Management Team and Staff

MANAGEMENT TEAM

Nicole Hagerman Miller
Managing Director, Biomimicry 3.8

Based in Missoula, MT

Job scope: Nicole joined Biomimicry 3.8 in September 2012 as director of client services. Prior to Biomimicry 3.8 she worked in both the public and private sector focusing on global business development and sustainability.

History: As Managing Director of the Montana World Trade Center the key focus of her work increased global business opportunities for Montana companies by developing and implementing programs to accelerate the transformation of Montana companies into globally recognized, export-oriented and innovation driven businesses. Prior to joining MWTC she was Director of International Sourcing for Overstock.com. She built the global sourcing division from scratch into integral role in the company contributing to over $35 Million in sales. Through her work in sourcing she became dedicated to improving the company’s social and environmental compliance standards.  In 2009, Nicole created an internal standard and to reduce impacts of the company’s supply chain and private label products and provide transparency to Overstock.com customers.

Nicole holds a bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Montana.  She is a Fellow of Columbia University’s American Assembly Next Generation Project- a review of U.S. Global Policy and the Future of International Institutions.  She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Digital IQ Magazine and received the Utah Business “Forty under 40” Award for her work at Overstock.com. In 2010 she was appointed to the U.S.  Industry Trade Advisory Committee- public-private partnership jointly managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of United States Trade Representative that engages business leaders in formulating U.S. trade policy- for Small and Minority owned Businesses. She is also a Montana Ambassador, appointed by Governor Brian Schweitzer. Nicole serves on the Board of Directors for Montana Community Development Corporation and the University of Montana School of Business Administration Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs.  Nicole is a co-owner of House Design Studio, a small business in Missoula, Montana, selling modern, contemporary and sustainably crafted furniture, home décor, gifts and interior design services.


Beth Rattner
Executive Director, Biomimicry 3.8 Institute

Based in San Francisco, CA

Job scope: Beth directs the Institute’s strategic vision, managing the organization’s program development, fundraising, and marketing efforts. Or in her words, she “herds cats, turns the manure in the compost, cultivates the garden for more visitors, and comes up with poor analogies.”

History: Beth went from law school into politics (Democratic) and then into tech, which ironically is what led her to the natural world. By some fluke turn of current events, she’s been part of two revolutions: the boom of the web (Beth was the first producer of AOL.com) and the fruition of sustainability (first female manager at Blu Skye sustainability management consulting firm) as a common corporate phrase. She’s been blessed with real connection to great communicators (Bill Clinton, Bill McDonough, Michael Braungart, Janine Benyus) and feels this has sparked her own path as a communicator.

Favorite organism and why: The domesticated mutt (dog). Genetically, dogs have more adaptation markers than nearly any other species, allowing this one species to look incredibly varied. But the real reason is because they are our most common connection to the animal world. People love them as their own children, which is how Beth hopes we could relate to all living creatures.

Comfort food:  Used to be chocolate, wait, it’s still chocolate. Dark, organic, fairly traded.

Favorite quote: “I do think that women could make politics irrelevant; by a kind of spontaneous cooperative action the like of which we have never seen; which is so far from people’s ideas of state structure or viable social structure that it seems to them like total anarchy — when what it really is, is very subtle forms of interrelation that do not follow some hierarchical pattern which is fundamentally patriarchal. The opposite to patriarchy is not matriarchy but fraternity, yet I think it’s women who are going to have to break this spiral of power and find the trick of cooperation.” -Germaine Greer


STAFF

Estella Anderson, M.Ed.
Executive Assistant

Based in Missoula, MT

Job scope: Estella coordinates the activities of the president and chief executive officer. This includes organizing meetings, travel, media, and speaking events. She also coordinates the Speakers Bureau.

History: Before joining us, Estella worked for The University of Montana for nine years as the director of pre-pharmacy advising and director of the Native American Center of Excellence. At the School of Pharmacy she advised more than 80 students in the pre-pharmacy program and worked with Native American students within the professional pharmacy program to provide them support to become practioners. Her work in education has primarily included helping minority students gain access to higher education and advising them on their educational pathway.

Favorite organism and why: Beluga whale. They are beautiful creatures and always look like they are smiling.

