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Staff and Board of Directors

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at


John Farrell — Director, Democratic Energy Initiative

John Farrell is a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its work on democratic energy.  John is best known for his vivid illustrations of the economic and environmental benefits of local ownership of decentralized renewable energy.

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Lisa Gonzalez — Research Associate, Community Broadband Networks Initiative

Lisa Gonzalez researches and reports on telecommunications and how those networks impact life on the local level. Her background includes experience in state politics, law, writing, and freelance journalism.

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Linda Knapp — Director, MACREDO Project

Linda Knapp is a Senior Program Manager for ILSR, overseeing the Mid-Atlantic Consortium of Recycling and Economic Development Officials, a recycling market development group funded by US EPA Region 3. Her current work focuses on increasing on-farm composting.

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Olivia LaVecchia — Research Associate, Community-Scaled Economy Initiative

Olivia LaVecchia is a Research Associate with ILSR’s Community-Scaled Economy Initiative and previously worked as a staff writer at City Pages, the alt-weekly paper of the Twin Cities, where her reporting won recognition locally and nationally, including the 2014 “Media for a Just Society” award for newspaper writing.

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Christopher Mitchell — Director, Community Broadband Networks Initiative

Christopher’s work focuses on telecommunications — helping communities ensure the networks upon which they depend, are accountable to the community.  He has published several reports, articles, and interviews while also offering technical assistance to communities around the country.

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Stacy Mitchell — Co-Director & Director, Community-Scaled Economy Initiative

Stacy Mitchell directs ILSR’s Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, which produces research and analysis, and partners with a range of allies to design and implement policies that curb economic consolidation and strengthen community-rooted enterprise.

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David Morris — Director, Defending the Public Good Initiative

Dr. David Morris is co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He directs its initiative on The Public Good.  He has served as an adviser or consultant to local, state and national governments and to private businesses large and small.

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Sarah Pickell — Finance Director

Sarah Pickell is responsible for the fiscal management of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Having spent the previous 16 years with The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Sarah brings over 25 years of financial and administrative expertise to ILSR.



Brenda Platt — Co-Director & Director, Waste to Wealth Initiative, Director of Composting Makes $en$e Project

Brenda Platt is a recycling expert and composting advocate, and co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR). She directs ILSR’s Sustainable Plastics and Composting Makes $en$e projects and co-chairs the Sustainable Biomaterials Collaborative.

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Neil Seldman — Senior Staff, Waste to Wealth Initiative, Director of Recycling-Based Economic Development Program

Neil Seldman, Ph.D., co-founded the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in 1974. An economic development planner and former manufacturer, Dr. Seldman specializes in approaches to municipal and commercial solid waste management that emphasize environmental quality and create economic development opportunities for small businesses, community organizations, and other targeted populations.

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Rebecca Toews

Rebecca Toews — Communications Specialist

Rebecca’s experience lies all along the media spectrum. Her communication focus originated in the news field, with more than seven years experience in newsroom settings and professional & university teaching positions.  She has a Masters degree from the Univ. of Oregon and is skilled at communicating complex material to diverse audiences, crafting internal and external communications in corporate and non-profit settings.

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Walter Wuthmann — Research Assistant, Community-Scaled Economy Initiative

Walter Wuthmann assists with writing and research for ILSR’s Community-Scaled Economy Initiative. He focuses on analyzing the climate impact of large retail operations and supporting simpler, cleaner, and more democratic economic systems.

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Robert Bell — Research Associate, Composting Makes $en$e Project

Linda Bilsens — Intern, Composting Makes $en$e Project

Sorawit Siangjaeo (Pai) — Intern, Telecommunications as Commons Initiative


Board of Directors

Nora Goldstein — BioCycle

Jolie Jones — Take It Back Foundation

Kirk Marckwald — California Environmental Associates

David Morris — ILSR

Roy Priest — Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority

Andy Reicher — Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB)

Gina Schaefer — A Few Cool Hardware Stores

Neil Seldman — ILSR


To reach ILSR staff members not listing an address, send e-mail to