USDN Staff

For more information about the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) or for questions about how you can join or work with the network, please contact Natalie Narotzky at

USDN Staff

Abeer Nawaz, USDN Human Resources Specialist

Abeer Nawaz joined USDN in April of 2018. She started as the Admin Assistant at USDN but is now the current Human Resources Specialist. Her current role consists of supporting all new and current USDN staff and ensuring all HR-related processes are being created and implemented. Her main focus is on payroll, benefits administration, recruitment support, HR policies, and systems support, and other internal staff-related projects. Her previous work experience has been in the recruiting industry, specifically in the energy sector in the Greater Houston area, and in customer-facing roles in the retail banking industry. She attended the University of Houston with a major in Biology and currently resides in the suburbs of Houston.

Berenice Lopez, USDN Administrative Coordinator

Berenice Lopez joined USDN in February of 2020. In her current role, she provides administrative support for the USDN Staff and is often the primary contact for our members. Berenice's philosophy centers around what role she can play in helping others find solutions and providing excellence in service. Prior to USDN, she spent many years working as an Executive Assistant in the healthcare industry and holds a Bachelor's in Health Science from the University of Utah. She currently resides in Dallas, Texas.

Billy Schweig, USDN Salesforce Manager 

Billy Schweig works to improve USDN’s technology ecosystem for internal and external stakeholders. In this role, he supports technical and operational planning and also helps build capacity for individual users and teams. Prior to joining USDN, he delivered technology implementation, change management, and strategy services for mid-market to enterprise nonprofits with a Salesforce Impact Partner of the Year firm. Before his private sector consulting days, Billy 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 in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.

Celía Burke, USDN Programs Manager

Celía Burke joined USDN in October 2019. As Programs Manager, she plays a crucial role in supporting information exchange among members by assisting with communications and peer learning activities like groups, Annual Meeting content sessions, and website discussions to support peer-to-peer sharing. 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 writing and overall 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.

Garrett Fitzgerald, USDN Chief Programs Officer

Garrett Fitzgerald supports USDN in strategic planning, organizing collaborative activities, and engaging external partners to help USDN members advance their work. He is based in Washington DC. Garrett previously managed the Sustainable Oakland program from 2008 to 2013 for the City of Oakland, CA, and served as Programs Director for ICLEI USA. He is a board member of STAR Communities and co-chaired development of ICLEI’s Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Protocol. Garrett holds a Master’s degree in Energy and Resources from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied community sustainability performance management. He also previously served as a consultant to the City of Berkeley's Office of Energy and Sustainability, a renewable energy staff researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and an energy efficiency programs analyst at ICF Consulting. He is a LEED accredited professional and a past Fellow and Leadership Grant Recipient of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. 

Jon Crowe, USDN Programs Director, Renewable Energy

Jon Crowe joined USDN in January 2019 and is responsible for supporting renewable energy strategy, partnership, and program development across the USDN network. Prior to joining USDN he was a Principal at the Cadmus Group where he led the firm’s Sustainable Communities and Organizational Strategy Practice, collaborating frequently with USDN members, partners, and funders. Jon earned a master’s degree 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, Massachusetts, and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability.

Julia Trezona Peek, USDN Communications Director

Julia Trezona Peek joined USDN in 2019 as the Communications Director. In this role, she helps members use a variety of resources to connect with constituents and stakeholders to inspire action. 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 environment. She hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has made stops in Washington D.C. and New York City before now calling Seattle home.

Kathryn Wright, USDN Programs Director, Building Energy

Kathryn Wright joined USDN in February 2020 as the Programs Director for Building Energy. In her role, Kathryn oversees the network’s strategic direction and innovation work in the built environment. Prior to USDN, Kathryn led Cadmus’ Sustainable Communities and Organizations practice. In this role, she focused on helping local and state governments plan and implement greenhouse gas reduction and resilience strategies. Illustrative work includes leading stakeholder engagement for the development and refinement of performance requirements for Boston’s disclosure ordinance, preparing research to support the City of Cambridge’s roadmap for resilient and equitable renewable thermal deployment across its community and serving as the Project Director for Massachusetts’ 2030 Climate Plan and 2050 Roadmap. Prior to Cadmus, Kathryn held a fellowship at the Center for Business and Environment at Yale and the Connecticut Green Bank focused on helping cities and towns increase distributed solar deployment. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the New Buildings Institute. She holds Bachelors degrees from the University of Pittsburgh in Marketing and Environmental Science and a Masters from Yale in Environmental Management. 

