The Nelson Institute Community Fellows Program selects leaders from our community who are allies of the Nelson Institute and champions of the environment. Many government agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses and grassroots environmental efforts in the community maintain relationships with faculty, staff and students to accomplish mutually beneficial work. We aim to formally recognize the contributions of the many individuals who form the backbone of such partnerships through the newly formed Nelson Institute Community Fellows Program. Our deepest thanks to the Community Fellows for your continued support, and to all of our dedicated community partners – our work is not possible without you.

Steven Apfelbaum

Steven Apfelbaum

Steve has conducted ecological research, designed award-winning projects, successfully navigated regulatory programs, and contributed his unique creative scientific expertise and enthusiasm to over 7,000 projects throughout North America and beyond. He is one of the leading ecological consultants in the U.S., providing technical restoration advice and win-win solutions where ecological and land-development conflicts arise. Steve has authored hundreds of technical studies, peer-reviewed technical papers, books, reports, ecological restoration plans, and regulatory monitoring and compliance reports. Apfelbaum’s book, Nature’s Second Chance (Beacon Press) won accolades from the New York Times, and was listed as one of the “Top 10 Environmental Books of 2009.” Apfelbaum’s most recent book (co-authored with Alan Haney) – part of a three volume series – Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land (Island Press) has won praise as the first comprehensive ‘how-to’ restoration books for landowners.

Steve promotes using ecological and conservation design principles in developments, industrial projects and parks that help clients save money while increasing ecological functionality, improving public perception and generating award-winning outcomes. Apfelbaum is also a much sought after speaker at educational events focusing on ecological restoration, ecosystem assessment, alternative stormwater management and conservation development.

Heather Gates

Heather Gates

Heather Gates is the Executive Director and co-founder of the grassroots nonprofit organization The Natural Step Monona, which educates about, advocates for, and promotes sustainability. Since its beginnings in 2007, Heather has helped the group 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. She is also a member of the City of Monona Sustainability Committee. The Nelson Institute has joined forces with The Natural Step Monona on the Green Tuesdays & Thursdays Films & Lecture series and on two Capstone courses in 2011.

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, Heather 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.

Carrie Kniedler

Carrie Kneidler

Carrie grew up in the Kickapoo Valley and now lives on a small sustainable farm in Richland County growing Shiitake mushrooms with her partner Jerry. Carrie is committed to environmental education, stating, “I love nature and all it has to offer. I believe the Earth needs our help, and want to do all I can to preserve the biological diversity on it. I believe that educating others on how this can be done is very important and that the children are the future. The Kickapoo Valley is a very small, but beautiful piece of the planet, and as the Kickapoo Valley children grow up in this wonderful place, I hope to teach them about the importance of sustainability and environmental awareness through projects at school and events like the Kickapoo Earth Day Celebration and The Forest Speaks Forestry Day. As these children grow up and move beyond the Kickapoo Valley, they can take this knowledge with them and share it with others around the nation or even the world. These children will live as stewards of this amazing planet, the Earth!” She graduated in 2008 from UW-La Crosse with a Bachelor of Science in Middle Childhood – Early Adolescence Education and an Earth Science Minor. Carrie believes that lifelong learning is essential, currently she is working towards a Special Education Degree through Ed Norda Inc/St. Mary’s University of MN. Carrie continues to be involved in community events promoting awareness, healthy and local foods, and education.

John R. "Jack" Sullivan

Jack Sullivan

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. Jack holds BS and MS degrees, with a specialty in water resources engineering, from the University of Wisconsin and is a registered professional hydrologist. Over his thirty plus year career he has held positions with several organizations including UW’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, and U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office. His professional experience includes serving as an international consultant for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, working on environmental management issues in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. He also serves his community locally having been elected to six terms as a village trustee. He has published several papers in environmental chemistry and toxicology and his recent research interests include adaptation strategies for Wisconsin’s changing climate.

Darryl Malek-Wiley

Darryl Malek-Wiley is a veteran of the environmental justice movement. He has worked for over 30 years with communities along the Mississippi River to fight toxic pollution and protect peoples’ health.

Malek-Wiley joined the Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program in June 2004 to support the efforts of Louisiana environmental justice groups on issues including toxics, pollution and environmental health. He has been dedicated to protecting Louisiana’s environment and people throughout his career. He was a key organizer of the Great Toxics March from Baton Rouge to New Orleans in 1988. This march defined the problem of toxic emissions in the “cancer alley” and launched the campaign for improvement that continues today.

Malek-Wiley has worked for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Louisiana Environmental Action Network and the Gulf Coast Tenant Organization among others. He has served as the Chair of the New Orleans Group of the Sierra Club, President of the Mississippi River Basin Alliance, and a member of both the Sierra Club’s Ethnic Diversity Task Force and Hazardous Material Committee. He has studied and educated people on toxics, air and water pollution, environmental health, and sociology at the local, state, regional, national and international level. Contact him at darryl.malek-wiley@sierraclub.org.