USDN Staff

 

 For more information about the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) or for questions about how you can join the network, please visit our Join page. Want to join our team? Check out our current employment opportunities


Are you a member of the public or a current USDN member with questions?
Contact us at support@usdn.org, and we'll route you to the right person.

For media inquiries only: Contact media@usdn.org.


Allison Adcox -  Senior Director of People Operations 

Allison is responsible for growing and stewarding all aspects of USDN’s People Operations workstreams. As a SHRM-SCP Senior Certified Professional, Allison is an HR generalist with capacities that cover a wide breadth of HR functions. She oversees and implements on payroll and benefit administration, employee engagement activities, and helps us to meet our compliance mandates as a virtual multi-state employer. She leads our recruiting, hiring, and on boarding processes, organizes and leads internal learning programs, supports the development of supervision and performance management practices, and stewards efforts to continue to build a healthy and thriving workplace.

Allison developed her nonprofit management, operational, and HR skill sets over a 20-year career serving a variety of network and member-based nonprofit organizations. She has a Bachelors Degree in Community Development from Portland State University and is passionate about HR innovation and people-centered leadership. Allison lives in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and outside of work, she loves to spend as much time as possible adventuring, birding, making music, and laughing with her husband, son, and dog Beemo. 


Amber Weaver - Vice President of Capacity Building 

Amber Weaver joined USDN in April 2022. In this role, Amber is responsible for leading USDN’s capacity building programs, which are designed to provide learning opportunities to members to build their competencies in foundational skills and applied practices. Some exciting work moving forward this year in this team is the launch of a new foundational training program (i.e., soon-to-be renamed Equity Foundations 2.0!) that will be available to all USDN members.

Prior to USDN, Amber worked for the City of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability as Chief Sustainability Officer. She holds an Environmental Economics and Management degree from the University of Georgia. Amber
and her family reside in the beautiful Blueridge Mountains of Asheville, NC.


Berenice Pacheco - Member Services Coordinator 

Berenice Pacheco joined USDN in February 2020. Previously to joining the Operations Team as our Member Services Coordinator, she served as the Executive Assistant to our interim Executive Director. In her current role, she supports USDN and our Fiscally Sponsored Projects in efforts to recruit, onboard, and effectively support our growing membership. Berenice's approach centers around assisting others in discovering solutions and delivering exceptional service.

Prior to USDN, she spent nearly a decade working in the healthcare sector and holds a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences from the University of Utah. Currently living in Dallas, Texas, she enjoys traveling with her three children and husband, attending concerts, spending time in nature, and volunteering as a medical translator. 


Billy Schweig - Senior Director of Information & Impact

 

Billy works to grow USDN's digital and operational maturity, ensuring that systems and processes serve our organizational values and strategic priorities. His work in USDN’s technology ecosystem supports both internal and external stakeholders. His role also involves technical and operational planning and helps build capacity for individual users and teams. Prior to joining USDN in 2021, he delivered technology implementation, change management, and strategy services for mid-market to enterprise nonprofits. Billy also spent time leading operations for a statewide CDFI, forging community partnerships for a local foundation, and managing development and evaluation activities for a green jobs training nonprofit. Billy is a Salesforce certified Administrator and Nonprofit Cloud Consultant and received his M.P.A. from Western Carolina University. He lives with his wife in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina and enjoys working with bonsai, foraging, woodworking, and canoeing.


Brianne Fisher - Applied Practices Director

Brianne is responsible for the design and delivery of programming that focuses on developing the capacity of local government practitioners to apply USDN’s foundational practices within their sustainability work, particularly around the High Impact Practices pathways. This position collaborates with USDN staff, members and partners to design and deliver programming that meets member needs in alignment with USDN’s adopted program goals and strategies. 
Prior to joining USDN, Brianne served as the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Richmond, VA Office of Sustainability and also worked for USDN from 2014-2015. 

Bryan Parsons - Data, Research & Evaluation Manager

In this role, Bryan helps to shape USDN’s research strategy, develop high quality, impactful research, translate data into engaging communications to advance USDN Field Intelligence. He also stewards impact data for grant and member reporting, and supports the ongoing development of the field of urban sustainability.

