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"The more our world functions like the natural world, the more likely we are to endure on this home that is ours, but not ours alone."
~ Janine Benyus

 

 

 

 

Photo Credits
Our Team Print E-mail

Name: Bryony Schwan

Title: Executive Director

Job scope: Bryony works with the board of directors to oversee and implement the vision, mission and programs of the Institute and works with the development staff to raise the annual budget.

History: Before TBI, Bryony founded Women’s Voices for the Earth and served as its Executive Director and then Program Director for 12 years. During that time she co-founded the national Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Coming Clean, a national environmental health coalition now comprised of over 200 national and local organizations. Bryony received her MS in environmental studies from the University of Montana and a BA from the University of Natal in South Africa.

Favorite organism and why: River otter. River otters are intelligent, curious, playful, resilient, and elusive and are indicators of pristine river ecosystems.

Favorite book: The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton

Other favorite organization: Greenpeace (Bryony serves on the Board of Directors)

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Name: Janine Benyus
 
Title: President 
 
Job scope: Janine is a biologist at the design table, innovation consultant, and author of six books, including Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.  As Storyteller-in-Chief, she watches with fascination as the fronds of biomimicry unfurl throughout the world.
 
History: In 1998, Janine co-founded the Helena, Montana-based Biomimicry Guild with Dr. Dayna Baumeister, and in 2006 she co-founded The Biomimicry Institute. Janine has introduced tens of thousands of people to biomimicry through international keynotes such as TED and GreenBuild, and films such as The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, Eleventh Hour, and Harmony. Her Guild clients have included HOK, Boeing, General Electric, Herman Miller, Interface, Kohler, Kraft, Nike, and Procter and Gamble. In 2008, Janine received Time Magazine’s Heroes of the Environment award.

Favorite organism and why: Giraffes, because of their unexpected grace

Early influential books:  Shaggycoat (the Wind-in-the-Willows story of a beaver family in New Jersey), and Hunting with a Microscope
 
Comfort food: Her mother’s Irish Lamb Stew

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Name: Estella Anderson
 
Title: Executive Assistant to the President and Executive Director
 
Job scope: Estella coordinates the activities of the President and Executive Director.  This includes organizing meetings, travel, media and speaking events.
 
History: Before TBI, Estella worked for The University of Montana for nine years as the Director of Pre-Pharmacy Advising and Director of the Native American Center of Excellence. At the School of Pharmacy she advised over 80 students in the pre-pharamcy program and worked with Native American students within the professional pharmacy program to provide them support to become practioners. Her work in education has primarily included working with minority students to help them gain access to higher education and advising them on their educational pathway.  
 
Favorite organism and why:  Beluga Whale, they are beautiful creatures and they always look like they are smiling.
 
Favorite book: The Beginning and the End by Naguib Mahfouz
 
Comfort food: apple pie and ice cream
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Name: Grace Decker
 
Title: Education Program Assistant
 
Job scope: Grace coordinates programs, workshops, and curricula for university, K-12, and non-formal education projects.

History: Grace's first habitat was the Massachusetts seashore, but the Rocky Mountains captured her heart in 1994 and she's happily grown roots in the Missoula valley ever since, She taught preschool, kindergarten and music for eight years before becoming the founding director of The Missoula Community School. Most recently, Grace served as the K-12 Programs Coordinator for the Western Montana Area Health Education Center at the University of Montana. She's also a professional musician who plays fiddle and sings with bluegrass and honkytonk bands.
 
Favorite organism and why: The giant squid, because they have the biggest eyes of any species and are one of the most elusive.
 
Favorite book: Anathem by Neal Stephenson
 
Comfort food: Grilled cheese and tomato soup

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Name: Jon-Michael Deldin



Title: Software Developer

Job scope: Jon-Michael works on AskNature, the student design challenge, and Biomimicry 3.8's other websites.

History: Jon-Michael learned how to program when he was 16 and hasn't closed his text editor since. He holds bachelor's degrees in biology and chemistry from the University of Great Falls and is currently pursuing a master's degree in computer science at the University of Montana.

Favorite organism and why: Dogs. He grew up rescuing stray and abandoned dogs, so he's always had a loyal and fun friend by his side (two at the moment).



First job: Six-year-old quality assurance engineer for his mom's cookie 
store



Activities: Hiking with his girlfriend and dogs, writing beautiful code, urban mountain biking, photography, and snowboarding

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Name: Mark Dorfman
 


Title: Green Chemistry Naturalist
 


Job scope: Mark manages, designs, and conducts research, primarily for projects with a chemistry-related challenge.


