Executive Team

Michael Schmitz

Executive Director

Michael is an attorney and non-profit leader with business experience who brings to the job over two decades of experience in policy at the federal, state, and local levels. Before joining ICLEI, Michael was Principal of Go Forward Consulting specializing in strategic research, analysis and policy development. The firm managed and advised non-profit, business, and political clients on a range of issues including environmental regulation, land use, and economic development. In this capacity he served as Executive Director of CLEEN, a statewide coalition of environmental and public health organizations advocating for the protection of California’s clean water and environmental health.

Prior to founding the firm in 2003, he was a civil rights attorney and senior legislative counsel for the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus focusing on environmental, trade, and economic development policies.

He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Stanford, a law degree from UC Hastings in San Francisco, and a master’s degree in Urban Planning from UCLA.

Michael’s civic activities include four years as Economic Development Commissioner in the City of Alameda and Board Member of the Restoration Advisory Board at Alameda Point NAS charged with overseeing the clean-up of the former Naval air station.

He and his wife Catherine have a sophomore and a seventh grader and live in the Bay Area.


Monica Gilchrist

Deputy Executive Director

Monica is the Deputy Executive Director of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA. She has been instrumental in driving forward the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative (SEEC) in California, helping to provide access to a dynamic suite of energy efficiency software tools, resources, trainings and guidance to California local governments at no cost. She currently oversees operations nationally for ICLEI USA.

Monica has professional experience both creating and implementing cutting edge green building and sustainable development programs, policies and projects. Prior to joining ICLEI, Monica was Executive Director at the Green Hive Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the advancement of education programs and services related to clean technologies, climate change, green job development and sustainable economic development. She also was co-founder and co-owner of green building consulting firm Eco Creative Solutions, and was the National Resource Center Coordinator for environmental non-profit Global Green USA, where she assisted in the creation and opening of Global Green’s office in New Orleans, as part of Global Green’s response to hurricane Katrina.

She currently serves on the Advisory Board for USC’s Center for Sustainable Cities, the Steering Committee for the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC) and several other Technical Advisory groups.

Monica holds an MA in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles with an emphasis on Sustainable Development.





Dawna Liang

Senior Finance Officer

Dawna Liang joined ICLEI in April 2007.  As Sr. Finance Officer, Dawna works closely with ICLEI’s accountant to handle overall financial operation. Her responsibilities include processing payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and bank deposit; organizing and maintaining financial record; preparing and assisting internal/external audit; and organizational taxes return. Dawna also works in Human Resources, which includes assisting in the recruiting process; overseeing and handling employees benefits; promoting and enforcing organization policies; participating in employee retention; and maintaining positive work environment improvement. Also Dawna handles office administration and assists in organizational compliances.

Dawna has over 20 years of professional experience in Accounting, Administration and Human Resources. She has worked for both for-profit and non-profit companies.  Prior to ICLEI, Dawna was Office Manager at Nokia-Maillerfer, a cable machinery joint-venture in the Pacific region, where she was responsible for operations, human resources and payroll.

Dawna holds an M.A. in International Economic Development Studies at Dominican University.





Riana Ackley

Program Officer, Technical Assistance

Riana is the Technical Assistance Program Officer on ICLEI’s Resource Efficiency & Renewable Energy Team. Riana works with ICLEI’s partner organizations on the implementation of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs). Riana manages the technical assistance program for SolarOPs working to provide timely customized assistance  to help cities and counties remove barriers in local markets and increase installed solar capacity.  Riana previously worked at the Solar Energy Industries Association as an External Affairs Associate where she established partnerships and alliances with external organizations to advance the solar industry and managed relationships with the SEIA member law and accounting firms.

Riana holds a BA from the University of North Carolina, Asheville in Philosophy and Political Science.



