We are a collaboration of local government, businesses, and residents helping Menlo Park
become climate neutral

WHO WE ARE

We are a nonprofit collaboration of local government, businesses, and residents helping Menlo Park adopt a suite of measures by 2025 that are necessary to reach zero carbon by 2030, as we advance equity, economic vitality, and community health.

Video | Menlo Spark - Who We Are

Menlo Spark began when a small group of community members with diverse interests and experience joined together to explore opportunities to promote long-term economic vitality, equity, and quality of life in Menlo Park while addressing the urgent threat of climate change.

Menlo Park, with its highly engaged citizenry and unique resources in the heart of Silicon Valley, can be a national leader in sustainability and climate action, generating massive local benefits while serving as an example to similar cities and towns across the country.

Moreover, a large-scale community-led movement, including partnerships with business, government, and philanthropy, has the potential within a decade to put Menlo Park well on the path towards achieving the bold goal of climate neutrality.

Menlo Spark is a nonprofit initiative that collaborates with the city government, businesses, and residents to ensure the success of the community’s efforts on climate and sustainability-related issues. By helping to weave together the network of projects and initiatives in the city that may contribute to sustainability, Menlo Spark supports a more unified strategy for progress towards the ultimate goal of climate neutrality.

STAFF

Brian Schmidt
Executive Director, Menlo Spark

 

Brian leads Menlo Spark’s work to achieve climate neutrality in Menlo Park by 2030, with the community then serving as a model for the broader region. He is an environmental lawyer with many years’ experience in environmental policy research, development, and advocacy. He has led on environmental protection policies in the San Francisco Bay Area with a strong emphasis on climate change issues, including leading the policy advocacy at Green Foothills and Greenbelt Alliance. Brian has also been elected to office at two water district boards – Santa Clara Valley Water District when he lived in Mountain View, and Mid-Peninsula Water District at his current residence in Belmont. His prior experience includes working for Earthjustice and for Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP representing environmental non-profits and government agencies on environmental issues. Brian holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary political science, economics, and philosophy from Georgetown University and a law degree from Stanford Law School, and is a member of the California and Oregon State Bar Associations.

 

Angela Evans
Director, Electrify Menlo Park

 

Angela leads Menlo Spark’s building electrification work, including policy advocacy, public and private partnerships, multi-family electrification pilot projects, and the creation of a local clean energy workforce with local nonprofit, JobTrain.  In addition to directing this programmatic work, Angela provides Menlo Spark with strategic guidance on how to best support the City of Menlo Park’s Climate Action Goal to electrify 95% of existing buildings by 2030.  Angela simultaneously serves on the City of Menlo Park’s Environmental Quality Commission and on the board of Stanford Professional Women.  She has a deep background in environmental science and business with a career that has spanned Environmental Defense Fund and eBay.   She holds a B.S. in Earth Systems from Stanford University and an M.B.A from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. For more details, please see her bio under Menlo Spark’s advisory board members.

 

EMERITUS ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS

a9a784e4a214a7ea6fd4d1161aaf0d83SUSAN BELL

Principal, Susan Bell and Associates

 

Susan Bell provides strategic counsel to private philanthropies and nonprofit organizations to address environmental and social issues. She is also Managing Director of the Water Funder Initiative, a collaborative effort to activate promising water solutions through strategic philanthropic investments in the U.S., starting in the West. Susan served as Vice President of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for over twelve years. Her career includes work in strategic planning, development, and communications at Stanford University, the Sierra Club, and Northwestern University. Susan is Chair of the National Audubon Society, board member of the McCall MacBain Foundation, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Water Foundation.

CHRIS DECARDY
President of the Heinz Endowments

 

Chris DeCardy completed two terms on the Menlo Park Environmental Quality Commission, where he focused on climate change and water management issues. He also served on the City of Menlo Park’s Planning Commission, and has been active in his community for several decades. Chris has worked on climate change issues throughout his professional career in running an environmental policy and advocacy non-profit in Washington, DC and as Vice President and Director of Programs at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

dd2ae1f4b461da6271a22d2ad36124a3BRENT HARRIS

Director, Head of Governance, Meta

Brent helped author the Redstone Strategies Report for Menlo Spark.  In the process, he became a major supporter of Menlo Spark, donating significant personal time.  After moving to the Willows neighborhood of Menlo Park with his wife and two dogs, he joined our Advisory Board. Before joining Meta, Brent led the California office of Redstone Strategy Group, where he provided guidance on strategy and policy advocacy to several of the nation’s leading foundations and philanthropists. Brent was also the vice president for operations at ClimateWorks Foundation. Prior to ClimateWorks, Brent served as counsel to the Presidential Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. Earlier in his career, he was a fellow at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

