We are a dedicated community of leaders, working together to ensure a sustainable future for all.
Judi Shils | Executive Director + Founder
Judi has spent the last 24 years of her life spearheading grassroots community projects. The dearth of answers around Marin County’s high cancer rates led Judi to found the nonprofit Search for the Cause, now Turning Green, a global student-led movement advocating for healthy food, safer products, and ethical businesses. She is also the force behind The Conscious Kitchen, a paradigm shifting model for school food service, transitioning school meals from pre-packaged, processed, heat-and-serve to chef-prepared, scratch cooked local, organic food, cooked in on-site zero waste kitchens. Believing that access to healthy food is a right, not a privilege, she began this work on a campus where 95% of children live below the poverty line, qualifying for free-and-reduced government-subsidized school meals. Moving to the Bay Area in 1989 and becoming a mother to daughter Erin changed the course of Judi’s life. Prior to this, she was an Emmy Award-winning television producer for 25 years with ABC Sports, FOX and Oxygen, founded The Diary Project forum for youth at the onset of the internet, and ran a successful student art exhibition, Celebrate Arts. Judi has been a consultant with the California Coastal Commission around public education for the past two decades.
Debbie Friedman | Program Director, Conscious Kitchen
Debbie is an attorney who practiced business law in San Francisco for 5 years. Since leaving the practice of law to pursue environmental work, Debbie has served in a variety of advocacy, communications and leadership positions including as producer for EcoTalk Radio which aired nationally on Air America Radio, and as a communications consultant for innovative nonprofits and businesses. Debbie has also co-founded and led two environmental health nonprofits. In her role at Moms Advocating Sustainability, Debbie led policy initiatives and organized coalitions, with an emphasis on shifting agricultural policies towards ecologically-oriented practices, to reduce the amounts of pesticides sprayed by state and local agencies. Debbie also was lead organizer and negotiator with County Government Officials in a 2009 successful campaign to revise Marin County’s regulations to substantially reduce the use of pesticides on County property. Prior to joining The Conscious Kitchen team as Program Director, she was a co-founder and served as Executive Director of GMOScience, a science-based educational and information platform that addresses the costs, risks and benefits of genetically engineered food. Debbie was selected in 2011 as a “Marin Hero for Children,” by Marin Advocates for Children.
Sue Waiss | Program Administrator
Sue has worked with Turning Green for 7 years and has helped bring all of our key programs to life. She is passionate about sustainability, education, and bringing our programs to students across the country and around the world. Prior to TG, Sue worked as a Project Manager and Studio Manager in the graphic design industry and co-founded two video production companies.
Kavya Velagapudi | Development Consultant
Kavya is a non-profit and development consultant who helps agencies achieve their fundraising goals. She is a creative, results-driven non-profit professional with six years of diverse experience generating revenue and resources for non-profits. With a Masters in Social Welfare and a concentration in Non-Profit Administration & Policy Advocacy, Kavya has a unique blend of development, management, and clinical skills. Before becoming an independent consultant and joining the Turning Green team, she was the Development Director of International Museum of Women, now part of Global Fund for Women, in San Francisco. Prior to joining the Museum, Kavya was the Western Region Director of Starlight Children’s Foundation in Los Angeles, where she oversaw all development, communications and program services in Starlight’s Western Region. Kavya has raised funds for various nonprofits through grants, special events, corporations, memberships, annual appeals, crowd-funding, e-appeals, silent auctions, and major gifts.
Megan Fuerst | President, Student Advisory Board
Megan is working towards a degree in Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability with a specialization in Policy Analysis. Megan joined TG’s student advisory board after completing the 3rd annual Project Green Challenge, where she won runner-up. She is most passionate about the industrial hemp movement, and hopes to use her degree to help re-legalize industrial hemp in America. Megan founded and is now president of the first official turning green chapter club, Project Green OSU.
Evelyn Barash | Summer Intern
Senior, Lawrence University
Evelyn, a rising senior at Lawrence University, is interested in holistic wellness + healing. She loves cooking fresh, vibrant meals with her friends and family and working in her school’s garden. Past experience includes interning with Centro Community Partners in Oakland, CA, and creating and leading a Spanish book club + girls group for bilingual middle school girls. Evelyn is excited to be working on projects promoting food equality and sustainability with the team!
Kelly Bieraugel | Summer Intern
Graduate, Gonzaga University
Kelly is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University, where she majored in Biology and minored in Psychology. Kelly was born in Bremerton, Washington, but has lived in California, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Italy through her childhood. Throughout college, Kelly was a part of Gonzaga University’s Soccer Team, The Environmental Organization, and Campus Kitchen. Kelly recently moved to Portland, where she hopes to gain more experience in the Public Health sector, specifically controversies surrounding the food system as it impacts the nation’s most vulnerable. She is a lover of local foods, yoga, camping, trail running, and seeking new adventures. She is excited to be working with Turning Green this summer to help engage other to lead a more sustainable and environmentally conscious lifestyle.
