Board of Directors
Employment: Founder, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Qualifications: Beth Sachs has been in the field of sustainable energy — energy efficiency and renewable energy — for 40 years. She co-founded the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that provides energy policy, design, management, and implementation services to clients around the world. VEIC’s largest initiative is delivering the services of Efficiency Vermont, which it has been doing since 2000. From VEIC’s creation in 1986 until 2008, she served as its executive director, with overall responsibility for all aspects of the health of the organization: planning, finance, advocacy, marketing, and culture. She continues to work at VEIC in the role of founder, working on a variety of activities, including organizational culture, social responsibility, workforce development, and low-income energy issues. She serves on the boards of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and Vermont Works for Women.
Employment: Chief Financial Officer, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Qualifications: A seasoned financial expert committed to serving mission-based organizations, Scott has more than 20 years of experience aligning financial strategy with mission and goals. His propensity for managing multiple lines of business toward a singular objective has helped VEIC remain profitable, stable, and mission-centered throughout its rapid expansion and will ensure its sustainability for years to come.
Employment: Math Consultant
Qualifications: Fran was a classroom teacher for more than 25 years, working primarily with grades 3–6. While she taught all subjects, her area of focus was mathematics. She is currently a mentor and instructor for the Vermont Mathematics Initiative, as well as a math coach for several schools. She has led professional development focused on current research in mathematics education.
Employment: Director of Generation & Renewable Innovation, Green Mountain Power
Qualifications: Josh Castonguay began his career just over 10 years ago at GMP after graduating college. In his current role, Josh oversees the development, construction, and operation of renewable generation throughout Vermont, including smaller-scale distributed generation, as well as the development of new strategic product and service offerings to customers. Josh currently resides in Milton with his wife, Jen, their son, Garrett, and their daughter, Ella.
Employment: Director of Professional Development, Shelburne Farms, Shelburne VT
Qualifications: For more than a decade, Jen has been working with schools on using the lens of sustainability for their curriculum, campus practices, and community partnerships through the Sustainable Schools Project at Shelburne Farms. She works with schools around the country on place-based learning, education for sustainability, and service learning. She is the co-chair of the US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and a board member of the Statewide Environmental Education Programs.
Qualifications: Through her work at the Vermont Agency of Education, Gail Hall encourages science educators in their efforts to incorporate environmental principles and sustainability into their instruction. Prior to joining the Agency of Education, Gail taught biological and environmental science at Northfield Junior-Senior High School and was an instructor of biology at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY.
Employment: Energy Program Director, Vermont Natural Resources Council
Qualifications: Johanna is an energy policy expert, organizer, writer, and coalition builder at the Vermont Natural Resources Council. She also serves as the coordinator of the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network, an umbrella of over 100 community energy committees and support organizations in Vermont. Johanna works to shape clean energy and climate action solutions from the grassroots to the legislature, partnering and coordinating with organizations, public officials, and citizens. Before joining VNRC in 2005, Johanna spent five years as an organizer, editor, and policy specialist for the Michigan Land Use Institute, a planning and smart growth policy organization. She has served on numerous boards of directors and currently serves on the board of the national nonprofit SEEDS and on the Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee. Johanna lives in Montpelier with her husband, Chris, and daughter, Lila, and enjoys skiing, biking, and hiking.
Employment: Executive Director, VEEP
Qualifications: Cara has worked as an educator, teaching environmental science and studies at three Vermont colleges, and as a non-profit administrator. She sits on the VEEP board of directors as a non-voting ex officio member.
Employment: Director of Science and Engineering Education, VEEP // President, Energy Balance
Qualifications: Andy has been engaged in energy and efficiency work for more than three decades. His business, Energy Balance, does energy consulting for high-performance buildings, including high levels of energy efficiency, solar heating, day lighting, solar electricity, monitoring and evaluation, and building and systems design. His work with VEEP focuses on curriculum development, teacher training, and consulting on issues related to equipment and school energy audits.
