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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


Chloe Ashford — Communications Assistant (Intern)

Chloe Ashford is the communications assistant for all of ILSR’s initiatives, and is responsible for helping to make ILSR’s work more widely known among the general public as well as funders. A rising senior at Oberlin College, she will graduate in 2018 with a degree in English and Anthropology.

Contact – Recent Posts

John Bailey — Development Director

John is the Director of Development and is responsible for coordinating fundraising and related outreach for ILSR.  He was a senior researcher at ILSR from 1992 until 2011, specializing in decentralized energy policy and analysis including topics of renewable energy, climate change, efficiency, tax policy and electric vehicles.

Contact – Twitter


Linda Bilsens — Project Manager, Composting for Community Project and Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders Program

Linda is the Project Manager for ILSR’s Composting for Community project and Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders community composter training program. Her role is dedicated to fostering a skilled, collaborative network of composters who are regenerating their communities, both socially and ecologically.

Full BioContact – Recent Posts – Twitter

Matthew Douglas-May — Intern, Energy Democracy Initiative

Matthew Douglas-May is interning with ILSR’s Energy Democracy Initiative. He is a rising junior at St. Olaf College majoring in Environmental Studies and concentrating in Management Studies and Latin American Studies. When he is not working on researching energy democracy and learning more about ILSR, you may find Matthew playing Ultimate Frisbee or biking around the Twin Cities.

ContactRecent Posts

John Farrell — Director, Energy Democracy Initiative

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

Full BioContactRecent Posts – Twitter


Lisa Gonzalez — Senior Researcher, 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.

Full BioContactRecent Posts – Twitter

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.

Full BioContact

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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, where she produces reports and articles that reach wide audiences, spur grassroots action, and influence policy-making.

Full BioContactRecent Posts – Twitter

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.

Full BioContactRecent Posts – Twitter

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.

Full BioContactRecent Posts – Twitter

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.

Full BioContactRecent Posts – Twitter


Jeffrey Neal, PE — Urban & On-Site Compost Consultant, Composting for Community Project

Commander, Jeffrey H. Neal is a retired United States Navy Civil Corps Engineer Officer and a graduate of ILSR’s Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders (NSR) Composter Training Program program. He provides his unique skill-set and expertise in composting, and facilities and program management to organizations and businesses that are considering composting.

Full BioContact

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Brenda Platt — Co-Director & Director, Composting for Community Initiative

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

Full BioContactRecent Posts – Twitter


David Odusanya — Video Intern, Community Broadband Networks Initiative

David once again joins the ILSR team for the summer of 2017 as the video intern for the Community Broadband Networks initiative. Outside of work he enjoys sleeping.

Contact – Recent Posts


Emily Saba — Intern, Composting for Community Initiative

Emily Saba is the Composting for Community intern with the Composting for Community project, working to document model composting activities and policies around the country and assisting with regional efforts to expand composting and raise awareness of the benefits. She is a current Junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, pursuing a bachelors degree in Economics and Public Policy.

Contact – Recent Posts – Twitter

Neil Seldman — Director, Waste to Wealth Initiative

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.

Full BioContactRecent Posts

Virginia Streeter — Research Associate, Waste to Wealth Initiative

Virginia Streeter is a Research Associate for the Composting for Community Project. She produces written reports and articles regarding the world of community composting, provides support on ILSR’s legislative work in composting, and gets to meet and interview lots of amazing people working in the field.

Full BioContactRecent Posts


Nick Stumo-Langer — Communications Manager

Nick Stumo-Langer is the head of communications for all of ILSR’s initiatives. He creates images for many of ILSR’s posts and assists in the marketing of projects including videos, podcasts, reports, and blog posts. A native of White Bear Lake, MN, Nick has a bachelors degree from St. Olaf College. Contact Nick for media inquiries.

Full Bio – Contact – Recent Posts – Twitter – LinkedIn


Kate Svitavsky – Intern, Community Broadband Networks Initiative

Kate Svitavsky is interning with ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative. She is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs pursuing a master’s degree in public policy. When not in school, Kate can be found kayaking, spending time with friends and family, reading anything written by David Mitchell, or biking one of Minnesota’s many trails.

