SustainUS is led by a dedicated group of volunteers that consist of the Steering Committee and other leaders who report to Steering Committee members. The Steering Committee is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operations. Leaders are elected annually and commit many hours each week to SustainUS, staying in close communication with each another. We are always working to make the Steering Committee more transparent, effective, and responsive to the SustainUS membership. Please email our Chair, Adam Hasz, at with questions or comments.

Core Operations


Adam Hasz, Chair (Washington, DC)

Adam grew up in the Chicago suburbs in a family that emphasized helping others and doing good for the world. He graduated from WashU in St. Louis in 2012, where he found a passion for sustainability and got hooked on climate justice advocacy. Since 2009 Adam has been heavily involved with the youth climate movement, organizing with WashU Green Action, the “MO Love” Student Climate Network, 1Sky, the Sierra Student Coalition, MORE, NextGen Climate, and the Energy Acton Coalition. Adam joined SustainUS in 2011 as part of the Rio+20 delegation, and since served as the Campaign Strategy Coordinator and COP19 delegation leader. Over the past year Adam pursued his dream of creating a climate organizing campaign house and founded the Energy Justice Summer program. Now as Chair, Adam is excited to grow SustainUS to support further innovative climate justice organizing projects.

Karina Gonzalez, Secretary (Tuscon, AZ)

Karina Gonzalez is a senior at the University of Arizona, pursuing a BA in Environmental Studies with a minor in French. Karina joined SustainUS as a delegate for the UN Commission for Social Development in 2014; outside of SustainUS she primarily works with GreenPeace USA, Sky Island Alliance, and Camp Wildcat. She is very passionate about sustainable development, gender equality, poverty eradication, and social justice issues. She is a strong believer that these topics are all interconnected and addressing them in isolation may lead to the worsening of another; climate change provides the unparalleled opportunity to address these major social issues simultaneously. She is committed to philanthropy and improving the world around her in every way she can. In her spare time Karina enjoys drinking coffee, reading, cuddling, hiking, camping, and spending as much time in nature as possible.


Maria Langholz, Treasurer (Minneapolis, MN)

Maria is our resident Minnesotan, and is proud of her roots in the Midwest. She attended Macalester College in St. Paul, and graduated in 2014 with a degree in Environmental Studies and Applied Mathematics. While in school, Maria served as the Student Coordinator at Macalester’s Sustainability Office, and was active in the leadership of Fossil Free Mac. Beginning in 2012, Maria jumped into organizing around tar sands exploitation, and has since committed to this issue as her primary focus. Locally, she’s involved with campaigns against the Enbridge “pipeline highway” in northern Minnesota, and has also shown leadership on the national level with her work on Keystone XL actions. 

Maria’s current focus is on growing a powerful movement against fossil fuel extraction in the Midwest, and is particularly focused on growing youth power through relationship building across movements. She’s interested in working at the intersection of the fossil fuel industry and violence against women; within the next couple years, she plans to attend law school to further pursue this passion. Outside of organizing, Maria enjoys running, yoga, goat cheese, cooking & growing her massive collection of cookbooks. She’s known to be a bit sassy, which manifests itself through her love for direct actions and a charming bluntness in conversation.

Agents of Change Program

Leehi Yona, Agents of Change Coordinator (Hanover, NH)

Originally from Montreal, Leehi is currently studying at Dartmouth College, where she is pursuing a double major in Environmental Studies and Biology and a minor in Public Policy. She is passionate about the interconnectedness of climate science, policy, social justice, and giving youth a voice in these issues. In addition to organizing Dartmouth’s fossil fuel divestment campaign, Leehi helped organized PowerShift Canada and was a NH State Lead for PowerShift USA. She was a youth delegate to Rio+20 and COP18, and attended COP19, COP20 and the 51st Commission on Social Development as an Agent of Change (she also co-led the CSocD-52 delegation this year!). Particularly passionate about the Arctic, Leehi attended a Northern youth conference in Yukon Territory, spoke on an Arctic Council panel as a youth representative at COP18, and conducted climate science research in Greenland. Leehi was recently named Canada’s Top Environmentalist Under 25. She loves to paint Impressionist art, make pottery, and drink tea.