EXPERT ADVISORS

ADINA LEVIN
Sustainable Mobility Advisor

MICHAEL MEYER
Transportation Advisor

TOM KABAT
Energy Advisor

SEAN ARMSTRONG & EMILY HIGBEE
Electrification Advisors

2021 Update

BOARD


Hilary Bates

Architect, Hilary Bates Architecture

 

Hilary is a CA licensed architect with over 25 years of experience working on solo and collaborative design projects in the Bay Area. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Yale University and upon graduation moved to Lilongwe, Malawi where she worked as an architect with the United States Peace Corps.  Hilary returned to the U.S. to attend the University of California at Berkeley, where she earned a Masters of Architecture. 

Hilary Bates Architecture was founded in 1998 and has had as its primary focus the development of high-end residential projects. In 2015, to address issues of sustainability in building, she became a credentialed LEED Green Associate through the US Green Building Council and then later completed a professional program in Energy Innovation and Emerging Technologies through Stanford University. In 2021 Hilary was selected to serve on the Town of Woodside’s Architectural and Site Review Board, and volunteers on the San Mateo County AIA Committee on the Environment.

JOSH BECKER

California State Senator

 

Josh Becker is a recognized clean energy business and policy leader. He currently serves as California State Senator for the 13th District, covering part of Silicon Valley. Sen. Becker has served on California’s Workforce Development Board. He was CEO and later Chairman of Lex Machina for almost ten years. He also founded New Cycle Capital, as a seed investor in cutting-edge companies such as: OPOWER, Renew Financial, People Power, and TerraPass. He started his career at ICF International, a DC-based environmental consulting and engineering firm. There he helped launch the first Clean Air Marketplace conference back in 1992 and consulted on energy strategy for companies like General Electric. Josh co-founded IntraACTIVE a pioneering groupware company in 1994 and was also one of the first employees at EarthWeb/Dice (NYSE:DHX), which went public in 1998. After joint degrees from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stanford Law School, Becker joined Brentwood Venture Capital and then joined Brentwood’s technology partners in founding Redpoint Ventures. Josh was a long time Board Member of the Clean Tech Open. Becker Founded The Full Circle Fund in 2000, and remains on the Board. He also is project lead for the group’s Energy and Environment Circle.

d49c209a813c2c528b7591467f73a5deMICHAEL CLOSSON
Principal, Local Climate Solutions
Retired Executive Director, Acterra

Michael Closson is an environmental consultant who lives in Menlo Park, CA, with past clients including the Sierra Club, and current work with the Center for Climate Protection. Michael is also Chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Peninsula Clean Energy. His previous professional experience includes: Executive Director of Acterra: Action for a Sustainable Earth in Palo Alto, CA (2003-2013), Executive Director of Biodiversity Northwest in Seattle, WA (2000-2003), Programs Director for the Earth Day Network in Seattle, WA (1998-2000), Executive Director of the Center for Economic Conversion in Mountain View, CA (1983-1998), Co-Director of New Ways to Work in Palo Alto, CA (1976-1982), and Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Stanford University in Stanford, CA (1972-1976). He holds a Ph.D. (Sociology) and a M.A. from Cornell University and a B.A. from Middlebury College.

ANGELA EVANS

Environmental Quality Commissioner, City of Menlo Park

Director, Electrify Menlo Park

Board of Directors, Stanford Professional Women

Angela currently serves on the Environmental Quality Commission to the City of Menlo Park.  She also directs Electrify Menlo Park, an initiative to electrify 95% of existing homes and buildings by 2030, thereby addressing 40% of our city’s total climate pollution.  Her work with Electrify Menlo Park also involves the creation of a local clean energy workforce that will be focused on hiring women and people of color.  Angela serves on the Board of Directors for Stanford Professional Women and volunteers weekly with the nonprofit, Ravenswood Classroom Partners, to tutor children in Belle Haven and East Palo Alto.  She previously held a variety of leadership roles at eBay and Environmental Defense Fund.  She holds a B.S. with honors in Earth Systems (Environmental Science and Economics) from Stanford University and an M.B.A from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.  She lives with her husband and two children in Menlo Park.

KATIE FERRICK

Senior Director of Workplace Programs: Community, Sustainability, Food, Travel, & Transportation, LinkedIn

 

 

 

Katie is a former City of Menlo Park Planning Commissioner. She has volunteered on local political campaigns, served as a caseworker and as deputy district director for U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier. In 2014, Katie started at LinkedIn, developing strategies to enable the company to expand in San Francisco, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Dublin, Ireland. She created LinkedIn’s local government relations program and launched the company’s environmental sustainability program. Katie ensures that LinkedIn makes a positive impact in local communities where it operates.