Employment: retired researcher and physics professor
Qualifications: Stephen spent his working life as a researcher in the science of alternative energy and a physics professor, recently retired from Auburn University. He also led a federally-supported experimental fusion energy research laboratory comprised of students, post-docs, technicians, and staff scientists. Stephen has worked with a student in U-32’s Branching Out program on the topic of electronics, served on and chaired many committees at Auburn, involving research, hiring, campus life, and faculty governance, and been active in scientific outreach activities, numerous scientific program reviews and advisory panels at the request of the Department of Energy. For eight years, he played a leadership role in the University Fusion Association, and he has recently completed a term on the Executive Committee of the American Physical Society, Division of Plasma Physics.
Cara Robechek, Executive Director
Cara comes to VEEP with a breadth of experience in both nonprofit management and education. She has spent the past eight years teaching courses such as environmental communication, environmental economics, current environmental issues, and children, health and environment for Community College of Vermont, Johnson State College, and the University of Vermont. Before that, she worked in nonprofit development and management at the Center for Whole Communities in Waitsfield, VT, where she was the first staff member, from 2004–2006. She has also served on the board of the Montpelier-based nonprofit Planting Hope and as an elected Parks Commissioner for the City of Montpelier. Cara has a BA in environmental studies from Dartmouth College, and an MS in renewable natural resources and development from the University of East Anglia. She lives in Montpelier with her husband and two children, and enjoys growing her own food, reading, hiking, running, and cross-country skiing.
Andy Shapiro, Director of Science and Engineering Education
With a BA in engineering from Brown University, Andy Shapiro — through his company, Energy Balance, Inc — has been providing energy consulting and design services to a wide variety of clients since 1988. He works with homeowners, architects, engineers, and builders, as well as towns, landlords, nonprofit housing organizations, and electric utilities. Services range from house-doctoring to sustainable building design, and include research projects as well as utility program design and impact evaluation. He is the author of The Homeowners Complete Guide to Add-On Solar Greenhouses and Sunspaces (Rodale Press, 1985). He became VEEP’s energy scientist in 1994. Andy provides a level of technical expertise unusual in classrooms and, along with Fran Barhydt, is helping to enhance science teaching in New England schools. He lives in Montpelier. Read more of Andy’s story in his staff profile.
Jess Angell, Director of Curriculum and Education
Jess received her BS from the University of Vermont in wildlife and fisheries biology and an MA in education from Johnson State College. She started her career as a field biologist conducting rabies research in Vermont, but soon realized that her true passion was for teaching others. She comes to VEEP after spending the last 15 years teaching secondary and middle school science as well as teacher training courses at the college level. She is excited to be part of a team that facilitates learning through hands-on, minds-on inquiry explorations. When not busy educating others, Jess enjoys spending time chasing her three children, learning, and participating in numerous activities, such as hiking, organic gardening, reading, skiing, and running. Jess and her family live in Burke.
Aaron Heyerdahl, Energy Educator, Northwestern Vermont
Aaron earned his B.A. in human ecology — the study of how humans interact with, relate to, and are influenced by their environment — from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. Aaron first came to Vermont as an apprentice to a wooden canoe builder in Craftsbury Common, eventually moving with his family to Vermont in 2005. He has been teaching a variety of subjects including outdoor education, woodworking, and physics in Waldorf schools since 2000, working with hands-on curricula in grades ranging from K–12. After spending the past year as a residential solar sales rep at SunCommon, Aaron is excited to return to classroom teaching where he can help engage and empower students through understanding energy issues, and also help them realize how they can impact climate change. Aaron enjoys all things outdoors, especially boating, fly-fishing, hiking, and skiing. He is a passionate photographer and naturalist, an avid golfer, and counts having touched a whale as one of his peak experiences.
Mariah Keagy, Energy Educator, Northern Vermont
Mariah earned a MS in environmental studies from Antioch New England, and has taught science in Vermont middle and high schools, and on the post-secondary level as an adjunct instructor at Sterling College. She is excited by facilitating inquiry-based science explorations and guiding students through hands-on, minds-on learning and questioning. Mariah is also passionate about applying science and education to local food systems. She works as the coordinator for Our Food Matters, a project incorporating local food and food systems learning into K–12 curriculum in schools in the Orleans Southwest district. When Mariah is not working in education, she can usually be found outside, either designing trails or playing on or near them. She enjoys a variety of year-round outdoor recreation opportunities, as well as working with communities to plan and complete projects. She is excited to extend this work to school communities as an energy educator.
