Meet the Native Team

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Jeff Bernicke


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 Stoddard


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.


Jennifer Cooper


Jennifer leads Native’s client strategy team, collaborating to understand each company’s unique needs and helping build solutions that deliver impact and results. Since 1998, Jennifer has been busy in corporate sustainability – from Volvo Car Corporation in Göteborg to Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey. Jennifer holds an M.S. from Lund University in Sweden and a B.S. from the University of Guelph in Canada. She has lived in both of those countries, as well as in Germany and Scotland. But she is currently trying out life in the USA with her husband and two young children in Pittsburgh, where the mountains are just rocky enough for racing her mountain bike, and just high enough for teaching her children to ski.


Kevin Hackett


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 McKnight


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 dog, Foster.


Jonny Bearcub Stiffarm


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.


Aaron Shavitz


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.


Nell Achtmeyer


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.


Jenna Pugliese


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


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


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 Murthy


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.

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Meredith Kielman


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.

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Jacob Breslin


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


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


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.


Erik Rieger


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.


Gabriela Jorge


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.


Ben Matthews


Ben comes to Native with a wealth of experience working with public and private sector partners to design ecologically-based solutions that tackle complex climate problems. Prior to working with Native, he spent 10 years in the non-profit conservation sector managing an array of restoration projects across the central and northern Appalachian range.

Ben holds a B.A. in Conservation Ecology from Sterling College in northern Vermont. He currently lives in coastal Maine, but has called Vermont, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire and West Virginia home. He enjoys sharing his passion for natural history and wild foraging with anyone he can convince to join him for a saunter through the woods!


Colin Mitchell


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.