53c857842c21bab6ee258a6dcbaeadb8MATT JAMES

Senior Counselor at GMMB

Matt James is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of leadership, deal-making and project management for high-level for-profit and non-profit organizations. Responsible for many high-impact communications and media projects, highly effective fundraiser, and known for high-leverage partnerships. Founder of successful non-profit and for-profit organizations and initiatives, experienced board member, published author and public speaker.

As co-founder of Next Generation, Matt oversaw a team of professionals who promoted solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans: the risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Prior to co-founding Next Generation, Matt was an integral part of the Menlo Park-based Kaiser Family Foundation’s leadership team for 20 years.

kristin-kunst-durisetiKRISTIN KUNTZ-DURISETI, VICE CHAIR

Former Menlo Park Environmental Quality Commissioner

 

Kristin is transitioning to a new career as a math and science teacher to prepare our youth to apply their talents and passions to address complex problems, like climate change. Previously, Kristin was Managing Editor of Climatic Change, an international journal publishing interdisciplinary research on the description, causes, and implications of climate change. A former Environmental Quality Commissioner for Menlo Park, she has served as Chair and as the commission representative to the Menlo Park General Plan Advisory Committee. As a consultant on municipal energy policy, Kristin has contributed to the development of the Peninsula Advanced Energy Community (PAEC), which showcases the benefits of advanced energy policies and projects promoting renewable energy and a shift to a low carbon future. Kristin has a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from Stanford University.


RYANN PRICE

Managing Director, Executive Education Marketing at Stanford University Graduate School of Business

 

Ryann Price is the Managing Director of Marketing for Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Education, bringing Stanford GSB education to 6000+ global leaders annually. Before leading marketing Ryann redesigned the Stanford Executive Program, Stanford’s flagship program for senior executives, and expanded the enrollment to over 280 participants annually.  Ryann worked for Stanford GSB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, overseeing the Startup Garage program, an experiential learning course where graduate students are exposed to entrepreneurship and innovative thinking.  Before joining Stanford, Ryann was an early employee at HubSpot.  Ryann served as Chair of the Environmental Quality Commission for the City of Menlo Park during her appointed four-year term.  Ryann graduated with honors from Wellesley College and lives in Menlo Park with her family.

JUAN SALAZAR

Director of Local Policy and Community Engagement, Meta

Juan travels around the country to provide state and local government officials with tips and best practices on how to use Facebook to communicate more effectively with the public. Juan also works with the Meta Diversity Team to encourage women and people of color into careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Prior to joining Meta, Juan was a Program Manager for Growth Sector, Inc. where he developed education/workforce development pathway programs across various California community colleges. Juan focused on increasing the participation, support, and success of Latinx and African American students in the field of Engineering and STEM education.

VIOLET WULF-SAENA

Founder and Executive Director, Climate Resilient Communities

Violet has served as an international climate change expert for over 10 years, and has worked with various groups in Less Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island States (SIDS) to protect communities from the impacts of climate change. Violet’s dedication to elevating community leadership and response to environmental justice is rooted from her lived experiences in the South-Pacific. She now works in the Bay Area in partnership with the government sector, research institutions, and community-based organizations, building community capacity to respond to climate change and sea-level rise. Violet has a Master’s degree from Duke University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. She also has several Postgraduate Diplomas.

7ae088b5aecf8f4eb165c1959f405106MITCH SLOMIAK, CHAIR
Former Menlo Park Environmental Quality Commissioner
Consulting Chief Financial Officer

Mitch Slomiak was a founding leader and long-time Co-Chair of Menlo Park’s Green Ribbon Citizens’ Committee in 2007, supporting the research and creation of a substantial set of climate action recommendations to the City Council that involved over 130 participants. Mitch also served on Menlo Park’s Environmental Quality Commission from 2008 to 2015, including two terms as Chairman, with primary focus on developing and supporting the city’s Climate Action Plan. In his professional career, Mitch was CFO for two emerging companies and has served as a Consulting CFO for numerous growth companies over the past 18 years, including several cleantech startups. Mitch also recently served as President of the Board of Directors for the Congregation Etz Chayim in Palo Alto.

OUR PARTNERS

For additional information please inquire at info.MenloSpark@gmail.com

INSTITUTIONAL AFFILIATIONS ARE FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES ONLY AND DO NOT IMPLY INSTITUTIONAL ENDORSEMENT.

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