History: Mark spent the last several decades as a research scientist for public-interest, not-for-profit environmental organizations (primarily INFORM, Inc. and the Natural Resources Defense Council) with a focus on green chemistry and clean water issues.

Favorite organism and why: Cyanobacteria. They were the first creatures, some 3+ billion years ago, to develop photosynthetic technology. We still haven’t figured out how to completely reproduce it.
 


Favorite book: Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins
 


Hidden talent: Swing dancing!

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Name: Neal Forsthoefel

Title: Chief Operating Officer

Job scope: Neal is responsible for the Enterprise, Fiscal, Operational, & Human ResourceStrategy & Management.

History: Prior to TBI, Neal served as VP of Operations for gDiapers in Portland, OR , as Operations Manager for Horizon Organic in Boulder, CO, worked in manufacturing and hi-tech sectors and co-owned his own restaurant & catering business in Ohio with his wife Ann.

Favorite organism and why: Any kind of mushroom - because they have amazing properties and functions, but Neal especially loves the ones that are edible.

Favorite musician: Carlos Santana

Favorite travel destination: Europe

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Name: Lou Ghaddar
 
Title: Web Developer / IT Specialist
 
Job scope: Lou works as an IT Specialist and Web Developer helping guide and develop The Biomimicry Group’s technological needs in the office, and cultivate our web presence. 
 
History: Before starting at The Biomimicry Group, Lou received his BS in Business Information Technology and an MFA in Media Arts. He is currently teaching classes at the University of Montana in Web Design. With more than 10 years of experience in Information Technology and Web Development, Lou has worked for non-profit and for-profit companies, large and small, local and national. Other than living and breathing technology, Lou is also fascinated with art and animation, enjoys a cold beverage at the end of a long day of snowboarding or skateboarding, and loves to travel.
 
Favorite organism and why: Duck. They’re cute, they’re goofy, and they make funny noises. And they are nature’s version of the ATV. They can fly, swim, and walk. What more do you need?
 
Favorite film: The Endless Summer II, an inspiring and beautiful movie

Comfort food: Kafta wrapped in a pita; reminds Lou of growing up in Lebanon

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Name: Tim Greiser

Title: IT Director

Job scope: Tim works on special projects related to the web, such as AskNature and the Professional Pathways online education component.

History: Tim has been doing computer programming in the Missoula area professionally since 1997.

Favorite organism and why: Lemurs - they are just so fun to watch!

Hidden talent: Tim moonlights the dance clubs as a DJ

Favorite quote: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi 

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Name: Gretchen Hooker
 
Title: Education Specialist
 
Job scope: Gretchen supports the Institute's University Education Programs, including the Student Design Challenge.
 
History: Gretchen is committed to educating others about sustainable design and has developed programs within higher education, served as a writer and editor for sustainable design exhibitions, and written for online media. Most recently she was the founding director of the ASMSU Sustainability Center at Montana State University.

Gretchen has a master's degree in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design and continues to pursue self-directed creative projects in her spare time.
 
Favorite organism and why:  Merino Sheep - producer of nature's perfect fiber!
 
Favorite book: A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
 
Hidden talent: Packing a lot of function into a small space.
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Name: Jessica Jones

Title: Visual Naturalist

Job scope: Jessica works on visual communications/strategy and branding.

History: Before working with TBI, Jessica served as marketing assistant for the University Center at The University of Montana. She was also a naturalist at Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Favorite organism and why: Sloth. When Jessica saw one in the wild, she was more excited by it than any other animal she'd seen, and it was sleeping nonetheless! If this species were to go extinct Jessica would be heartbroken.

Fantasy travel destination: In her fantasy, she would shrink to the size of a flea and travel through her backyard.

Favorite quote: "Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet, for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it. The soft overcomes the hard, the gentle overcomes the rigid. Everyone knows this is true but few can put it into practice." -Tao Te Ching

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Name: Angela Klinefelter

Title: Financial Manager

Job scope: Angela manages the financial details of the Institute’s amazing projects.

History: Before TBI, Angela managed the finances for several other local non-profits such as Buffalo Field Campaign, Wind River Bear Institute, and Cold, Mountain Cold Rivers. She also worked as an accountant at Lambros Real Estate. Her past life was spent roaming Montana’s Glacier Country as a bear conflict specialist.

Favorite organism and why: Bears. They get to sleep through winter, through child birth, and can smell chocolate a mile away.