Emily Nosse-Leirer, Agents of Change Coordinator (Burlington, VT)

Emily has been involved with SustainUS for more than 3 years. When she was selected to join the delegation to Rio+20, she was only starting to be interested in sustainability. Since then, she has served as secretary of SustainUS for two years, completed two years of research and fieldwork focusing on environmental urban planning in New Orleans, and become the leader of SustainUS’s delegation to COP20 in Lima, Peru along with being elected as one of this year’s AoC Coordinators. After graduating from Ohio State University in May 2014 with an MA in Geography, she moved to Vermont to work with the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, where she is further exploring the intersection of sustainability, resiliency and urban policy. Her non-political interests include reading, being outside, and cooking.

Patrick Kelly, Agents of Change Coordinator (Boston, MA)

Patrick Kelly graduated from New York University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics, concentrating on international politics and human rights. He is fascinated by multiple aspects of politics, particularly the role of the international community in promoting the respect of human rights. Since beginning his studies at NYU, Patrick has worked as an Intern for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s district office, a Research Associate at Greentech Media, a Research Assistant at NYU’s Politics Department, and a Content and Strategy Intern for a start-up called Act In Fact. He also led the legislative arm of an anti-human trafficking organization called Media 4 Humanity. His tenure with M4H was highlighted by organizing and leading a lobbying trip urging Congress to pass laws that better protect victims of human trafficking and enable law enforcement agencies to more effectively combat the crime. In March 2014, Patrick served on the SustainUS delegation to the 58th Commission on the Status of Women where he built strong relationships with other NGO’s represented at the CSW including the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Young Men for Gender Equality, Better Together, and Made Equal.

Lead Now Program

Catherine Gannascoli, Lead Now Coordinator (New Mexico)

Catherine Gannascoli hails from our nation’s capital, Washington DC. She loved the hustle and bustle of city lifestyle, but was excited to move to the land of green mountains for college. She graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont with minors in Spanish and Community and International Development. After graduation, Cat started exploring ways to get people to engage more positively with their environment. She spent two summers managing youth leadership programs in Panama and Ecuador with Amigos de las Americas. Cat is currently a Food Corps service member in New Mexico teaching nutrition, science and gardening classes at a middle school. She was part of the first group of fellows for the Lead Now Fellowship in 2013. She joined steering in 2014 as co-coordinator for the Lead Now Fellowship and is excited to start working with the new group in 2015!

Makala Forster, Lead Now Coordinator (Philadelphia, PA)

Makala is a student at Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia, where she studies Psychology with a Peace and Conflicts Studies emphasis and a minor in Neuroscience. She has been involved with the UN Commission on Sustainable Development for 7 years, working with fellow high school students from her high school to attend the Sustainable Development negotiations every year in New York. They worked with the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) on speeches and lobby points, and represented MGCY when speaking government officials. In the lead up to Rio+20 Makala worked on a documentary called Alas de Rio, engaging youth from around the world in the work going on inside the UN and culminating in a short film. After Rio+20 she decided her interests lay in both youth involvement at the grassroots level, and government’s role in sustainable development. She is interested in how people can channel creativity and energy into a common goal of living sustainably. She enjoys her position as Lead Now Coordinator because she gets to work with passionate individuals working toward solutions and holding onto hope in the midst of cynicism.


Chantal Davis, Digital Communications Coordinator (Washington, DC)

Born and raised in Berlin, Germany and fluent in multiple languages, Chantal is a firm believer in cross-cultural cooperation, and dedicated to pursuing global solutions to climate change. A recent graduate of Tufts University, where she studied International Relations and Environmental Studies, Chantal is currently interning at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Environment and Energy, supporting the office’s work on climate adaptation and aircraft noise, as well as its international efforts. At Tufts, Chantal worked for the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, headed the Marketing Team for the annual Tufts Energy Conference, and interned at Rising Green, a web-based environmental startup, blogging on issues like the Rio+20 Conference. In 2013, she participated in Columbia University’s Hertog Global Strategy Initiative, working with climate change experts to conduct archival research on the role of NGOs in UN climate negotiations. In her free time, Chantal enjoys doing yoga and salsa dancing, and is very excited to be joining the SustainUS team.


