Sustainability Summit 2022 Speakers
Michael Baute is the Director of Regenerative Energy and Land Management at Silicon Ranch Corporation. He is responsible for developing and implementing Silicon Ranch’s Regenerative Energy® platform, a utility scale Agrivoltaics development and operations program converting lands housing utility-scale solar power plants to dual-use terrestrial carbon sinks by co-locating solar energy production with regenerative agriculture. Michael has over 15 years of diverse land and resource management experience across various ecosystems and land use types, coupled with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and formal training in soil science.
Having worked in the legal industry and successfully managed community-based reform efforts, Tiffany has created a reputation as a powerful advocate for equity and racial justice. Her advocacy for the issues for which she advocates is grounded in my personal experiences. Her passion and life’s purpose for this work can’t be replicated.
Serving as the first Equity and Implementation Officer for the City of Lexington charged with building out and implementing the recommendations on the Mayor’s Commission on Race, Justice and Equality. Prior to this, she advocates for equity through a lens of racial and social justice at the Center for Social Justice at the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio. As a social justice advocate, she believes that it is imperative for community-based reformers and institutional policy makers to work together to achieve sustainable and meaningful solutions.
A true consensus builder and passionate connection maker, Tiffany has a talent for communicating to multiple stakeholders and helping synthesize multiple perspectives to come up with a shared vision and set of goals. Her dedication to public service and advocacy, as well as her gift for telling the story and narrative of her practice and life’s work in a connected, authentic way that resonates with audiences, is fueled by her own lived experience and triumphs and the countless stories of people who continue to be unfairly met with systemic barriers.
Tiffany’s past professional and personal experiences have ignited within her a passion for being intentional in her work and created an unrelenting desire to be an agent of change. She routinely engages in thought leadership and partnerships surrounding her deep commitment to empowering all people to develop their own voice and be their own agents of change.
Molly Crain is a recent graduate of University of Kentucky College of Law where her primary focus has been criminal justice reform. From Flemingsburg, Kentucky she is largely interested in the rural-urban parallels of community health neglect and destabilization, and how to begin restoration endeavors. Molly also cares greatly about the need for interdisciplinary work in bureaucratic institutions, having a M.A. in Communication, Culture, and Technology from Georgetown University, and a B.A. from Transylvania University in Writing, Rhetoric, and Communication. She lives with her partner, Robbie Fenton and cat Luna on the Northside.
Adam Edelen is a dynamic leader with a demonstrated record of accomplishment in both the private and public sectors.
He is the founder of Edelen Strategic Ventures (dba Edelen Renewables), a Kentucky-based development firm driving a number of projects, primarily in the solar energy and technology arenas.
Edelen garnered significant attention for structuring an innovative partnership of a leading coal company with a global renewable energy giant. The partnership proposes the largest solar installation in Appalachia, built by out-of-work coal miners on a mountaintop removal site. The proposed project has been featured globally, from CNN and SkyTV to Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
As a chief of staff to a former Kentucky governor and later as the state’s elected state auditor, Edelen has earned a reputation as a modernizer and reformer in government. His efforts have resulted in prison terms for corrupt politicians and school administrators, uncovered fraud and abuse in Kentucky’s nearly $3billion system of “Ghost Government” taxing districts, and the testing of more than 3,000 previously unaccounted for rape kits.
The press has described him as “a man on a mission” and “a refreshing example”, his leadership “dazzlingly bipartisan” and “excellent and courageous.”
It’s a record that has won state and national recognition. He has been named the Outstanding Young Kentuckian and one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans by the United States Junior Chamber Commerce. The latter is among the most prestigious youth service awards and previous honorees include presidents Kennedy, Ford, Nixon, and Clinton. More recently he has been honored by the Aspen Institute, the German Marshall Fund, and the Kentucky Rural Health Association. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky.
Tom FitzGerald (“Fitz”) was Director of the Kentucky Resources Council from 1984 – 2021. KRC is a non-profit environmental advocacy organization providing free legal, strategic and policy assistance to individuals, organizations and communities concerning environmental quality, resource extraction, energy, and utility issues.