Bryan is a social scientist with experience in quantitative and qualitative policy research, as well as collaborating with teams to produce data-driven insights. His aim is to equip decision makers with tools to address complex problems and create more equitable, inclusive, and resilient communities. Bryan joined USDN after serving as an Associate Professor, a Senior Political Analyst, and most recently as the Director of the Center for Policy, Ethics, and Law. Bryan holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of South Carolina, and brings to our network a depth of subject matter expertise in Public Policy, Policy Network Theory, and State and Local
Government. Bryan 
resides in Salem, Virgina where he enjoys traveling
with his family, reading science fiction, and volunteering in his community. 


Celía Burke - Equity Practice Manager

Celía Burke joined USDN in October 2019. As the Equity Practice Manager, she plays a lead role in the design and delivery of programming that focuses on developing the foundational practices that members need in order to take a people-centered, equity-focused approach in their work. Prior to USDN, Celía was a Planner I for Peoria County, her first role after receiving a Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Celía began writing about sustainability and environmental justice while pursuing her B.A. in Political Science at Howard University. Since then, her professional experience has grown to include diversity and inclusion in the private sector and various areas within the realm of social equity. Celía resides in New Orleans, LA.


Cynthia McCoy, GISP - Federal Engagement Director

Cynthia McCoy joined USDN in 2022 as the Federal Engagement Director. In this role, she provides training and technical assistance to increase USDN members’ understanding of and ability to access federal funding programs that support local sustainability. Additionally, she engages with various federal agencies and the US Congress to inform future policy and program design that advances equitable, ambitious climate and sustainability action. Cynthia has largely worked for local and federal government agencies on climate change adaptation and pre-disaster mitigation planning and projects, analyzing and mapping risk to various natural hazard events, and managing grant and technical assistance programs that increase local hazard resilience. Cynthia received her Master's in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. She’s from Cincinnati, OH, and now resides in Philadelphia, PA.


Deneine Christa Powell - Executive Director 

As USDN's Executive Director, Deneine Christa leads our mission to support members pursuing transformative change to make communities more equitable, resilient, and sustainable. Powell is a nonprofit executive and a climate solutions expert with over 20 years of nonprofit leadership and management experience in environmental conservation, policy advocacy, and community engagement. Prior to joining USDN, Deneine Christa held roles as an Environmental and Climate Program Director at African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs, FUSE Corps Executive Fellow on Climate and Equity with the City of Milwaukee,  National Program Director with ecoAmerica, President and CEO of African American Leadership Alliance of Milwaukee, and  Executive Director of Groundwork Milwaukee.  

Beyond her professional commitments, Deneine Christa is deeply dedicated to making a positive impact on the environment and conservation efforts. She proudly serves as Vice President of the Board for Groundwork USA and as Board Treasurer for Milwaukee Water Commons. In addition to her work in environmental preservation, Deneine Christa travels extensively across the country, attending and speaking at water conferences, clean economy convenings, environmental justice summits, and climate meetings. Her goal is not only to gain knowledge and motivation but also to inspire others to take action. Outside of her professional endeavors, she finds immense joy in spending quality time with her husband, their son and daughter, and their beloved dog and two cats. They can often be found in the garden of their home in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, enjoying the simple pleasures of life.


Dina Abdulhadi - Communications Manager

Dina supports the Communications and Mobilization team, leads our newsletter, social media and website updates, and helps teams capture member stories and learning. She has worked as a science communications specialist for the US Environmental Protection Agency and as a policy associate for the Institute for Policy Integrity. Prior to USDN, she ran scholarship programs on climate, grief and politics for the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. Dina holds a Bachelor of Science in Ecology from the University of Georgia. She currently resides in New York City, New York.


Drew Woodward - Development Director

Drew joined USDN and SSDN as Development Director in April 2022. In this role, Drew is responsible for building relationships with key supporters, supporting the long-term sustainability of each organization, and identifying opportunities for new partnerships to advance USDN's and SSDN's missions.  Prior to joining USDN, Drew worked at SPUR, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association as the organization's Foundations and Grants Manager. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia where he worked on a community health project and received his MPA from University of Colorado, Denver with a concentration in environmental policy, management, and law. He resides in Oakland, CA.


Ebony Loadholt - Events Manager

In her career as an Event Planner, Ebony has planned and executed 750+ events throughout her 16-year career as an Event Planner. Motivated by creating community and bringing talented minds together, she seeks out-of-the-box solutions for visionaries in higher education, corporate, tech, and non-profit sectors. Ebony turns visions into reality by infusing fresh, creative energy into event project planning, streamlining highly detailed logistics, and managing complex budgets to create impactful, mission-driven events. Ebony enjoys spending time with her family, Soduko puzzles, listening to music and traveling. Previously, Ebony worked as an Event Planner for the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ebony is located in North Carolina.


Jamal Brown - Chief Finance and Operations Officer

As USDN's Chief Finance and Operations Officer, Jamal oversees the budget and finances of the organization, creates and facilitates understanding of financial reports, oversees treasury management activities, manages financial reporting for grants, works collaboratively to develop plans for the long term-financial and cultural goals of the organization. This role is also instrumental in helping us live into our values of information transparency, collaborating with intention, and centering equity in our operational and business processes. Prior to joining USDN, Jamal held roles leading Finance, Operations, and Administration in the fields of Education, Banking, and Community Development. Most recently as the Director of Finance and Human Resources for Torsh, Inc. Throughout his career, Jamal has been drawn to work where he can use his talent and expertise to support under served communities. In his free time, Jamal enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids, watching and playing sports, listening to live music, and volunteering on nonprofit boards. 


Javonne Paul - Finance & Grants Manager

As USDN's Finance and Grants Manager, Javonne manages the finances of the organization,  manages financial reporting for grants, creates financial reports, and assists in treasury management activities.

Prior to joining USDN, Javonne worked as the Grants Manager for STEM NOLA where she was responsible for grant reporting in conjunction with establishing and maintaining fiscal compliance for government and private funders. Javonne is experienced in developing and implementing systems for better financial accountability. Javonne has over 15 years of nonprofit accounting experience and brings with her a vast knowledge in accounts payables, accounts receivable, budget, and grant management. The heart of Javonne’s work is in her love for collaboration, and using her financial acumen to be of service in ways that have a positive impact on our communities. Javonne is based out of New Orleans in the Central Time Zone
and when she is not working Javonne loves hanging out with family and friends.


Jennifer Mahar - Special Projects Manager

In this role, Jennifer is responsible for the design, management, and implementation of USDN programs and special projects to help local government practitioners become more effective change agents who transform practice and generate equitable and impactful outcomes in the movement toward an equitable, resilient, and sustainable world. This position helps to develop, track, monitor and advance special projects, and project portfolios to ensure USDN is meeting emergent opportunities in the field.

Prior to joining USDN, Jennifer served as the Senior Director of Community Programs & Partnerships with the Fairmount Park Conservancy where she worked with many city agencies on sustainable initiatives, both in Philadelphia and as a part of a national learning network. Outside of work, Jennifer loves to travel the world, hike with her dog Daisy, row on the Schuylkill River and cook overly ambitious meals.


Jon Crowe - Chief Strategy Officer

Jon Crowe serves as USDN’s Chief Strategy Officer, overseeing major fundraising activities and supporting the strategic evolution of the organization in pursuit of its mission. He joined USDN in 2019 as Program Director for Renewable Energy and was previously a Principal at the Cadmus Group where he led the firm’s Sustainable Communities and Organizational Strategy Practice. Jon earned an M.A. in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University in 2010 and previously held energy- and climate-focused positions with the City of Medford, MA and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. He lives in Somerville, MA with his partner and two cats and can be found year-round exploring the most obscure trails of the New Hampshire White Mountains.


Joy Custer - Urban Forestry Program Manager

As a joint member of the Membership Experience Team and the Program Team, Joy provides a wide array of project management and community engagement support to the Urban Forestry as Equity-Centered Climate Action and Sustainable Community Development initiative. 