Favorite book: The Beginning and the End by Naguib Mahfouz

Comfort food: Apple pie and ice cream


Mark Dorfman
Green Chemist & Research Analyst

Based in New York, NY

Job scope: Mark manages, designs, and conducts research, primarily for projects with a chemistry-related challenge.

History: Mark spent the last several decades as a research scientist for public-interest, not-for-profit environmental organizations (primarily INFORM, Inc. and the Natural Resources Defense Council) with a focus on green chemistry and clean water issues.

Favorite organism and why: Cyanobacteria. They were the first creatures, some 3+ billion years ago, to develop photosynthetic technology. We still haven’t figured out how to completely reproduce it.

Favorite book: Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins

Hidden talent: Swing dancing!


Jamie Dwyer, MArch

Biologist & Design Strategist

Based in Helena, MT

Job scope:  Jamie is a biologist at the design table—she researches biological strategies and then brings those strategies to design. She also teaches others about biomimicry and facilitates biomimicry workshops. 

History:  Before joining Biomimicry 3.8, Jamie was on an architectural career path. Before architecture, she worked as a field biologist. Biomimicry has not only provided a cure for her perpetual student syndrome, but has also brought her seemingly divergent degrees in architecture and biology into perfect harmony.

Favorite organism and why:  Right now, hummingbirds. Why: they store enough energy for thousand-mile migrations in their one-ounce bodies, their maneuverability in flight, and have you seen the research on their tongues?!?

Favorite book:  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Comfort food:  Dark Chocolate. And baked goods – especially molasses spice cookies, cookie dough brownies and homemade bread.


Melissa Fryday
Staff Accountant

Based in Missoula, MT

Job scope: Assists with finance and accounting.

History: Melissa was a stay-at-home mom for eight years before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Montana in 2008. Before coming to Biomimicry 3.8 she worked in public accounting.

Favorite organism and why: The bumblebee. Aerodynamically it shouldn’t be able to fly, but nobody told the bumblebee, so it goes on flying anyway.

Favorite spot: Seeley Lake, Montana, preferably the River Point Campground beach.

Fantasy travel destination: Melissa has always wanted to see New York City at Christmas time.


Scott Halstvedt
AskNature Technical Specialist

Based in Missoula, MT

Job scope: Scott is responsible for the in-house technical maintenance of AskNature, including bug fixes and enhancements, as well as contributing to the larger evolution of this invaluable resource.
 
History: Scott is currently earning a bachelor’s in computer science at the University of Montana. He has experience working with natural user interfaces and artificial intelligence that has culminated in a devotion to making computers more useful than harmful for society.
 
Favorite organism and why: Tarsiers. They look like something out of Avatar, but can turn their heads 180-degrees like an owl and jump out of trees to catch birds.
 
Favorite book: The Unexpected Universe by Loren Eiseley

Favorite quote: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe.” – Carl Sagan


Gretchen Hooker, MID
Project Specialist

Based in Kalamazoo, MI

Job scope: Gretchen is a member of the project teams for AskNature.org and the Biomimicry Student Design Challenge and supports other Institute projects and programs.

History: Gretchen is committed to educating others about sustainable design and has developed programs within higher education, served as a writer and editor for sustainable design exhibitions, and written for online media. Most recently she was the founding director of the ASMSU Sustainability Center at Montana State University. Gretchen has a master’s degree in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design and is a graduate of the Biomimicry Specialist Certification program. 

Favorite organism and why: Merino Sheep – producer of nature’s perfect fiber!

Favorite book: A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman

Hidden talent: Packing a lot of function into a small space.


Jessica Smith
Graphic Designer

Based in Helena, MT

Job scope: Jessica works on visual communications/strategy and branding.

History: Before working with us, Jessica served as marketing assistant for the University Center at The University of Montana. She was also a naturalist at Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Favorite organism and why: Sloth. When Jessica saw one in the wild, she was more excited by it than any other animal she’d seen, and it was sleeping nonetheless! If this species were to go extinct Jessica would be heartbroken.

Fantasy travel destination: In her fantasy, she would shrink to the size of a flea and travel through her backyard.

Favorite quote: “Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet, for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it. The soft overcomes the hard, the gentle overcomes the rigid. Everyone knows this is true but few can put it into practice.” -Tao Te Ching.


Robyn Klein, MSc
Biologist & Research Analyst

Based in Bozeman, MT

Job scope: Robyn is Biomimicry 3.8′s fact-finding sleuth for our Innovation Services. Working with our team on client projects, Robyn helps find the genius in nature to assist clients in the built environment and product industries.

