Board of Directors

Sami Aaron, Chair and Treasurer

Sami is a retired software developer, meditation & yoga teacher, Extension Master Naturalist, and Climate Reality Leader.

Learn more about our founder.

The Resilient Activist organization was a gift that emerged through my studies in meditation, Yoga Nidra (yoga sleep), yoga for trauma, nature-connected teachings, and the benefits of time spent in nature. I have a heartfelt desire to share these gifts with others and to build a community that will nurture, uplift, and support those who strive to live in conscious harmony with Earth.

Anne Melia

Anne Melia, Vice Chair

Anne is an environmental scientist with experience working in environmental compliance and site assessment. She is active in a number of environmental and sustainability-focused organizations including The Resilient Activist, the Green Business Network, and the Metropolitan Energy Center. She is currently re-evaluating her life goals and actions towards a path of deeper self-discovery and increased environmental and social activism. 

The challenges of 2020 crystallized in my mind both the desire to become more actively involved in efforts to address climate change and social equity issues, but also the need for a nurturing community to provide safety and respite. Through the Resilient Activist, I have found opportunities for activism as well as connectedness and community. I am excited for the opportunity to join with Sami and others to further the vision and mission of the organization.

Tobi Holloway, Secretary

Tobi is the Enterprise Data Architect and Chair of the Financial Wellness Committee at Mazuma Credit Union. Tobi is on the board of The Resilient Activist and team-teaches a weekly meditation class with Sami. Tobi’s focus as a speaker and teacher is on the growth mindset, resilience, and self-care in service of effecting positive change in the world. 

I believe that how we earn, spend, invest, and donate matters, and I am committed to empowering individuals and businesses to benefit themselves, the greater community, and the planet.

Brenda Bennett-Pike

Brenda Bennet-Pike

Brenda is a retired social worker and educator. She is descended from Plains indigenous peoples and immigrant farmers, and feels intrinsically tied to the earth.

I believe we have a responsibility to steward its care for future generations.
In The Resilient Activist, I have found a community whose values match my own. A community which provides support, education, and inspiration in our work toward common goals.

Anna Graether

Anna Graether

Anna has worked at the intersection of design, facilities, and sustainability for corporate, non-profit, and government employers for thirty years.  In this, she is happiest when focused on good design that supports people in the workplace, and on reducing the impact of buildings on the environment through improved efficiency.  At her home in Kansas City, she has worked to create a landscape that is not only beautiful but sustains wildlife.

As a human drained by daily news of the onslaught to our planet and wondering if anything I do will make a single bit of difference, I was heartened to learn about the creation of The Resilient Activist – a toolkit and resource for those who are discouraged, yet not wanting to give up. Thanks Sami, for creating such a community. “When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” –Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Professional Advisory Board

Glenn Adams, Ph.D.

Glenn Adams, Ph.D. is the Faculty Supervisor at the University of Kansas, Department of Psychology, for the True Power for Climate Resilience and Recovery Focus Group Research Discussions, in collaboration with The Resilient Activist.

Barbara Gilbert, Ph.D.

Barbara Gilbert, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist currently in private practice in Lawrence, Kansas. She has practiced clinically for 35 years. She also has experience addressing larger-scale barriers to healthy functioning of the whole community.  She offers a psychology-based path to True Power for Climate Resilience and Recovery.

The process of how we go about developing community is integral in effectively responding to the climate crisis.

Trevor Lies

Trevor Lies is a Social Psychology Ph.D. Student at University of Kansas, Department of Psychology. He is the Principal Investigator for the True Power for Climate Resilience and Recovery Focus Group Research Discussions, in collaboration with The Resilient Activist.

The Resilient Activist offers me a space to engage in work related to the climate crisis and other environmental problems with an eye toward applied, community work. The research that I do means nothing if it is not also in conversation with the real, lived experiences of people at the forefront of these issues. I appreciate the variety of educational and engagement opportunities that The Resilient Activist offers. It is very important that our communities are in conversation with one another.

Tracy Ochester, PsyD, RYT-200

Tracy Ochester

Tracy Ochester is a psychologist, Certified Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Teacher/Mentor, trained Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention Teacher, Registered Yoga Teacher, and the Heart-Mind Coordinator for the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness.

Although I’ve been a professional caregiver for years, my mindfulness and yoga practice opened my eyes to the importance of being intentional about caring for myself and for the planet we all depend upon. I look forward to playing a role in helping The Resilient Activist support environmental stewards in mind, body and spirit so that our compassionate work of the heart might be sustainable over the long term.

Advisory Council

The role of the Advisory Council is to advance The Resilient Activist’s mission and to help guide our strategy, agenda, and funding. This group of professionals, based on their areas of expertise, provide in-depth advice to the board of directors.

Debra Box

Debra Box has been a leader in the Kansas City nonprofit community for over 20 years. She led Support KC for 17 years, working closely with nonprofits to help them define their missions and communicate how their missions’ impact those they serve. During her leadership, SKC became a recognized national model for nonprofit shared services. 

I am impressed with the innovative work and mission of the Resilient Activist.  It’s rewarding to me to be able to be a part of the mission as well as sharing my nonprofit expertise.

Christine Julian

Christine is the owner/senior designer of CJI Design Group. She helps busy homeowners navigate the process of remodeling and furnishing their home, by creating a truly unique look through a stress-free process of achieving it. 

At my core I believe every space should function well for you, promote good health, and spark joy. The Resilient Activist has been the key to achieving all of those three things in a very sustainable way. It started personally at home, and the positive effects of conscious living and connecting with nature are finding themselves at the core of every project I now design. 

