MENTORS

Adam Kesselman

Sustainable Food Systems Entrepreneur,

Adam Kesselman is dedicated to cultivating a food system that grows in harmony with nature and the people who steward it and consume its bounty. As a chef and co-owner of Acre Gourmet, Adam collaborated with growers and producers to create a better food culture. Through his consultancy, The Lunch Trust, Adam brought his experience and passion for sustainable food systems to clients in the education and consumer packaged goods industries, developing innovative programs and products. Most recently, Adam was the Executive Director of the Center for Ecoliteracy, a non-profit dedicated to education for sustainable living and school food reform, and the recent co-sponsor of California’s School Meals for All bill that led to California becoming the first state to fund Universal Free School Meals.

Brian O’Connor

AP Human Geography, Colegio Nueva Granda,

Brian O’Connor is a passionate bilingual social studies educator that currently works at Colegio Nueva Granada in Bogota, Colombia. As an anthropologist from the University of Iowa interested in ethnobotany and Latin American studies, Brian spent much time studying in Mexico and Colombia. After a few years studying abroad, teaching, and social work he entered the MAT in social studies teaching at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR to pursue a life path for continual learning, hope, and change through working with youth. After three years teaching US and World History in Spanish in Woodburn, Oregon, social justice and student empowerment were clearly his passion. Brian and Colombian wife Marta moved back to Colombia in 2007. Brian’s passions in teaching are engaging students in social and environmental justice through climate change, sustainability and activism as he teaches AP Human Geography, AP Seminar and a new course with PGC being the central curriculum. Brian met Judi Shils in Bogota in 2011 and has been inviting students to take this incredible challenge ever since. Over his 15 years at Colegio Nueva Granada, Brian has written and taught various courses in sustainability, run our PGC and GIN clubs, organized plantings of over 250 native trees on our campus, organized multiple projects of engaging the local biodiversity of our campus and city. Brian lives with his wife and their two sons Alejandro and Benjamín in Bogotá. As a family we road trip to the far corners of this amazing country finding great wisdom and hope in its lands, cultures, and peoples.

Danny Watts

Sales Manager, Patagonia Provisions

Danny is the Sales Manager for Patagonia’s food division, Patagonia Provisions. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Danny spent four seasons as a fly-fishing guide in western Alaska where he both shared the wonder of the Bristol Bay region with clients and furthered his appreciation for that ecosystem. He entered the organic food space working in sales for beverage company Purity.Organic, traveling to many US cities and learning about the natural food retail environment. Danny is inspired by the many hardworking people involved in improving food systems and is passionate about contributing to the efforts that benefit people and the planet. Now living in Sausalito, Ca, Danny enjoys cooking, getting outside, and exploring life with his wife and one-year-old son. He holds a BA from Western Washington University.

EDEN BRUKMAN

Senior Green Building Coordinator, San Francisco Department of the Environment,

Since 1996, she has focused on establishing socially and environmentally responsible solutions for human habitat as a licensed architect, outreach strategist, and standards developer. She coauthored Living Building Challenge and directed its evolution and global deployment from 2007-2012; served as the first Technical Director of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative; and contributed to the early development of other programs such as Declare, the Pharos Project, and EcoDistricts. She currently serves as the Senior Green Building Coordinator at the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Eden was a named recipient of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge award, and was designated one of the Forty Under 40 in Portland, Oregon, as well as a Living Building Hero by the International Living Future Institute. She is a LEED Fellow and has received the Women in Sustainability Leadership Award. Her advocacy efforts have led to policy reform, decentralized building and community developments, and the creation of a network of local action groups in cities all over the world.

EMI LAFOUNTAIN

Sustainability Project Manager, Turner Constructio,

Emi LaFountain was a PGC Finalist in 2014 and is currently a Sustainability Project Manager for Turner Construction, the largest construction company in the United States. She manages the company’s embodied carbon program, and until recently headed Turner’s 2030 Goal to reduce jobsite carbon emissions and water consumption by 50% over the next decade. She has spoken at numerous green building events including Living Future and Greenbuild, and currently sits on the steering committee of the Sustainable Construction Leaders forum. Emi graduated from Rice University in 2015 with a degree in Civil Engineering and is currently a graduate student at the University of Cambridge.

Emily Raab

Canadian Trade Commissioner for Climatetech and AgTech in SF,

Emily Raab is the Canadian Trade Commissioner for Climatetech and AgTech in San Francisco. She leads two accelerator programs and works with startups looking to solve some of our biggest sustainability challenges, from water management, reducing GHG emissions to harvest loss reduction. She previously worked as director of Innovation Solutions at the German-American Chamber of Commerce, and has a background in international trade, policy and environmental governance. Having grown up in Germany, France, Slovakia and Canada, she has a unique perspective on cross-cultural sustainability practices and is thrilled to work with you through PGC!

Jessica Hurtado-Hansel

Marketing & Communications Director, Good Earth Natural Foods,

Jessica is the Marketing and Communications Director for Good Earth Natural Foods, a Marin-based grocery chain with a deep commitment to organic sourcing. She has over a decade of experience in the natural products industry, holding previous positions in both Marketing and Learning and Development at Whole Foods Market, as well as marketing roles at Revive Kombucha and Non-GMO skincare brand, Andalou Naturals. Jessica studied literature and creative writing at Sonoma State University, and uses her background in communications to tell the stories of the dedicated farmers, producers, and merchants striving to make positive change in the food system. When she’s not busy exploring new, organic products at Good Earth, she loves to read, listen to music, watch sci-fi, and spend time with her husband, Phil, and beloved cat, Ripley.