Comfort food: Chocolate….chocolate and more chocolate

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Name: Douglas Koester
 
Title: Director of Development
 
Job scope: Doug works with development staff and volunteers in strategic planning and implementation of all fundraising for the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute.
 
History: Before coming to the Institute, Doug was Vice President of Development for four states with the American Heart Association.
 
Favorite organism and why: Wolves. Along with their majestic beauty, wolves live in social networks and families that are similar to ours. They face many of the same challenges, with what Doug sees as courage and integrity.  
 
Comfort food: Grilled Salmon
 
Fantasy travel destination: Anywhere warm with sun, sand, and ocean.
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Name: John Laux   

Title: Digital Design Specialist – AskNature.org Project Director

Job scope: As the Digital Design Strategist and Project Director for AskNature.org John’s focus is to develop, manage and implement The Biomimicry Group’s online portfolio, strategy and presence.

History: John is a LEED Accredited Professional. Before joining the Biomimicry Group, he was the founder and CEO of Green Gateway, LLC, which provided consulting, analytical, educational, and innovative platforms to help companies and municipalities navigate the green economy. He has owned and operated technology businesses focused on multimedia application development, industrial automation, and green product development and manufacturing. John has over 25 years experience in developing commercial and non-profit websites and in the implementation, integration, and management of large scale business platforms including accounting, eCommerce, networking, digital communications, and green technologies.


Favorite organism and why: Cuttlefish. They are the chameleons of the sea and have the amazing ability to adapt, morph and change with their environment.

Favorite book(s): Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann and A Safe and Sustainable World by Nancy Jack Todd

Hidden talent: Can walk and chew gum at the same time while updating his status.

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Name: Diana Lee

Title: Director of Individual Philanthropy

Job scope: Diana sees fund raising as an opportunity to bring together organizations and people who share common values and want to use their resources to solve humanity's most pressing problems.

History: Prior to joining the staff of The Biomimicry Institute, she worked for Earthjustice; the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security; Redefining Progress; and Greenpeace. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Diana earned a B.A. at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she studied art, and later returned to Hawaii, where she co-founded a modern dance company.

Favorite Composer: Gustav Mahler

Favorite quote: "I’d rather be an evangelist, a storyteller, an educator, a translator, a table-pounder, a guy on his soap box, a woman with a megaphone, a candidate for change." - Sasha Dichte

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Name: Andrea Leggitt    
 
Title: Visual Designer
 
Job scope: Andrea creates visuals for The Biomimicry Institute’s educational and fundraising materials, as well as AskNature.org.  In addition, she heads TBI’s Social Media presence and the Ask the Planet CD project.
 
History: Prior to TBI, Andrea attended ASU and graduated Magna Cum Laude in Industrial Design, assisted with ASU's InnovationSpace program, and interned as an Industrial Designer at HumanScale, NY. Outside of her work at TBI, Andrea runs her DIY side project, saltyandsweet, where she makes and sells laser-cut mobiles worldwide.

Favorite organism and why: Sloths. They are, aesthetically and behaviorally, the oddest animals. Have you ever watched a sloth try to walk on land? At times they look more like an animatronic puppet than an actual living thing.
 
Favorite book: As far as Andrea's concerned, Tom Robbins can do no wrong.

Hidden talent: She knows how to weld (MIG and TIG).

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Name: Hatton Littman
 
Title: Programs Administration Manager
 
Job scope: Hatton manages all the back-end organization of the Training and Education Department.
 
History: Hatton taught as an adjunct faculty member in Boston, Colorado, and Montana; created nonprofit organizations to activate systemic change in inner-city Denver schools; operated a private high school that incorporated distance learning and experiential education; taught in a public school setting; and served on several task forces and committees advising public school systems in Colorado and Montana. Before all of that, she worked on film sets and in post-production houses around Boston and Denver.
 
Favorite organism and why: River Otter. Ever since the first time she saw them dive and play, Hatton realized her own limitations being connected to gravity on the ground. If she could move the way her imagination dictates, Hatton would look like a river otter.
 
Fantasy travel destination: Thailand. Hatton would love to be able to rock climb and surf in the same day!
 
Hidden talent: Spontaneous, tear-inducing LAUGHTER
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Name: Timothy McGee
 
Title: Senior Biologist at the Design Table
 
Job scope: Integrating the fields of biology, design, engineering and business to create regenerative systems, products, and services that revitalize our relationship to the living world.