Daren Cheatham

Program Officer

Daren is a member of ICLEI’s Resource Efficiency and Renewable Energy Team. In this capacity, he manages the Green Business Challenge and climate equity programs, and supports the work of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership. Prior to joining ICLEI, Daren spent three years working in the United Nations Secretary-General’s Office supporting stakeholder engagement for the Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

In addition to experience in sustainable energy and international relations, Daren also has a background in law. Daren worked Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP, an international law firm, providing support on international merger and acquisition deals. He also worked at KBC Financial Products and supported the General Counsel and Chief Financial Officer with various business development projects.

Daren holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Amherst College, and a M.S. in International Relations from New York University.



Angie Fyfe

Director of Resource Efficiency & Renewable Energy Programs

Angie Fyfe, LEED AP O+M, collaborates with local governments to optimize community resources and clean energy through integrated solutions and investments.  During her first year with ICLEI, Angie initiated an ICLEI Climate Finance program and continues to create an equity lens for ICLEI USA offerings, based on her interest in human-centered design.

Previously, Angie served as the executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council, Colorado Chapter and as the associate director and program manager of the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office, where she built community capacity with a focus on energy, water, finance, transportation, and materials. Additionally, Angie was the founder of an online real estate services company and the Real Estate Product and Partnership Manager of global corporate relocation services firm.  Her clients included Johnson & Johnson, Fidelity Investments, Costco, IBM, CH2MHill, and Frist Data Western Union. Angie holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Finance and has a wealth of sustainability leadership experience.  She actively advises the City of Denver on its climate action agenda as a member of the Denver Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Advisory Council.  Her former advisory positions include the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant sub-committee, appointed by the U.S. Department of Energy to advise Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, the University of Colorado Denver speakers’ bureau Wirth Chair Sustainability Series, and the Women in Sustainable Energy non-profit.



Brian Holland

Director of Climate Programs

As Director of Climate Programs, Brian oversees ICLEI’s programs for GHG emissions management and climate resilience.  Since 2009, ICLEI’s Climate Team has continued to advance the cutting edge of local climate action under Brian’s leadership, including such activities as release of the US Community Protocol for community-scale emissions accounting; development of ICLEI’s industry-leading ClearPath software for managing energy and emissions; creation of Resilient Communities for America, the nation’s largest local leadership campaign for climate resilience; and our State of California partnerships that have institutionalized ICLEI protocols and tools into the State’s world-class climate policy framework.  In addition to broad expertise in carbon management and climate resilience, Brian has particular expertise in sea level rise adaptation, developed through such projects as the award-winning Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy for San Diego Bay and a sea level rise vulnerability assessment developed for the City of Los Angeles.

Brian is a city planner who has worked in the public, private, and non-profit sectors since 2004.  His projects have been recognized for excellence by the American Planning Association and the American Society of Landscape Architects, and he recently served as a Lead Author on the 2014 National Climate Assessment.  He lives in Pasadena, California with his wife Megan, their daughter Lucia, and their Boston terrier Elwood.



Saharnaz Mirzazad, AICP

Policy Associate, Urban Planning

Working across all of ICLEI USA’s climate and energy programs, Saharnaz contributes to the development of domestic and international initiatives. She identifies synergies across programs and builds relationships with regional offices, ICLEI members, supporters, and non-profit partners. Within ICLEI programs, she is the co-manager of the California China Urban Climate Collaborative (CCUCC) and the Hayward Community Project. Saharnaz is also the lead staff for climate adaptation projects such as the San Diego Hazard Mitigation project, and she supports Solar Outreach Partnership team.

Before joining ICLEI USA, Saharnaz worked as an urban planner and designer for ten years on multiple international and national projects. Her area of expertise includes sustainability planning, land-use planning, and urban revitalization. She has experience of working with both private and public sectors.

Saharnaz has a master’s degree from UC-Denver Urban Planning School and a Certificate in Sustainable Urban Infrastructure from UC-Denver Engineering and Applied Science School. She also holds a Master in Urban Design and a Bachelor in Architecture from prestigious universities in Iran. Saharnaz’s technical certifications include AICP and LEED GA.



