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.

Sustain Dane’s holistic definition of sustainability includes a healthy environment, a just economy, and equity & social well-being.

Meet Our Team

Claire Oleksiak

Executive Director

As Executive Director Claire (she/her) 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

Program Manager

Lorenza (she/her) develops and manages programs at Sustain Dane including our 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

Development & Partnerships Manager

As the Development & Partnerships Manager at Sustain Dane, Lucia (she/her) leads membership outreach and engagement, grants, community partnerships, 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 (she/her) 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.

Valora Gutierrez

Efficiency Navigator & NOAH Outreach Specialist

Valora (she/her) 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

Chlo Baumbach

Compost Intern

Chlo Baumbach (they/them) recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and People-Environment Geography. Their passions lie in community based work surrounding issues of environmental injustices, food sovereignty, and equitable access to healthcare within minority communities. In their free time, Chlo enjoys watching Stranger Things, making their own music, and playing with their calico kitty, Bia. Chlo is ecstatic to be working with Sustain Dane and the community this summer to help relocate waste into an environmentally beneficial system. 

Alyssa Dorman

Development Fellow

As a Development Fellow for Sustain Dane, Alyssa (she/her) assists with operations related to grant writing, membership engagement, sponsorship initiatives, and programmatic work. Alyssa is passionate about environmental justice issues and values sustainability work focused on building strong, just, and resilient communities. She moved to Dane County to pursue her law degree at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she is involved with the Wisconsin Innocence Project (WIP) and Environmental Law Society (ELS). Previously, she spent 4 years at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) supporting scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates working to ensure the rights of all people to clean air and water, healthy homes and food, and green infrastructure and transportation. Alyssa holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Franklin & Marshall College. In her free time, she enjoys cycling, cooking meals with friends, and watching old movies. 

Daphne Wu

Compost Intern

Daphne Joyce Wu (she/her/hers) is a senior at Middleton High School and an upcoming freshman at Yale University. She plans to study environmental studies and economics during college. During high school, she was the President and Founder of Green Team, and she began the not-for-profit organization, Dane County Youth Environmental Committee, outside of school. She serves as a youth representative on the City of Middleton Sustainability Committee and the MCPASD Sustainability Committee. From her sophomore year, she wrote and led the effort to pass a sustainability resolution in her school district with the goal of reaching 100% renewable energy by 2035, which passed unanimously in March 2021. Outside of sustainability projects, Daphne loves to write poems and screenplays, and is currently working on an unpublished novel. She has a deep love for film, and hopes to one day learn to write and direct films.

Jeanne Welch

Compost Intern

Jeanne(she/her) discovered the connection between the health of an ecosystem and the equity and wellbeing of the community during her time in the Peace Corps as a forestry volunteer in Mali, West Africa. She is a systems thinker who enjoys working together at the intersection of health and the environment, and seeks local opportunities to make a positive and sustainable impact. Jeanne has a B.S. in Natural Resources from Michigan State and a Masters in Public Health Education/Outreach from University of Hawaii, Manoa. She believes each person’s story adds value to the wellbeing of the whole community. Jeanne finds renewal by singing in harmony with others, listening to nature, and appreciating the abundant gifts the Great Lakes Region has to offer.  

Jake Pollastrini

Compost Intern

Jake’s (he/him) varied background in Energy, Manufacturing & “Big Food” gives him a unique perspective on large scale production & consumerism and the need for increased education around waste management and healthful alternatives. Jake’s obsession with holistic health & wellness for people and the planet continues to grow as he studies more about food systems, regenerative agriculture, and helps operate small, organic family farms. He hopes to build a sustainable home and produce much (if not all!) of his food supply through permaculture practices, local sourcing, and environmentally friendly technologies. Jake holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from UW-Madison and currently runs a pre-accelerator program for aspiring student startup founders. To maintain mental & physical balance, he’s often playing sand volleyball, biking, practicing mixed martial arts, or learning something totally new! 

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. If there are no current open positions, 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

Unfinished Business

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

Nordic Consulting

Dave Benforado

Dave Benforado

MG&E

Sandy Xiong

Sandy Xiong

City of Sun Prairie

Abigail Corso

Abigail Corso

Elevate Energy

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