History: Robyn is also an adjunct instructor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology and teaches summer courses in plant identification, biomimicry and ethnobotany at Montana State University in Bozeman.

 Favorite organism: Black cottonwood trees. The connection between wolves and cottonwoods has been made in Yellowstone Park. Wolves move the elk around so they don’t browse all the young cottonwoods. This allows the young cottonwoods to grow, which has brought back a healthy riparian ecosystem with songbirds and beaver in the Lamar Valley.

 Favorite quote: “The answers to how to live sustainably on our planet are all around us.” – Janine Benyus

 Favorite books: Consulting the Genius of Place by Wes Jackson.

 Hidden talent: 30+ years as an herbalist and medical botanist.


Angela Klinefelter
Financial Manager

Based in York, PA

Job scope: Angela manages the financial details of the Institute’s amazing projects and is also the assistant to the executive director.

History: Before Biomimicry 3.8, Angela managed the finances for several other local non-profits such as Buffalo Field Campaign, Wind River Bear Institute, and Cold, Mountain Cold Rivers. She also worked as an accountant at Lambros Real Estate. Her past life was spent roaming Montana’s Glacier Country as a bear conflict specialist.

Favorite organism and why: Bears. They get to sleep through winter, through child birth, and can smell chocolate a mile away.

Comfort food: Chocolate….chocolate and more chocolate.


Diana Lee
Individual Giving & Outreach Manager

Based in Berkeley, CA

Job scope: Diana sees fund raising as an opportunity to bring together organizations and people who share common values and want to use their resources to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.

History: Prior to joining the staff of the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute, she worked for Earthjustice; the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security; Redefining Progress; and Greenpeace. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Diana earned a B.A. at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she studied art, and later returned to Hawaii, where she co-founded a modern dance company.

Favorite composer: Gustav Mahler

Favorite quote: “I’d rather be an evangelist, a storyteller, an educator, a translator, a table-pounder, a guy on his soap box, a woman with a megaphone, a candidate for change.” – Sasha Dichte


Erin Leitch, CBP, LEED AP BD+C
Senior Principal, Designer

Based in Mexico City, Mexico

Job Scope: Coming from an architectural design background, Erin now weaves her design thinking expertise with the biomimicry approach for a distinctly innovative approach to sustainable solutions. Her goal is to deliver a holistic methodology for driving innovation and ecosystem regeneration and conservation while bringing awareness to new ways to view and value the natural world.

As a Senior Principal at Biomimicry 3.8, Erin has broadened her scope beyond the built environment to include a wider range of design sectors and challenges, such as packaging design and organizational development, while also serving as a biomimicry and design instructor to adult learners around the world. She has successfully managed biomimicry innovation initiatives for Natura, Estee Lauder, Lone Meadow, Interface, and Burt’s Bees and supported the professional training of over 150 alumni from Biomimicry 3.8 certification programs.

History: Erin’s sustainability framework experience includes Biomimicry, Living Building Challenge, The Natural Step, and LEED. In the course of her career prior to joining Biomimicry 3.8, Erin had supported over 30 built environment projects working with developers, planners, architects, and engineers to understand and act on their unique opportunity to design, build, and operate resiliently and abundantly within Earth’s operating conditions.

Favorite Quote: Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Favorite Book: Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock. After receiving it as a gift when it was first published in 1991, I’m still fascinated by its mix of art, mystery, storytelling, and tactile format. I read it again every year.


Jennifer Schill, LEED Green Associate
AskNature Content & Community Manager

Based in Fort Collins, CO

Job scope: Jen guides all AskNature content and manages community programs to engage scientists, innovators, educators, students, and others in AskNature. She also informs ongoing innovation and improvements to AskNature.

History: Jen’s work experience spans education, project management, communications, marketing, and fundraising. Prior to joining Biomimicry 3.8 Institute, Jen worked at the U.S. Green Building Council, where she led development of a digital library of green building best practices and created LEED education. She has also worn many hats at a land trust and watershed protection organization; worked in an aquatic entomology lab; and provided consulting services to various conservation nonprofits. She holds a degree in biology.

Favorite organism and why: Dragonfly. It’s a beautiful reminder of the importance of healthy rivers and streams—and is one of the coolest insects out there.

