2015 Interns

Amir Abouzalam (Sustainability Implementation Internship)


Amir is a sophomore at the University of Colorado majoring in Finance with a certificate in Socially Responsible Enterprise. Originally from San Antonio, Texas Amir came to Colorado to attend the University of Colorado as well as to further develop his interest in sustainability, which began in his high school’s eco-club. Since then, Amir has served as a member of the University of Colorado’s Student Government in community outreach and is also a member of the Diverse Scholars Program and Leeds Scholars Program. These programs have increased his interest in sustainability and have opened his eyes to just how crucial it is for the human race to incorporate sustainable practices in our lives.
When he is not at work or at school Amir enjoys hiking, snowboarding, playing volleyball, reading, and attending music concerts and festivals. Upon graduating, he hopes to work in the non-profit world and ultimately wants to live outside of the United States and become an advocate for education across the world.

Nick Annin (Sustainability Implementation Internship)8.13.2014--Football Headshots Photo by Joe Angeles/WUSTL Photos

Nick grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and is currently a rising Junior at Washington University in St. Louis. He is majoring in environmental policy and minoring in writing. Outside of the classroom, Nick is an intern at Wash U’s Office of Sustainability, President of Net Impact, a student group that promotes sustainable business on campus, and he plays safety on the varsity football team. He is also going to represent Washington University as a student delegate at COP21 in Paris this December. Nick developed his passion for the environment through family camping trips during his childhood. By spending extensive amounts of time paddling and hiking through wild and remote places across the country, Nick forged a deep appreciation for the natural world. This appreciation is what fuels his zeal for sustainability today. He is excited for an edifying summer learning about sustainability implementation with the NCS team.

Stephanie Mitts (Policy & Research Internship)SONY DSC

Stephanie is currently an undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. degree in Geology at Weber State University. She will graduate in Spring 2016 and plans to work to innovate and implement new sustainable technologies and policies to improve the quality of the natural resource industry. She also intends to pursue a graduate education. Her prior sustainability related experience includes interning in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of the Interior, working as a student coordinator in Weber State University’s Energy and Sustainability Office, working as an undergraduate research fellow on a National Science Foundation funded project (iUtah), and conducting hydrologic research and analysis with the US Forest Service and the US Department of Agriculture. In addition, Stephanie has led and been involved with many campus and community organizations, and was elected as the College of Science Student Senator during her senior year at Weber State University. Her love of nature and science was cultivated as she grew up along the Wasatch mountains in Northern Utah. In her free time she enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, cooking and gardening.

 Emily Jahner (Sustainability Implementation Internship)NCS.headshot1

Emily is originally from Bismarck, North Dakota, and is currently a junior pursuing undergraduate degrees in Environmental Sustainability and Economics at the University of Minnesota. She is actively involved in extracurricular activities on campus serving as the chair of the speaker selection committee for the LSBE Entrepreneurship and Innovation Conference, secretary of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, a member of the Student Sustainability Coalition, and a volunteer at the UMD Sustainable Agriculture Project. Emily’s love for hiking, camping and the outdoors fuels her passion for sustainability, as it protects these beautiful places for future generations. She gained insight into current sustainability issues through her experience participating in a Minnesota state pilot internship with GreenStep Cities. During this time, she worked with the city of Silver Bay, MN, to assist in the development of sustainable infrastructure. Upon graduating, Emily plans to work in the field of sustainable consulting, making innovative changes in the way we approach business by bridging the gap between economic and sustainable development.

Shannon Oleynik (Sustainability Implementation Internship)

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Shannon is a rising senior at Colby College in Waterville, ME, majoring in both Environmental Policy and Government. Growing up in Rockville, Maryland outside of Washington, D.C., Shannon has always been closely connected to the politics surrounding the climate policy conversation. She fell in love with the outdoors at an early age, exploring parks in her local area and along the East Coast. Shannon has interned at American Rivers in Washington, D.C., assisting the Development Team with donor research. At Colby, she works as an Eco-Rep for the Sustainability Office, educating students about sustainability at Colby, as well as organizing events and projects to improve Colby’s environmental practices. Outside academics and her work as an Eco- Rep, Shannon runs on the cross country team, leads Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips throughout Maine’s wilderness, co-chairs Colby’s Senior Pledge Campaign, and works as an Assistant Student Caller for the Colby Fund. She spent this past semester in Copenhagen, Denmark, studying sustainable development in Northern Europe. In the future, Shannon hopes to help bridge the gap between the corporate world and environmental consciousness, as well as continue to advocate for increased environmental protection policies. Shannon will be interning for Natural Capitalism Solutions remotely from Portland, Maine, where she will also be interning at Environment Maine, working to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act.

Kynan Hicks: Fall intern 2015Kynan Hicks 2015 Intern

Kynan grew up in Golden, Colorado where he has always enjoyed exploring the outdoors with his friends and family. Over the past few summers, he has worked in the Colorado mountains as a professional outdoor guide and educator taking teens mountain biking, rock climbing, and backpacking. In 2014 Kynan graduated from Principia College in Elsah, IL and received a B.A. in global perspectives with minors in sustainability and Spanish language. While in college, he took full advantage of opportunities to explore ways that social and environmental stewardship were being applied on his college campus and in the world. During his junior year, Kynan joined an abroad program in Peru to learn about problems in the global seafood economy. While many aspects of the abroad focused on the issues of unsustainable fishing practices, he particularly enjoyed experiencing how some NGOs and businesses were using principles of sustainability to solve these problems. He also served as the Executive Director of Speakers for his college’s annual Public Affairs Conference on the topic of sustainability. He worked with a group of students to invite and host a variety of thought-leaders in the sustainability space. After college, he moved back to Colorado to work for a sustainability communications company called Taiga Company, and is eager to explore more about how sustainability can be applied to business and community practices.


