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Meet the Native Team

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Jeff Bernicke

PRESIDENT

Jeff Bernicke, President & CEO of Native, has over 25 years of experience building and leading teams in the development and financing of renewable energy, emission reduction, and impact projects and programs. At Native, Jeff has driven the expansion of its Help Build program to provide corporate clients with strategically valuable portfolios of Help Build projects, including renewable, carbon mitigation, clean water, and ecosystem services projects. Prior to joining Native, Mr. Bernicke led the portfolio development and strategy for Greenhouse Gas Services (a joint venture between General Electric and AES Corp) and was a senior member of the executive team for DTE Energy Resources. Earlier in his career, he advised companies in the cleantech sector and worked as a strategy consultant to large corporations across several industry sectors. Jeff holds an M.B.A. with Highest Distinction and an M.S. in Resource Ecology from the University of Michigan and B.S. degrees in Business and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Tom Stoddard

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL COUNSEL

Tom earned his JD, magna cum laude, from Boston University, where he served as an editor of the Law Review. He has provided legal advice and conducted business transactions at prominent law firms in Boston, MA and Manchester, NH and subsequently at Green Mountain Energy, where he focused on energy supply and regulatory and marketing compliance. In addition to managing Native’s legal and policy affairs, Tom helps lead the company’s origination and asset management teams, and helps the company and its business customers communicate effectively with stakeholders. With Native, Tom helped create the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance, an industry organization committed to promoting best practices. Tom co-founded Native with the firm belief that business can be good for the environment, and that we can all do well by doing good. Tom lives with his wife Stephanie, their son Ryan, and their dogs and cat on a farm bordering the Green Mountain National Forest, where he and his family raise chickens and got so tired of weeding they now support local farm stands. He is an enthusiastic fisherman, and enjoys crafting furniture in his barn woodshop.

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Kevin Hackett

VP, MARKET STRATEGY & ENGAGEMENT

Kevin’s goal is to understand and help define the evolving environmental, social and economic needs of our clients and then match those needs with the value delivered by Native’s projects. Kevin leads the client development side of Native’s business and also works closely with our project development team. During his time here, Kevin has climbed a wind turbine, quantified the emissions from hundreds of businesses and events, developed strategies with sustainability leaders and spent far too much time thinking about cow manure. Kevin is a graduate of Champlain College. When he is not working, Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife and two children. Kevin stays active by biking to work and skiing.

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Kirsten McKnight

SENIOR DIRECTOR, GLOBAL ORIGINATION

Kirsten has a Biology degree from the University of Montana and was teaching high school science before joining Native in 2011. She has worked in client relationships for Native but now works exclusively on project origination and management, focusing on carbon sequestration projects. In this role, she vets new opportunities, originates new projects, and sees the development through to managing the carbon asset over the project lifetime. In Vermont, Montana, or anywhere else her travels take her, Kirsten likes to ski, hike, bike, or run followed by a draft brew with friends. She and her husband, James live in Burlington with their son, Matthew, and daughter, Adelaide.

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Jonny Bearcub Stiffarm

DIRECTOR, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Jonny, an enrolled member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Nation, is the business development manager for Native. She brings a wealth of experience in negotiation, small business development, contracts, and leadership. She served in Mayor Wellington Webb's administration as the deputy director of the Mayor's Office of Contract Compliance for both the city and Denver International Airport and as his Native American Indian liaison to the local, regional, and national Indian Nation entities. She received her undergraduate from Brigham Young University and a juris doctorate from the University of Minnesota School of Law.

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Nell Achtmeyer

VICE PRESIDENT, PROJECT DEVELOPMENT AND DELIVERY

Nell came to Native with a background in business development, project management, and implementing sustainability strategies for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Nell is passionate about innovative financial solutions and partnerships that fund projects to scale regenerative agriculture practices, sustainable forest management, and broader solutions to mitigate climate change. As VP, Project Development and Delivery, Nell is responsible for Native's project portfolio from sourcing to delivery. She directs Native's talented team of technical and project-focused professionals to deliver on Native's climate action goals. Nell is originally from Boston and first moved to Vermont to earn her B.A. from Middlebury College. She also holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and an MELP from Vermont Law School. She is excited to be back in New England after several years living and working on the Big Island of Hawaii.

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Dave Rapaport

VP, GLOBAL GRASSLANDS PROGRAM
Dave Rapaport leads the scale-up of Native’s pathbreaking regenerative grazing projects. He has been a mission driven changemaker for over 40 years spanning the business, non-profit, and government
sectors. Before coming to Native in 2022, he was the Global Social Mission Officer for Ben & Jerry’s, leading the company’s commitment to be a force for good, including sustainability programs. Dave was previously Vice President of Earth and Community Care for the pioneering natural beauty company, Aveda, and was Sr. Director of Corporate Consciousness with Seventh Generation, the leading maker of green household care products. Dave learned first-hand about the challenges posed by climate change-induced extreme weather events when he was appointed by Vermont’s governor to lead the state’s recovery from tropical storm Irene, the state’s largest natural disaster in 80 years. His experience also includes business and project development in the renewable energy industry. Before joining the business world, Dave spent two decades in the public policy arena in roles such as Executive Director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group and various senior staff positions with the environmental
organization, Greenpeace.
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Jenna Pugliese

DIRECTOR, MARKET STRATEGY & ENGAGEMENT

Born and raised in our neighboring state, New York, Jenna graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a BA in Economics.  While she does love numbers, she realized quickly that sustainability was not only her passion but could be a meaningful profession.  Jenna started her sustainability career in Southern Vermont creating award winning environmental programs for Stratton Mountain Resort.  Her experience in snowmaking, lifts, and other efficiency took her on a path to Program Management at Efficiency Vermont where she oversaw the Efficient Products portfolio.  Now at Native she joins the team, as Director of Programs, to implement and expand projects to generate meaningful and scalable carbon reduction projects and strategies.

While not at work Jenna enjoys volunteering at King Street Center, participating on the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, cross country and downhill skiing (sometimes even trying her hand at a biathlon), boating,  floating, and adventuring.

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Claire Lafave

MANAGER, PROJECT DEVELOPMENT & ORIGINATION

Claire comes to Native with experience developing sustainability strategies for CPG companies, real asset investment firms, and nonprofits focused on nature-based solutions. She is passionate about investing in farmers and natural resource managers to help them transition to regenerative and climate-friendly practices. Claire grew up in Washington DC, spending summers with her grandparents in Vermont. She holds a B.A. in English and Environmental Studies from Williams College and an M.B.A. and Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Management and the Yale School of Environment. In her free time, Claire loves to hike, rock climb, practice yoga, and garden.

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Jennifer Gerholdt

DIRECTOR, MARKET STRATEGY & ENGAGEMENT

Jennifer Gerholdt is Director of Client Strategy, working with companies to advance their sustainability strategies through climate action and ecosystem services projects and impact investments. Jennifer has over 15 years of experience working with private and public sectors on building and leading transformative strategies, programs, and stakeholder relationships that create business and social value, encompassing topics including energy and climate change, responsible forestry, circular economy, and water stewardship. Prior to Native, Jennifer served as Director of Corporate Engagement at the We Mean Business coalition, where she oversaw the coalition's strategy, initiatives, campaigns and partnerships to accelerate corporate climate leadership. Jennifer has also held positions at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Conservation International, and World Wildlife Fund, working alongside the private sector to accelerate positive impact on sustainability and climate issues. Jennifer has a Master's degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy from The Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor's degree in Biology from New Mexico State University. Jennifer lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia outside of Washington DC, with her husband Rhys and their dog Amber. In her free time Jennifer enjoys hiking, kayaking, biking, traveling, and reading.

Photo by Jason Dixson Photography. www.jasondixson.com

Emily Gaynor

DIRECTOR, PEOPLE & CULTURE

Emily joins the Native team with a background in social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, and sustainable business, and has worked with CPG companies, Certified B Corporations, and national and international nonprofits. She is passionate about making businesses into sustainable and collaborative organizations for all stakeholders, and knows people are the most valuable asset to enduring sustainability. Emily strives to bring this to life in her work through engagement, education, and iteration. Emily holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MA from SIT Graduate Institute.

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Meredith Kielman

MANAGER, ACCOUNTING OPERATIONS

Meredith joins Native with previous administrative experience in Office Management and IT. Meredith specializes in prioritization, multi-tasking and enjoys streamlining systems for efficiency.  Born and raised in Australia, Meredith moved to the US in 2010 and ended up in Vermont after stints in Texas and Colorado.  Meredith enjoys engaging in all aspects of the business to help set colleagues up for success. While not at work Meredith enjoys spending time with her family, fundraising for the 52 Kids Foundation, traveling, hiking, and finding watering holes.

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Jacob Breslin

ACCOUNTING & PROJECT ANALYST

During his time as an undergrad at Penn State, Jacob quickly learned he needed to use his finance degree and business background to do as much good as possible. After a few years working Americorps positions and Business Management roles at small non-profits, Jacob is excited to be continuing his career focusing on environmental impact with Native. As The Accounting and Project Analyst Jacob drives change and provides value through data and financial management and by creating workflow efficiencies. His passion for the environment and community began during his quest for Eagle Scout in his hometown, Vista, NY, and is reinforced every time he steps out for a challenging hike, skis through some glades, or bikes to a new destination.

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Kyle O'Keefe

MANAGER, ASSET MANAGEMENT

As an Asset Management Analyst, Kyle assists in Native's carbon offset projects in both the voluntary and compliance markets. With a focus on soil carbon, Kyle is responsible for the monitoring, validation and verification processes of projects in addition to risk assessment during initial project development phases.

Kyle was born and raised in NYC and received his B.S. in Earth Science with a focus on climate science from the University of California, Santa Barbara. After working in the fields of geoengineering and environmental compliance, Kyle is excited to be in the carbon offset space. When Kyle isn’t analyzing and managing projects in Native’s portfolio, he enjoys exploring the outdoors, traveling to experience cultures and foods, and spending time with his partner, Olivia, and their fur family of two dogs and a cat.

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Yiling Yin

MANAGER, ASSET MANAGEMENT

Yiling's passion for environmental justice and mission-driven organizations brought her to Native, where she serves as an asset management analyst. She is responsible for supporting a diverse array of projects in Native's portfolio, including renewable energy, dairy farm waste management systems, forestry, and water filtration technology.

Prior to joining the team, Yiling has worked in conducting frontline investigations of dysfunctional environmental governance settings and impacted value chains. She has also covered multiple roles across data analytics, project management, supply chain analysis, and policy research. With an academic background in Economics and International Relations, Yiling holds a Master's degree in Environmental Policy from the University of Cambridge. She lives in Chicago, where she enjoys making time-lapse videos of Lake Michigan, celebrating good bike rides with breakfast food, and drawing her dog Rothko with pen and ink.

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Gabriela Jorge

PROJECT MANAGER, NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS

Gabriela has a B.S. degree in Forest Engineering from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and a certificate in Wetland Science and Management from the University of Washington. She joined the carbon market world in 2011, and has developed carbon projects of various types, including REDD+, Afforestation/Reforestation, Biomass, Biogas, Wind Farms, Small Hydropower Plants, and others.

Gabriela brings to Native her experience and passion for creating sustainable solutions and promoting positive social impact. Before joining the team, Gabriela worked for an international traveling high school, helping spark interest among students to science, environment, and social issues while traveling the world. She also co-founded a local environmental non-profit and started and ran her own commercial flooring business in Oregon, where she resides.

She enjoys kiteboarding, mountain biking, surfing, snowboarding, and taking off in her camper van to explore the outdoors around the Pacific Northwest.

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Erik Rieger

MANAGER, SOIL CARBON & LANDSCAPE SCIENCE

As a Soil Carbon Project Analyst, Erik helps assess, develop, and manage the technical aspects of Native’s soil carbon projects. Prior to joining Native, Erik conducted geospatial research for nonprofit organizations, led campaigns as a community organizer, and farmed for several years. He is passionate about fostering climate resilience through soil resources, conservation, and food systems.

