SSI was founded in 2006 to make Springfield a more sustainable city. Efforts were initially rooted in sustainable building designs and alternative energy technology but soon expanded to include a broader scope of sustainability initiatives that can be seen throughout the community. We work hard every day to ensure that sustainability is considered first in Springfield and is at the forefront of decisions and community member’s minds.
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.
Bob has been working on environmental issues since the Environmental Revolution of the late 1960s. He left a chemistry career and moved to Springfield in 1975 to attend Sangamon State University, now UIS, to pursue his masters degree in environmental studies and has been focused on energy conservation and renewable energy since then. His masters paper was a feasibility study for a large solar power plant for the city rather than another fossil fuel plant. Bob worked for Community Energy Systems from 1980 to 1984 training unemployed youth to weatherize homes and build solar collectors and greenhouses, including the Senior Citizens Center greenhouse and five Springfield Housing Authority homes with solar hot air collectors. In 1984 he joined the CWLP Energy Services Office as an energy auditor and in 1989 engineered Springfield’s first Solar Electric system which they installed on the FSR transitional homeless shelter. As manager of the office, he chaired CWLP’s net metering and interconnection subcommittees and developed their very successful solar rebate program. Bob served a term as a board member of the ISEA during the tumultuous negotiations over the FEJA legislation and has fought for Fair Net Metering and Interconnection policies throughout the state.
Now retired after 36 years there, he continues to remain active in the effort to reduce the effects of global warming.
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 owned and operated computer company Avrom Systems since 1985 and is an IT consultant for small business, municipalities and other organizations. In 2007 he designed & built Springfield’s first home utilizing sustainable techniques and materials, installing the first residential solar panels in Springfield.
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.
Ms. Rivas oversees the Division of Waste & Recycling within Public Works as well as helps develop and manage the activities and/or staff of community outreach programs related to Public Works. In this role, she is directly responsible for the construction, operation, administration, and establishment of programs related to the proper handling and disposal of electronics, large items, landscape waste, household hazardous waste as well as the design and implementation of educational programming and waste reduction strategies and local legislation. Ms. Rivas’ history includes founding a reuse non-profit, organizing for two international labor unions as well as two Illinois based non-profits dealing with “green” alternatives at the community college and/or state level, and educational instructor at the university and community college level for over 6 years. In addition to receiving her Master of Arts in Environmental Studies with a focus on Policy & Sustainability, Ms. Rivas holds two Bachelors- one in Science and the other in Art.
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).
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.