Fitz received his Juris Doctor from the UK College of Law in 1980 (Order of the Coif) and was a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow with the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky from 1980-1982. He is an alumnus of Roger Williams College (now University), Bristol, Rhode Island with a B.A. in American Studies with distinction.
Fitz has been a lowly Adjunct Professor of Energy and Environmental Law at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville since 1986 and has published a number of articles.
He received the Environmental Quality Commission Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002; the Henry R. Heyburn Public Service Award from the UK College of Law in 2003, the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission Biological Diversity Award in 2003, the inaugural Professional Achievement Award from the University of Kentucky College of Law Alumni Association in 2008, the 14th Heinz Award in the Environment Category in 2008, and the Brennan-Haly Award from the University of Louisville Department of Political Science in 2012. Kentucky Bar Association Donated Legal Services Award in 2021.
He has been a fixture in the halls of the Kentucky General Assembly since 1978.
Valerie Friedmann is a Long Range Senior Planner and Greenspace Planner for the LFUCG Division of Planning. Her work focuses on local planning and policy to increase environmental resiliency and equitable access to parks and greenspace. Valerie is a member of Reimagining the Civic Commons (RCC), a national network bringing together practitioners, policymakers, and advocates advancing critical strategies for getting the most out of our public spaces and civic infrastructure. She represents Lexington on the RCC Place Driving Equity working group, which in 2020 published “An Evidence-based Action Guide on the Role of Public Space for Shared Prosperity.” Valerie holds a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Tennessee.
Claire Hilbrecht is a recent graduate of the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences program at UK. For the past two years, she has been working with the Urban Forest Initiative (UFI) and The Arboretum on their climate adaptation projects to prepare our urban forests for our changing climate, first as an undergraduate intern and now as a full-time project coordinator. She has worked extensively in Lexington residential neighborhoods and at The Arboretum inventorying trees and analyzing her findings to help direct the future management of our urban forests to enhance climate resilience. She is leading a similar effort in Lexington public parks this summer. Claire will be attending UK again in the fall as a Master’s student in the Department of Geography.
Brooks Lamb is the Program Associate & Special Assistant to the President at American Farmland Trust. He works on an assortment of programs and projects across the nation, paying special attention to AFT’s efforts in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. He spends some of his time on issues related to solar in rural communities, and he has done extensive stakeholder engagement around the topic in Kentucky. He has also researched and written about “agrivoltaics,” or farming and producing solar energy on the same land area. Brooks grew up on a 75-acre family farm in Tennessee, and he has a book coming out next year on small and mid-sized farmers’ stewardship in the face of adversity.
Amanda LeFevre has been with the Department For Environmental Protection since 2006 spending a majority of that time in the Division of Compliance Assistance and its Brownfield Program before serving as the Division’s Assistance Director then Director. In 2021 Amanda took on the role of Deputy Commissioner for the Department. She served as the Chair of the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials’ (ASTSWMO) Brownfield Focus Group and Vice-Chair of the CERCLA and Brownfields Subcommittee. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Brescia University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Kentucky. Amanda is a Kentucky native originally from Falls of Rough, Ky. She resides in Lexington with her husband, John.
Shayla D. Lynch, J.D.
Ms. Lynch is a proud native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky and is a 1997 graduate of Hopkinsville High School. Ms. Lynch is a 2001 graduate of Centre College in Danville, Kentucky where she earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Government, and she is also a 2004 graduate of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville where she earned a Juris Doctorate degree.
After law school, Ms. Lynch began her professional career with the Lexington Fair Housing Council, Incorporated. For 15 years, Ms. Lynch fought for housing equality for all Kentuckians. She advocated for victims of housing discrimination, educated the public regarding Fair Housing laws and was a valuable resource for housing best practices in Kentucky. She proudly served on the Neighborhoods in Transition Task Force for the city of Lexington, appointed by Mayor Jim Gray.