Contact – Recent Posts

Hannah Trostle – Research Associate, Community Broadband Networks Initiative

Hannah Trostle is a Research Associate with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. After graduating Macalester College with a degree in Political Science, she is excited to put her studies to use, working on issues of Internet access in rural communities.

Full BioContact – Recent Posts – Twitter

Elizabeth Walsh — Intern, Waste to Wealth Initiative

Elizabeth Walsh is a research intern for the Waste to Wealth Initiative for the summer 2017. She is preparing a chronology of the US recycling movement, updating recent accomplishments of ILSR’s Working Partners and researching the impact of unit pricing (Pay As You Throw) for waste services in selected cities. Ms. Walsh will graduate from Lafayette College in June 2018 with a double major in economics and philosophy along with a government minor.

Contact – Recent Posts

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Karlee Weinmann — Research Associate, Energy Democracy Initiative

Karlee Weinmann is a research associate for ILSR’s Energy Democracy initiative. She produces reports that spotlight best practices and spur meaningful action in an evolving energy economy. Before joining ILSR, she worked as a journalist focused primarily on the intersection of policy, community and business.

Full Bio – Contact – Recent Posts – Twitter


Board of Directors


Nora Goldstein

Nora Goldstein is the Editor of BioCycle, the magazine and website authority on composting and anaerobic digestion, where she oversees such projects as “” and manages conferences related to composting and zero waste. She received the U.S. Composting Council’s “Hi Kellogg Award” in January 2014, and the American Biogas Council’s “Biogas Visionary Award” in October 2013.


Jolie Jones

Jolie Jones is the founder of the Take It Back Foundation, which has worked to encourage recycling efforts.  Her varied career spans art, modeling, and music.


Chris Lewis

Christopher Lewis is Vice President for Government Affairs at Public Knowledge and he leads their federal advocacy efforts. Prior to joining Public Knowledge in 2012, Chris served at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as Deputy Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs and advised the FCC Chairman on legislative and political strategy. He is a former U.S. Senate Staffer for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and has over a decade of organizing and campaign experience. Chris graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelors degree in Government. He lives in Alexandria, VA where he loves working on local civic issues and is elected to the Alexandria City Public School Board.

Photo: Roberta MacDonald

Roberta MacDonald

Roberta is nearing 40 years of consumer product marketing experience, the last 28 of which she has spent as SVP of Marketing for Cabot Creamery Cooperative. She has helped turn the small, farm family owned dairy cooperative into a national player through creative, award-winning, and occasionally over-the-top campaigns. Roberta previously served as Vermont’s first Marketing Director, a position created for her by Governor Kunin in 1984. She has been recognized with many awards for her design and high-impact public relations programs, including the highest individual award by B Corps. Roberta is a long-time champion of the co-op movement.


Kirk Marckwald

Kirk Marckwald, the Chairman of the Board, helms California Environmental Associates, a consulting firm that works with a wide range of businesses, nonprofits, foundations, and public institutions to promote conservation. Marckwald has extensive experience with energy and environmental regulation, and prior to founding CEA in 1984, worked as the Under Secretary of California’s Natural Resources Agency, and as a consultant with the Environmental Defense Fund.

 David Morris

David Morris

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.


Roy Priest

Roy Priest is the Executive Director and CEO of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority in Alexandria, Va., and additionally, provides consultancy to the Ford Foundation. Priest has worked in community economic development and finance over his 40-year career, and prior to his current positions, served seven years as the President and CEO of the National Congress for Community Economic Development, and 17 years with the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development, including as the Director of the Office of Economic Development.

Photo: Carol J. Ott

Andrew Reicher

Andrew Reicher is Executive Director of the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, where he started in 1978 and which he has led since 1981. Over his tenure, UHAB’s base of tenant-run and tenant-owned housing cooperatives has grown from several dozen to more than 1,500 in New York City and beyond. He is the 2003 recipient of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives’ highest honor, the “Jerry Voorhis Award.”

Credit: Carol J. Ott


Gina Schaefer

Gina Schaefer is the Founder & CEO of nine Ace Hardware stores in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Md. She manages operations for the $20 million company, oversees 210 employees, and chairs the Retail Committee for the Ace Hardware Corporation Board of Directors. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Think Local First D.C., a group focused on transforming D.C.’s economy by strengthening the local business community, Vice Chair of the Board for House of Ruth, and a member of the Advisory Board of Jubilee Jobs.

Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman

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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