Kevin Grossman

Sales Strategy Manager on Innovation, Clif Bar & Company,

Kevin Grossman is currently the Sales Strategy Manager on Innovation at Clif Bar & Company, a multi-bottom line organic food company based in Emeryville, California. With over seven years of Food industry experience, he has held various roles ranging from managing Grocery retail accounts to developing Clif’s got-to-market strategies for new products launches. During his time at Clif, Kevin has gained comprehensive knowledge of the US’s food system and how a business can lead in social and environmental stewardship. Outside of Clif, Kevin is pursuing his MBA from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and is a Student Advisory Board Member for the Center For Responsible Business. Kevin is passionate about the intersection of food, entrepreneurship, and social impact.

LAUREL HANSCOM

CEO, Global Footprint Network

Laurel, CEO at Global Footprint Network, is dedicated to finding ways to support the sustainability movement and applying meaningful metrics to promote positive change in the world. Whether it is by developing partnerships, promoting the Ecological Footprint calculator and open data platform, or exploring ways to increase the relevance of footprint research, she strives to empower people with data. Before joining Global Footprint Network, Laurel worked in the Office of Strategic Information, Research & Planning at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, DC, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. Her two years in the Ecuadorian Amazon were preceded by a brief career as an environmental analyst, specializing in socioeconomic and environmental justice impacts. She holds a BA and MA in geography from San Diego State University, where her research focused on climate change vulnerability and agriculture.

MERYL MCCURRY

Senior Associate Consultant, Bain & Company,

Meryl is thrilled to be joining as a Project Green Challenge mentor for her third year! She graduated Duke University in 2018 where she studied Public Policy, Economics and Energy & Environment. She is currently a Consultant at Bain & Co. in Austin with a personal passion for enabling sustainable business practices. In the long-term, she hopes to specialize in sustainable retail strategy and help companies deliver eco-friendly and impactful products to consumers. In her free time, she loves adventuring outside, including hiking, camping and rock climbing.

Nolan Zail

Founding Principal, Impact Urban

Nolan Zail is a founding principal of Impact Urban, a real estate development company that advances innovation, sustainability and equity to create positive impacts in urban environments.Nolan contributes over 30 years of experience in real estate development including design and construction, developing and re-developing residential, commercial, historic and mixed-use projects. Nolan’s mixed-use and residential development experience includes founding principal of Transform Urban (CA), Senior Vice President of Development with Carmel Partners (CA) and development manager with Santa Clara Development Co. (CA). In addition, Nolan has commercial development experience with Cushman & Wakefield (NY) and non-profit housing redevelopment experience with Common Ground Community (NY). Prior to real estate, Mr. Zail has worked for award winning architectural firms on residential and commercial projects. Nolan was the Project Executive with Carmel Partners for UC Davis West Village, a 130-acre planned net zero energy mixed-use development that received the Urban Land Institute Global Award of Excellence. Nolan received a Master of Science (Real Estate) from New York University; a Graduate Diploma in Applied Science (Horticulture) from the University of Melbourne; and a Bachelor of Architecture from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.Notable Projects include UC Davis West Village, Davis, CA; Grand Central Terminal Redevelopment, New York; Prince George Affordable Housing Redevelopment, NY and ACMI, Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia.

Reese Costis

Associate Consultant, Bain & Company,

Reese is a UT electrical and computer engineering graduate turned management consultant. He’s worked at Bain & Company for about a year, doing strategy, transformation, and integration work. His desire to effect environmental change comes from his father, who has long believed in reducing one’s footprint in any way he/she can. Acting on that desire blossomed during the pandemic, when Reese wrote several political and environmental commentaries, volunteered for the Sunrise Movement, and worked for the Mayor of Houston’s Office of Resilience. Reese is now an active member of Bain Texas’s “Green Team,” organizing events to raise awareness on personal environmental impact and ways to reduce footprint.

Sarah Trager

Strategist, Advisor, and Problem Solver,

Sarah is a mission-driven strategist, advisor, and problem solver who has worked with entrepreneurs from around the world, governments, and nonprofit organizations to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges. She has an MPH in Humanitarian Health, loves learning from others and is excited to support this project however she can. This will be her second year as a PGC mentor.

Wendy Tobiasson

Sustainability Consultant,

Wendy Tobiasson spent a career designing, implementing, and evaluating Energy Efficiency programs across the United States as well as working on numerous International Energy projects. She is enthusiastically applying herself to local food system projects in her quest to work on local, sustainable, climate positive initiates. She is currently immersing herself in collective impact work happening across Marin county. She worked on the Drawdown Marin Local Food and Food Waste team which identified local initiative to help our communities reduce CO2 emissions and sequester carbon. She brings her love of numbers and the stories they can tell along with data analysis, program planning, and collaboration skills to support various projects. Wendy has a BS in Mechanical Engineering and is rapidly learning more about the food system through local courses, connecting with community initiatives, and growing food at both a community and personal garden. Wendy and her family are often out hiking in the hills of Marin, bike riding, or rowing on the San Francisco Bay. She is an avid baker and chocolatier and enjoys turning home grown produce into special meals for the family.