Meet Our Board
The ICLEI USA Board of Directors are local leaders from across the country, including mayors and county executives representing each region. The Board helps drive the organization strategically and ensures that ICLEI’s value to its local government members continues to meet and exceed expectations. We extend our deepest appreciation to our Board of Directors.
In Loving Memory of Harvey Ruvin
Longtime member of the ICLEI USA Board of Directors and Miami-Dade County’s longest-serving elected leader, Mr. Ruvin’s legacy includes his early actions to wield the power of community action and local leadership to influence global climate policy, including his role as a founding member of ICLEI and representing U.S. local governments in numerous global climate convenings, including six climate conferences of the parties (COP) events.
“I was once vice chairman of the international ICLEI, then president of ICLEI USA,” he recalled. “We have an active group now coordinating our best practices and being a consultant to American cities and counties.”
ICLEI North America Regional Executive Committee (RexCom)
- Mayor Frank Cownie (GexCom Rep)
- Commissioner Brigid Shea
- Council Member Matt Appelbaum
Each of the nine ICLEI regions also has its own Regional Executive Committee (RexCom), which approves new initiatives and programs in that region. All RexComs come together to form the ICLEI Council, the overarching decision making and guiding body. The Council shapes and approves the ICLEI strategy, has the sole power to amend our statutes and elects the Global Executive Committed (GexCom) portfolio seats.
ICLEI members vote for their RexCom representatives.
Commissioner Brigid Shea
ICLEI USA Board Chair
County Commissioner, Precinct 2, Travis County, Austin, TX
Commissioner of Travis County, Texas, Brigid Shea came to Austin in 1988 to start the Texas chapter of Clean Water Action. Prior to that, she had been an award-winning journalist at NPR stations in Minnesota and Philadelphia. Commissioner Shea served on the Austin city council from 1993 to 1996 and championed consumer, electoral, and environmental reforms.
Commissioner Shea is the co-founder of SOS, Austin’s historic law to save Barton Springs, has been an advisor to LCRA, Seton, the City of Austin, and others, and her work with a client won the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Environmental Excellence Award. She serves on many boards, including the national board of Clean Water Action. She is a 2001 graduate of Leadership Austin and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce Clean Energy Council. Shea was elected Travis County Commissioner in 2014. She is a native of North Dakota, has two sons, and is married to John Umphress, Green Building specialist with Austin Energy.
Former Council Member and Mayor, City of Boulder, CO
Matthew Appelbaum served on the city council of Boulder, Colorado, for 18 years, from 1987 to 1995 and recently from 2007 to 2017, including five years as the city’s mayor and four as its deputy mayor.
Matt has been a member of the ICLEI USA Board of Directors since 2015 and also of ICLEI’s Regional Executive Committee for the North America region. Nationally, he served two terms on the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities (NLC) and was a long-time member of NLC’s Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee (EENR), for which he served as chair or vice-chair for several years; EENR has focused its efforts on national policies and best practices relating to energy efficiency, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and resiliency. Matt also has been a member of the steering committee of the WaterNow Alliance since its inception in 2015, an organization dedicated to helping cities and water districts manage their water supplies, wastewater, and stormwater more sustainably.
Regionally, Matt has served on the Executive Board of the Colorado Municipal League (CML), having been on CML’s Policy Committee for many years, and has also served on the Executive Committee of the Denver Metro Mayors Caucus. He was Boulder’s representative to the US36 Mayors and Commissioners Coalition, a group formed to facilitate the construction of bus rapid transit along US36 from Denver to Boulder, as well as additional mobility/transit improvements.
The City of Boulder is well known nationally and internationally for its many innovative programs and policies related to sustainability, energy, and resilience, and was selected as one of the 100 Resilient Cities by the Rockefeller Foundation. Boulder also is currently attempting to “municipalize” its electric power system as a way to rapidly reduce its reliance on fossil fuels through the purchase of renewable supplies, distributed generation, and other innovative tools. Matt has spoken about these issues and many others at numerous forums worldwide, including the United Nations’ annual climate conference COP21 and COP23, the ICLEI World Congress, National League of Cities, 100 Resilient Cities, and the EcoCity World Summit, and was invited to attend the symposium on climate change at the Vatican.