Kristin Baja, USDN Programs Director, Climate Resilience

Kristin Baja (‘Baja’) is USDN’s Climate Resilience Officer and is responsible for helping cities identify strategic ways to advance climate resilience planning and implementation and building their capacity to take proactive action. Baja focuses her time on supporting members and partners in working at the nexus of resilience, mitigation and equity while also helping center equity in their climate and sustainability work. She helps facilitate deeper relationships between local governments and stakeholders while helping to identify and shift focus to more collaborative and transformational action. Prior to USDN, Baja served as the Climate and Resilience Planner with the City of Baltimore's Office of Sustainability where she led the city's climate and equity work. She holds a Masters of Urban Planning and a Masters of Science from the University of Michigan. She is also an Aspen Global Change Institute Fellow, is an EPIC-N board member, and serves on several local and international advisory committees. In 2016, she was recognized by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change for her work on climate and equity.

Lauren Bradley, USDN Chief Financial Officer

Lauren Bradley joined USDN in the Chief Financial Officer role after working with the organization as a contractor to support its transition to an independent 501c3 organization. In her role, Lauren supports USDN’s operations including accounting, human resources, and other backbone organizational support. Lauren worked in local government for more than ten years in positions including CFO and Assistant City Manager in Asheville, NC. Lauren subsequently worked in the private sector with a focus in legal services and then in consulting with a focus on building the operational capacity of networks and membership organizations. Lauren has a Master of Business Administration degree and resides in Asheville, NC.

Natalie Bridger, USDN Governance & Administration Manager

Natalie Bridger supports USDN’s governing bodies (the Board of Directors, the Planning & Advisory Committee), the coordination of our annual planning cycle (program planning to budget adoption), and designing and implementation of administrative process improvements and projects. 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 from The Ohio State. Natalie resides in Carmel, IN with her family.

Natalie Narotzky, USDN Program Director

Natalie Narotzky has worked with USDN since April 2013 and was promoted to Program Director 2021. She has become an experienced project manager, overseeing and directing network communications and member-facing programming, including learning groups and deeper collaborations as well Annual Meeting content. She also directs programmatic work around foundational practices and capacity building. She received an M.S. in Climate Science and Policy from the Bard Center for Environmental Policy and a B.A. in Environmental and Urban Studies from Bard College in 2012. She has worked with Hudsonia Ltd., the Worldwatch Institute, Inform, and KM Networks. Natalie lives in Berkshire County MA and is the founding chair of her town’s first sustainability committee.

Rachael Schaffner, USDN Research & Information Director

Rachael leads USDN’s informational work streams including promoting data and technology adoption and use, leading enterprise-wide efforts to enable data-driven decisions, promoting organizational and programmatic impact tracking, and fostering internal information availability and transparency. Prior to USDN, Rachael dedicated time to both local government sustainability efforts (City of Fayetteville, Arkansas) and global supply-chain sustainability (The Sustainability Consortium and EcoArk Holdings). Her passion for local government advocacy began during a Fulbright Fellowship in Turkey where she studied local, coalition-led economic development projects. She received her M.A. from the University of Arkansas, studying storytelling and rhetorical strategy. Rachael currently resides in Northwest Arkansas.

Rich Freeh, USDN Programs Director, Climate Strategy 

Rich Freeh joined USDN in February 2020 as the Programs Director for Climate Strategy. In this role he supports USDN members and partners on strategic thinking around climate planning, action, and reporting. Prior to joining USDN, Rich led climate reporting and building energy programs in the City of Philadelphia's Office of Sustainability. Rich received a Master's in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, where he is now an adjunct instructor. He currently resides in Philadelphia.