Because fair and affordable Housing continues to be a passion for Ms. Lynch she is currently a proud board member with Lexington’s Habitat for Humanity, currently is serving on a work group that is reviewing Lexington’s city planning processes, and co-chaired the Housing and Gentrification Subcommittee of the Mayor’s Commission for Racial Justice and Equality.
Ms. Lynch is currently the Executive Director of Ampersand Sexual Violence Resource Center of the Bluegrass, Incorporated. At Ampersand Ms. Lynch leads a dynamic team of staff, staff advocates and volunteers as they provide services in seventeen Kentucky counties to survivors of sexual violence and their families. Ms. Lynch currently serves on Lexington’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Board and is an active board member with the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs.
Ms. Lynch has been involved in several professional and community organizations throughout Lexington and Central Kentucky. She formerly served on the Fayette County Public School’s Equity Council and is currently serving on the Ethics Commission for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. She is a past board member of the Lexington League of Women Voters and currently serves on the Social Services Advisory Commission for the city Lexington. Ms. Lynch is a member of the Lexington Urban League Young Professionals, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and is a 2019 graduate of Leadership Lexington (the BEST class to graduate). She was also recently appointed to the Property Tax Appeals Board for the city of Lexington.
As working with young people is a passion of hers, Ms. Lynch also regularly volunteers with the Junior Achievement program and also serves on the Program Advisory Committee for Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass.
When not working in the community, Ms. Lynch enjoys exercising—her favorite form of self-care.
Dr. Priscilla McCutcheon
Dr. McCutcheon is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Geography and affiliated with African American and Africana Studies. She completed her MA and PhD at the University of Georgia and her BA with honors at Spelman College. Much of her work has been with Black faith-based food programs in the U.S. South. She recently completed a project on the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), a historic Black middle and upper middle-class organization that had a widespread hunger and health campaign during the Civil Rights and Black Power movement. She is increasingly interested in Black spiritual and religious geographies and the ways in which the “spirit” is used to conceptualize space and place, particularly in the U.S. South. Dr. McCutcheon, along with Dr. Ellen Kohl, is working on a project with Black church food workers in South Carolina, where they categorize their important, but often overlooked work, as food justice activism. While at the University of Louisville, she and Dr. Kohl hosted a race, environment, and spirituality conference where they brought together scholars, activists, and faith leaders to provide commentary on the powerful and controversial role of spirituality and religion in environmental activism.
Sarah Ming, an upcoming graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, is driven by her passion for environmental justice and educational equity. In 2018, she set herself on a mission to tackle the fossil fuel crisis surrounding her community, swearing to fight the stigma that remains with renewable energy resources. This journey began with her creation of a National Green Schools Society chapter at her school, an organization that has empowered her and her peers to speak out and showcase their passions for sustainability in an educational setting. She’s committed to creating a clean and eco-friendly school environment and learning how to instill eco-conscious practices into the student body. Sarah’s journey with the Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council (BYSC) has propelled her to becoming the advocate she is now. After founding the Solar Energy Committee on this council, she partnered with the National Sierra Club, Kentucky Utilities, and Lexmark: raising $18,000+ to bring solar panel benches to her local middle and high schools. As a Student Facilitator, she currently leads BYSC students in developing sustainable projects all across Lexington, empowering them to never settle and never take “no” as the final answer. She will continue her fight for environmental justice at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall.
Steve Ricketts is the owner of Generation Solar, a consulting company with a focus on enabling rapid community, non-profit and municipal solar deployment across our region. Thru end 2021 he was the General Manager and co-owner of Solar Energy Solutions (SES), Kentucky’s largest solar engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company which is responsible for over 60% of current statewide residential and commercial solar installs. SES has nearly 3000 operating solar arrays or energy storage systems in Kentucky and the six surrounding states and has executed projects at both residential, community, commercial and small utility scale up to 5 MW+ in size.
Prior to SES Steve was the Chief Innovation & Technology Officer for Yum! Brands 112 country international division.