Julian Leon, Energy Educator, Southeastern Vermont
Julian comes to VEEP with over 20 years experience conducting hands-on, problem-solving science classes. Before becoming a teacher, he worked as an electrical engineer in New York. Julian has had the good fortune to travel and teach around the world, including Hawaii, Japan and Colombia. He is also an avid snowboarder and has ridden on five continents. When Julian is not snowboarding or teaching or traveling, he can be found running his steampunk-themed food booth, raising alpacas, or just hanging out with his wife and daughter in their Springfield, VT, home.
Laura MacLachlan, Energy Educator, Southwestern Vermont
Laura joined VEEP as a regional energy educator, serving schools and communities in Addison and Rutland counties, in August 2013. She brings recent experience in teaching K–6 children concepts in nutrition, gardening, composting, recycling, and farm-to-school as a guest presenter in other teachers’ classrooms, using hands-on activities to engage children. Laura previously worked for several years as a full-time classroom teacher in Worcester, MA, and as a substitute teacher in schools in the Brandon area. She earned her BA in English and elementary education and has an MEd from Lesley University in teaching reading, as well as a teaching certificate in Montessori education. She is married with three children, who love her new job at VEEP. She and her family live in Brandon.
Erin Brannen Malloy, Energy Educator, Central Vermont
Erin has worked with VEEP since 2001. A Prescott College alumnus, she has been involved in alternative education programs dedicated to farming, the arts, environment and energy. In 2002, Erin created an off-grid, solar/wind-powered earthen home. Using their home as a teaching tool, Erin and her family have hosted over 800 volunteers. When not working with VEEP, Erin spends the majority of her time mothering, tending the garden, and planting more trees in their orchard. You can read more of Erin’s story in her staff profile.
Kaity White, Energy Educator, Northeastern Vermont & Northern New Hampshire
Kaity is a lifelong resident of the Northeast Kingdom and is passionate about all things Vermont. She earned her BA in biology from Middlebury College. Kaity is excited about bringing her love for science and the environment into the classroom to inspire others and foster a passion for learning. She previously worked for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department as a fisheries technician. When not thinking about science, Kaity is an avid equestrian and animal owner. She also enjoys reading, hiking, and, most of all, spending time with her husband and two sons.
Dana Dwinell-Yardley, Communications and Admin Coordinator
Dana has been organizing, writing, creating, and loving the outdoors since before she can remember. She brings over 10 years of experience with the print and media world to VEEP, along with a lifetime of enjoyment for coming up with better ways to do things. Dana grew up as an unschooler on a off-the-grid, solar-powered homestead in northern Vermont, where her lifelong love of learning and desire to make the world more beautiful began. She’s currently dreaming — from her little condo in Montpelier — of the day when she gets to live in a solar-powered house again. When she’s not playing with words, sharing on Facebook, working on a freelance graphic design project, or writing about herself in the third person, you can find Dana outdoors on a mountain somewhere, at a contra dance, singing with a choir, playing disc golf, cooking something without a recipe, reading a book, or laughing at her cats.
Fran Barhydt, Founder and Director of Curriculum Emeritus
A graduate of the University of Delaware and Central Michigan University, Fran was awarded National Science Foundation grants to study biology and physics at Northern Arizona University and Science: A Process Approach at the University of Delaware. She was recognized by the National Science Teachers Association and the University of Delaware’s College of Education. Fran was a consultant for the Delaware Museum of Natural Science, Delmarva Power, and schools in Delaware, Vermont, and New Hampshire. She is the writer and on-camera teacher in Disney’s education video, Chemistry Matters, and has written science resource books for Prentice Hall, including The Science Teacher’s Book of Lists. Fran started with VEEP in 1989 and served as director until 2007. In her current role as VEEP’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction, she has been awarded grants from US EPA and US DOE for developing VEEP energy resource guides for teachers.