Chip Giller, Founder and CEO
Chip founded Grist in 1999 to lighten up a movement known for taking itself too seriously. He’s been honored with a Heinz Award for his media innovations and for making environmental issues relevant to new and broad audiences; and he’s been named a TIME magazine “Hero of the Environment.” Chip has been featured in such outlets as Vanity Fair, Newsweek, and Outside, and has appeared on broadcast programs including the Today show and PBS’s NOW. Before launching Grist, Chip was editor of Greenwire, the first environmental news daily.
A native of Massachusetts, Chip graduated from Brown University with an honors degree in environmental studies. (Yes, he is an obsessive Red Sox fan.) When Chip’s not pondering the future of online environmental journalism, he likes to spend his time with his wonderful wife and two kids at their home on Vashon Island, near Seattle.
Lori Schmall, Interim President
Lori has held a variety of senior leadership roles within a diverse set of industries during her 20+ year career. She has a broad array of experience in Technology, Financial Services, Organizational Development and Non-Profit management. She has had responsibility for P&L and most recently led a saas technology start-up from 10 people to over 200. When not working, Lori spends time at her home in Portland, Oregon with her partner and five animals. She enjoys travel, yoga, the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with her family.
Ben Adler, Staff Writer
Ben reports on environmental politics and policy for Grist, with a focus on climate change, energy, and cities, although he is better known for being one of the world’s leading pizza snobs and most antiquated old-school rap fans. He previously covered national politics at The Nation, Politico, and Newsweek, where he also served as national editor of Newsweek.com. He has also worked at The New Republic and the Center for American Progress. Ben was the first urban leaders fellow, and later the first federal policy correspondent, at Next City. His writing has also appeared in The American Prospect, Architectural Record, The Atlantic, Columbia Journalism Review, The Economist, The Guardian, New York, The New York Times, Salon, Slate, and The Washington Monthly. Ben grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., which he whined constantly about missing when he lived in Washington, D.C. He is now back in Brooklyn, where he whines constantly about gentrification.
Clayton Aldern, Fellow
Clayton is a bear masquerading as a human, so don’t tell the others. He has been pulling this ruse for about a quarter century, which is old for a bear. He has worked in health policy, computational neuroscience, and education. Clay holds a Master’s in Neuroscience and a Master’s in Public Policy from Oxford, where he was the first ursine Rhodes Scholar. He studied neuroscience at Brown. (Go Bears!) At Grist, he’s interested in climate governance, subnational climate action, and the social dimensions of climate change. Outside of Grist, he catches salmon, looks out over the water, and solemnly counts the hours until he returns to work.
Gabriel Avila-Mooney, Community Engagement Manager
Gabriel believes robots will eventually make all humans obsolete. He’s preparing for that day by stockpiling everything needed to create a fast rising electromagnetic pulse primarily oriented towards disrupting systems built with integrated circuits — as well as unlocking the best kalua pork recipe of all times.
Eve Andrews, Associate Editor
Before coming to Grist as part of its inaugural class of fellows, Eve managed Food Tank’s editorial content and tried her hand at bilingual interpretation (¡hola¡) in Chicago. She majored in evil (economics) and fun (Spanish) at Vassar. She’s at her best when yelling about reproductive rights and sexual violence with a Chipotle burrito in hand, and at her worst when crying about reproductive rights and sexual violence with a margarita in hand. She does not particularly want to talk to you about your app, your band, or your novel, but she probably will if you’re not a jerk about it.
Amelia Bates, Assistant Art Director
Artist and budding organic farmer, Amelia Bates, hails from Wisconsin. After graduating from Columbia College with a BFA in Illustration, she served as a WWOOFer in New Zealand for three months. When she isn’t drawing, she likes to cook, read, and talk about her dream of someday running an organic farm. If you aren’t careful she will tell you in great detail about her experience butchering chickens.
Aura Bogado, Staff Writer, Justice
Aura is a writer who lives in her beloved city of Los Angeles. She’s worked with Colorlines and The Nation, and her work has appeared in The Guardian, Mother Jones, Salon, as well other outlets. She’s pretty into her windowsill garden during the day, and loves to look at stars and planets at night; when she has time, you can also catch her practicing Guarani beadwork. She writes about justice for Grist, and you can follow her on Twitter at @aurabogado.
