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Staff and Members


Kenny Ausubel is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author, journalist and filmmaker. He is the founder and co-president of Bioneers, a nationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to disseminating practical and visionary solutions for restoring Earth’s imperiled ecosystems and healing our human communities. He launched the annual Bioneers Conference in 1990 with his producing partner and wife Nina Simons, Bioneers co-president. The Conference attracts over 3,000 people each year to the national conference in San Rafael, California, and in 2007, it was beamed by satellite simulcast to 18 localized Bioneers conferences across the US to another 10,000 attendees. Kenny serves as executive producer and co-writer of the award-winning annual radio series Bioneers: Revolution From the Heart of Nature, which airs on over 200 US public radio stations and several internationally. He authored the book The Bioneers: Declarations of Interdependence, and edited the Bioneers anthology books Nature’s Operating Instructions: The True Biotechnologies and Ecological Medicine: Healing the Earth, Healing Ourselves. He is executive producer of the Bioneers plenary series airing on Free Speech TV and Link TV. He acted as a central advisor to Leonardo DiCaprio’s feature documentary The 11th Hour, and appears in the film.

Nina Simons
Co-Founder and Co-President
Nina Simons is a social entrepreneur and co-founder and co-president of Bioneers. Previously, she served as president of Seeds of Change and as director of strategic marketing for Odwalla. In addition to advancing practical social and environmental strategies, Nina has an enduring interest in the leadership of women and girls, which has long been reflected in Bioneers’ conference programming and media. She co-teaches Cultivating Women’s Leadership, a five-day intensive forum for women entrepreneurs, donor activists and other nonprofit practitioners.
In 2002, Nina produced a retreat for diverse women leaders called UnReasonable Women for the Earth, to envision a broad progressive women’s movement with environmental restoration at its heart. The gathering served as an incubator, resulting in the formation of CodePink: Women for Peace. Together with her husband and partner Kenny Ausubel, Nina was named an Utne Reader “Visionary” in 1996. They received the Robert Rodale Award in 2003 for their work in bringing the emergent field of Ecological Medicine to public awareness. Kenny and Nina received the Green Cross Millennium Award for Community Environmental Leadership in 2006. Nina serves on the board of the David Brower Center.

Jill Van Nortwick -
Executive Director
Jill van Nortwick, Executive Director, has overseen operational management and strategic development initiatives for many years. Her work over the last 15 years in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. has spanned the nonprofit, corporate and governmental sectors.

In New Zealand, Jill served as a principal advisor to the Minister of Science, Research and Technology on strategic issues affecting the nation’s infrastructure and education sector. She wrote the business case for installing terabit-speed Internet in New Zealand to connect scientists and researchers around the world.
Jill has worked to advance progress on issues ranging from information technology to sustainable business. She worked with the regional economic development agency in Wellington, NZ, to bring together smaller IT firms to begin collaborating on exporting their software. She also served as Chair of the Sustainable Business Network for the lower North Island of New Zealand, helping companies integrate sustainability into their business practices. Jill and her husband also ran a sustainable business on their organic blueberry farm.
In the corporate sector, Jill has managed international teams with multi-million dollar budgets. She worked as an intrapreneur within a large transnational telecommunications firm for 14 years. In this firm in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, Jill created new lines of business, grew the telecoms services business, established cross-boundary relationships and structures, championed a vision for strategic business growth, and guided the development and completion of high risk business projects.
Jill’s current interests range from sudoku to learning the banjo. She happily admits, however, that she devotes most of her time outside of work to her children, ages 11 and 14.

Peter Mattair -
Vice President
Peter Mattair, Vice President, joined Bioneers in 2003. His work involves finance, fundraising and strategic planning, among other things. Previously, he was executive director of the Fund for Folk Culture, a national public foundation. Earlier, he was director of development and director of the Music of the Americas program at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Before settling in New Mexico, Peter was a publicist with Paramount Pictures, where he was privileged to work with the studio historian. He was an early volunteer with Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City. He has served on the Santa Fe Arts Commission and as a board member of New Mexico Association of Grantmakers, which he helped to found. He currently serves as president of the board of Many Mothers, an organization in Santa Fe providing support to any family with a newborn child.

