Sustainable Springfield’s Board of Directors
Our Board is comprised of various individuals who are committed to making Springfield more environmentally sustainable.
- Scott Arends, President
- Harv Koplo, Vice President
Harv Koplo moved to Springfield IL in 1973 from the Virgin Islands after growing up in Brooklyn NY. After his involvement at Sangamon State University, its folk music coffeehouse “The Bean” and the Springfield co-op movement, he operated an import auto repair shop until starting his computer company, Avrom Systems, in 1985. After a 10 year stint in the Scouting program he designed and built Springfield’s first “sustainable” house and got involved in the local environmental movement. While still in the computer business, he also juggles his time on the Sustainable Springfield and Springfield Bicycle Club boards of directors.
- Jess Weitzel, Secretary
Jess Weitzel completed a Masters of Community & Regional Planning at the University of Texas Austin in 2014, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and French Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2009. Having been born and raised in Springfield, Illinois, Jess is deeply committed to the sustainable growth and redevelopment of the City; especially in the arenas of economic development, green infrastructure and local agriculture. Jess currently works in economic development for the city of Springfield.
- Melody LaMar, Treasurer
Melody moved to Springfield in late 2008 and soon enrolled at UIS where she has since completed a Master’s of Arts, Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy. She was a proposal writer for TriTech Software Systems in San Diego and later went into business as broker/owner of Exceptional Realty Services located in Oceanside, CA. She currently works for the Illinois League of Financial Institutions as Business Manager. Her interests are the environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing and the XL Keystone Pipeline, the impacts of industrialized farming on local food systems and the social justice impacts of water privatization. Melody served as SSI President from 2011-2014.
- Anne Logue, Immediate 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.
- Tamika Gibson, Board Member
Tamika Gibson was the Outreach & Policy Coordinator for the Illinois Environmental Council. She previously lead the organization’s outreach efforts and assisted with policy efforts. Tamika earned a degree in Geography & Environmental Resources from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, during which time she interned for Friends of the Chicago River, where she assisted the Development Director with major donor programs, donor research and event planning.
- Michael Higgins, Board Member
- Marc A. Klingshirn, Board Member
Dr. Marc Klingshirn is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois Springfield. His area of expertise is in the area of green chemistry, which can simply be thought of as sustainable chemistry. His research ties green chemistry to the undergraduate curriculum, specifically to the design of new environmentally friendlier and safer laboratory procedures.
- Adena Rivas, Board Member
Adena Rivas is 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.
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.