Rick Herron, Digital Communications Coordinator (Nashville, TN)

Alex Bach, Media Relations Coordinator (Urbana-Champaign, IL)

Alex grew up with the beauty of the changing seasons outside of Chicago, IL. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Sustainability Prep Program, focusing on environmental justice and innovating sustainable initiatives in urban areas. The North American Media and Public Relations intern for the Swiss-based Zurich Insurance, she has worked on campaigns for natural catastrophe resiliency, risk mitigation and responsible investing, especially through green bonds. Additionally, she has media experience with publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Climate Wire. Alex was previously the marketing intern for Mata Traders, a fairly traded clothing and home goods line based in Chicago and India. Alex is pursuing a degree in Communications and International Trade, Development and Policy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She works for the Daily Illini Newspaper as a social media coordinator, and as an Ambassador for the University Office of Volunteer Programs. She enjoys hammocks, urban gardens and researching eco-tourism spots to control her overwhelming wanderlust.

 Devan Hawkins, Media Relations Coordinator (Lowell, MA)

Devan became active in climate change in high school when his history teacher challenged his class to get a letter to the editor published in a local paper. After writing a letter about climate change, he was surprised to have it published. Since then, Devan has continued working to make climate change science and policy more accessible to the general public. As an undergraduate, he spent a summer teaching high school students about climate change and helping them make videos presenting their unique perspectives on the issue. He has also worked to develop a website designed to help teachers bring climate change education and communication into their classrooms. Devan worked on the Tohono O’odham Native American reservation in Arizona installing different sustainable technologies and created a climate change education program for the Lowell National Historical Park. He recently graduated from UMass Lowell with a Master’s in Epidemiology and is currently working for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Devan joined SustainUS as a delegate to COP18 in Doha, Qatar and has served as media relations coordinator since 2013.

Collin Rees, Partnerships Coordinator (New York, NY)

Collin is a human rights activist from a small town in Nebraska. Following a Harvard mechanical engineering degree he lived in rural Kenya for a year working for on community-based conservation. Collin has spent the last three years bringing people together for collective action on social, climate, and environmental justice projects, including work on tar sands, fossil fuels, and sustainable development. He co-founded new economics group Economy Futures, community climate action groups 350 Massachusetts and 350 DC, and the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition, worked on climate change policy and outreach at the White House, attended COP-19 and CSocD-52 with SustainUS, and organizes against fracking and shale gas extraction with Energy Justice Summer. Collin works with Divest Harvard, DC Divest, and the Sierra Student Coalition, and writes for The Nation, HuffPost, Mic, and Responding to Climate Change. In his spare time he loves fresh rhubarb pie, beautiful sunsets, reading, cycling, backpacking, climbing mountains, and any chance for a new adventure.


Patrick Lau, Technology Coordinator (Ann Arbor, MI)

Patrick is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan in political science and environment. He joined SustainUS as a delegate to Rio+20. He is passionate about having a positive impact on students and young people. He has previously worked with the Ecology Center, Project Kaisei and Civic Exchange focused on social, economic and environmental issues and has lived in Hong Kong for many years. Patrick enjoys ballroom dancing in his free time. He loves all things technology related.


Ryan Madden, Policy Coordinator (New York, NY)

As a graduate of Binghamton University, Ryan received a BA in Political Science and Environmental Studies. Prior to his work in sustainability, Ryan focused primarily on U.S. politics, campaigning for national and local politicians in his hometown of White Plains and Binghamton. Ryan was actively involved with the Binghamton College Democrats, eventually serving as President in his senior year. Throughout his last year in college and the summer after graduating, Ryan worked at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County promoting Green Jobs Green New York, a state-wide energy efficiency program that provides energy assessments and retrofits for low-income households. Ryan became involved with SustainUS during July of 2013 as a part of the Agents of Change Program for the 19th Conference of the Parties in Warsaw, Poland. His time at the Conference was inspiring, serving as one of the most rewarding, surreal, and challenging experiences of his life. Upon returning home, Ryan began working as the Special Assistant for Policy at Dental Recycling International, a waste management company whose aim is to reduce anthropogenic sources of mercury from dental facilities in countries across the globe. In his position, Ryan manages projects in Rwanda, Brazil, Kuwait, and South Africa, as well as spearheads the company’s partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative. In his new role with SustainUS, Ryan is eager to continue his work fighting for a more just and sustainable future.

Bob Ma, Policy Coordinator (Santa Clara, CA)

Bob has been involved with SustainUS since 2007, serving in the SustainUS delegations to the 15th UN Commission on Sustainable Development, and the 46th, 47th, 48th, and 49th UN Commission on Social Development. He was elected SustainUS’ Policy Advisor for the 48th and 49th UN Commission on Social Development, and served as delegation leader to the latter. He was also a finalist in the 2012 Citizen Science policy paper competition. Beyond SustainUS, Bob is an active political volunteer in his native Canada, and is the founder and Executive Director of Valadus Consulting, a pro bono strategy consulting firm that has advised both large governmental organizations and grassroots non-profits. He holds an M.Phil. in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge, and a B.Sc. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in finance and public policy management.