River, lake, or ocean? A river that’s calm enough for wading. Bonus if it’s also deep enough for swimming.

Hidden talent: Throwing a good cheese and chocolate fondue party.


Megan Schuknecht
Director of Design Challenges

Based in Missoula, MT

Job scope: Megan directs our design challenge offerings, with a special emphasis on using design challenges to help faculty and administrators incorporate biomimicry tools and concepts into university and college classrooms, curricula, and degree programs.

History: Prior to restructuring, Megan served as the Director of University Education for the Institute. Before joining the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute, Megan worked and taught for a variety of sustainability and social justice non-profits and educational organizations. She also worked as a biologist at the design table with the Biomimicry Guild, helping global companies look to nature for inspiration to develop sustainable and innovative technologies.

Favorite organism and why: Honeybees. Megan has been fascinated by bee biology and behavior ever since serving as a beekeeping extensionist with Peace Corps Paraguay.

Favorite book: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Hidden talent: Having all of her colleagues’ Google calendars displayed at once – and being able to make sense of them.


Ethan Smith
Director of AskNature

Based in Portland, OR

Job scope: Ethan is passionate about cultivating great ideas, talented people, and symbiotic relationships to grow and develop products and services that will help make the act of asking nature’s advice a normal part of everyday inventing.

History: Ethan has collaborated on numerous award-winning products, services, and media for clients and employers in the outdoor recreation and environmental conservation industries. He holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial design and has received extensive training in sustainable development, LEED, biology, and biomimicry. His professional background spans product design and development, web design and development, graphic design, photography, writing, business strategy, expedition planning, and creative direction with organizations including Nau, Eddie Bauer, XPLANE, and many more.

Favorite organism and why: Pacific salmon fry are born in shallow streams and navigate to the ocean as young smolt. After years at sea, adults return to their streams to spawn and die, contributing an array of ocean-sourced nutrients to the rich ecosystems. Rather than directing these nutrients towards their own young, salmon have evolved to nourish entire communities, effectively creating stable and resilient conditions in which successive generations of eggs and fry can predictably thrive.

Favorite activities: Whether carving turns through untracked powder, planting paddle strokes through boiling rapids, or earning his keep on technical single-track, Ethan thrives when he’s exploring diverse ecosystems with friends in pursuit of flow.

Favorite book: The Way to Start a Day by Byrd Baylor & Peter Parnall


Ali Solomon
Communications Specialist

Based in Missoula, MT

Job scope: Ali works on the website, e-newsletter, marketing materials, and helps with media requests.

History: Before coming to the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute, Ali served as the communications/development director for Women’s Voices for the Earth and communications director for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. While in Chicago, she also worked for an adventure travel website and a book publisher. The summer of 2010, Ali was hired by Nature Valley to explore 10 national parks and document her experiences.

Favorite organism and why: Anemone (and clownfish). Apart from looking like fantastic creatures from a Dr. Seuss book, the anemone and clownfish beautifully illustrate mutualism.

Comfort food: Macaroni and cheese with carmelized onions, garlic, and chard

Hidden talent: Writes her own Mad Libs.


Glenna Tawney
Administrative Specialist

Based in Missoula, MT

Job scope: Glenna provides support for the BProfessional and BSpecialist programs, specifically event planning.  She also works on the Speakers Bureau and assists in daily operations.

History: Prior to joining Biomimicry 3.8, Glenna was an elementary school teacher, teaching fourth and fifth grades.  She holds a BS in business management and a masters degree in curriculum and instruction.  Glenna also spent three years on the Montana Natural History Center board of directors.

Favorite organism and why:  Cheetahs. Their speed and grace have fascinated Glenna since childhood.

Comfort food: Any and all types of cheese

Hidden talent: In a former life, Glenna was a Division I soccer player for the University of Montana.


Colin Worf
Technology Specialist

Based in Missoula, MT

Job scope: Administers computer systems, software, and hardware. Responds to technical support inquiries from both internal and external sources. Assists in updates and changes to website content.
 
History: Began working for Biomimicry 3.8 on March 19, 2013.
 
Favorite organism and why: Tortoises. They are incredibly efficient and wise creatures, and they represent peace and stability.

Hidden talent:  Fire dancer/artist

Favorite quotes: “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.” – Alan Watts
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin