Our People

Andy Bio 1Andy Pearson

Andy Pearson is a lifelong Minnesotan who has loved the climate and environmental movement for as long as he can remember. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with an individualized degree in environmental communication (and publishing a thesis on building a climate movement along with Julia Nerbonne) he worked with Clean Water Action, MPIRG, Fresh Energy, and Minnesota Waste Wise before coming to MN350. He is currently MN350′s Midwest Tar Sands Coordinator, helping to support the growing movement against extreme energy extraction and transportation in the region. When he’s not organizing, you might find him playing guitar, cooking food with friends, or daydreaming about public transportation in Madrid.

Julia Frost Nerbonne

Julia Frost Nerbonne comes to the climate movement after 15 years of teaching sustainability studies to college students and doing research on social movements. She currently works as the Executive Director of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light where she is helping to “spark” the interfaith climate movement.  She is also a Program Director at the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs.  Julia also teaches Environmental Ethics and Sustainability Studies at the University of Minnesota. “Working with the almost all volunteer staff at MN350 has been an incredible experience because it is the first time in my life I have ever seen authentic self organizing in action. I can’t wait to see what happens next!” When she is not working, Julia enjoys teaching her children how to paint large banners. She is also nuts about history!

Kate Jacobson

Kate Faye has been an advocate for sustainable agriculture, social justice and resilient communities for the past twelve years. Her love for dirt, sunshine, wild spaces and serving community has only strengthened as she joins her three-year-old daughter in discovering the world around us. Kate has a B.A. in environmental studies, operated an organic market farm, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa and is now fortunate to be working together with Minnesotans committed to urgent climate action as the coordinator of a MN350.
“Similar to many of the most important things in our lives; relationships, careers, school – addressing climate change and transforming the way we live on this planet takes an incredible amount of energy, resources and courage. Now is the time to invest in the future of this planet, together.”

Paul Thompson

I retired from teaching early to invest my life in connecting people with their hearts and by using their talents and passions, awaken our communities, state, country and planet to the the greatest challenge (solving the climate crisis) we have ever faced. We know how to solve this condition we have been creating for the past hundred years… just ask yourself the question “What are we doing here?” and get busy. Your children and grandchildren are counting on you and they are our best partners.
“The golden rule is to act fearlessly upon what one believes to be right” – Mahatma Gandhi

Chuck Prentice

Chuck Prentice is a MN350 Outreach Volunteer. Chuck was born on a Wednesday. He grew up in south Minneapolis, but learned about the world serving in the Peace Corps in Lima Peru. He was a community organizer in Chicago for ten years, but did not meet Barack Obama. Chuck’s number in Nixon’s 1969 draft lottery was 201. Chuck tries to go by the rule of leaving your campsite at least as clean as you found it, and feels that being responsible for our own actions and not leaving a mess for those who come along later are central to the question dealing with climate change.

Erin Pratt

Erin Pratt is a therapist who practices nature-based therapy with youth and families in a variety of wilderness settings.  For the past 15 years Erin Pratt has worked on environmental and social justice concerns, seeing the indivisible connection between the two.  She believes that healing in our relationship to our environment is not only essential for our own health but necessary if we are to make changes to create a livable, just and sustainable future.
“Working with MN350 to create community and build a movement for transforming our culture into one that will be sustainable for the long term is incredibly energizing and hopeful to me.  In the face of something that would otherwise be overwhelming, the act of working together gives me a sense of direction, purpose and joy!”

Brian Nowak

Brian Nowak- Practices Architecture in Excelsior, MN and has been involved with community building since he moved to Minnesota in 1975. He started working on projects for 350.ORG in 2010; he was designing a net-zero home and sustainable community concept when he realized that individual green projects, while important, can’t make a big enough impact on climate change by themselves. He needed to tie his work to a larger movement and joined MN350 in the fall of 2011 to work on the campaign to stop the Keystone pipeline. As Tar Sands Action Coordinator for MN350, he has organized members to understand the massive negative effect of Tar Sands Oil on climate change and the relationship of the fossil fuel industries in trying prevent climate change reform through huge political contributions and climate denial advertizing. Through education, organizing and action we can move forward to balance the place of mankind on earth.

