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.
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.
Diane is a climate and clean air advocate with a background in environmental science. She comes from the Natural Resources Defense Council, where she spent almost 14 years working at the local, state, federal and international level promoting improved air quality and public health through reduced fossil fuel use, advances in clean transportation, and pollution prevention in industry. Previously, Diane worked at Citizens for a Better Environment in Chicago and a local transportation planning agency in Houston. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Washington University and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Rice University.
Climate Team Leader
Marlene is a climate and environment advocate. She has supported the Summer Climate Team of interns, conducting outreach on the Menlo Park Climate Action Plan and youth outreach. Marlene leads youth organizing on climate, and supports the Campaign for Fossil Free Building in Silicon Valley, as well as related electrification projects. She has worked with Grid Alternatives as a Workforce and Volunteer Assistant, where she helped update and develop educational materials for youth. Marleneis a graduate from UC Riverside, where she majored in Sustainability Studies.
EMERITUS ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS
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.
Sustainable Mobility Advisor
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.
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.
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.
CHRIS DECARDY, VICE-CHAIR
Former Vice President and Director of Programs, David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Menlo Park Planning Commissioner & Former Environmental Quality Commissioner & Current
Chris DeCardy completed two terms on the Menlo Park Environmental Quality Commission, where he focused on climate change and water management issues. He has been active in his community since moving to Menlo Park in 2003. He is currently serving on the City of Menlo Park’s Planning Commission. 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.
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.
Director, Head of Governance, Facebook
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 Facebook, 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.
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.
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.
Director of Local Policy and Community Engagement, Facebook
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 Facebook Diversity Team to encourage women and people of color into careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Prior to joining Facebook, 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.
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.
MITCH 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.
For additional information please inquire at info.MenloSpark@gmail.com
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