John Brosnan, Foundation and Corporate Relations Manager
John Brosnan joined Grist in June 2015 as our Foundation and Corporate Relations Manager. A Big 10 football-loving Midwestern guy at heart, John grew up on the east side of Detroit. He’s otherwise played the part of a pinball over the last 20 years, moving from Michigan to California to Minnesota and now to Seattle. His professional hats in the environmental world have included airport development consultant, wetlands restoration planner, ranch manager, farmers market organizer, and land trust director. He has a natural resources degree from the University of Michigan and a masters in public affairs from the University of Minnesota and loves [read: dorks out over] all things nonprofit organizational development-related. He’s leveraging that nerdy passion to keep Grist’s grant funds rolling in.
Tatiana Burdiak, Sales Manager
After eight years in Business Development, Corporate Sales Training, and Digital Media Planning for accounts across the country, Tatiana found her true joy and passion working solely with socially responsible businesses. With the goal of creating lasting partnerships with companies that share the drive to create a better, cleaner planet, Tatiana joined Grist in June 2015. In addition to her enthusiasm to make Grist’s advertising partners succeed, Tatiana enjoys cruising around Santa Cruz, CA on her bike, “Frank Yankee,” watching breathtaking sunsets, training her lemon tree, and attempting to make the world a better place through her love of art, music, and dance.
Jeff Giza-Martin, Salesforce and IT Manager
Jeff does everything, but write his own bio. From what his fellow co-workers can perceive, Jeff is a tech whiz who enjoys EDM, likes all types of beer, does not like the idea of sushi but is willing to try it, will never let you take a shot alone, and can always be relied upon for anything and everything at Grist, except to write his own bio.
Matt Grisafi, Director of Marketing and Business Development
In (the North) West Philadelphia (suburbs), born and raised, exploring the media industry is how Matt has spent most of his days… After a long run with Digital First Media where he learned near every aspect of the business — culminated by running the company’s national food and health content operations for Project Thunderdome — Matt decided to summer in Seattle. And he still hasn’t left. When he’s not geeking out the media biz, he’s geeking out on baseball, Wilco, cooking, and loving life with his family in the Pacific Northwest …yo, homes, to Pioneer Square!
Katie Herzog, Social Editor
Katie Herzog is the world’s best Solowheel rider. She has more friends than there are stars in the sky and more money than there is salt in the sea. The first mountain she climbed was Everest. Herzog looks like the love child of Shiloh Jolie Pitt and a giraffe, and her interests include public radio, natural disasters, and cults. She was born and raised in the mountains of North Carolina.
Kirby Hollingsworth, Executive Assistant
Four years ago, Kirby decided it was time to move from Small Town, FLA, to Big City, USA. She wrote down 10 of her most beloved places, put them in a bag, drew Los Angeles (sh*t), put it back, drew a second time: San Francisco (a winner!), but never made it there. Instead, she flew to Seattle, fell in love with the Emerald City, and like all great love stories, the rest is history. Kirby couldn’t resist when the opportunity to join Grist came along — she’s a big fan of humor, sustainability, and keeping Florida above sea level (if not for the headlines alone). Now you can find her running around Grist HQ, keeping Chip hip and always on time.
Lisa Hymas, Senior Editor
Lisa cofounded Grist in 1999 and now serves as senior editor. She’s also worked at Greenwire, an online environmental news service; Island Press, an environmental book publisher; Tomorrow, a sustainable business magazine; and ONE/Northwest, a nonprofit capacity builder for environmental groups in the Pacific Northwest. When not obsessing over news and politics, she’s likely to be found running, hiking, reading edifying books or trashy magazines, whipping up vegetarian delights in the kitchen, or planning her next international escapade.
Suzanne Jacobs, Senior Fellow
If Suzanne could have any superpower, it would the ability to shapeshift. If someone offered her a one-way ticket on the first trip to Mars, she would not take it. Her favorite food is peanut butter. Her least favorite animal is the centipede, followed closely by the Canada goose. The first R-rated movie she ever saw was The Birdcage. She knows how to tear up a dancefloor but doesn’t always do it, and she can’t carry a tune. She studied physics at the University of Michigan and science writing at MIT. She’s written for Michigan Radio, MIT Technology Review, and WBUR in Boston, and she’s afraid of sharks, even in swimming pools.
Nathanael Johnson, Food Editor
Nathanael is a journalist who lives in Berkeley with his wife and daughter. He has contributed to magazines such as Harper’s, New York, and Conservation, and to National Public Radio and “This American Life.” His first book is All Natural: A Skeptic’s Quest to Discover If the Natural Approach to Diet, Childbirth, Healing, and the Environment Really Keeps Us Healthier and Happier — it is also a quest for the world’s longest subtitle. He worked at a small-town newspaper in Idaho before going to study with Michael Pollan at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He writes the “Thought for Food” column at Grist, and tweets @SavorTooth.