Ulla Nilsen

Ulla Nilsen has recently moved back to Minnesota after a 20 year absence. After working with social justice movements for many years, having children turned her cynicism about the future of the planet into determined action. She works with MN350′s Partner Engagement Team, volunteers with the Center for Biological Diversity promoting the Clean Air Act and can simultaneously cook dinner, clean the house and entertain two children under 5.

Mindy Ahler Olmstead

Mindy Ahler is co-director of Cool Planet which engages people in citizenship and community action while being fit and having fun.  Cool Planet partners with MN350 on advocacy work and more. In addition to her work, Mindy is dedicated to living more sustainably in her own life with her worms, garden and homemade salsa. Mindy is most likely to be seen arriving on bicycle to any meeting. “Climate change is the most critical moral issue of our time that requires the creative thinking and action of all to rise to the challenge.” My environmentalism began in the 4th grade when my teacher, Miss Whaley had traveled to Alaska the previous summer and got our class working on a number of environmental projects including starting a can recycling program at our elementary school and making our own recycled paper.

Kurt Kimber

Kurt is a serial activist, having been involved in and advocated for south Minneapolis neighborhood associations, Hiawatha Light Rail, Wireless Minneapolis and the Digital Inclusion Fund. The looming impacts of climate change and peak oil on civilization motivate Kurt’s MN350 work, along with a desire for social justice.

Paul Densmore

Paul has been a volunteer social justice activist for most of  his adult life, and he became involved with MN350 due to his alarm at the worsening climate change crisis we are facing and the lack of action by our leaders. He is driven to action by the sobering thought of the rapidly deteriorating world my daughter will inherit. He can not stand idly by and say he did nothing when our future generations ask the inevitable questions as to what we did to try and stop climate change.

Stan Sattinger

Stan Sattinger comes to MN350 from a career in mechanical engineering and involvements in environmental civic groups in western Pennsylvania. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech and graduate degrees from Cornell University and MIT. Since the arrival of his grandson, Orion, a few years ago, he has become especially concerned over the climate crisis. Currently involved as a volunteer in MN350′s messaging and outreach activities, he also works part-time on energy assessments on commercial and institutional buildings.


Tom McSteen

Tom has found his home in MN350 because of its unique lens on the urgency of the climate change crisis.  Tom is focused on doing whatever we can to prevent the likely significant consequences of climate change. Tom holds Joanna Macy’s work as the foundation of his passion for changing the climate, as it integrates slowing down the impact, birthing new societal structures, and creating a new human awareness of our connection with our Earth and all Life.  Tom’s passion for the work is rooted in his love for his two young adult children — and for the seven generations of the children yet to come.  Tom also volunteers with the Climate Reality Leadership Corps

Justin Russell

Justin Russell is a thinker-tinkerer-make
r-doer-creative-problem-solver type of guy. He grew up with his ten brothers and sisters in central Minnesota and currently resides in Minneapolis where he works as a graphic designer. Justin enjoys collaborating with creative people of all ages and backgrounds. He thinks the Zeno philosophy – “the goal of life is living in agreement with nature” is pretty spot on.

Andrea Macias

Andrea Macias is currently enrolled in the nursing program at MCTC with plans to further her education in a Physician Assistant program. Alongside school, Andrea is an active entrepreneur, catering sustainably-driven Mexican cuisine throughout the Twin Cities. “Joining MN350 has given me a new sense of community and a more positive outlook on the world’s current situation. We can and will make a change, we just need to stick together and act quickly!”

Michelle D’Angelo

Michelle D’Angelo studied Art History and Women’s Studies at Augsburg College with an interest in environmental justice. It was at Augsburg where she joined a study-abroad trip (Sustainable Cities of North America) in Portla
nd, OR and Vancouver, BC. “Since this experience I have been more and more concerned about hyper-consumption of resources, and the amount of waste and pollution that we as a society create and throw away every day without any thought as to where it goes or how it affects our bodies, land, water, air and communities that have much less impact and are more vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.”

Samuel Schroeder

“I am an architecture student with a sustainability studies minor, who was happy to find an organization of people who could find hope in the dreary topic of climate change. I also love being surrounded by these inspirationally strong-willed, hard-working, non-procrastinating people and believe they will show me how to get things done in the world.”