Ti’Akka Johnson: Fall Intern 2015

Ti’Akka is a graduate student at Antioch University pursuing a degree in Resource Management and Conservation. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, she fell into the environmental field after gaining her undergraduate degree in Industrial Technology. She is very interested in waste management to include creating better recycling, composting and solid waste practices in large cities and organizations. Ti’Akka enjoys traveling and exploring. She participated in the International Student Volunteer program, restoring wetlands in New Zealand. She is excited to start a career in environmental sustainability helping to promote a new way of thinking and living.


Kendall Kraus: Sustainability Implementation Intern

picKendall Kraus completed her undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College in Environmental Studies with a focus on Sustainability. While at Dartmouth, Kendall played 4 years on the Women’s Soccer Team and received the Lucinda Fernald award for leadership as captain her senior year. Kendall’s love for the outdoors started in her backyard in southern California and grew through visits to Sierra Nevada’s and most recently the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire and Vermont. Kendall has experience working for Life Technologies, Source Intelligence, and the City of Carlsbad where she completed projects on sustainability, conflict minerals, and wildlife management. She hopes to continue working in the environmental field and complete an advanced graduate degree to pursue a career in academia.

Meryl Compton: Sustainability Implementation Intern

meryl compton- headshotMeryl is from Boulder, Colorado, where she grew up camping, skiing, hiking, and exploring the mountains, and where she developed her passion for the natural world. She is currently a rising junior pursuing a degree in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University, and previously attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota before transferring to Colorado State. She has been an active member of both the Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, and College Democrats clubs; she also played water polo for Macalester, and was on the club swimming and triathlon teams at Colorado State. She hopes to pursue a career in environmental economics and policy, and is interested in strategizing ways for communities, businesses, and industries to develop sustainably and efficiently. Outside of school, she trains and competes in dressage, and has worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor for almost five years. In the future, she looks forward to traveling as much as possible, and continuing to learn how we can fundamentally shift global society towards resilience and sustainability.

Elizabeth Spears: Policy & Research Internship

FullSizeRender (8)Elizabeth grew up in Texas with an innate curiosity about the world beyond Houston. Her desire for adventure led to seven years active duty service in the U.S Air Force. During a long tour in England, Elizabeth’s environmental awareness and passion for sustainability emerged. This passion continued to develop in her personal life as her career advanced in other directions. After leaving the military, Elizabeth obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio and worked as a critical care registered nurse for a decade. Seeking further professional challenge, Elizabeth earned a Doctorate of Jurisprudence degree from University of Houston Law Center and is currently a practicing attorney. After a few years doing volunteer work for a local farmers market and an advocacy group for small farmers and ranchers, Elizabeth began exploring ways to merge her professional experience and skills with her now full-blown zeal for sustainability. She completed a Professional Certification in Sustainability Management from the University of Colorado-Boulder to obtain basic education in the field. Elizabeth hopes to bring more awareness and acceptance of global environmental issues to Texas communities, businesses, and individuals. Her future career aspirations include further policy and advocacy work, as well as consulting with small to mid-size businesses on sustainability issues. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys travel, cooking, entertaining friends and couchsurfers, and knitting modern unique dolls for sale in her Etsy store.

Mariana Pickering: Policy & Research Internship

Mariana Pickering LEED APMariana was born into an international family based in Dallas, Texas. She received a BA in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis, with a semester abroad at DIS in Copenhagen, Denmark. She also has a Master of Design Science in Sustainable Design from the University of Sydney in Australia. For the past seven years she and her husband have owned an architectural design studio called Emu Architetti in his Italian hometown of Cavriago, where she designed the first certified Passive Houses in the province of Reggio Emilia. Mariana is a LEED Accredited Professional and has published articles with websites such as Houzz.com on the subjects of green building and Italian design. As part of the couple’s move to Colorado, Mariana hopes to draw on her international experience in sustainable built environments to shift her career focus towards larger community scale policy implementation.

David Schneider: Policy & Research Internship

eeDavid Schneider, a student at the University of Wisconsin, is obtaining his master’s degree in Sustainable Management (MS). David will graduate upon completing a capstone project that he hopes to corroborate through his intern experience. His interests are broad, but his focus is in financial and technical transfer mechanisms, means of implementing Global Goals, FCCC climate negotiations, climate intervention and governance, protecting the natural order of Earth, and global commons partnership. David believes in a regenerative approach to economics that does not transgress planetary boundaries, and cites Kate Raworth’s “Doughnut Economics” as a global sustainable model. He has completed course work in ecological, environmental and green economics, international environmental law, and geopolitics. His interest in Natural Capitalism Solutions stems from a desire to be involved with an influential institution during a historical moment in history – the year of sustainable development – and he feels working with the team here will expose him to many issues and give him glimpse into policy and partnership action. As an agent for change, David wishes to help NCS continue as a sustainably effective organization long into the future. David lives with his wife and two young boys in Green Bay where he works as a community organizer and enjoys being outdoors, running marathons, eating local and ethnic food, and practicing being fully alive in space and time.