Team and Culture
Our small but mighty team
Our small but mighty team
We are focused on creating impact through projects that inspire us while maintaining an inclusive, family culture. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we do take our work seriously and hold ourselves to a high professional standard.
We don’t live to work, we work to live, but we also get meaningful work done.
Executive Director, USGBC-LA
A native Angeleno, Ben Stapleton is a recognized sustainability leader who brings a creative mind and consultative approach to a wide range of projects with a focus on building teams and designing programs to deliver impactful results. His current work is based on coordinating an ecosystem leveraging the built environment as the entry point and connective fabric to help create a more sustainable society for all as Executive Director for the U.S. Green Building Council – Los Angeles.
In his time at USGBC-LA, he has strengthened the foundation of this leading, membership-based sustainability organization while developing and delivering a portfolio of community engagement and education focused programming centered on climate justice, high performance buildings, occupant health, corporate sustainability and regional resilience; establishing talent development and a people first philosophy as the pillars of the brand.
Previously, he launched and then managed the La Kretz Innovation Campus in Downtown LA while leading operations, finance, and major program initiatives for the LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI). The Campus has become an epicenter for sustainability in the region and an iconic green building for the City of LA, featuring events with prominent thought leaders, while being home to a community of cutting-edge businesses and nonprofits. During his time at LACI, the team worked with 80+ companies to raise $225M+ in funding, create 1,800+ jobs, and deliver $400M+ in long-term economic value for the City of LA.
His other work has included real estate advisory, energy efficiency consulting, facilities operations, site selection, and project management as well as business and strategy development for a wide range of companies and real estate investors. He serves on a number of boards where his talents and insight have proven invaluable in managing, negotiating, and executing on complex real estate projects while delivering technology startups and community engagement programs that exceed expectations.
He is a recipient of JLL’s distinctive Da Vinci Award for Innovation, the Los Angeles Business Council’s Community Impact Award, Stratiscope’s Impact Maker to Watch Award, and CoStar’s Power Broker designation in the Los Angeles market. Representing competing schools in Los Angeles, Stapleton holds a MBA from the USC Marshall School of Business as well as a Bachelors of Arts degree in Economics from UCLA. Ben is a LEED AP O+M, ENV SP, and WELL AP certified green building nerd driven by a connection to nature while being inspired by the people around him.
Director of Operations, USGBC-LA
Neal co-founded the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) which grew into a thriving global model for innovation during his 7-year tenure, helping 80+ companies raise $225M+ in funding, create 1,800+ jobs, and deliver $400M+ of long-term value for Los Angeles. Over 30 years, Neal has helped launch and grow dozens of projects and organizations with an overarching focus on net positive impact, including leadership roles at XPRIZE, Idealab, United States Artists, Livestream, and Street Poets. Neal is a native Los Angeleno, proud dad, nature nut, and incurably curious.
Training Coordinator, USGBC-LA
Makeeta Birdsong is the Training Coordinator at USGBC-LA and loves helping people reach their career goals. She has spent the majority of her career in the education and training industry, gaining experiences in areas such as project and event management, community outreach, leadership and career training, and course development. While training and mentoring others are her primary job functions by day, Makeeta also enjoys nature walks, event planning, and design.
Sr. Advisor, Training and Workforce Development, USGBC-LA
Stuart Cooley is Professor of Renewable Energies at Santa Monica College and the lead faculty of the Sustainable Technologies Program, where he teaches courses in solar energy and storage, energy efficiency, lighting, and sustainability. He has 30+ years of experience in consulting engineering, utility management, and municipal programs, before academia. He has a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Hawaii, with a Certificate in Renewable Energy Engineering, and a bachelor’s degree in Physical Science from the University of Maryland-College Park.
Julie Du Brow
Director, Communications & Partnerships, USGBC-LA
Julie serves as Director, Communications & Partnerships for the Chapter. She has been with the Chapter for over a decade, including serving as Interim Executive Director, and as a longtime volunteer with the Westside Branch. She is dedicated to addressing climate change through a sustainable, equitable and resilient built environment by sharing stories of impactful education and community programs and policies, and by nurturing partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders. Since 2003, Julie has worked providing support to manufacturers, and for- and non-profit changemaker clients who are helping create a more sustainable society.
Corporate Sustainability and Events Manager, USGBC-LA
Becky brings 15+ years of varied management and events experience to USGBC-LA. With an ongoing goal of working with organizations and projects that will have a positive impact on the community and planet, she launched BE+, a creative consulting agency in 2017. Since then, she has worked with amazing organizations including, The City of Santa Monica, Plug in South LA, Fika Ventures, The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and now USGBC-LA. Her role as Corporate Sustainability and Events Manager has allowed her to bring her strong management skill set and passion for the environment together to tackle her true goal, saving this beautiful planet she loves so much!
A native Angeleno, Becky’s happy place is in nature, especially the ocean. She is an avid surfer, hiker, triathlete, and gardener and enjoys exploring California and traveling to new places solo or with her young daughter Sierra and partner Alek.
Director of Development, USGBC-LA
Carrie Hester is a part of the USGBC-LA family as our Director of Development. With over 20 years of experience in program development and advancement, Carrie is passionate about people and the planet. She has served several organizations such as The Y to grow their fundraising and advancement strategy. As a former Starbucks partner, Carrie was a founding chair of Partners for Sustainability LACCAL building the infrastructure to provide education, fellowship, and community opportunities for baristas in sustainability. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Management and Master’s of Business Administration with a concentration in Digital Innovation and Information Systems from Pepperdine Graziadio Business School and currently studies sustainability at Harvard University. Carrie lives in Los Angeles with her family and enjoys all things related to coffee and the ocean.
