Sustainable Springfield’s Board of Directors
Our Board is comprised of various individuals who are committed to making Springfield more environmentally sustainable.
Cassie Metz President
Cassie is currently an employee of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Her primary environmental interests are waste reduction and climate mitigation. Cassie graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. in Environmental Health and a B.M. in flute performance. As a student, she served as president of the Student Environmental Action Coalition, where they successfully pushed for recycling accessibility for students living off campus. Before starting with the IEPA, she worked to promote renewable energy and climate change mitigation in Chicagoland.”
Harv Koplo, Vice President
Harv came from Brooklyn NY in 1973 to attend Sangamon State University where he was a participant in the 20th Century Homesteading course, which investigated sustainability and organic gardening along with solar & wind energy. Harv has operated computer company Avrom Systems since 1985 and is an IT consultant for small business. In 2007 he designed & built Springfield’s first home.utilizing sustainable techniques and materials, installing the first residential solar panels in Springfield. He is the Events and Projects Coordinator for the Springfield Bicycle Club and also works with the IL Native Plant Society.
Maggie Lenhart, Secretary
Maggie was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois, making her a near expert on all things Lincoln and horseshoes. She attended Lake Forest College, a tiny liberal arts school north of Chicago and received her Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Environmental Studies. Currently, she is working on her Master’s degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration on Sustainable Development and Policy. She is also a Graduate Public Service Intern (GPSI) with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Justice. She hopes to one day work on state and federal environmental policy issues, especially when it comes to implementing a just transition in the energy and food sectors. When she isn’t studying or working to ensure equitable environmental protections for disadvantaged communities, Maggie enjoys networking with other local environmentalists, seeing live music around town with her mom, and relaxing with a strong cup of coffee. She is excited to serve as the SSI secretary and to help in implementing sustainable practices in this city she knows and loves!
Anne Logue, Treasurer, Past President
I am excited to be a part of Sustainable Springfield. Its focus on local sustainable practices and its eagerness to collaborate with other environmental Springfield groups is something Springfield really needs right now. I have experience in serving on the Sangamon Sierra Club board, have worked to promote and organize several events for non-profits both as a board member and an office manager. I have greatly enjoyed working with the current SSI board on projects in past years. I am primarily concerned that we give Springfield a framework that can both monitor and encourage responsible environmental behavior whether it be our city government, local business or residential impact.
Adena Rivas, Board Member
Adena Rivas is Community Programs Coordinator at City of Springfield, Public Works. Prior to that she was a Field Organizer for a nonprofit organization called Elevate Energy. In this role she designs and implements community-based strategies for educating and engaging individuals on energy efficiency programs such as energy efficient building services and electrical grid upgrades. Prior to joining Elevate, she worked as an instructor at both a University and Community College in Southern Illinois/Indiana. She completed her Masters of Environmental Studies with a concentration in Policy & Sustainability from the University of Illinois Springfield after having completed her Bachelor of Art in Humanities and Bachelor of Science in History, Political Science, and Sociology from Oakland City University. During her educational path, she completed an internship at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland, CA, where she helped maintain a 12-acre solar energy demonstration facility and trained as a volunteer solar panel installation technician with a nonprofit organization called Grid Alternatives. Before focusing on environmental work, Adena worked for many years as a Labor Organizer for the United Mine Workers in Princeton, IN and the United Steel Workers in Pittsburgh, PA. Adena is an artist and a musician, and she enjoys outdoor athletics, especially hiking, biking, and running.
- John L. Sanford, Board Member
John Sanford is a Registered Professional Engineer who retired from the Illinois Department of Transportation as a Regional Design Engineer with training and project development responsibilities including compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act requirement for conservation of resources.
Michelle Knox, Board Member
Michelle Knox is the founder and owner of the central IL company WindSolarUSA, Inc. She received her training through the Midwest Renewable Energy Association in Custer, WI and is a Certified Site Assessor for both solar photovoltaics and solar thermal, and soon for PV Design, Technical Sales and Wind Energy. Prior to pursuing a career in renewable energy, Michelle served as Development Director for St. Patrick Catholic School, an elementary school in Springfield serving underprivileged children and their families. Previous to that, she was a Montessori teacher of 6-9-year-olds for ten years. Through her role on the board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA) and an ISEA instructor working with Lincoln Land Community College, she is training students to be site assessors, designers and PV sales representatives. Michelle resides in the Village of Owaneco , where she has served on the Village Board for 15 years.
Michael Higgins, Board Member
Michael Higgins is the chef owner of Maldaner’s Restaurant. Michael has been a strong advocate for solar energy and sustainability. Besides growing herbs and other food on the roof for use at Maldaner’s Restaurant, he has installed a 56 pannal solar array on the roof. He is a member of Illinois Solar Association, a member of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory board, President of MacArthur Boulevard Association, on the board of DID (Downtown Improvement District) and an member of ICON (Inner City Old Neighborhoods).
Alli Kearney, Board Member
Alli has resided in Springfield her whole life, which helps her understand the dynamics of this historic and unique community. She received her bachelor’s from the University of Illinois in Springfield (UIS) in Environmental Studies in December 2018. She took every policy centered class that she could during her undergraduate work to satisfy her interest in environmental policy. During her bachelor’s at UIS, she had the opportunity to put this passion to work through an internship at the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and the Illinois Environmental Council. She also was able to then translate her love for local food systems into a job on the 2018 farmer’s market staff. Alli is currently attending graduate school at UIS to receive her master’s degree in Environmental Science with an emphasis in policy and development and also works full time at the Illinois Environmental Council. Alli currently runs an environmental networking group in Springfield called Happy Earth Hour. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the farmers market, kayaking, spending time on Lake Springfield and spending time with her husband, Kory, and corgi, Kalliope.
Michael Clark, Board Member
Mike likes to call himself a “fullanthropist.” As a man with many hats, he is involved with aquaponics, sustainability, local business development, aviation, and mentoring youth. He currently serves as the president of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO/FACE) at Lanphier High School. Mike teaches aircraft maintenance for a federal certification through Lincoln Land Community College. After an injury on an oil rig he moved to Springfield, where he began to pursue his passion for the environment. In his free time, Mike enjoys skydiving, hiking, and raising money for non-profits, such as the Dyslexia Center of Springfield, to help the community. He is very excited to bring his diverse experience to Sustainable Springfield.
James A. Johnston, Founder and Board Member Emeritus
Back in 2006, James “Jim” Johnston had a vision to organize a group of environmentally-concerned citizens that were interested in helping transform Springfield into a more sustainable city. An award-winning architect for his historic preservation work and efforts in the adaptive re-use of existing buildings, Jim organized the very first public meeting that helped garner the original pieces that laid the groundwork for the environmental group, Sustainable Springfield Inc.
The group’s efforts were initially rooted in sustainable building design and alternative energy technologies. However, because of Jim’s knowledge, connections to the community, and perseverance to see his larger vision come to fruition, he worked tirelessly and since then the roots have grown deeper and the organization’s scope and breadth is more far reaching.
Recently Jim moved on from the Board of Directors to focus on family, his love of art, and other personal initiatives. Because the Board recognizes Jim’s influence and wishes to acknowledge his tremendous contributions to the organization, Jim was recently honored with the title of “Board Member Emeritus”. It is hoped that this title helps to express how much we appreciate his work. The current Board members recognize that none of us would be in our current positions had it not been for Jim and his initial vision. For that, we thank him.