Johanna Hayes | Summer Intern
Junior, Bates College
Johanna is a rising Junior at Bates College. She is an Environmental Studies and Dance double major, with concentrations in Global Environmental Politics and the Human Body. When she entered college she decided to go into Environmental Studies, as she felt and still feels that the work of environmentalism is what the world truly needs. The health of our planet determines the health of humans everywhere. She is dedicated to finding and promoting the moments when environmentalism also becomes an act of humanitarianism and when humans are forced to remember just how apart of nature we are. When she is not studying she is partaking in gardening, environmental protests, methods of alternative health, hiking, writing, yoga, and of course dancing.
Hannah Watts | Summer Intern
Sophomore, University of Florida
Hannah is a 2nd year Accounting major at the University of Florida. I was a Project Green Challenge 2016 Finalist and I am now the Co-Chair for the Fundraising Committee for Turning Green’s Student Advisory Board. On my campus, I am an Office Assistant at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and I am involved with Vegan Eating for Gators. After graduation, I plan on working in accounting or finance for a sustainable business.
Jamie Wertz | Summer Intern
Sophomore, University of Virginia
Jamie is from Falls Church, Virginia, and enjoys spending time outside, teaching yoga, exploring farmer's markets, and rock climbing. She is pursuing a degree in Global Studies: Environment and Sustainability with a minor in entrepreneurship. After graduating, she hopes to find a career helping an environmentally conscious company achieve its goals and to continue informing others on how to develop sustainable habits. She is excited to be working with Turning Green because the team shares her love of the earth and she is glad to be helping them improve the quality of our planet.
Erika Wilson | Summer Intern
Sophomore, Cal Poly
Erika is a second year Environmental Engineering major at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. I am from a small town in central Massachusetts where I grew up in the woods. I have always loved the outdoors, nature, and adventure sports and in high school, I started to channel this into a passion for sustainability. I heard about Project Green Challenge four years ago when a student at my high school participated and made it to the finals. I was immensely inspired and knew I wanted to be a part of PGC one day. The knowledge, empowerment, friendships, growth, and connections that have come out of participating in Project Green Challenge have been numerous and wonderful. It inspired me to apply for a position as PGC Co-Chair and continue impacting and influencing others through this amazing program.
Heidi Locke Simon | Board Chair
Former Partner, Bain & Company
Heidi recently retired as a Partner of Bain & Company, a global strategy consulting firm where she worked for 20 years. She was a leader of the firm’s performance improvement capability area and managed Bain’s marketing and client development efforts on the West Coast. Prior to joining Bain in 1993, Heidi worked in investment banking for Goldman, Sachs & Company and spent time in brand management with Colgate-Palmolive Company. Heidi earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Politics and Economics with highest honors from Middlebury College, including course work at the University of Paris. Heidi began volunteering for Turning Green with its first Search for the Cause campaign a decade ago. She has served in numerous roles, including Board Chair for several years.
Al Baylacq | Board Member
Partner, Good Earth Natural Foods
Al has co-led the growth of Good Earth Natural Foods since 1999. Since the early 1970’s, Good Earth’s mission has been to bring organic food into grocery stores in a consistent way, while supporting innovative and ethical organic growers and ranchers. Al’s dream was to be part of a marketplace that reflected the community it served. At the time he joined Good Earth, it was his intention that Good Earth would play a role as a “community hub,” while influencing and educating people and businesses far beyond its local community. Al is proud to have initiated an organic school lunch program through Good Earth in 2003. Good Earth’s school lunch program began with 4 schools, and currently is in 17 Marin County schools. Al and Good Earth’s support has been instrumental in the founding and growth of The Conscious Kitchen program.
David Bennett | Board Member
Founding Partner, Hannover Advisors
David has been working across multiple sectors to support environmental innovation for over 15 years. As an independent consultant, David advises clients ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies on topics including clean energy, green building technologies and broader corporate sustainability strategy. Prior to launching a consulting practice, David was a Business & Society Program Fellow at the Aspen Institute and worked at Google as the company’s Real Estate Green Team Operations & Innovations Lead where he was responsible for bringing green building practices and next generation technologies into a portfolio that spans more than 40 countries around the globe. Previously, David partnered with NOAA to develop web-based information tools to support the agency’s recovery planning efforts for Northern California’s threatened and endangered salmon species. Additionally, David has worked on sustainability initiatives with Environmental Defense Fund, The Smithsonian Institute, USDA, USGS and the School for Field Studies in Puerto San Carlos, Mexico.