History: Tim began his mash-up career with computer science and molecular biology investigating new ways to treat cancer. This work kept him involved with government institutions and pharmaceutical companies. Tim later added biomolecular science and a focus on biological materials in his graduate work. He has continued to combine fields as diverse as landscape architecture and industrial design with his background in biology and systems thinking to find the juicy middle ground of unexplored possibilities.

Favorite organism and why: Roundbelly Cowfish. The juveniles of the species are almost transparent, and you can see their incredible tessellated honeycomb design.
 
River, lake or ocean: Ocean
 
Fantasy travel destination: Every restaurant in Sicily

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Name:  Richard P. Moog, CPA



Title: Director of Finance and IT



Job scope: Rich manages the accounting, finance, and IT functions.



History: Prior to joining the Biomimicry Group, Rich held controller/CFO positions for a variety of small to medium sized Montana-based businesses.

Favorite organism and why: Peregrine Falcon.  They possess speed, agility, and excellent eyesight (all qualities Rich admires but personally lacks).

Favorite book: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Hidden talent: Mowing his lawn while enjoying a cold beverage on the deck.

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Name: Sherry Ritter

Title: Biologist at the Design Table

Job scope: Sherry works on AskNature and as a project manager and researcher on consultancy projects.

History: Sherry has been involved with biomimicry since 2004. She previously worked as a biologist with state and federal wildlife management agencies in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Sherry is the author of magazine articles and a book, Lewis and Clark's Mountain Wilds.
 
Favorite organism and why: American Dipper. This hardy little songbird dives underwater to get its food, nests near waterfalls, and sings a beautiful song in the middle of winter.
 
Favorite book: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

What excites her: Wind brings all of Sherry's senses to life.

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Name: Megan Schuknecht

Title: Director of University Education & Relations

Job scope: Megan works with faculty and administrators to incorporate biomimicry tools and concepts into university and college classrooms, curricula, and degree programs. She also lectures and works on our AskNature project.

History: Prior to joining TBI, Megan worked and taught for a variety of sustainability and social justice non-profits and educational organizations. Most recently, she worked as a biologist at the design table with the Biomimicry Guild, helping global companies look to nature for inspiration to develop sustainable and innovative technologies.

Favorite organism and why: Honeybees. Megan has been fascinated by bee biology and behavior ever since serving as a beekeeping extensionist with Peace Corps Paraguay. 

Favorite book: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Hidden talent:  Having all of her colleagues' Google calendars displayed at once - and being able to make sense of them.

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Name: Sam Stier

Title: Director of Public Education and Conservation

Job scope: Sam works with educators from schools, musea, aquaria, zoos, environmental centers; as well as media on inspiring and educating the next generation of people about biomimicry. He also helps corporations and inventors conserve nature’s genius.

History: Before TBI, Sam worked as wildlife field biologist in the Philippines; biodiversity conservation consultant for The Nature Conservancy, World Bank, Conservation International, and World Wildlife Fund; and science curricula developer Fellow with the National Science Foundation. 

Favorite organism and why: It changes all the time! Some steady winners: humans (we’re problematic, but quite a phenomena), trees, whales, viruses and Gaia. 

Hidden talent: Delivered his second son, at home, ten minutes before the mid-wife arrived.

Favorite quote: “So believe me, we are not too many people on this planet. If you take the total weight of the planet's ants on one hand and the total weight of human beings on the other, you'll see that the ants' weight is four times higher. It is not only the number, but ants outweigh human beings. Further they have a much shorter life span than we have. And because they work much harder physically than we do, the calorie consumption of ants equals about 30 billion people. It is clearly not about the fact that we are too many. Ants don't produce waste. They don't need to minimize waste. They produce nutrients. Again, it is a design question.” -Michael Braungart

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Name: Ali Solomon

Title: Communications Specialist

Job scope: Ali works on TBI’s website, e-newsletter, marketing materials, and helps with media requests.

History: Before coming to TBI, Ali served as the communications/development director for Women’s Voices for the Earth and communications director for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. While in Chicago, she also worked for an adventure travel website and a book publisher. The summer of 2010, Ali was hired by Nature Valley to explore 10 national parks and document her experiences.

Favorite organism and why: Anemone (and clownfish). Apart from looking like fantastic creatures from a Dr. Seuss book, the anemone and clownfish beautifully illustrate mutualism.

Comfort food: Macaroni and cheese with carmelized onions, garlic, and chard

Hidden talent: Writes her own Mad Libs.

 
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