Steve holds a degree in Earth Sciences from Reading University (UK) and a post-graduate diploma in Agricultural Engineering from Cranfield Institute of Technology (UK).
Megan Schargorodski is the Interim Director of the Kentucky Climate Center and State Climatologist for Kentucky. She has a BS in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma and an MS in Homeland Security Sciences with a concentration in Emergency Management-Disaster Science from Western Kentucky University. Megan has nearly 20 years of experience working with weather networks including 15 years with the Kentucky Mesonet. Her research interests lie in meteorological instrumentation and applied climatology/meteorology with applications in disaster science and the emergency management process.
Christine Smith is the Executive Director of Seedleaf. Trained academically as a geographer, she has been with Seedleaf since 2017. Her gardening experience is rooted in the sub-tropics of Florida where she grew up and her grandmother’s Kingston garden and menagerie filled with ginep, breadfruit, pomegranates, scotch bonnet peppers, fish, pigeons, chickens and stray dogs. She is most proud of her title as ‘Ambassador of Flowers’. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kenya Stump is the Executive Director of the Office of Energy Policy within Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet. Before leading the Office, Kenya served as the Assistant Director for Renewable Energy. Her prior work in environmental protection involved managing the environmental assistance programs at the Cabinet including environmental leadership, brownfields, and compliance assistance. She also served as environmental scientist and policy advisor for the Director’s Office at the Division for Air Quality. Prior to moving to the state, she served as an environmental consultant with the Kentucky Business Environmental Assistance Program at the University of Kentucky. Kenya has master’s degrees in Environmental Science and Public Administration from Indiana University and the University of Kentucky, respectively. She also holds a post-graduate certificate in Environmental Systems and graduated from Western Kentucky University with a Bachelors degree in Chemistry.
Larry Taylor is the Executive Advisor in the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs and assists with legislative, policy, and technical issues for the cabinet. Prior to joining the Secretary’s Office, Larry worked for the Department for Environmental Protection from 1994 until 2021 and served in several roles for the department including human health and ecological risk assessor, Director of the Division of Compliance Assistance, and as science and policy advisor to the Commissioner and the Department on high profile, multimedia or cross-program projects that often involve multiple divisions. His education is from the University of Kentucky with a BS in Biology and a Master of Science in Biology with emphasis in toxicology and ecology. In his roles in the department for Environmental Protection, Larry served as Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) coordinator, environmental justice coordinator, Quality Assurance Manager, departmental legislative contact, worked on public health outreach and nutrient reduction, and has represented the department or cabinet on various committees, task forces, and work groups to advance environmental protection in the Commonwealth. He continues to serve or assist in some of those roles. He also represents the cabinet on the Kentucky Emergency Response Commission and the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center Board of Directors.
Clay Turner recently graduated from UK with a B.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Science. He decided to return to school in 2020 after practicing as an attorney for several years. While a student, Clay worked with Dr. Chris Sass of UK’s Urban Forest Initiative researching the associations between the historical practice of redlining and the unequal distribution of current tree canopy levels. He also conducted research with Dr. Ellen Crocker, Assistant Professor of Forest Health Extension at UK, on several projects, including one assessing mechanisms for monitoring the health of urban trees. Clay is passionate about conserving natural areas and seeking environmental justice and is pursuing a career dedicated toward these important issues.
Dr. Serenity Wright – Keynote
Dr. Serenity Wright earned her doctorate from the University of Kentucky in Policy, Measurement and Evaluation. Wright’s research interests include equity and access to opportunities. Dr. Wright employs a hard science approach through a lens of cultural competency for her theoretical orientation. She is passionate about advocating for those who struggle to access opportunities. She is a data driven, results oriented leader with 15 years of education, workforce readiness development, and policy and program development and evaluation experience. She currently serves as the Associate Director for Social Innovation with the Office of Technology Commercialization at University of Kentucky.
Mark Underwood is the lead Electrical Engineer for Lexmark Facilities. He holds a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kentucky. After 4 years working for the Department of Defense, he spent 19 years in product R&D at Lexmark before moving to his current position. Mark is the Lexmark project manager for their newly unveiled Solar Array project in Lexington, scheduled to be online in the spring of 2023.