Jeffrey Vasterling -
Jeffrey Vasterling, Comptroller, spent his youth in the Midwest and has an education in Anthropology and Psychology. He has previously worked as a professional in the healing arts and as an office manager in a small doctor’s office.
Kim Schiffbauer -
Director of Marketing and Communications Kim Schiffbauer, Director of Marketing and Communications, has nearly thirty years of marketing experience. She has worked both in-house and as a consultant for companies from start-ups to large corporations in Boston, New York, San Francisco and London. Kim has expertise in strategic planning and market research, public relations and publicity, media research and planning and marketing/brand plan development and supervision. Kim is an excitable earth citizen and loves life and Santa Fe. She is married with two sons, and speaks both French and Spanish.

Maia Cortissoz -
Membership and Development Assistant
Maia Cortissoz, Membership and Development Assistant, joined Bioneers in May of 2007. Maia’s previous non-profit experience includes working with The Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPirg), Girls Inc. of Metro Denver, and City in Motion Dance Theater in Kansas City, Missouri. She also had a brief stint working with the US EPA Region 8 Superfund Record Center in Denver. Maia holds a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder, speaks Spanish and enjoys hiking, mountain biking and camping in her spare time. Maia is also a classically trained dancer who has been taking dance lessons and performing since the age of four and teaching Modern Dance and Ballet to students of all ages and technique levels since the age of 15. She currently teaches at the Las Vegas Creative Dance Center in Las Vegas, NM.

Liz Cunningham -
Youth & Conference Project Manager
Liz Cunningham, Youth & Conference Project Manager, holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Green Mountain College. She came to us from Burlington, Vermont where she was previously working on improving energy efficiency and renewable energy on college campuses through a grant from the DOE. In 2005 she coordinated the Northeast Climate Conference, which brought over 300 students from the Region to participate in over 30 workshops ed on climate change education and action. When she is not organizing youth, you can find her telemark skiing in Tahoe, tossing a frisbee in Golden Gate park, riding her bike through the city, or boogying on down to some live tunes!

Felicia Marohn -
Executive Assistant to Nina Simons Felicia Marohn, Executive Assistant to Nina Simons, grew up in Germany, speaks three languages and joined Bioneers late summer of 2006. Before coming on board with Bioneers Felice lived, worked and practiced for four years at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe. Serving Upaya as a Zen Priest included organizational development of a non-profit as well as spiritual leadership and guidance for residents of a Buddhist community. Currently, she is enrolled in the evening and weekend program of the College of Santa Fe to complete her BA in Psychology. Felice brings to her life and work a deep curiosity about human behavior. Inspired and guided by her ongoing deep encounter with Buddhist practice and Non Violent Communication (NVC), she is motivated to develop the skillful means necessary for transforming human suffering into liberation. On evenings and weekends, Felice volunteers for several prison projects as a meditation and Tai Chi Quan teacher working with incarcerated youth, women, and men in Northern New Mexico.

Arty Mangan –
Food & Farming Director
Arty Mangan, Food and Farming Program Director for Bioneers, has worked with farmers and agriculture since 1978 as a partner in Live Juice, a fresh, local, organic apple juice company in Santa Cruz. In 1986 he joined Odwalla and was in charge of fruit sourcing, working with farmers in the US, Mexico and Costa Rica.
He joined Bioneers in 1998 as the Project Manager for the Restorative Development Initiative, which produced “Wisdom at the End of Hoe” ecological agricultural workshops, collaborated with John Mohawk and the Iroquois White Corn Project and worked with The Federation of Southern Cooperatives and African American farmers in Mississippi and Alabama. He is a board member of the Ecological Farming Association, and was a member of the Santa Cruz GE Subcommittee that led to a Precautionary Moratorium on growing genetically engineered crops in Santa Cruz County. 

Sue Talkington --
Administration Manager
Sue Talkington, Administration Manager, born and raised in Texas, Sue has a BS in Computer Information Systems and an MA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College. She brings twelve years of professional experience in computer applications development and complex systems management for the banking and finance industry to Bioneers, and is proficient in multiple computer languages, databases, operating systems and applications software. Sue currently manages Bioneers’ administrative team, the online Store, volunteers and the office. She lives in Santa Fe with her daughter and enjoys singing, hiking and cooking in her spare time.

