helping Sustain Dane manage and present its data. In his spare time, he enjoys playing Magic: the Gathering and spending time with his cats.

Sonia Holsen

Summer Intern

Sonia is going into her last year at UW-Madison where she is double-majoring in Environmental Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies with a certificate in French. She is the captain of the Wisconsin Equestrian Team and has been riding horses for as long as she can remember. Sonia is from Northwest Indiana and grew up near the Indiana Dunes and Lake Michigan. Living near the beautiful and diverse ecosystems of the Dunes her whole life is what has inspired her to pursue a career in sustainability and environmental conservation. It showed her the importance of strengthening the connection between community and nature.

Chrissy Ramakrishnan

Development Intern

As a development intern, Chrissy assists with grant editing and research, membership research, data analysis, and communications. Chrissy recently graduated from UW Madison with a degree in Sociology. She believes that there is a place for all individuals, regardless of their career or background, to work to create a society set up for sustainability success. In addition to contributing to Sustain Dane, she also currently serves as a Volunteer Coordinator through AmeriCorps with the Goodman Community Center.  

Amanda Halzel

Art Intern

As an artist intern, Amanda works on designing materials that help the public engage in Sustain Dane’s mission.  She is currently a Graphic Design and Digital Studies student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and works for the university at the Center for the First-Year Experience as a graphic design intern.  She strives to live sustainably, and enjoys the connection that art brings to communities in both positive and trying times.

Job Opportunities

You can play a critical role in helping Sustain Dane achieve our vision of a thriving and connected community with a sustainable environment and economy we are proud to pass on to future generations. There are no current open positions, but feel free to reach out with your resume for future opportunities.

Sustain Dane Board

Robin Lisowski

Robin Lisowski

Slipstream

Steve Whayland

Steve Whayland

President, Executive Committee

DC Engineering

Jim Bradley

Jim Bradley

Treasurer, Executive Committee

Home Savings Bank

Mark Richardson

Mark Richardson

Vice President, Executive Committee

GigBlender

Missy F. Tracy

Missy F. Tracy

Secretary, Executive Committee

Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison

Richard Heinemann

Richard Heinemann

Boardman Clark LLP

Yvette Jones

Yvette Jones

designCraft Advertising

Angeline Mboutngam

Angeline Mboutngam

Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association

Melissa Flores

Melissa Flores

Member at Large, Executive Committee

Nordic Consulting

Dave Benforado

Dave Benforado

MG&E

Sandy Xiong

Sandy Xiong

City of Sun Prairie

Abigail Corso

Abigail Corso

Elevate Energy

Jay A. Patel

Jay A. Patel

American Family Insurance

Tom Thompson

Tom Thompson

UW Health

Ben Reynolds

Ben Reynolds

Reynolds Transfer and Storage

Amanda Goetsch

Amanda Goetsch

University of Wisconsin Sustainable Management

Annual Reports

Learn more about our work throughout past years. Sustain Dane’s Annual Report is a summary of our impact and partnerships with innovative organizations and individuals.

History

Sustain Dane was founded in 1999 by a group of Madison community members including Brian Joiner, Niki McGlathery, Jennifer Olsen, and Per Kielland-Lund to create a more sustainable future for Dane County. They used the internationally recognized science-based sustainability framework called The Natural Step as their guide. In 2003, Sustain Dane received 501(c)(3) status and was officially recognized as a nonprofit. Sustain Dane programs have evolved over the years, positively impacting Dane County sustainability and wellbeing.

Past Board Members

  • Grant Abert, Kailo Fund, Sustain Dane Co-founder
  • Sara Alvarado, Alvarado Real Estate
  • Josh Arnold
  • Craig Benson, UW-Madison Office of Sustainability
  • Dave Boyer, MCD, Sustain Dane Co-founder
  • Karen Crossley, Morgridge Center for Public Service
  • Jonathon Foley
  • Jac Garner, Webcrafters
  • Jordan Hemaidan, Michael Best & Friedrich
  • Michael Hernke, Sustain Dane Co-founder
  • Joann Kelley, MGE
  • Brian Joiner, Joiner & Associates, Sustain Dane Co-Founder
  • Wendy Kuo, Shoutlet
  • Niki McGlathery
  • Annette Miller, EQT by Design
  • Vanika Mock
  • Rose Molz, EZ Office Products
  • Michael Mucha, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District
  • Sonya Newenhouse, Madison Environmental Group
  • Leslie Orrantia, UW- Madison
  • Angela Pakes, UW-Madison
  • Jonathon Patz, UW Global Health Institute
  • Lisa Peyton-Caire, Black Women’s Wellness & Summit Credit Union
  • Erik Ranheim, UW Health
  • Cate Ranheim, Meriter
  • Rebecca Ryan, Next Generation Consulting
  • Willa Schlecht, Agrace & Numbers for Nonprofits
  • Ben Schmidt, Urban Land Interests
  • Jen Voichick, Habitat ReStore