Although Matt is not a design professional — in real life he designed complex computer software systems — he is a LEED AP (so that he could better understand the components of sustainable design), and was the main designer and energy modeler for his own passive-solar house.
Mayor Frank Cownie
Mayor, City of Des Moines, IA
Frank Cownie was elected Mayor of Des Moines, IA, in 2004. He spends much of his time in leadership roles on the national and international stages representing issues that he is most passionate about: local control, resiliency initiatives, the environment, homelessness, peace, jobs, and the economy. Recently, Mayor Cownie was invited by the Executive Office of the Secretary General United Nations to participate in multiple high-level meetings on climate change. In 2011, Mayor Cownie was named as a local government representative when FEMA led the federal interagency meetings that culminated in the “National Disaster Recovery Framework; Strengthening Disaster Recovery for the Nation. Then, in 2014, he served on President Obama’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Mayor Cownie has also been invited to the White House on several occasions to share the local government perspective on jobs, the economy, the environment, transportation infrastructure and Housing and Urban Development.
Prior to joining the City Council in 2002, Mayor Cownie was a member of the Des Moines Planning and Zoning Commission, serving as chair of the Commission from 1996 until 2002. During his time on the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Mayor led the revised Comprehensive Plan known as Des Moines 2020 to its adoption in 2000. Mayor Cownie served on a number of planning subcommittees, including chairing the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) review for the City Council, which made comment and recommendations on the proposed CIP for consistency with the Comprehensive Plan. The Mayor continued his interest in sound urban planning as Co-Chair of “The Tomorrow Plan, Partnering for a Greener Greater Des Moines” from 2011 to 2013. This was the first regional plan adopted by the metro area and was the recipient of the Daniel Burnham Award for Comprehensive Planning from the Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association in 2013, and followed up with a new plan for Des Moines: “Plan DSM”, which also was awarded “Silver Level” recognition for sustainability from the American Planning Association and the Daniel Burnham Award for Comprehensive Planning from the Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association in 2016.
Former Mayor and Council Member, City of Santa Monica, CA
Former Mayor and Council Member Pam O’Connor has championed policies and partnerships that enhance community livability and wellbeing on the Santa Monica City Council since 1994 and has served as Mayor five times. She is particularly interested in issues that advance sustainability and mobility.
Pam serves on Advisory Boards for the Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute and UCLA’s Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. She participated in the U.S. Conference of Mayors and is an active member of the National League of Cities having served on its Transportation Infrastructure and Services Committee, Information Technology and Communications Committee, and on the Board of Women in Municipal Government.
Pam also served on the California Coastal Commission as an alternate from 2010 to 2012. This quasi-judicial regulatory body oversees land use issues that impact California’s coastline, with the goal of protecting and conserving the environment and preserving public access to this natural resource.
As a professional urban planning consultant, Pam specializes in historic preservation. She has worked on significant historic buildings throughout Southern California including the Los Angeles City Hall Seismic Rehabilitation, and at institutions. Her expertise includes environmental review and rehabilitation of historic resources. Other previous positions of note include: Director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northridge Earthquake Recovery Partnership Program; Planner for the City of Pasadena; and Research Associate at the Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
Pam holds Masters’ degrees in Planning and in Technology Management from Eastern Michigan University and a B.S. in Communications from Southern Illinois University.
Pam views community wellbeing as the natural next step in the evolution of local government, as well as a way to advance the connection between mobility and sustainability issues by looking at their impact through the lens of human flourishing.
Principal with Baird+Driskell Community Planning
David Driskell has led city planning and sustainability efforts as a municipal official, consultant, and university-based researcher, working throughout the U.S. and Canada as well as Europe, East Africa, the Middle East, and India. Before joining as Principal with Baird+Driskell Community Planning, he served as Deputy Director for the City of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development, and previously served as the City of Boulder’s Executive Director for Planning, Housing and Sustainability.
David is an urban planner who is passionate about sustainability, community engagement, and cities. Much of his professional work has focused on developing platforms and processes to engage people and institutions in collaborative problem-solving and coordinated action. In Seattle, he is helping facilitate cross-departmental, cross-sectoral collaboration on integrated approaches to equitable and sustainable development, including public open space planning to support a rapidly densifying city, improving the quality of design outcomes in new development, and developing a people-centered vision for the future of Seattle’s center city. In Boulder, he helped guide a wide range of planning and sustainability efforts, from affordable housing and transit-oriented development to zero waste and energy system change. He also forged partnerships with peer cities on sustainability and climate initiatives, and worked with the University of Colorado and others to launch the Growing Up Boulder initiative to support youth engagement in planning.
