Heather Gates, Executive Director and co-founder of The Natural Step Monona, was named a 2011-2012 Nelson Institute Community Fellow. The Community Fellows Program selects leaders who are allies of the Nelson Institute and champions of the environment. Many government agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses, grassroots environmental groups, and individuals maintain relationships with faculty, staff, and students to accomplish mutually beneficial work. Through the newly formed Community Fellows Program, the Nelson Institute formally recognizes the contributions of those who form the backbone of such partnerships, and shows thanks for their continued support.
Since The Natural Step Monona’s beginnings in 2007, Gates has helped the organization become a catalyst for change and a major driver in moving the city and its residents onto and down a path toward a more sustainable future, and helped it grow beyond Monona to support a wider network of members, clients, and collaborators throughout the region. The nonprofit group educates about, advocates for, and promotes sustainability. The Nelson Institute first joined forces with The Natural Step Monona on planning the expansion of the Green Tuesdays & Thursdays Films & Lectures series in 2009. In 2011, they have partnered on two Capstone courses, which give students the opportunity to apply the knowledge they have acquired to real-world situations.
Gates is also a member of the City of Monona Sustainability Committee and helped secure a grant for the city to participate in the Energy Independent Communities Program. This allowed the city to do a baseline assessment of city energy and fuel use and create a blueprint for generating 25 percent of the city’s energy from renewable resources by 2025.
After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Tulsa, and a Master of Arts in Painting from California State University in Los Angeles, Gates first worked in graphic design, and then spent nearly two decades running her own decorative painting company, which required wearing many hats and extensive use of both sides of her brain. She now uses her head and its hat collection for a higher purpose by helping people visualize a better world, and then working together to create it, one community and many backyards at a time.
2011-2012 Nelson Institute Fellows
Steven Apfelbaum is chairman and founder of the firm Applied Ecological Services, the author of Nature’s Second Chance: Restoring the Ecology of Stone Prairie Farm, and co-author with Dr. Alan Haney of Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land.
Carrie Kneidler grows Shiitake mushrooms with her partner Jerry on their small sustainable farm in the Kickapoo valley. She is committed to environmental education, and helps teach children the importance of sustainability and environmental awareness in preserving our Earth.
Jack Sullivan is the Director of the Bureau of Science Services at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, where he manages the agency’s fish, wildlife, forestry, and human dimensions research program and oversees the state’s laboratory and operator certification programs.
Darryl Malek-Wiley is a Sierra Club organizer and a veteran of the environmental justice movement. He has worked for over thirty years with communities along the Mississippi River to fight toxic pollution and protect peoples’ health.
More information about the Community Fellows program can be found at: www.nelson.wisc.edu/partnerships/fellow_bios.php