Rupal Prasad, USDN Programs Manager

Rupal Prasad joined USDN in May 2018. As Programs Manager, she manages information exchange among members including communications and programming to foster peer-to-peer sharing and collaboration. Prior to USDN, Rupal was the Building Performance Program Associate for City of Philadelphia Office of Sustainability and City Adviser for City Energy Project/ Institute for Market Transformation, where she helped manage Philadelphia’s Energy Benchmarking Program. She received an M.A. in Biology from Villanova University and a Master of Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Rupal currently lives in Philadelphia.

WendyKay Gewiss, USDN Event Manager, Grants Coordinator

WendyKay Gewiss joined USDN as Events Manager in 2019. She worked with the USDN team, members and host city partners to coordinate annual meetings and training workshops focused on sharing best practices to create equitable, prosperous and healthy communities across North America. In 2020, in-person meetings became a challenge for everyone and WendyKay stepped in to help with USDN grant coordination. She hopes to be planning in-person events as soon as it's safe for all. 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. Over seven years she grew participation in the Forum by creating a rich program with diverse content, providing a venue realized for its greatest purpose, and creating a value-added participant experience with an attention to detail benefiting all within the adaptation field. 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 beautiful Western Wyoming with her husband Eric.

Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA) Staff 

CNCA is a project of USDN. Visit CNCA's website for more information.

Trude Rauken, CNCA Interim Director

Prior to joining CNCA in 2018, Trude worked as a senior policy advisor on climate to the City of Oslo, and prior to that she was a senior researcher at CICERO – Center for Climate Research. Trude brings expert knowledge on the role of local government in solving climate issues and the opportunities coming from network collaboration across local government. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Economy from BI Norwegian School of Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communication from University of Oregon.

Irene García, Embodied Carbon Project Manager

Irene García is the CNCA Project Manager for the “Dramatically Reducing Embodied Carbon in Europe” project. Prior to joining CNCA, Irene led the Sustainable and Livable Cities program at German Marshall Fund (GMF) Cities. While at GMF she also served on the Advisory Board of REN21 for their Renewables in Cities Global Status Report. Prior to joining GMF, Irene worked as policy officer at the World Future Council in Hamburg, where she advised policymakers on the transition to 100% renewable energy. Before that Irene was at ESADEgeo Barcelona and served as research analyst and speechwriter to Former EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and as a research analyst working on research projects for The Brookings Institute and the Barcelona Metropolitan Region. Irene holds a MS in Urban Affairs from the Paris Institute of Political Studies and a MA in International Relations from the Barcelona Institute of International Studies. She speaks Spanish, English and French. Irene is based in Berlin.

Michael Battista, CNCA Member Services Program Manager

Michael Battista is the Member Services Program Coordinator for the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance where he provides support for communications, events, operations, and research. In his previous role as Project Coordinator in the School of Graduate Studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology, he supported the programs of Global Fashion Management and Sustainable Interior Environments, producing media, and managing student and alumni relations, special events, and international seminars. Prior to joining FIT, he was the Executive Assistant and Engagement Manager for All Out, a digital campaign advocacy organization for LGBT equality operating in rapid response to the news cycle, and served in roles for the Offices of Protocol and Climate Protection Initiatives of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. He has an Associate degree in Communications and Media Arts from the State University of New York at Rockland, and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from San Francisco State University.

Michael Shank, CNCA Communications Director

Michael Shank is the Communications Director for the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance. In this role, Michael supports alliance and network members’ efforts to communicate ambitious climate action to the public, the press and other policymakers. As a climate communicator, Michael’s past clients include the United Nations and its member states, the U.S. Congress and Administration, and the Vatican, as well as leaders in the subnational space, such as the B Team, We Mean Business, Under 2 MOU and The Climate Group. Michael’s Ph.D. is in climate conflict; he teaches sustainable development and climate security graduate classes at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs.

Tracy Morgenstern, CNCA Climate Justice Program Manager

Tracy Morgenstern is the Climate Justice Program Manager for the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance where she leads efforts to advance the vision and goals established in the CNCA Climate Justice Statement through the Alliance’s programming. Tracy also serves as the Equitable Mobility Program Director for the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. Before joining CNCA, she worked for the City of Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment for twenty years, most recently as the Climate Protection Program Manager. She worked increasingly at the nexus of climate mitigation, adaptation, and equity. She has a Bachelor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies.