Meet the Native Team
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.
Tom StoddardEXECUTIVE 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.
Kevin HackettVP, 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.
Kirsten McKnightDIRECTOR, NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS
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.
Jonny Bearcub StiffarmDIRECTOR OF 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.
Nell AchtmeyerVICE PRESIDENT, PROJECT DEVELOPMENT AND ORIGINATION
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 Director of Project Development, Nell is responsible for assessing, developing, and executing new carbon reduction projects for Native’s clients and their unique climate strategies. 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.
Dave RapaportVP, GLOBAL GRASSLANDS PROGRAM
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
Aaron ShavitzSENIOR SUSTAINABILITY ANALYST
Aaron conducts research into greenhouse gas reduction technologies in order to identify new opportunities that Native can provide for its clients. Aaron graduated from the University of Vermont as an honors scholar, with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a minor in Statistics. Prior to joining Native, Aaron worked as a database manager in the outdoor retail industry, a writing tutor, and a sea kayaking guide. Aaron lives in downtown Burlington, and enjoys running, paddling, and skiing to stay active.
Jenna PuglieseDIRECTOR, CLIENT STRATEGY
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.
Claire LafaveMANAGER, 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.
Jennifer GerholdtDIRECTOR OF CLIENT STRATEGY
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.
Sarang MurthyMANAGER OF CLIENT STRATEGY
Client success and climate innovation are what drive Sarang. A trained Economist, he holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Vermont and a master's degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Harnessing data to realize ambitious climate goals is at the core of his consultative approach to strategic road-mapping. Sarang has worked with several companies, from micro-lenders to technology giants, in shaping their sustainability futures. He now lives in Austin, where he misses the snow dearly. His hobbies have expanded, however, and he now collects and sends postcards, explores Austin's many watering holes, cooks for loved ones, and is expanding his yoga practice.
Emily GaynorDIRECTOR, 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.
Meredith KielmanMANAGER, ACCOUNTING OPERATIONS
Meredith joins Native as the Business Administrator. Born and raised in Australia, Meredith moved to the US in 2010 and has ended up in Vermont after stints in Texas and Colorado. With previous administrative experience in Office Management and IT, Meredith specializes in prioritization, multi-tasking and enjoys streamlining systems for efficiency. 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.
Jacob BreslinACCOUNTING AND 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.
Kyle O'KeefeMANAGER, 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.
Yiling YinMANAGER, 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.
Gabriela JorgePROJECT 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.
Erik RiegerMANAGER, 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.
Colin MitchellPROJECT 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.
Tara PovalishANALYST, GRASSLANDS PROGRAM
Dar GibsonDIGESTER PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Mary IgnatiadisMANAGER, PROJECT DEVELOPMENT & ORIGINATION
Mary’s excitement for community-centered, innovative climate action led her to Native in 2022, where she assesses and develops catalytic climate technology projects. She brings research, non-profit, and private sector experience at the intersection of supply chain sustainability and community development. In her previous role, she developed decarbonization and climate risk assessment strategies for one of the world’s largest forest and agriculture land managers.
Mary holds a B.A. in Geosciences from Williams College and an M.S. in Forest Policy & Economics from the University of Maine. She continues to reside in Maine, and spends much of her free time exploring New England’s remote and mountainous corners with her partner and their three dogs.
Samantha CohenANALYST, 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.
Mike GreenDIRECTOR, 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.
Jack TierneyANALYST, 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.