Aaron Leventman --
Producer, Moving Image Festival-Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Aaron Leventman, Producer, Moving Image Festival and Marketing & Communications Coordinator, moved to Santa Fe from Provincetown, Massachusetts where he worked in Town promotion. Previously, he worked as an assistant publicist on an independent feature film in New York City. In Santa Fe he has worked for their Film Center as a film curator and events planner. He was also Assistant Program and Outreach Coordinator for the NM Alliance for Children with Traumatic Stress and has been a volunteer fo GMHC in New York and the Human Rights Alliance in Santa Fe. He recently worked for the Sundance Film Festival and is also a published playwright and actor, appearing in many theatrical productions. 

Ginger Ridder-
Sponsorship Manager
Ginger Ridder came to Santa Fe a little over a year ago, ready for change. She previously lived in New York, Massachusetts and Australia before venturing to New Mexico. Her spirit moves her to help other people, formerly working for the Olympics, then in the health and fitness industry, bringing joy to others through play and sport. As a rock climber, she prefers to be among the mountains, and now strives to help protect and preserve the outdoors that challenge her to climb beyond her limitations. 

J.P. Harpiginies -
Bioneers Conference
Associate Producer
JP Harpignies, Bioneers Conference associate producer, a former program director at the New York Open Center and contributing editor to its journal Lapis, is the co-producer of the Eco-Metropolis conference in NYC, a freelance program consultant, conference producer, copy-editor and writer. He is the author of two books: Political Ecosystems and Double Helix Hubris; and the associate editor of the Bioneers books: Ecological Medicine and Nature''s Operating Instructions,and Visionary Plant Consciousness and has been an instructor of Taijiquuan in Brooklyn, NY, for over 20 years.

Teo Grossman -
Community Outreach Assistant
Teo Grossman, Satellite Program Manager, is responsible for strategic and day-to-day management of the network of satellite locations as well as coordinating Bioneers’ efforts to engage and support educators in introducing Bioneers into their schools and classrooms. A member of the Bioneers Faculty (Teo was a speaker in the first year of the Bioneers Youth Initiative) and current advisor to the Youth Program, he is a cum laude graduate of Pitzer College, a former teacher and has traveled extensively internationally.
Valerie Rael -
Office Administrator
Valerie Rael, Project Coordinator, previously worked, as an office manager for a computer training company where she developed proficient skills in computer software/hardware. She was born and raised Santa Fe, NM with deep family roots in the community. She loves spending time raising her three beautiful children, Taylor, Angelo and Brittany.
Amy Theobald -
Design & Publications Manager
Amy Theobald, design + publications manager, joined the staff of Bioneers in February of 2003. Educated at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she has many years of experience in arts administration for commercial and nonprofit venues, directing a non-commercial exhibition space, working on the team producing an annual international modern and contemporary art exposition, and coordinating projects for a graphic design studio with an emphasis on creative clients. She has also worked at a Montessori preschool, teaching art, cooking and yoga to three to six year olds. 
Kelli Webster -
Bioneers Project Manager  Kelli Webster, project manager, previously worked at EcoWorks Multimedia (a nonprofit project of the Tides Center) as assistant to the director, where she was responsible for office management, managing an organizational outreach program, supervising staff and intern schedules and editing of manuscripts. Kelli is a certified dog trainer, and lives in Portland, Oregon with her dog, Figment. 

Julie Weinstein -
Membership and Development Manager  Julie Weinstein, Membership and Development Manager, came to Bioneers in the spring of 2006 with 10 years of membership program development and fundraising experience for both arts and environmental organizations. Prior to joining Bioneers, she directed the annual fund for the Los Angeles based, urban forestry non-profit, TreePeople. Before that, she directed fundraising and education programming for the Decorative Arts Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her interest in developing and directing membership programs stems from her belief in the power of social movements creating positive change and in the concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world). Julie lives in the mountains outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband, daughter, son and a very large stash of hand-dyed yarn. 

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