Maya Meena Zachry
Maya Meena Zachry, 7, is a vivacious, articulate, and passionate ocean enthusiast. Her fight against plastic pollution began in 2018. She was touched by a video of a sea turtle crying in pain while rescuers tried to remove a plastic straw from its nose. At age 3, She was instantly called to action to launch her campaign against single use plastic straws. Maya’s response to a common question on why she wants to take action, “because I can, so I MUST!”
In the time following the launch of her campaign against single use plastic straws, she has had the opportunity of speaking at the Global Symposium on Waste Plastic in 2019, the 2019 annual gathering of the Sierra Club, and at a UK Sustainability event as well as the 2020 Bluegrass Greensource Sustainability Summit. Maya has been compelled to take action in her community beyond her environmental efforts that included planting 100 trees in Lexington, a donation drive for the V.A., an 18 5ks in 18 days fundraiser in support of FoodChain, a homemade apron sale for Seedleaf and Journi’s Hope. She answered a call to action and implores kids to join her. She has facilitated aid and support for causes close to her heart.
Maya, a third-grade student, frequently quotes Dr. Suess’ “The Lorax”: “Unless someone like YOU cares a whole awful lot, NOTHING is going to get better, It’s NOT.”
David Butler is the sustainability manager at Alltech. In this role, he helps set the company’s sustainability commitments and goals. He also ensures that Alltech continually finds innovative ways to be more sustainable across the more than 120 countries in which it operates. Butler previously worked in the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection on the cleanup of hazardous waste sites. He also runs a renewable energy and sustainability podcast called Clean Power Planet, and he founded a solar energy activism community called Solar Kentucky. Prior to his role as sustainability manager, he was the digital marketing manager at Alltech for more than nine years. He built the company’s online visibility through search engine optimization, social media interaction, and content marketing. Butler received bachelor’s degrees in economics and environmental geoscience from the University of Kentucky. He also received a master’s degree in geochemistry from the University of Kentucky. His graduate research focused on bioremediation of chlorinated solvents in wetland soils.
Tresine Logsdon spearheads sustainability for Fayette County Public Schools by facilitating districtwide and supporting school-based sustainability priorities in environmental literacy, building efficiency, solid waste and outdoor education. She serves teachers, principals and students through direct instruction, program implementation and community partner development. Tresine has over 20 years of experience in classroom instruction and district support services. Her most recent classroom instruction was at Henry Clay High School teaching AP Environmental Science and Biology. Tresine is married to Matthew Logsdon, a Language Arts teacher at Henry Clay High School, and they have two daughters.
Sustainability and environmental education have been Tresine’s passion since beginning her teaching career. She is inspired everyday by FCPS teacher leadership and students’ inherent enthusiasm for sustainability, innovative school improvement project ideas, and voracious desire to learn and do more.
Amy Sohner is the Executive Director of Bluegrass Greensource, a nonprofit environmental education organization serving Central Kentucky. She has been with the organization since its inception, and became director in 2006. She has a background in environmental education, and a degree in Natural Resource Conservation and Management from UK.
Amy is a Certified Environmental Educator, a graduate of the Leadership Lexington Program, a board member of both Bluegrass Tomorrow and Keep Lexington Beautiful, and the Chair of both Women Leading Kentucky and the Lexington Stormwater Stakeholder Advisory Committee. Her hobbies used to include camping, hiking, making stained glass and viewing the Kentucky River palisades from her deck, but now you will usually find her running after her two daughters: Audrey and Eleanor.
Shane is the Campus Sustainability Officer for the University of Kentucky. For the past 20 years, He has developed and managed interdisciplinary programs and policies with a focus on sustainability, transformational learning, and the use of the campus as a living laboratory. In pursuit of these efforts he has cultivated strong collaborations with colleagues in every corner of the University and community and through these relationships, he has helped develop a robust institutional culture of sustainability.