Mike Steinhoff

Program Manager, Tools & Technical Innovation

  • Location: Boston, MA

Mike Steinhoff has worked with ICLEI-USA since April of 2009 and has lead the development of several tools including the Climate and Air Pollution Planning Assistant (CAPPA), ADAPT, The Green Business Challenge Web App, and most recently, ClearPath. In addition to managing the back end of ICLEI’s IT resources, Mike works on the development the accounting frameworks and protocols for local emissions management and provides broad technical support across ICLEI’s Mitigation, Adaptation, and Green Business Challenge programs. In his time at ICLEI, Mike has helped to develop numerous numerous GHG Inventories and Climate Action Plans for individual cities. Mike came to ICLEI with an interdisciplinary background which includes MSES and MPA degrees from Indiana University and a BS in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Tennessee.



Gina Stovall

Program Associate, Tools & Technical Innovation

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Website: Link

Gina is the Tools and Technical Support Associate for ICLEI USA. She supports the administration, development and reach of ICLEI’s digital presence and web tools. Gina also provides technical support for ICLEI USA members on greenhouse gas inventories and tools and she contributes to promoting the organization’s message as a member of the communications team.

Before joining ICLEI Gina was an environmental consultant, offering her expertise on urban Brownfield redevelopment projects in the NY-metro area and New England. In addition, she mobilized a contingent of social justice advocates for the People’s Climate March in NYC and has collaborated on several climate communication projects at the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Gina holds a BS in Geology from the City University of New York and a master’s degree from the Climate & Society program at Columbia University.



Chad Tudenggongbu

Program Officer, Resource Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Chad Tudenggongbu is a program officer at the Resource Efficiency & Renewable Energy Division, ICLEI USA. He manages the team’s resource development and dissemination, and hosts regular national solar energy webinars under the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership.

Chad is also a core member of the organization’s team working to facilitate long-term sub-national level urban climate collaboration between U.S. and China.

Prior to ICLEI USA, Chad worked as a Senior Climate Change and Energy Project Manager at the British Consulate General in Chongqing, China. At the Consulate General, he collaborated with British and Chinese governmental officials, academic institutions, and international corporations to promote effective environmental policies, rigorous emissions reduction measures, and sustainable and environmentally friendly end-users’ practices.

Chad received his MS in Environmental Policy from Bard Center for Environmental Policy and BA in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University. He is the recipient of the David Brower Award for Exemplary Leadership and Service to the Community, the Milner’s Fund Fellowship, and the Paul Farmer Award for Justice and Social Responsibility.



Eli Yewdall

Senior Program Officer, Climate & Membership

Eli Yewdall is a Senior Program Officer developing resources to help local governments measure, manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Eli supports ongoing development of ICLEI’s protocols, tools, and guidance and training materials in the areas of greenhouse gas inventories, forecasting, and climate action planning. Eli also leads ICLEI’s work engaging local governments in the development process for improved building energy codes.

Before joining ICLEI, Eli worked for two years as a full-time volunteer with St Joseph’s House of Hospitality in Rochester, NY to provide meals and shelter to and advocate on behalf of homeless individuals. Eli has also produced educational materials on climate change for the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative.  Eli has a Masters in Energy and Resources from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS from Gonzaga University.





J.R. Killigrew

National Membership Coordinator & Senior Climate Program Officer

J.R. serves as membership lead to the ICLEI USA member network providing technical support around emissions management and related software tools, climate action planning, and sustainability initiatives. J.R. also assists with sales and marketing of ICLEI’s tools and resources, and brings expertise in video production.

Prior to joining the ICLEI team, J.R. worked as the first sustainability coordinator for the non-profit Sustainable Bolivia in Cochabamba, Bolivia.  His work focused on spearheading the organization’s first sustainability report, greenhouse gas inventory, and short-form documentaries highlighting Sustainable Bolivia’s educational commitment to the local Bolivian community.  J.R.’s background also includes real estate sales, media production and graduate work in Corporate Social Responsibility and LEED for Neighborhood Development.
J.R. holds a Bachelors’ Degree in Economics from Pitzer College and is highly proficient in Spanish.





