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Sustainable Springfield Inc. (SSI) is an environmental grass roots organization that promotes responsible planning efforts by our local governments and encourages the Springfield area citizen and business community to live and operate more sustainably. We are an information sharing network and closely ally our organization with other environmental groups in Springfield to promote their activities as well as our own.

Your Sustainable & Environmental Information Network in Springfield
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Board of Directors

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

Scott Arends is a water resources engineer for Hanson Professional Services Inc., where he leads the planning and design of civil works projects, including water supply, flood protection, and floodplain restoration. Scott was engaged in America’s Watershed Initiative’s development of the Mississippi River Watershed Report Card and has also been named to Hanson’s Sustainability and Resiliency Task Force with a focus on identifying and promoting sustainable infrastructure opportunities. He was also a panelist at The Nature Conservancy’s North America Water Learning Exchange on the topic of engineers and non-profit organizations working together to make traditional infrastructure (buildings, bridges, roads, dams, etc.) more harmonious with our natural infrastructure – rivers, wetlands, forests, prairies, and mangroves.
Scott has been involved with the analysis and design of numerous water resource projects throughout the country, including the multi-purpose water control structure at The Nature Conservancy’s 6,500-acre Emiquon Preserve, one of the largest floodplain restoration projects in the Midwest. The award winning water control structure facilitates wetland management and also functions as a one of a kind research facility.

  • Harv Koplo, Vice President

Harv Koplo moved to Springfield IL in 1973 from the Virgin Islands after growing up in Brooklyn NY. He attended Sangamon State University where he was a participant in the 20th Century Homesteading course which investigated sustainability along with solar & wind energy, was a coordinator of SSU Student Activities, the folk music coffeehouse “The Bean” and involved in the Springfield ’70’s co-op movement. Afterwards, he operated an import auto repair shop until starting his computer company, Avrom Systems in 1985. He enjoyed a 10 year stint in the Scouting program and designed & built Springfield’s first “sustainable” house. He is also on the board of the Springfield Bicycle Club and involved in the IL Native Plant Society.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

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).

  • Kevin Greene, Board Member

Kevin Greene is retired from the Illinois EPA after 20 years of state service. He served as manager of the pollution prevention office, with a special focus on green government and environmental stewardship programs. Prior to joining Illinois EPA, Kevin worked for three non-profit environmental organizations. He currently serves on the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council.

  • 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.