Sigrid Wright has 25 years of experience in non-profit environmental management, currently as CEO/Executive Director. For energy/climate related issues, she is co-author of The Santa Barbara County Regional Energy Blueprint, editor of more than a dozen CEC policy documents, and program facilitator for the South County Energy Efficiency Partnership (SCEEP). For food system issues, she is on the executive team and advisory board of the countywide Food Action Plan. For more than 15 years she led the annual Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival production team.
Sigrid holds a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Oregon and an M.A. in Communications Design from the Yale Gordon College of Liberal Arts at the University of Baltimore. Prior to coming to CEC, she worked for several organizations in Washington, D.C., including the Alliance to Save Energy and the National Wildlife Federation. She is an alum of the Santa Barbara Foundation’s Katherine Harvey Fellows program and the Courage to Lead program for non-profit leaders, and sits on the board of Leading From Within. She is also a commissioner for the Santa Barbara County Commission for Women. She received the 2015 Women of Achievement Award from the Association of Women in Communications, Santa Barbara.
Julia Blanton joined CEC’s staff in April 2018 to support food systems work as the Santa Barbara County Food Rescue Coordinator. After earning a B.S. in Nutrition from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, she worked as a Diet Specialist in the Nutrition Department at Cottage Hospital. With a deep love of traveling and the outdoors, she has a passion for programs that lead to healthy people and a healthy planet.
Michael Chiacos joined CEC in 2007 and directs our energy, transportation, and climate programs. He has led dozens of CEC’s programs, from forming the regional electric vehicle readiness group to working on state policy issues at the Public Utilities Commission. He is the principal author of CEC’s Transportation Energy Plan, a comprehensive look at the various technologies, strategies, policies, modes and other options for reducing fossil fuel use in the transportation sector.
Michael holds a BA with honors in Environmental Studies from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR. He has recently served on the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District Community Advisory Committee, sat on the Measure A Citizens Oversight Committee (overseeing $1.5 billion in transportation spending), was president of the board of directors of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, and served as the Transportation Chair of the Los Padres chapter of the Sierra Club.
Cameron Gray joined CEC in 2015 to support the non-profit’s alternative fuels and energy efficiency programs. He received a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at University of California, Santa Barbara in 2013. He also holds a dual Bachelor of the Arts in Psychology and Philosophy from UCSB. Before he joined CEC, Cameron supported community-based social marketing campaigns to promote sustainable transportation and energy conservation.
Iris Kelly joined CEC in January 2017 as an Earth Day Festival intern before joining the staff in May. A Santa Barbara native, she grew up passionate about environmental protection and society’s responsibility for creating sustainable solutions. After obtaining a Bachelors in Sustainability from Arizona State University,, Iris spent many summers at Quail Springs Permaculture where she deepened her love of the outdoors while completing a Permaculture Design Course. She also currently works with San Marcos Farms Honey Company and Harvest Santa Barbara.
Kathi King is the Outreach and Education Director at CEC and plays a key role in organizing CEC’s Earth Day Festival and Green Gala. Kathi is behind CEC’s Rethink the Drink bottled water reduction program in area schools. She is on the board of the Montecito Association and on the Sustainability Committee at Santa Barbara High School.
Kathi has a B.S. degree in Telecommunications and Film from San Diego State University and worked in the television industry in Los Angeles for several years. She was an Associate Producer of the still-popular sitcom “Full House.” Kathi and her husband Jeff moved to Santa Barbara in 1998. Their two children attended Santa Barbara public schools for grades K-12 and Kathi served on several PTA boards and committees between 1998 and 2015. She did post-graduate work in Environmental Studies at Santa Barbara City College, where a class project led to Santa Barbara’s single use plastic bag ban.
Emily Miller officialy joined CEC staff in the summer of 2016 after working as the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan Fellow at CEC throughout the previous year. She recently received a Master’s Degree from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science at Tufts University, where she was in the Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program. She specialized in sustainable food systems analysis and modeling, tools for pinpointing opportunities to expand alternative food systems, which value the nutritional and environmental health of the communities they serve. Emily has a background in environmental consulting, farming, and agricultural policy writing and research.
Gina Nisbet has 25 years of local experience in Business Accounting & Finance, nine of which were running her own business. She proudly provides accurate, detailed accounting services, and loves the fast-paced, dynamic nature of CEC, where she is surrounded by people who are passionate about making a difference. A UCSB alum, she fell in love with this area and built her life here. Happily married for 20 years with three children, she enjoys spending free time outdoors with her two Bernese Mountain dogs and watching her youngest play baseball.
April’s work with the Community Environmental Council is focused on transitioning the tri-county region to renewable energy sources and reduced energy consumption. She leads CEC’s Solarize program, which facilitates residential solar adoption. She also serves on the utility-funded local government partnership, South County Energy Efficiency Partnership (SCEEP) which is focused on energy efficiency in municipal facilities. April holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Management with a specialization in Economics and Politics of the Environment from the Bren School at University of California, Santa Barbara. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from UC Santa Cruz. April has a background in environmental education and volunteer management.
Allegra Roth has a background in environmental and water policy and a passion for food system work. Before joining CEC, she worked for the California State Assembly, both as a District Representative in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, and as a Legislative Aide in the State Capitol. Working for State Legislators allowed Allegra to develop specialized skills in policy analysis and development, group facilitation, and multi-stakeholder outreach. Allegra graduated from the University of California at Davis with a B.S. in Community and Regional Development. She looks forward to working as a Food and Climate Program Associate at CEC, addressing barriers to a sustainable food system and identifying regenerative solutions.
Nicole Wald is a freelance writer and educator in Santa Barbara, CA with a passion for helping the planet. She supports CEC in developing content for social media, PR, marketing, and the annual Earth Day Festival. Part of this work includes gathering stories of people along the Central Coast who consciously take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Michael, who holds a Business Economics degree from UCSB, a CPA certification, and an MBA from UC Irvine, is not your typical non-profit CFO. While he has more than 30 years of professional experience in Finance, Marketing and Operations, he only joined the non-profit world in the past decade. This began when he had an opportunity to become CFO of the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, a role he greatly enjoyed.
After a short foray back into business to start a technology company, he decided to return to the nonprofit sector. Noticing that small- to medium-sized nonprofits only need a part-time CFO, he decided to become a “shared CFO.” Michael now concurrently serves multiple nonprofits, applying best practices learned at big for profit companies, re-engineereing accounting processes, and implementing new financial systems.
CEC In-Office Partners
Kelly Ferguson is the Director of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties Energize California Program, an initiative of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI). She works to accelerate clean energy development by convening and connecting the energy industry, and by supporting energy entrepreneurs and startups access the business and technical resources they need to bring new technology to market.
Prior to LACI, Kelly served as the Environmental Director of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, spent several years developing new products for a software company, and started a green modular housing company in New York City in 2007. A native Santa Barbaran, Kelly received her Master’s in Environmental Science and Management from UCSB’s Bren School and Graduate Program in Management Practice from UCSB’s Technology Management Program. She has a Bachelor’s in Environmental Policy from Vanderbilt University. She is an alumna of Leadership Santa Barbara County and is an active steering committee member building civic leadership in Santa Barbara.
Zachary Pettit is a Climate Corps fellow from Americorps and will be supporting CEC’s Energy and Climate Program for the coming year. Prior to joining CEC, he held positions at CalRecycle, the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, and the Environmental Policy and Science Department at UC Davis. A recent graduate of UC Davis, he discovered a great passion for sustainable energy and climate resilience while obtaining a B.S in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning. Zachary is also an award-winning student athlete, playing on the school football team all four years and twice honored for academic excellence.