David holds a B.S. in Geographic Information Sciences from James Madison University, an M.A. in International Development & Social Change from Clark University and an MBA in Sustainable Business Management from Presidio Graduate School. David is a LEED AP O+M and holds an Energy Innovation & Emerging Technologies Certificate from Stanford University.
Justina Lai | Treasurer, Finance Chair
Director of Impact Investing, Wetherby Asset Management
Justina is a private equity investor that believes in harnessing the power of capital – and applying the discipline and rigor of conventional investing – to create meaningful social and environmental impact. Justina joined Wetherby Asset management in 2015 where she leads the firm’s impact investment strategy. Prior to Wetherby, she was a Director and Senior Investment Analyst focused on private markets strategies at Sonen Capital, an impact investment management firm. Previously, Justina helped manage the Rockefeller Foundation’s Program Related Investments portfolio comprised of domestic and international impact investments in private equity and private debt. She was also a core member of the Impact Investing team where she advanced and shaped the initiative strategy focused on building the field of impact investing. In addition, she has held positions with Legacy Venture in Palo Alto, CA and Rwanda Ventures, a business incubator launching and operating sustainable agricultural companies in Kigali, Rwanda.
Prior to her career in impact investing, she was an Associate in the New York and Paris offices of Vestar Capital Partners, where she diligenced and executed growth equity and leveraged buyout transactions across the US and Europe. Justina began her career in the sponsor coverage group within Citigroup’s Investment Banking Division in New York. Justina received a BS in Finance and International Business, summa cum laude, from New York University and an MBA with certificates in Public and Global Management from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Justina is proficient in Cantonese Chinese and Spanish and has lived and worked in Hong Kong, France, the UK and Rwanda.
James Schurz | Legal Advisor
Attorney, Morrison and Foerster
Mr. Schurz’s practice encompasses all manner of commercial transactions and intellectual property matters, including actions for breach of contract and business torts, including unfair competition, fraud, trade libel, products liability, and joint venture/distributor termination. Mr. Schurz has broad experience representing energy companies, resource companies, electronics manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies. He has appeared extensively in courts throughout Northern California, and, in particular, San Francisco Superior Court, the United States District Courts for the Northern and Eastern Districts of California, and the California Courts of Appeal. He is an adjunct professor of law at the University of California, San Francisco, Hastings College of the Law (1998 to present) is the co-author of “How to Choose a Forum that is Right for You” (International Commercial Litigation 2002) and “Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Mechanisms in International Environmental Conventions and Multilateral Trade Agreements,” (United Nations Environmental Programme 1995) and a series of articles for California Law Business, California Real Property Journal, and International Commercial Litigation.
Co Founder + Co Director, US Right to Know
For over a decade, Stacy has led campaigns to shift the market to safer products, healthy food and clean production. She is a co-founder and co-director of US Right to Know, a nonprofit organization that investigates and reports on what the food industry doesn’t want us to know about our food. Stacy is author of the award-winning book, “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry” (New Society 2007) and she co-founded the national Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in 2002. For eight years, Stacy was the communications director for Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition working to transform the health care industry so it is no longer a source of harm. Prior to her work as an environmental health activist, Stacy was a reporter and newspaper publisher. Follow her on Twitter @StacyMalkan and @SafeCosmetics.
Vice President of Purchasing and Merchandising, Thrive Market
A 23 year veteran of the Natural Products industry, Jeremiah has been on all sides of the business and supply chain, literally from seed to shelf. Currently the Vice President of Purchasing and Merchandising for Thrive Market, Jeremiah served for 7 years as the Executive Global Coordinator for the Beauty, Apparel & Wellness categories at Whole Foods Market. During his tenure at WFM, he pioneered multiple, industry changing, quality standard initiatives including natural beauty standards (Aka WFM’s Premium Body Care standard), organic labeling requirements for personal care, and the largest ever sustainable packaging guidelines for a major retailer later adopted by WalMart. Jeremiah is also a passionate advocate for and creator of Fair Trade standards that changed the natural products landscape. When not working as an eco-superhero, he can be found in the Texas Hill Country practicing hot vinyasa yoga, spending time with his daughters, or checking the surf report and planning his next escape to the coast.
Co-founder, Turning Green
Erin Schrode is a young ecoRenaissance woman. As the “face of the new green generation,” the co-founder / spokeswoman of TG promotes global sustainability, youth leadership, environmental education, and conscious lifestyle choices. After working in disaster response in Haiti, she founded and launched The Schoolbag, a youth education project to provide materials for students, as well as initiate active citizenry and environmental stewardship.