Celina Plaza

Communications Officer

Celina has been the Communications Officer of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA since January 2015. A seasoned communicator and marketer in the NGO and corporate sectors with an expertise and Masters in environmental science, she has structured her career in the pursuit to bridge the science and public understanding of climate change – in particular around practical solutions that can benefit both humans and the planet.

Celina oversees all communications and media for ICLEI USA – including its programs and tools – and is responsible for communications integration with ICLEI’s global offices. Her responsibility lies in informing leaders, officials, and the general public of ICLEI’s strides to empower local governments with the ability to build resilient and healthy cities through climate protection and action. With professional experience strategizing, developing, implementing, and analyzing marketing work in the digital and traditional arenas, Celina constructs customized communications programs tailored to the unique goals of projects. Prior to joining ICLEI, Celina was Marketing Manager for ecoAmerica, a non-profit that uses consumer research and strategic partnerships to create large-scale engagement programs that build awareness, understanding and action for climate and environmental solutions among mainstream Americans. She was also Associate Marketing Manager for Gap Inc., where she led the digital on-site and email marketing for the company’s Adult divisions. Other past work includes website development management for Tribal DDB and public affairs support at the PeaceCorp’s regional Boston office.

Celina holds an MSc in Environment, Culture, and Society from the University of Edinburgh with an emphasis on climate change science and social impacts, and a BS in Communications from Boston University.




Interns and Fellows

Sebastian Bonelli

Urban Climate Policy

  • Location: New York, NY

Sebastian is an ICLEI Urban Climate Policy intern working with local governments in the US, helping them to become visible leaders of a positive international change. Sebastian is assisting cities in updating and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions inventories, as well as their climate adaptation initiatives and sustainability actions, building a base for cities international dialogues that will take place at COP21 in Paris.

Sebastian has also worked as a Research Associate in the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Chile, supporting the MAPA project and carrying out research on climate change impacts and adaptation in central Chile, by working on an adaptation plan directly with several stakeholders and policymakers of the region. In addition, Sebastian has collaborated with climate science communication projects at the International Research institute for Climate and Society.

Sebastian holds a BA in Agronomy, a M.S. in Natural Resources, and a Master of Arts from Columbia University, in Climate and Society.



Katherine Peinhardt

Urban Climate Policy

  • Location: New York, NY

Katherine is serving as an ICLEI Urban Climate Policy Research Assistant, working in engagement and outreach to local government policymakers and stakeholders, in preparation for UN climate change negotiations. Assisting with appraisals of city-level greenhouse gas inventories, climate change mitigation and adaptation plans, and sustainability efforts in cities like Washington D.C., Katherine works to evaluate policy options for cities seeking to boost resilience and climate-adaptive initiatives.

Katherine has also been involved in environmental advocacy, engaging with 350NYC, a local chapter of 350.org, as well as the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, reaching out to local policymakers regarding sustainable shifts to the energy mix of New York State. Katherine has also worked in climate science communications and adaptation policy research at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, and the Urban Climate Change Research Network, respectively.

Katherine holds a dual BA in both Spanish and International Relations, with a concentration on environmental and development issues. She also holds a Master of Arts from Columbia University, in Climate and Society.


    Michael Hughes

    Urban Climate Policy

    • Location: New Haven, CT

    Michael supports the Urban Climate Policy initiative by providing technical assistance to member local governments that are working to establish inventories compliant with the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC), report climate change adaptation and mitigation actions, and showcase potential local projects in need of funding to the international climate finance community.

    Michael developed his knowledge of inventory methodologies and reporting frameworks through previous work as a clean energy and climate change consultant to the Town of Branford, CT, as a Sustainability Fellow with the Chewonki Foundation, and as a Program Officer with ICLEI USA. Michael holds a B.S. from Tufts University and is currently a graduate student pursuing an MBA from Quinnipiac University.