Prior to joining USDN, Joy worked as a Sustainability Programs Coordinator for the University of Texas at Austin. In that role, Joy managed government and nonprofit grant-funded programs aimed at increasing access to environmental education for students underrepresented in STEM. Joy is passionate about implementing equitable climate initiatives and science-based solutions to support resilient communities. She holds a Master’s in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona and is based out of Austin, Texas in the Central Time Zone (CST). When she is not working, Joy loves exploring thrift stores, trying new vegetarian restaurants, and getting lost in Google searches.


Julia Trezona Peek - Vice President of Mobilization

Julia helps USDN and members connect with their stakeholders and inspire action. She provides workshops, training, resources and coaching to members trying to better connect with their constituents. She also leads communications for USDN as an organization. In addition, Julia oversees USDN's federal engagement work with the goal of improving federal programs for communities to advance equitable climate action, and supporting members in navigating the federal funding landscape and applying for grants. Previously, she was an Account Director at Fenton where she specialized in running campaigns that integrate press, digital media, advertising, messaging, events and organizing to reach her clients' goals. Julia has largely worked for coalitions, nonprofits and foundations on climate change, energy, land and water issues. Her MSc focused on conflict resolution and the environment. She hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has made stops in Washington D.C. and New York City before now calling
Seattle home.


Latasha Bell - Capacity Building Program Coordinator

Latasha is responsible for engaging with staff, members, and partners to help design, manage, and deliver virtual meetings, learning group calls, trainings and workshops as well as ongoing capacity-building programming. Latasha brings to the USDN team a passion for project planning and community engagement.

Prior to joining USDN, Latasha worked in nonprofit organizations focused on mental health and youth development. Most recently serving as a program manager at Greening Youth Foundations where she applied her project management expertise to support internship programming, organizing multiple projects and programs that provided training and mentorship to recent graduates seeking opportunities in the field of sustainability. Latasha holds a Masters degree in Social Science and Sociology from Georgia Southern University. Outside of work, Latasha enjoys working out, shopping, and spending time with family.


Laurene Hamilton - Chief Member Experience Officer 

Laurene provides vision and leadership to a team focused on building a thriving network that relies on USDN for connection, inspiration, and best practices. Laurene's work helps to broaden and strengthen USDN’s membership base, build connectivity and community among members, ensure that our programs continue to serve member needs, and helps to us to center equity, diversity, and inclusion principles in the member experience. Prior to joining USDN in this capacity, Lauren served as Interim CEO / VP of Programs and for Greening Youth Foundation and has over 20 years of leadership and experience in environmental education and resource management in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. Laurene has a Masters Degree in Environmental Leadership and Education from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Science and Business from Tennessee State University. Laurene volunteers her time to several boards such as the Co-Lead for the American the Beautiful for All – Urban Parks and Greenspace Committee, Georgia Audubon, USDA Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, the Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the US Green Building Council Market Leadership Advisory Board. She is also a certified LEED AP and a Master Gardener.

In her free time, Laurene promotes respect for both the natural and built environments and the importance of integrating all aspects of sustainability within our system. Laurene’s personal volunteer efforts also center on advocating green and healthy initiatives in the primary education system; thereby instilling these values into the next generation.


McKenzie Jones - Resilience Hub Director

McKenzie Jones is USDN's Resilience Hub Director. In this role, McKenzie provides vision and leadership to USDN’s Resilience Hub programs and is responsible for continuing to build out Resilience Hubs in the US and Canada and support the evolution of the program. McKenzie supports members in planning, design, development and implementation of Resilience Hubs. McKenzie has spent over a decade working with local and tribal governments to amplify just solutions to the climate crisis and grow community resilience. Before joining USDN, she worked for the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, supporting a national peer-learning network of Tribal climate practitioners. McKenzie served as the first Sustainability Manager for the City of Sedona, Arizona and Sustainability
Specialist for the City of Flagstaff, Arizona.