Adam Fishman, Grant Writing Coordinator (Washington, DC)

Adam’s development experience began during his time at Wesleyan University, when he interned for the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) in summer of 2011. At EGA, Adam balanced work on their biennial Tracking the Field report with the establishment of a searchable database for member foundations’ grants, and also helped with preparation for and facilitation of two annual retreats (2011 and 2013). Upon graduating in 2012 as a Government and Environmental Studies double major, Adam moved to Copenhagen, Denmark for 14 months to work as the Sustainability & Environment Program Assistant at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS), where he developed a penchant for international environmental issues. A temporary stint at EGA after returning to the US in fall 2013 re-affirmed his interest in fundraising and development. By day, Adam works on Post-2015 agenda issues at the World Resources Institute, where his tasks include internal financial management, subgrant administration, keeping up with donor reporting, and conducting targeted research and writing tasks related to sustainable development. He also helps coordinate of a series of UN retreats on the theme, “Towards a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda” in collaboration with the Independent Research Forum (IRF2015), a global partnership of 11 research institutes. In his spare time, Adam can be found biking around the DC, organizing a pick-up game of softball, seeking out a foosball tournament or watching one of his native New York sports teams.

 Joannes Yimbesalu, Grant Writing Coordinator (Minneapolis, MN)

Originally a native from Cameroon in West Africa, Joannes holds a BSc in Medical Laboratory Sciences from University of Buea, a diploma in Leadership Excellence from the Donahue Leadership Institute of the University of Massachusetts, an MSc in Biomedical Sciences from New Mexico Highlands University, a diploma in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Social Change from the United Nations Mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica, a diploma in Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations from the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, Germany, and recently a Graduate Certificate in Public Health from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He currently works as a Research Associate I with the Deparatment of Medicine, Division of Oncology and Hematology at MCW. He has extensive research on Infectious Disease and Cancer Biology. He is a Global Youth Ambassador for A World At School an initiative of the UN Sec Ban Ki Moon to put every child in School. He is a member with the Carnegie New Leaders Program of the Carnegie Council and had provided leadership/mentorship workshops to students across the USA. He is a UNICEF Volunteer and a social entrepreneur. He was one of the SustainUS delegates selected to attend the CSW58 Session which took place early this year in NYC. He loves traveling.

Sarah Handler, Grassroots Fundraising Coordinator (Peoria, IL)

Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Sarah is currently pursuing her Industrial Engineering degree at Bradley University. On campus, she is the Student Body Vice President and serves on the Sustainability Committee, Sexual Assault Response Team, and Student Advisory Committee. She also works as a Student Admissions Representative in the Bradley University Office of Admissions and is active in her chapter of Society of Women Engineers. Passionate about sustainability and gender equality, she joined SustainUS her senior year of high school and has since served as Outreach Coordinator, CSW57 Delegate, and CSW58 Delegation Leader. In her spare time, you can find her coaching a Girls on the Run team at a local Peoria elementary school, hiking, and exploring local coffee shops.

Leslye Penticoff, Alumni Engagement Coordinator (San Francisco, CA)

Leslye joined SustainUS as a delegate to the Rio+20 conference in 2012 and has since served as Co-Chair, Lead Now Fellowship Coordinator and COP18 delegate. Outside of SustainUS, she works as a social media manager for Sungevity, a residential solar company dedicated to spreading the “rooftop revolution”. She graduated with honors from Wellesley College and has experience in a broad range of environmental fields, from sustainable international development to conservation to local and state policymaking. In her free time, Leslye rock climbs and is on a quest to find the country’s best coffee shop.

Matt Maiorana, Sandbox Coordinator (Oakland, CA)

Matt is in love with international politics. He’s done a bit of everything in the field — he’s been to 14 UN negotiations and has worked for the U.S. State Department, Congress,, the Climate Action Network, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). He’s worked with the SustainUS Steering Committee for several years as Policy Coordinator and Co-Chair. He graduated from College of the Atlantic and is now living in sunny San Francisco working for Oil Change International. In his spare time he’s worked to launch DailyUN, an international news service focused on making international governance more accountable, and is launching an online magazine called Activist Lab to help grow the progressive movement. He also loves avocados.