Mignon Khargie, Designer
For Mignon, life on the www began with Salon.com where she was a co-founder. She is happiest when buried in work and is thankful she is allowed to indulge in this depravity at Grist. She also has great hair.
Anne Lapora, Office Manager
Anne came to Seattle many years ago for a visit and never left. After working in retail for far too long she came to her senses and decided to use her ‘skills’ for good, not evil, and landed in the world of non-profits. When she takes her Grist hat(s) off at the end of the day she loves
walks on the beach, romantic nights in front of the fire a good glass of wine, hanging with family and friends, baseball, camping and watching her garden grow – pretty much in that order.
Nathan Letsinger, Product Lead & Senior Developer
Nathan was born as a small script in the Programming Republic of Perl. Now an expatriate of the Republic, he is firmly a PHP convert, a Seattle transplant, and is a Web developer for Grist and the leader of the Web product team . His pursuits include philosophy, food, and of course, coding for a better life. He suspects Google can provide more than you ever would want to know about him.
Mandy Ojendyk, Business Development Manager
Born in CA, raised in WA, Mandy went on to live in various places learning to say hello in ten different languages. Mandy is back in Seattle, where she is trying to debunk the Seattle Freeze and doing quintessential Seattleite things like hike, run, kayak, and make gluten-free sugar-free vegan granola, and is always on the lookout for stylish shoes she can walk to work in. Please contact her if you know of any or would like to advertise on Grist.
Daniel Penner, Associate Video Producer
Having grown up in the golden prairies of Kansas, Daniel has a distinct appreciation for well-baked bread, pick-up basketball, and avoiding traffic. After studying history and multimedia at Goshen College (in Indiana), he headed West, for an internship at Grist. After a brief stint filming in Ghana, he’s back, creating quality videos for all your doom, gloom, and humor needs.
Raven Rakia, Fellow
Raven is a journalist and photographer based in Harlem, New York. She was previously a Multimedia Documentary Fellow for the International Bridges of Justice where she reported on prison conditions and environmental issues in Bhopal, India and Nairobi, Kenya. She has written everything from short blog posts to long investigative pieces for The Nation, Vice Magazine, Matter, Gothamist, Al Jazeera America, Colorlines.com, and many more. She’s interested in the intersections of environmental justice and the criminal justice system – specifically the environmental issues that people in prison are facing and what climate change means for the 2 million people incarcerated in the United States. She’s the Justice Fellow at Grist.
Patrick Schmitt, Major Gifts and Events Manager
Patrick is a recovering archaeologist who left his trowel for the livelier world of nonprofit fundraising. While still a fan of the past, he now focuses his energy on raising the cold, hard cash Grist needs to stop the world from becoming a temple of doom. A Seattle transplant, Patrick hails from the great state of Wisconsin.
Ben Shewmaker, Web Developer
Cory Simmons, Frontend Developer
Cory is our frontend developer. That means he handles things like how the site looks and optimizes it for speed. He’s written a book, writes for TutsPlus and CSS Tricks, and has worked on some really big sites. His open source projects, like Jeet, are used all over the world by some of the biggest companies.
Andrew Simon, Fellowship Program Director
Andrew began his career as a music journalist. He was an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone, a deputy managing editor at VIBE, and the managing editor at Complex Media. In 2008, he switched his focus to sports and joined ESPN The Magazine as a senior editor. (For Andrew, it’s not so easy being green: the Jersey native and former Brooklynite is a fan of the hapless New York Jets.) In 2012 he became a senior editor at Fast Company, where he oversaw editorial franchises like Fast Talk and the Most Creative People in Business. He is co-author of the book Racing While Black: How an African-American Stock Car Team Made Its Mark on NASCAR.
Darby Minow Smith, Managing Editor
Darby is a fifth-generation Montana rancher and a first-generation vegetarian. (Although she still holds a place in her heart and diet for grass-fed steak.) She graduated from Gonzaga in 2009 and has spent most of her post-college time drinking copious amounts of coffee and talking about her cat.
Heather Smith, Staff Writer
Heather covers the intersection of technology and the environment for Grist. At various points, she has been a city reporter, a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, a contributor to the atlas Infinite City, and a vegetarian who also happened to be an editor at a magazine called Meatpaper. Current obsessions: insects, bison, bicycles, quantitative easing.
Jamie Thayer, Director of Development
Jamie has dedicated her career to fundraising on behalf of worthy causes and institutes of higher learning including EDF, IRC and Stanford University. At Grist she manages the day to day fundraising operations. When not thinking about Grist she can usually be found riding her bike around Portland with her husband and two young boys. A fifth-generation Californian with a BA in Gender/Feminist Studies from Pitzer College, she’s delighted to call Portland home.
Brian Troyer, Business Office Coordinator
Brian skipped a beat from the heartland of America and arrived in Seattle via Columbus, Ohio. He received his bachelor’s degree in Communications from The Ohio State University. Since moving to Seattle he has consumed more coffee in a little under a year than he has in his entire life. When he isn’t fiddling with the ads on Grist you can find Brian on the golf course, cheering on his Buckeyes or on his quest to find the best chicken wings in the city.
Amelia Urry, Associate Editor
Amelia is a writer of, among other things, poems, essays, a math book, and this bio. She came to Seattle by way of Connecticut, and she came to science writing by way of the Yale English Department and supportive astrophysicist parents. (She came to her sense of humor by those same parents, so you can thank them for that.) Now she mostly writes about oceans and internet culture for Grist. When not exchanging cheese puns with other editors, Amelia enjoys shuffling commas, lipsyncing to podcasts, and cooing over other people’s pets.
Katharine Wroth, Senior Editor
Katharine has spent a decade at Grist in various roles including editor, writer, grantwriter, special projects manager, and spontaneous show tunes-belter-outer. Before Grist, she worked as an editor at several environmental publications in the Northeast, sneaking humor into their pages whenever possible. A native New Englander, Katharine escaped to Seattle for a couple of years before being lured back to the land of lobsters and lighthouses, and now works from a sparsely decorated bunker in the Boston area. In her spare time, she defends the merits of bowling to anyone who will listen. Which isn’t really anyone at all.
Kate Yoder, Editorial Intern
Even though Kate was born, raised, and college educated in Indiana, she still doesn’t know the origins of the word Hoosier. She is best described as a crossword diva and worst described as a professional athlete. She studied art and writing at Goshen College, where she jumpstarted her career as a world traveler with a three-month stint in Cambodia. Since moving to Seattle and joining Grist in September 2015, Kate has big plans to participate in some sort of human blockade. (She’s still looking for a cause to get behind.) Her other hopes and dreams include becoming a solo accordion performer, baking pastries on par with the French, and remembering to floss occasionally.
Board of Directors
Rachel Morello-Frosch, Chair (San Francisco, Calif.)
Rachel Morello-Frosch is a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Rachel’s research examines race and class determinants of environmental health among diverse communities in the United States. Previously, she held a joint appointment between the Department of Community Health at Brown Medical School and the Center for Environmental Studies. Rachel completed her bachelor’s degree in development studies, a master of public health degree in epidemiology and biostatistics, and her Ph.D. in environmental health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. Rachel is a co-founder and former board chair of the Environmental Leadership Program and sits on the scientific advisory board of Breast Cancer Action.
John Alderman, Treasurer (Washington, D.C.)
John Alderman is the COO of SocialCode, a subsidiary of the Washington Post Company that provides social-media marketing solutions for leading consumer brands. Previously, he was publisher of Slate Magazine and head of business development for Washingtonpost. Newsweek Interactive, the digital arm of The Washington Post Company. John has also run business development for Away.com, a travel website that was sold to Orbitz in 2005, and served in a variety of editorial and business roles at Outside magazine. He has a bachelor’s degree in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard College and an MBA from Columbia University.
Benjamin Strauss, Clerk (New York, N.Y.)
Dr. Ben Strauss serves as Vice President for Climate Impacts at Climate Central. He has published multiple scientific papers on sea level rise, testified before the U.S. Senate, and led development of the SurgingSeas.org suite of coastal flood risk tools. His research and tools have been featured in hundreds of stories including in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and national news programming on NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS and NPR.
Gino Borland, Member (Seattle, Wash.)
Gino Borland was the founder of Gino Borland, Inc., an internet company that makes personalized e-marketing software. Since selling his company, he has focused his time on environmental interests, including the climate crisis and potential clean-energy solutions. Apart from Grist, he is also involved in Social Venture Partners in Seattle, Wash.
Michelle DePass, Member (New York, N.Y.)
Michelle DePass is dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at the New School for Public Engagement in New York City. Michelle joins Milano from the Environmental Protection Agency, where since 2009 she had served as assistant administrator for international and tribal affairs. Prior to joining EPA, Michelle was a program officer at the Ford Foundation. She also served as founding executive director of the New York Environmental Justice Alliance, senior policy advisor to the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and environmental manager for the City of San Jose.
Chip Giller, Founder and CEO
See staff bio above.
Kristen Grimm, Member (Washington, D.C.)