Natalie Bridger - Business Analyst

Natalie Bridger joined USDN in September 2019. In her role, Natalie analyzes processes to help identify and respond to changes that should be made to meet business goals and ensure the organization is aligned with it's values. Prior to USDN, Natalie was the Senior Director of Solution Center for Project Lead The Way, where she managed the daily operations of the customer service team and helped to continuously build and improve systems, processes, and the customer experience. She has a Master of Business Operational Excellence degree and resides in Carmel, IN.


Neche' Nelson - Human Resources Manager

Neche' Nelson joined USDN in 2023 in the role of Executive Office Manager and Corporate Secretary and is now supporting USDN as our Human Resources Manager. In this role, Neche' supports and facilitates human resource processes across the organization. Prior to joining USDN, Neche' served as a Senior Executive Assistant to two national mental health organizations working simultaneously with the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors and the National Association for Rural Mental Health in Washington D.C. A native Washingtonian, she grew up in Northern Virginia and attended Radford University and George Mason University. 


Nia Mitchell - Direct Support and Innovation Program Manager

Nia Mitchell joined USDN in 2024 and is the Program Manager with the Direct Support and Innovation (DSI) team, supporting a wide array of innovation and deep engagement projects while assisting with project management, data management, research, and program delivery. Nia is a committed climate justice advocate, scholar, and organizer and prior to joining USDN, Nia worked as a Community of Practice Manager at National Resources Defence Council (NRDC) and a Manager of Health, Equity, and Climate with C40 Cities, and an Environmental Equity Policy Fellow with the Greenlining Institute. Nia holds a Masters of Science in Climate Justice from Glasgow Caledonian University and an Interdisciplinary Studies B.A., in Environmental Science, Black Studies, and Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara. In her free time Nia enjoys reading and leading an international women of color book club, being outdoors when the weather permits, and trying new recipes to share with her family and friends. Nia is based out of Los Angeles  working in the Pacific Standard Time Zone (PST).


Tim Kobussen - Senior Director of Communications

Tim joined USDN in 2024 as Senior Director of Communications. In this role, Tim works closely with staff from across the organization and our stakeholders and partners to develop, organize, and lead USDN’s strategic communications. Before joining USDN, Tim engaged large corporations as a business development consultant and communications expert with The BRIEF Lab. His previous professional roles include Senior Director of Network Growth for Social Current, Group Vice President of Membership and Marketing for the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, and several years of communications leadership in the financial technology space.

Tim and his better half, Denise, live just north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the Central Time Zone with their toddler-aged chocolate lab, and they have two adult children who they do not see often enough. In his free time, Tim is an avid cyclist, and he owns a couple of guitars with aspirations of one day being seen and heard as an actual musician.  


Vanessa King - Senior Director of Membership Engagement

In this role, Vanessa King designs and implements processes supporting USDN’s Partner Networks program. Vanessa manages both virtual convenings of Partner Network staff and members, and supports individual Partner Networks in their regular meetings, sharing resources from USDN, and connecting Partner Network members with USDN. Vanessa collaborates with USDN staff, members, and partners on lessons learned from the Partner Networks across the organization, and leads strategy thinking around the evolution of the program.
Prior to joining USDN in this capacity, Vanessa served as the Network Manager for the Southeast Sustainability Directors Network. Outside of work, Vanessa takes every opportunity to be outside. Most weekends you can find her in her garden or stained glass studio, but when she turns on her “out of office message” it's likely she is in a different country or camping in one of the hard-to-find places of Southern Appalachia.


WendyKay Gewiss - Event Director

As USDN's Event Director, WendyKay works with the USDN team, host city partners and members to coordinate annual meetings and training workshops focused on sharing best practices to create equitable, prosperous and healthy communities across North America. Prior to joining the USDN team, she was the National Adaptation Forum Program Coordinator for EcoAdapt and helped develop and facilitate the Forums in 2013, 2015 and 2017. WendyKay's background also includes being the Development Director for the Oregon Natural Desert Association where her passion for the outdoors was well-matched with her relationship-building and donor management skills. She came from nearly two decades steeped in corporate sales before making the jump to serve the non-profit community. She lives in Nevada's High Desert.


Questions? Ideas? Contact us at support@usdn.org.