Sigrid Wright has 25 years of experience in non-profit environmental management, currently as CEO for the Community Environmental Council. For climate related issues, she is a steering committee member of the Central Coast Climate Collaborative and the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation. For energy related issues, she is co-author and/or editor of more than a dozen CEC policy documents, including The Santa Barbara County Regional Energy Blueprint. 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.
Waste-Free VC Program Coordinator with the Ventura County Public Health Department
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 transportation and energy programs. He works to increase access to cleaner plug-in electric vehicles and EV charging infrastructure for everyone in our communities. Cameron is a member of Southern California Edison’s Clean Energy Access Working Group, a groundbreaking partnership with The Greenlining Institute, environmental and community groups, and faith-based organizations to make sure no community is left behind as we move toward a clean energy future. He regularly collaborates with partners such as SBBIKE and COAST to advance policies that give more people the choice to safely walk and bike their communities. Cameron received a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2013. He also holds a dual Bachelor of the Arts in Psychology and Philosophy from UCSB. Cameron is a 2017 Alumni of Leading from Within’s Emerging Leaders Program (Cohort V). Before he joined CEC, Cameron supported corporate social responsibility initiatives to promote sustainable transportation and energy conservation in the workplace.
Jennifer joined CEC in late 2018 as an energy assistant. Her focus is creating an Electric Vehicle Blueprint for Ventura County. Before joining CEC, she interned with Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) working on environmental justice issues in Ventura County. This was part of their work with the Clean Energy 805 Coalition. Jennifer has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Lisa Hill is Principal / Creative Director at PHAROS Creative LLC, a boutique branding & communications firm that has spent the past 20 years helping small businesses and nonprofits tell their stories. PHAROS partners long term with clients across the globe, sometimes working on-site, and sometimes from afar. Lisa has a BA in Studio Art & Art History from Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. She has worked with the Community Environmental Council and the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival since 2014 on the Marketing & Outreach team.
Iris Kelly joined CEC in January 2017 as an Earth Day Festival Exhibitor Coordinator intern before joining the staff in May 2017. A Santa Barbara native, she grew up passionate about environmental protection and society’s responsibility for creating sustainable solutions. Iris received a Bachelor of Science in Sustainability from Arizona State University. She also currently works with San Marcos Farms Honey Company.
Kathi King is the Outreach and Education Director at CEC and plays a key role in organizing CEC’s Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival. Kathi manages CEC’s Ditch Plastic program including the successful Rethink the Drink bottled water reduction program in area schools. She is on the board of the Montecito Association and is on the Santa Barbara School District’s Sustainability Sub-Committee.
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. Learn more about Kathi.
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.
Kendall joined CEC in Spring 2019 as Executive and Development Coordinator. Growing up in New England, Kendall cultivated a deep connection to the ocean and spending time outdoors, inspiring her to work for various organizations as an environmental change-maker. Kendall received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in Environmental Sciences. More recently, Kendall graduated from UCSB’s Bren School with a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management. After completing a fellowship, Kendall is eager to help support CEC in increasing awareness and action about the pressing environmental crisis.
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. April has a background in environmental education and volunteer management, and is a board member of the Wilderness Youth Project.
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.
Becca Summers is a Santa Barbara local who began her development career in 1993 while teaching high school in New Hampshire. What started as a means to improve education and programming within her small school of 300 students quickly developed into a passion to improve the quality of education across the state. She would go on to put her development talents to use for at-risk youth programs, where she accumulated multiple awards. Returning to Santa Barbara, she led development efforts at the Museum of Natural History and at Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy. Becca holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Science from Bennington College and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Goddard College.
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.
Johanna Fornberg is pursuing a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UCSB. Her current thesis work focuses on the dynamics of pests and insects in agroecosystems. Prior to moving to Santa Barbara, Johanna worked for several NGOs on projects ranging from public and environmental health to biodiversity research and protection, and in the corporate world implementing sustainable waste management. She holds an M.S. in Conservation Ecology from the University of Michigan, and a B.S. in Environmental Science & Policy from the University of South Florida. Johanna will assist CEC in implementing initiatives in the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan, especially projects related to food access and food waste in the community.
Rebecca Wright is a UCSB student pursuing a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Political Science. She advocates for sustainability on campus through the zero waste movement and assists in various research projects, from environmental violence to wind energy. She is highly interested in the intersection of sustainability and policy, as well as environmental justice. At CEC, she hopes to advance energy sustainability in the larger community.