Kristen Grimm is the founder and president of Spitfire Strategies, one of the country’s leading public relations firms dedicated to working exclusively with nonprofits and foundations to create positive social change. She has developed numerous resources for the field including Smart Chart 3.0, Discovering the Activation Point, Just Enough Planning Guide, and Big Ideas to Big Change. Prior to launching Spitfire, Kristen worked as a fellow at the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. And she was the president and chief operating officer of Fenton Communications, where she wrote NOW HEAR THIS: The Nine Laws of Successful Advocacy Communications. Kristen has a B.A. from Smith College. She serves on the boards of the National Academy for State Health Policy and Alaska Wilderness League.
Elise Hu, Member (Washington, D.C.)
Elise Hu covers technology and culture for NPR’s on-air and online platforms. She joined NPR in 2011 to head up the digital and editorial launch of StateImpact, a DuPont award winning public policy reporting network. Previously, she was a founding journalist at the non-profit digital news startup, The Texas Tribune. While working as a political reporter, she also oversaw the Tribune’s social and multimedia journalism and statewide television partnerships. Elise’s work has earned a Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism and a National Edward R. Murrow award for best online video. She’s an advisor to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and serves as a panelist for the Knight News Challenge.
Susan L. Kaufman, Member (Brookline, Mass.)
Susan L. Kaufman is a health care consultant working on health care system transformation in Massachusetts. She has held senior and executive level positions in government, health care delivery organizations and business. Kaufman founded and was a principal of Benova, Inc., a company that provided business process outsourcing services to health and human services agencies. She is also on the Board of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. She has a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and a master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Bill McKibben, Member (Middlebury, Vt.)
Bill McKibben writes regularly for The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Harper’s, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The Atlantic Monthly, Outside, and many other publications. His first book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989 after being excerpted in The New Yorker; it was a national bestseller and appeared in 20 foreign editions. His other books include Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, Enough, The Age of Missing Information, and The Bill McKibben Reader. Bill is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College and led the organizing for StepItUp, which coordinated 2,000 climate change demonstrations in all 50 states. He’s now at work on 350.org, the first attempt at a global grassroots climate change movement.
Eugene Mirman, Member (Brooklyn, N.Y.).
Eugene Mirman is a comedian who voices “Gene” on Fox’s hit animated series Bob’s Burgers. He has been a regular on Flight of the Conchords and Adult Swim’s Delocated, has two Comedy Central Specials to his name, and is a frequent comedic co-host of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s science radio show and podcast, Star Talk Radio. Eugene was named Best New York City Comedian by the Village Voice, and one of the 10 best comedians of the last decade by Paste Magazine. He’s released three comedy albums and an incredibly funny parody-ish self-help book, The Will to Whatevs. Named by Rolling Stone as a “Hot Twitterer,” Eugene keeps his 330k+ followers entertained daily. He attended Hampshire College and designed his own major of Comedy, doing a one-hour standup act as his thesis — for which he was made fun of, don’t worry.
Matt Mullenweg, Member (San Francisco, Calif.)
Matt Mullenweg is the founding developer of WordPress, the blogging software he guided from a handful of users to the most widely used open source blog tool. WordPress is now used by more than 200 million websites worldwide. After moving from his native Houston to San Francisco to work at CNET Networks, Matt left in late 2005 to found Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, as well as Akismet.com, Gravatar, and other enterprises. He has been named one of PC World’s Top 50 People on the Web, Inc.com’s 30 under 30, and Business Week’s 25 Most Influential People on the Web.
Shivika Sahdev, Member (New York, N.Y.)
Shivika is an engagement manager at McKinsey’s New York office, where she is part of the Sustainability and Resource Productivity and Public Sector practices. Prior to McKinsey, she was a project leader at Dalberg Global Development Advisors where she worked with foundations, UN agencies, governments, and nonprofit entities.
Wendy Schmidt, Member (Palo Alto, Calif.)
Wendy Schmidt is president of The Schmidt Family Foundation, working to advance the wiser use of energy and natural resources. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, and graduated magna cum laude from Smith College. She is a founder of The 11th Hour Project, and of Climate Central; and also serves on the boards of the Natural Resources Defense Council, California Academy of Sciences, and Green Products Innovation Institute. Wendy is president of The Nantucket Dreamland Foundation, and supports a vital downtown to serve island residents through her work at ReMain Nantucket.
John Vechey, Member (Seattle, Wash.)
John Vechey is the co-founder of PopCap, a pioneer in the world’s gaming industry, with popular titles like Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies. Since PopCap’s beginnings in 2000, John has served in several roles, including interim CEO and VP of Corporate Strategy and Development, and has led the company’s forays into social and mobile product lines. In 2011, Electronic Arts, the leading publisher of video games, bought PopCap in the largest acquisition it has ever made. John now runs PopCap’s core franchise division, focusing on new product development.