Prior to his work with City of Boulder, David was the UNESCO Chair for Growing Up in Cities at Cornell University, leading an international action research program focused on young people as community change agents, partnering with NGOs in New York and Nairobi and serving as advisor and trainer for initiatives in Canada, Jordan, Lebanon, the Netherlands and Russia. He is the author of Creating Better Cities with Children and Youth: A Manual for Participation (Earthscan/UNESCO, 2001) as well as many articles and book chapters on the role of young people in environmental action.
As a consultant, he has led participatory planning projects focused on land use, affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization in California, Oregon, New York and New Jersey, and from 1996 to 1997 led the planning team for the Capital City Master Plan for Doha, Qatar. In addition to teaching at Cornell, he has taught urban planning courses at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. He is a graduate of Stanford (BA, 1986) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MCP, 1991).
Founding Partner at Stiles.Legal and Senior Strategic Advisor and General Counsel to former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project
Dan is an experienced general counsel, business leader and advisor, tech entrepreneur, and climate activist. Dan provides counsel to organizations seeking to make a positive human impact doing advocacy work from main street to Congress and international advocacy from Beijing to the United Nations. He has managed risk for clients through the Paris terrorist attack to broadcast television productions reaching over 800 million people worldwide. Dan has served as a strategic advisor and general counsel for former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s nonprofit, The Climate Reality Project, since 2009.
Dan serves on the Advisory Board for the Salazar Center for North American Conservation, founded by former U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, and as a mentor for entrepreneurs with the Techstars-The Nature Conservancy Sustainability Accelerator. He has served in leadership roles in federal and state politics from Deputy Chief Counsel to the DNCC for the Democratic National Convention and counsel for state and federal candidates to managing logistics for national and international press for a U.S. Presidential campaign.
Chief Sustainability Officer, University of Texas at Arlington
As University of Texas Arlington’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, Meghna works collaboratively to foster partnerships among academic, research, and operational departments at UT Arlington. She leads institutional sustainability efforts in support of the UT Arlington 2020 Strategic Plan- Bold Solutions | Global Impact that is enabling a sustainable megacity that centers on four themes: health and the human condition, sustainable urban communities, global environmental impact and data-driven discovery. She also works to address opportunities to promote sustainability in several areas energy efficiency, resource conservation, waste management, transportation, education, outreach, community engagement, supporting and encouraging student initiatives, and implementing an interdisciplinary and sustainability-focused curriculum.
Meghna serves and represent UTA on several Advisory Boards including the National Academy of Science Board on Higher Education and Workforce Development—Policy and Global Affairs, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and is a Fellow at Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity at Southern Methodist University. She has also served on the Advisory Committee for the City of Dallas Environmental and Climate Action Plan (CECAP), National Academy of Sciences Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) panel, and the Water Resource Council of North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG).
She has spearheaded launching a Regional Center of Expertise for Education in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in North Texas, a program of the United Nations University, and the Institute for Sustainability and Global Impact at UT Arlington. She is a Tedx Speaker, was featured as the Women in CSR by Triple Pundit, and awarded Women of the Decade in Corporate Social Responsibility by the Women Economic Forum. Meghna graduated with an MBA in Sustainable Management, MS in Environmental Science, and MS in Chemistry.
Kelly Takaya King
Former Council Member, Maui County, HI
Kelly Takaya King holds the County Council seat for the South Maui Hawaii residency area. She was the chair of the Planning Committee in her first term and now leads the Climate Action and Resilience Committee which she created with the support of her colleagues. Kelly is Vice President of Pacific Biodiesel Technologies, LLC, a pioneering renewable energy company she co-founded with her husband Robert King in 1995. Among her many accomplishments, Kelly received the 2018 Maui Sierra Club Onipa`a Award, was named to the Biofuels Digest international list of Top 100 People in the Advanced Bioeconomy 2017, and earned the 2005 BlueSky Award from United Nations Industrial Development Organization in Shenzhen, China.