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Board of Directors

 

Narayan Dhakal (Start date: April 2017) is a conservation scientist trained in the complexity of ecological processes involving human communities with the perspective on human dimensions of nature conservation. He has been involved in conservation work since 1992. Narayan previously managed the Terai Ecology Project / Chitwan National Park, Nepal in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute, USAID, US - National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, US-Fish and Wildlife Service and WWF. He's also developed a community based conservation model by harnessing economic benefits from biodiversity conservation. Between 2004 to 2013, Narayan worked in academia in the U.S. with a focus on human dimensions of natural resources management. His capacity for environmental advocacy is to bring knowledge and communication for changing human behavior. Narayan believes once people understand the value of nature and natural resources, only then we can live in harmony with nature. Over the last four years, his interest has been in the information technology field and through his work within software development as a System Quality Analyst. He aims to make the best use of technology in understanding and utilizing environmental databases, social & professional networking.  

 

John Dunlop (Start date: October 2014) John is a renewable energy policy consultant based in Minneapolis. As a professional engineer, he managed renewable energy programs for the Minnesota state energy office for 15 years. Following that work, he focused on national wind energy development for the DC-based non-profit trade association for wind power, the American Wind Energy Association, for another 21 years. John is a member of Hennepin Ave. United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, where he helped lead the social justice team to promote climate action. He is also spearheading a movement to install a large solar panel system on the church building in an effort to become carbon neutral. He served as Board Chair of the Minnesota clean energy advocacy group Fresh Energy and co-founded and chaired both the national Interstate Renewable Energy Council and Solar Rating and Certification Corporation. John is passionate about making our planet inhabitable for the rest of his very young grandchildren's - and their grandchildren's - lifetimes.  

 Bill Forsyth, Treasurer (Start date: March 2014) Bill is a member of Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Minneapolis and is an attorney at Henson Effron. His practice focuses on family law and Alternative Dispute Resolution. He is a recent grandfather and has enjoyed slowly shifting from days at the office to days as a caregiver.

  

 

Terry Hokenson (Start date: January 2014) Terry has an M. Div. with a focus on social and political ethics. He is a recovering domestic relations attorney and semi-retired carpenter. He has been paying attention to peace, racial, and labor justice issues since the late 1960's. In 1979, he founded Northern Sun News to oppose nuclear, fossil fuels, and centralized energy systems and to promote energy conservation and renewables. He grew up Lutheran in rural areas and small towns in Texas and Minnesota and has been a Quaker for the last twenty years. He has been exploring the BWCA for 50 years and loves winter camping. He is the author of two young adult novels, The Winter Road (Front Street) and Leif’s Journey (Namelos).

 

Ruhel Islam (Start date: April 2015) Ruhel is the owner and Executive Chef of Gandhi Mahal, an award-winning Bangladeshi/Indian restaurant dedicated to embodying environmental sustainability and the peaceful principles of Gandhi. Ruhel also serves on the board of the Lake Street Council. Ruhel was recently selected to participate in the Small Business Administration’s ‘Emerging 200 Initiative,’ a program to support up-and-coming entrepreneurs with skills and tools to build their businesses. He travels frequently to Bangladesh and continuously supports charities and social justice causes through his work at Gandhi Mahal. You can read more about Ruhel's work here and his recent trip to Bangladesh here.

 

Zoe Nicholie (Start date: April 2014) Zoe is a member of Shir Tikvah Congregation in Minneapolis. She is active in social justice work at Shir Tikva and helped to start an environmental justice team at Jewish Community Action. She is passionate about tar sands and divestment work.

 

 

Teddie Potter (Start date: January 2014) Teddie is Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota. She is the Coordinator of the Doctor of Nursing Practice in Health Innovation and Leadership and the Director of Inclusivity and Diversity. Recently she co-authored a book with Riane Eisler called Transforming Interprofessional Partnerships: A New Framework for Nursing and Partnership-Based Health Care. A passion for healing, traditional wisdom, and her own lifelong love of nature led Teddie to have a very early recognition of shifts in natural rhythms related to climate change. She was instrumental in forming “The Earthwise Group” at Mayflower United Church of Christ and was able to promote an Earthwise Resolution and the Resolution for Carbon Neutral Church Buildings, which passed at both the state and national levels. The Earthwise ministry also spearheaded a successful capital funds campaign, so the church was able to recently install 204 solar panels on the roof of Mayflower.


Rev. Gwin Pratt (Start date: June 2013) Gwin recently retired as the senior pastor at St. Luke Presbyterian Church in Minnetonka. After 25 years of parish ministry, Gwin describes his spiritual journey as one in which he sees the unity of all things in this great gift of the living earth. The mark of God’s holy message comes to us in Jesus’ prayer that the Kin-dom may come on earth, this wondrous place of God’s manifestation. Gwin comes to MNIPL after more than a decade working with the climate movement, including working with MN350. Click here to hear one of our favorite climate change sermons that Gwin delivered in 2012.

 

 

Cathy Velasquez Eberhart (Start date: January 2014) Cathy is a member of Prospect Park United Methodist Church where she helped initiate congregational sustainability conversations, including most recently a seven-part series on climate change. She and her husband Guillermo run Velasquez Family Coffee, selling the shade-grown coffee grown by their family in Honduras. Previously, she served as the Membership Coordinator for Land Stewardship Project. She is also a PK squared (the preacher's kid of 2 retired UMC pastors who served in the South Dakota conference). Click here to read a recent article Cathy wrote on finding hope. 

 

Dwight Wagenius, Chair (Start date: June 2014) Since Dwight took his M. Div. from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in 2009, he developed a social justice ministry, primarily while serving on the Justice and Witness Ministry team of the Minnesota Conference UCC. Dwight served as a Minnesota Assistant Attorney General for 30 years prior to his call to ministry, specializing in environmental law. Dwight is a vegetarian for environmental reasons; he and his family have a couple huge organic gardens on their farm near where he grew up in west central Minnesota. Dwight lives in Minneapolis and is a member of Mayflower UCC. Dwight sees the relation between God and creation as panentheistic. Dwight was recently ordained as the Community Minister of Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ! Check out pictures from his ordination service, here.