Erik holds a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) and certificate in Geospatial Analysis from Duke University and a B.A. in Philosophy from Colorado College. Though he has called Wyoming and Colorado home, he is currently based in Maine. In his free time, Erik loves to climb, surf, run, garden, and bake bread.

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Colin Mitchell

PROJECT MANAGER, NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS

Colin comes to Native with experience managing regenerative agriculture projects and providing farmers, ranchers, and agroforesters with technical assistance to improve ecosystem services. Colin is driven by his passion of working with agricultural producers and land managers to adopt and scale regenerative agriculture practices, sequester carbon, and foster environmental and financial resilience.

Colin was born and raised in the Texas Hill Country and holds a B.A. in Government with a minor in Geography and the Environment from the University of Texas. After college he spent time developing pragmatic skills by completing a yearlong internship at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and working on or managing farms and ranches in Texas, California, and Oregon. Prior to joining Native, Colin worked for the National Center for Appropriate Technology as a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist for several years. Colin is based in San Antonio, TX and in his free time enjoys hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, traveling, cooking and spending time with his partner Sarah and their dog Hugo.

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Tara Povalish

ANALYST, GRASSLANDS PROGRAM
As an Analyst for the Northern Great Plains Grasslands Program, Tara helps develop, maintain, and manage grazing plans, maps, reports, and other key project data. She works directly with participating ranchers in Montana to collect and manage reporting data, supports and facilitates access to improved ranching management resources, and oversees adherence to program objectives.
She earned a B.S. in Animal Science, Livestock Management and Industry from Montana State University. Before joining Native, she worked in the Montana agriculture industry and is excited to combine her agriculture background and passion for sustainability for the Northern Great Plains Improved Grazing Carbon Project. In her free time she enjoys riding her horse, fly fishing, hiking, and home decor.
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Dar Gibson

DIGESTER PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Growing up traveling and living overseas gave Dar an intense curiosity about the cultural and physical geography of our planet. That curiosity led him to get involved in operating a variety of science projects, exploring not just our world but also the universe around us. This includes more than 20 years in the U.S. Antarctic Program where he helped scientists make discoveries in areas like marine biology, astrophysics, glaciology, microbiology and geology. Dar has also worked in renewable energy, trying to understand how we can reduce political conflict around global energy supply and lessen our impact on the planet. Most relevant to his work at Native, Dar worked on the biodigester at Vermont Technical College in Randolph, VT where he learned about the technology and biology of anaerobic digesters and the myriad potential applications for farmers.  Change starts locally and he is excited to be working with the farming community.
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Samantha Cohen

ANALYST, CARBON PROJECTS

Sam’s passion for conservation and economic solutions to climate change led her to Native where she supports projects through data-driven analysis. Trained as an economist with a background in public policy research, Sam previously worked in government and nonprofits on issues at the nexus of agriculture and the environment. Sam brings her skillset to Native where she analyzes and standardizes project activities through all stages of development to maximize impact for climate action and sustainable development.

Sam holds an M.S. and a B.S. in Economics from KU Leuven and American University, respectively. Sam grew up in Vermont and enjoyed living in Washington, DC, and Belgium before landing in Southern California. While not at work, you can find her surfing, hiking with her two dogs, or snapping photographs.

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Mike Green

DIRECTOR, CARBON MARKETS

Mike Joins the Native team as an expert on carbon market policy and with a background in project development. Over the past 10 years, Mike has dedicated his work to advancing ambitious climate policies at the local, federal and international level. As the Climate and Energy Director for the American Sustainable Business Network, Mike worked closely with their leading brands to support winning advocacy campaigns. Previously, Mike served as the Executive Director of Climate XChange, a Boston based organization focused on providing research and technical support for the development of carbon pricing policies and market development. As the Director of Carbon Markets, Mike leads the origination of opportunities for Native to acquire credits from, or otherwise meaningfully support, climate action projects of distinction that align with Native’s strategy and complement our active project portfolio. Working with our partners, Mike provides insights to the full Native team on overall market trends and opportunities.

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Jack Tierney

ANALYST, GEOSPATIAL ANALYSIS

Jack is a GIS Project Analyst who assists the team in developing and managing the technical aspects of Native's soil carbon projects. Prior to joining Native, he worked as an undergraduate researcher studying alpine tree species' resilience to climate change during college. In his professional career, Jack has worked as an environmental scientist, performing wetland delineation across the Midwest. He is committed to building resilient food systems, supporting Montana ranchers, and producing result-driven climate solutions.

Jack graduated from Montana State University with a major in Environmental Studies and a Minor in Spanish. Though originally from Minnesota, he is currently based in Montana. In his free time, Jack enjoys hiking, skiing, cooking, backpacking, and playing hockey.

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Carter Morley

ANALYST, GEOSPATIAL ANALYSIS
Carter was born and raised in Anaconda, Montana. A wonderful town nestled in the heart of the Rockies, a trail town on the Continental Divide Trail, and part of the largest superfund complex in the US. Carter received a BS in Environmental Science and Sustainability and a certificate in Geographic Information Systems from the University of Montana. His previous work experience includes mapping wetlands for the NWI dataset. Spending a summer in the Glaciated Plains of northeastern Montana stream sampling for UM and MTDEQ. Most recently, he worked as a staff scientist for an environmental engineering and consulting firm, primarily working on wetland delineations and assisting with environmental permitting.
Carter enjoys trail running, hiking, fly fishing, and cartography. His newest hobby is cycling.
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Sara Klausner

BUSINESS SUPPORT GENERALIST
As Native’s Business Support Generalist, Sara manages the Burlington office, bolsters the company’s sustainability initiatives, supports the lifecycle of the employee experience, and coordinates all of the logistics that lie in between. Acting as a hub of resources and organizational flow, she gets to be connected to all facets of Native’s work. Sara comes equipped with a degree in Environmental Studies from Northeastern University, hands-on experience in sustainable agriculture research, and time spent in nonprofit sectors advancing goals from affordable clean energy to immigrant rights. She is passionate about adopting climate solutions that create healthy communities and landscapes capable of competing with the fossil-fuel industrial complex. When she is not at work, you can find her out rock climbing, playing card games with her partner, or walking through wooded trails with her beloved companion, Juniper.
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Marty Bode

DATA ENGINEER
Marty joins Native as its first Data Engineer with 8 years experience in similar roles. Having worked in a variety of industries including with companies focused on geospatial data and as an early employee at multiple startups, he is looking forward to applying a broad range of technical expertise to help scale Native's operations. Marty will be focused on the project portfolio at Native, providing technical, and supporting non-technical, solutions to expand Native's data system and architecture to enable collaboration, efficiency, and integrity. Marty reports to the VP, Project Development and Origination.
Marty holds an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Purdue University and a B.S. in Applied Physics from Linfield College. After growing up in smaller cities in Washington State and Oregon, he lived in Portland, OR for 10 years before recently moving to Philadelphia. When he is not exploring local restaurants or sampling local breweries, Marty is an outdoor enthusiast regularly biking, hiking, or snowboarding.
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Santiago Rico

ANALYST, ASSET MANAGEMENT
After spending summers in high school working at his mother's non-profit, Santi developed a deep-rooted sense of social activism. He understood that his career would take him someplace to do good. After obtaining his Economics degree from Carleton College, Santi made it his mission to mix his passion for social justice with his liberal arts education. He has worked with purpose-driven organizations in Latin America and Europe focused on increasing access to education and reducing inequality, realizing that business-driven impact is crucial to changing the world we live in. Santi's belief in this principle is what led him to Native, a place that prioritizes the protection of not only our environment, but our collective future. Santi is excited to further develop his technical skill set and provide project support for Native's much-needed environmental initiatives. In his free time, Santi enjoys traveling, exploring nature, cooking and trying new foods.

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