Claire Curran

Claire Curran is a senior at Gustavus Adolphus College studying Religion and Peace Studies. Her interest in environmentalism was sparked by summers spent in Door County, WI where she watched the water level sink and the number of dead fish rise. That spark was reignited by a semester abroad in India studying social justice where the connection between the environment and all justice issues was crystallized and strengthened. As a dancer, she believes that storytelling through any medium can serve as a great catalyst for positive social change. Claire hopes to work in faith based community organizing, utilizing the world’s religions to address social justice issues such as climate change. She believes that when people feel they have a political voice and that it is heard, that’s when exciting things begin to happen and that’s why she is so excited to be working with MN350!

Lois Norrgard

Lois moved from a career in computer graphics to working for our Earth fourteen years ago. Watching the ever increasing destruction to our natural world and the wildlife that we share this planet with moved her to action to change careers and led her to become active with MN350 as an Outreach Volunteer. Her professional position is Upper Midwest Region Field Staff for Alaska Wilderness League – advocating for the protection of our amazing public lands in Alaska. “I was brought up to care for and appreciate the outdoors. The biggest threat we face is the changes happening due to a warming world. It is time we face facts and realize that we cannot continue to extract every last resource from this earth, but need to work within the balance of nature and live sustainably. We can no longer give a pass to industry and allow a world where to have livelihoods and jobs we must accept the destruction of our air, water and health. It is time to say Enough”. “I’ve been fortunate because in my environment work I’ve had the opportunity to work with, strengthen, and advocate for the grassroots voice. I feel strongly that the best way of creating change is through the voice of “we the people” working within our communities, caring about our air, water, and wild lands.”
In her spare time Lois is becoming an avid gardener and is learning the Permaculture method of gardening and life.

John Schmid

I consider myself to be a “co-earthling” with other people and as well as with members of other species.
For most of my life I have enjoyed the blessings, bounty and beauty of an an earth environment dependent on a stable climate. I now see climate change occurring which is expected to have disastrous consequences for current and future generations as well as other plant and animal species. Because I care, I find that I must do what I can to return the climate to a stable, sustainable state. I’ve been a peace, justice , anti-war activist since the ’60s. Much unnecessary suffering is occurring because of rapidly changing climactic conditions. Climate change portends injustice for many people and moreover for other species who have little control over their destinies. I would like to see this injustice end.

Patty O’Keefe

Patty is currently attending the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, working towards a B.S. in Youth Studies. In the last couple years she has developed a growing interest in environmental studies, which resulted in her decision to pursue a career path in environmental education. Patty’s internship will surround youth engagement strategizing and coordinating for MN350. Her hope is that she can use her passions for youth work and the environment to help give them a stronger presence and voice in the organization.

Patricia is Originally from Port Townsend, Washington, Patricia is a 2012 graduate of St. Olaf College with a self-designed major, Social Marketing and the Environment. Interested in both design and psychology, she is focused on answering questions of public perception and motivation surrounding the environmental movement. While at St. Olaf, she worked with the Residence Life department to bring sustainability education into the residence halls through peer-to-peer programming. She joined the MN350 team in the fall of 2012, and is currently coordinating a project to develop a resource generation system that is locally sourced and community driven.


Lee Samelson

Having moved to the mountains of Colorado when I was 9, I have observed first hand the visceral effect that climate disruption has had on the beetle kill of the once majestic evergreen forests. My second year of college I chose climate justice as my term paper in environmental ethics class, and peak oil for my term paper in political ideology class. I have kept gradually improving on the original term papers and now have over 700 pages of my own written material emphasizing moral priority for a strong renewable energy transition policy. As the heavy nature of the topic started to weigh heavily on my psyche, it started as a therapeutic outlet for me to devote my time and involvement with event set up and outreach for MN350, Transition Twin Cities, the Alliance for Sustainability and Summer of Solutions. Since mid-2011, I have been working for an energy conservation outreach project called Our Power. Together we have knocked on close to 10,000 doors in 7 the South Minneapolis neighborhoods, referring residents to available programs and action steps to help them address their concerns with saving on their home energy use. My work with Our Power more recently has pivoted to the much more ambitious campaign called Minneapolis Energy Options which will empower the City to meet its emissions reductions goals.