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About the Sustainability Academy

Our mission is to accelerate the mainstream practice of sustainability on the Central Coast of California. We are a think-do--teach tank dedicated to making real local progress towards sustainability across our region: in business, social ventures, and government agencies. The Academy teaches classes, manages projects, conducts research, and hosts public forums. We are a 501c3 public benefit organization, incorporated in 2005 and based in Monterey, California.

Board of Directors

The Sustainability Academy is overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of professionals from the tri-county area, all of whom are committed to fostering the Academy's mission to accelerate the mainstream practice of sustainability on the Central Coast.

Maggie Melone-Echiburú, Chair of the Board

Maggie Melone-Echiburú is the Director of NASA- SEMAA (Science, Engineering, Math & Aerospace Academy) at Hartnell College. SHe is one of the founding members of the Academy, being part of the Steering Committee since 2006. Maggie is a seasoned bilingual and biliterate professional with more than fifteen years of experience in senior organizational management. During the ten years she has been in Monterey, she has become part of the community, actively participating in different organizations, as a board member, staff or a very committed parent. She has many years of experience in English and Spanish Translation and Interpretation, specializing in sustainable agriculture and farm water quality. She and her husband Brett had three wonderful children, who she hopes become great citizens of the world.

Rob Nicely, Vice Chair of the Board

Rob Nicely is a builder, specializing in sustainable design. Currently, he is President of Carmel Building & Design, with over twenty years experience in crafting quality homes. He studied at UC Davis.

Jordan Daniels, Secretary of the Board

Jordan Daniels is a building performance consultant, most recently serving as Senior Partner with BuildingWise in Monterey and San Francisco.  He has over 11 years of experience in construction, operations & maintenance, and renewable energy.  Jordan has managed over 40 LEED® certification projects including the Transamerica Pyramid (Platinum), as well as Uptown Monterey, the first LEED certified shopping center in California.  He also teaches an evening course at Hartnell College in Salinas and serves on the Technical Advisory Committee of the California Best Buildings Challenge.  His documentary film about deconstruction as an alternative to demolition may be viewed at Jordan earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of California at Davis.  When he’s not plugging sustainability, Jordan can be found mountain biking in the Fort Ord National Monument. 

Patrick Stafford, Treasurer of the Board

Terry Duffina, Board Member (Past Chair)

Terry Duffina has served on the board since 2007, and as board chair from October 2008 - January 2011.  Terry hails from Minnesota, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and French.  After graduating, she joined the United States Peace Corps and spent 2 ½ years as a Small Business Development volunteer in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, West Africa. She then moved to Monterey where she earned her MBA and Masters in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. After finishing her studies, she began working in Silicon Valley, becoming a specialist in Corporate Environmental, Health & Safety.  Currently, Terry is part of the Facilities & Real Estate Department at General Dynamics – AIS in Santa Clara.  In this capacity, Terry creates and executes the company’s Energy & Sustainability program.  Terry has lived in Monterey County since 1998.

Erin Morita, Board Member

Erin Morita is one of the founding board members of the Academy. She has over 17 years of fund development experience, working with both individuals and foundations, and is currently employed by the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She prides herself on inventing new sustainable philanthropy models. She has also served as a Japanese interpreter.

Michael Waxer, Board Member

Michael Waxer, AIA, LEED AP, is a licensed architect, currently Vice-President with Carmel Development Company, a design-build firm in Carmel, California.  In 2010 Michael was presented the Stanton Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Monterey Bay Chapter for his contributions to the field of Architecture.  Projects Michael has been involved with include the award winning Tehama community, designed with multiple sustainable principles, renewable energy, and enhanced nature techniques, and the Mission Ranch historic renovation, winning the 1994 Governor’s Historic Preservation Award.  

Michael was President of the AIAMB Chapter in 2000 and in 2011.  He has or is serving on the Board of Directors of the AIA California Council (AIACC) and the AIA Monterey Bay (AIAMB) Chapter, the Executive Board of the Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Carmel River Watershed Conservancy, and has chaired the AIACC Sustainability Task Force.  Michael’s design of the ‘Sun Villas’ project in 1981 was the winner of the California Affordable Housing Competition.

Michael was the creator of the StepUp2Green © (SU2G) residential home improvement system, a one page tool to guide homeowners to make reasoned and sustainable upgrades to their homes, which has received multiple awards including the ‘Bright Ideas’ Award from the Harvard School of Business.  He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  

Melanie Beretti, Board Member

Melanie Beretti is a Senior Associate at SureHarvest, a sustainability service and technology provider for the agri-food supply chain. Melanie has more than 15 years experience in organizational management and developing innovative public-private partnerhships to promote agribusiness sustainability. She earned her MA in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz and her BS in Forestry from the University of Washington. Born in California and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Melanie loves the outdoors and can often be found enjoying the natural beauty of the Monterey Bay region with her family and friends. When the opportunity arises Melanie will speak Spanish with a proud Argentinean accent, which she acquired during her year abroad on a Rotary International student exchange.

Thomas Rettenwender, Board Member

Thomas is Professor of Sustainable Design and Construction at the Hartnell College Center for Advanced Technology, Salinas California. He is also co-founder of the Ecological Design Lab, an architectural design and research firm, and President of Realitree: Ecology and Architecture, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Green Building Design and Education with offices in Santa Cruz and Monterey, California. In recent years he has developed and taught Green Building at the Monterey Peninsula College (MPC), Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS), Cabrillo College, and University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).

Gene Trawick, Board Member