Jess’ experience facilitating change in coupled human and ecological systems began in Chile, where she worked with a group of scientists, land managers, and gauchos to develop an (unsuccessful) plan for a new national park in the rural Nevados de Chillán. Engaged by this setback and motivated to support the underserved people she met, she focused her work and research on understanding what decisions can deliver long term benefits to complex socio-ecological systems.
Jess’ expertise lies at the nexus of energy, water, and natural resources in rural areas and the Global South, where she brings her skills as a backcountry guide, ecologist, and educator to local action and policymaking. Her projects have included supporting the biologically-sensitive construction of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station (ISEGS), the world’s largest thermal solar project in 2014; building capacity for a geospatial monitoring tool to map change and degradation in the Andes-Amazon rainforests at the Carnegie Institute for Science at Stanford University; and partnering with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) to identify and model costs for renewable energy expansion in 23 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. She has led trainings and workshops on a wide variety of technical and social development tools in places such as Kosovo, Panama, Ecuador, and Montenegro, and she has conducted town halls and interviews in places as diverse as Kansas, México, Thailand, and Argentina.
Jess was awarded a Fulbright fellowship for her research on vulnerability to climate change on Mexico’s Baja coasts, and she was nominated and served on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Desert Advisory Council for three years. She received the prestigious Institute of Current World Affairs fellowship for two years, during which time Jess and her husband Josh sailed their 39-foot sailboat Oleada over 6,000 miles in Latin America to discover and document how people are adapting to climate change. She holds a degree in Ecology from Brown University, and an interdisciplinary MS in engineering, economics, ecology, and social science from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California – Berkeley.
When not advocating for people and a cool climate, Jess can be found with her family and two dogs, exploring by foot, bike, ski, or sail. She teaches yoga, plays the piano and ukulele, and (sort of) enjoys working on her breath hold for free-diving.
Josh grew up surfing in coastal Alabama, and has lived a life around educating coastal people ever since. Whether keeping his cool on a sailboat knocked down in 30 foot seas off the coast of Bermuda, or teaching indigenous Ngobe in Panama how to build a solar energy system with cobbled together parts and sign language, Josh serves as a hands-on communicator and real-world engineer for local people.
Among a wide range of professional experiences, Josh has supported projects as an educator, contractor, boat builder and renewable energy design specialist. He has taught courses in renewable energy for Solar Energy International in Costa Rica and the Bahamas; he founded a successful sailing program for local, low-income students at The Exuma Foundation, Bahamas; he taught sailing and ecology aboard the Tole Mour, an educational tall ship program.
In Moab, he served as the lead project manager for a passive solar, straw bale sustainable house, from planning to execution. Josh has the rare ability to design and fix anything: he can rebuild a diesel engine, construct any structure, from shack to sustainable house, convert a vehicle from gas to biodiesel or electric, and design and implement solar, wind, and low head water energy generation. The breadth of his experience is matched by the depth of his expertise. Josh is a US Coast Guard certified 100-ton ship captain, and holds a degree from the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building.
Josh is an expert craftsman and woodworker, and in his spare time he builds innovative and sustainable wooden surfboards, paddleboards, and dories. He will always take the time to teach a person to fish, and he can be found surfing river and ocean waves throughout the world. As a certified free-diver, he can hang out for four minutes underwater, and he enjoys using this skill to catch his dinners and retrieve his fair share of snagged anchors. He looks forward to teaching his daughter how to surf, dive, and sail.