Community Manager, USGBC-LA
Leah serves as the Community Manager at USGBC-LA. With more than six years of experience in both the nonprofit and private sectors, she brings skills in science communication, grants management, scientific research, and educational outreach. Leah recently moved to Los Angeles from Washington, D.C., where she coordinated with individuals at all levels of government to ensure projects drive comprehensive research that inform management and policy decisions. Originally from Maryland, she received her B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy with a focus in Marine and Coastal Management and a minor in Sustainability Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Director, Marketing and Events, USGBC-LA
Farah serves as the Marketing and Events Director of the U.S. Green Building Council, Los Angeles. Originally hailing from the Southern United States, she split her time between Mississippi and Iran while growing up, giving her a unique, international vantage point and a deeper understanding of environmental awareness at a young age. Farah began her career in advocacy, focusing her degrees from the University of Mississippi in Social Work with an emphasis on both Childhood Development and Urban Planning. After her work with CASA, Farah pursued higher education in environmental sciences with a focus on marketing. With over 7 years of experience in non-profits, forming her own organic clothing line, and managing a sustainability lifestyle blog, she’s happy to bring her dual experience with advocacy and marketing skills to an organization that she is proud to support.
Farah is a LEED Green Associate, ENV SP, and Living Future Ambassador with primary interests in forming sustainable infrastructure for our communities and optimizing sustainable strategy + programs for the professional world.
Director, Net Zero Accelerator, USGBC-LA
Colin has guided dozens of global brands (generating over $500 million in revenues) and hundreds of entrepreneurs (securing over $75 million in capital) through birth, growth, and rebirth. As Director of the Net Zero Accelerator for and with USGBC-LA, he guides startups in speeding commercialization of cleantech innovation to move us all toward net zero energy, water, carbon and waste. His advisory role is further informed by his position as Chief Communications Officer of Morpho Energy, where he is Accelerating the Transformation to the Electrified Economy with a focus on ESG performance and unlocking the idle asset value of commercial and industrial rooftops. Colin develops brands and go-to-market strategies rooted in deeply human motives and aligned with nature’s operating principles. He is the Founder of Biomimicry LA and former Chief Marketing Officer of The Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry 3.8, the world’s leading biological intelligence consultancy. His “Find Your Woods” TEDx and appearances on CNN’s “Going Green” have helped establish him as an internationally recognized voice for life-inspired innovation. As a Liverpool MBA and LSU Tiger, Colin lectures frequently at universities including UCLA, USC, LMU, DePaul and the ESB Business School at Reutlingen University (Germany) where he is Visiting Faculty. His certifications include Biomimicry Specialist, LEED Green Associate, and Living Future Ambassador. Colin has been an Angeleno since 1998 and is now rooted in the hills with his wife, kids, cats, and whatever neighboring species happen along.
Marketing and Program Associate, USGBC-LA
Paige is an environmental Marketing & Program Associate from Santa Clarita, CA with over five years of experience in film & television development and production. Her fascination with green building stems from her understanding that we have the potential to improve the health of our communities and ecosystems through being intentional with the way we design, construct, and operate our buildings. She attended the #4 film school in the country, Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film & Media Arts, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Film Production amidst the pandemic in 2020. In 2021, Paige was awarded with distinction for her completion of a Certificate in Sustainability from UCLA Extension, during which she also became accredited as a LEED Green Associate. With her inherent passion for environmental issues and social equity, Paige hopes to bring awareness of resources available to the Los Angeles community and to educate others on the importance of creating a sustainable built environment. Outside of film and sustainability, she is passionate about music, philosophy, and animal welfare.
Sustainability Program Manager, USGBC-LA
Will serves as USGBC-LA’s Sustainability Program Manager, providing over six years of experience working on high-performance building educational programs. Prior to USGBC-LA, Will served as a Community Energy Advisor providing outreach, education, and advising services under New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Community Energy Engagement Program in New York City. Helping residents understand how they can complete meaningful energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to make their homes more sustainable, comfortable, and healthy is a passion for Will. A certified LEED Green Associate, Will also holds a Master’s of Environmental Management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and a B.A. in History with a Minor in Anthropology from New York University.
Sustainability Program Coordinator, USGBC-LA
With a passion for implementing sustainable practices from a multi-disciplinary approach, Pars serves as Sustainability Programs Coordinator. He has experience in various areas, with a focus on the sustainable management of waste. Since SoCal is home to some of the largest landfills in the country, Pars is enthusiastic about talking trash and raising awareness about the detrimental impact of accumulating waste. He is also passionate about animals and has both a dog and a cat. A native Californian, Pars earned his Bachelor’s in Economics with a minor in Environmental Science from UCLA.
Marketing Manager, USGBC-LA
Priscilla serves as the Marketing Manager and comes with a passion for helping the community through outreach, education, and awareness. Born and raised in Costa Rica, she received her Bachelor’s degree in advertising from the Latin University of Costa Rica. She then moved to Los Angeles and worked in the fashion and education industries before starting her work in non-profits. Priscilla worked for two partner organizations in the education sector before joining USGBC-LA. She also volunteers for Costa Rican non-profit organizations to help increase their exposure through social media strategies; these include environmental, animal rescue, and mental health awareness organizations.
Director, Sustainability Programs, USGBC-LA
As a professional in the sustainability field for over 12 years in Brazil, working on the implementation of environmental management systems in various industry sectors during the early stages of the sustainability movement in that country, she brings her experience in community outreach and government affairs while developing solutions to mitigate environmental impacts resulting from mining activities and vehicles manufacturing. Fernanda holds a Bachelor degree in Environmental Engineering and earned her diploma with distinction for the completion of the Certificate in Sustainability from UCLA Extension.