Joshua King

Joshua King serves as the Director of Grant Development at the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA). He has worked in the nonprofit sector in grant writing, project management, quality assurance, and evaluation for over ten years. His work spans domestic and sexual violence and environmental advocacy, with consulting clients across the United States. Mr. King is a member of the Grant Professionals Association and holds a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

I’m interested in advancing the financial resilience of people in the climate movement, and creating a nonprofit-sector field for climate action. I believe financial security for activists is a fundamental component of resiliency, and through my work I hope to provide climate volunteers a pathway from passionate activism to career opportunity.

Dena Klein

Dena is the retired CEO of a niche PR company responsible for the day-to-day leadership and strategic direction in sales, operations, and marketing. She worked with owners and employees to build the company and develop client and media relationships over 28 years of employment.

I am inspired to be part of TRA to help preserve, protect, and regenerate our environment for current and future generations through positive steps and specific measurable actions that support environmental activists as well as “lay” people like myself who are greatly concerned about protecting and nurturing our Earth. And also to learn more about environmental issues,  actions/steps I can incorporate into my activities, and teach my grandchildren.

Courtney Masterson

Courtney Masterson

Courtney is the Owner/Operator and Ecologist for Native Lands LLC, a local organization focused on restoring native landscapes on public and private land while providing hands on, educational experiences in the community. She also teaches Field Botany at the University of Kansas and works with students in local grade schools to develop their field skills. Courtney is on the board of several local, non-profit organizations and strives to collaborate with environmental groups to support their work in the region.

I am passionate about The Resilient Activist’s mission because I believe self-care and a strong network provide the strength we’ll need to build and cross bridges as we work to heal our ecosystems and our communities.

Meredith Evans McAllister

Meredith McAllister

Meredith is founder of Compost Collective KC and is dedicated to helping others take small (or big!) steps to care for the environment. She has started numerous projects to improve her community since graduating from the University of Arizona in 2010. She believes deeply that we all have the power within us to create change using the skills we’re given.

The Resilient Activist holds a special spot in my soul, as it’s a place to create community that is centered around openness, vulnerability, and compassion towards the Earth – in a time when we all need a little bit more of all of that. 

Beverly McAuley

Beverly McAuley is a graduate of the accredited Interior Design program at Kansas State University and has worked in the A&D community for 28 years. She is an advocate for nature connection and sustainability in the built environment. Beverly presents regularly to architects, designers and manufacturers as the Director of Education and Sustainability with Moore & Giles and as an Ambassador for the International Living Futures Institute. Her passion is guiding others to renew their relationship with nature and to find their unique way to make a positive impact in the world.

I’m inspired to be part of The Resilient Activist in an effort to raise awareness to climate change. I hope to be part of a movement that helps people find their purpose and make a positive impact on the environment. 

Core Team

Our core team is a group of dedicated and inspired volunteers who provide time and energy to keep our programs going and the spark to come up with new ideas.

Neely Atha

Neely Atha

Neely Atha is a volunteer, landscaper, project design and social media coordinator, but mainly she is an environmental activist who aspires to respect and help improve the environment and our quality of life.

I resonate with The Resilient Activist’s mission and am thankful for being able to be a part of an ever-growing community that offers growth and satisfaction through positive environmental resources. I’m constantly reminded that there is something good in every day. I truly believe we can make a difference together and address genuine, efficient, and revitalizing work to address the climate goals for the future. The Resilient Activist is a place where I can use my skills in an atmosphere that offers both professional growth and personal satisfaction while being sustainable, innovative, and ethical. 

Pam Geer

Pam Geer is a retired nonprofit healthcare executive and currently a very active Johnson County Master Gardener.

I am a part of The Resilient Activist because I love all things nature.

Phoebe Mussman, Visual Media Strategist

Phoebe is a photographer, videographer, and aspiring environmental activist based in St. Louis. She sees her life’s work as amplifying the vision of a hopeful, intersectional, and irrepressible eco-revolution.

“The best way to take care of the environment is to take care of the environmentalist.” ~ THICH NHAT HANH

Mary Howe

Mary Howe is a yoga teacher, linguist, and sewing machine collector, and a former web developer, instructional developer, and technical writer. She and her husband spent 14 years living on eighty acres of Kansas fields and woodlands. They returned acreage to native prairie grasses and cleaned the woods of human junk (old washing machines, sheet metal, bathtubs, and much more).

I try to be compassionate, kind, and lighthearted in my relationship to the world. I also believe that these are the qualities we humans need toward the planet we live on.

Shaina Noll

Shaina was introduced to Sami through her Courageous Conversations interview. Deeply moved and inspired by her story, and the intent The Resilient Activist, she contacted Sami to see if she might have something to offer in support of the organization. 

I am a singer/songwriter and spiritual coach; it is my experience that a spiritual perspective on our lives as humans can deeply support resilience as we tend to the larger issues we are facing on our beautiful planet. It is my privilege to be a bearer of this spiritual perspective in ongoing conversations with Sami.

Kayla Williams

Kayla Williams is a registered nurse, an ecoAmerica Climate for Health Ambassador, and a project manager at the University of Kansas School of Nursing. She works with people from diverse backgrounds and settings to advance the message that climate solutions are a health priority. Kayla is a member of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Nurses Drawdown, and the Planetary Health Alliance. She co-leads planetary health initiatives within the KU School of Nursing, including the Nurses Climate Challenge School of Nursing Commitment. Before joining the nursing profession, Kayla served for more than a decade as a veterinary technician, community gardener, and beekeeper. She knows that ecological solutions must center around stewardship for the benefit of all life on earth. 

“We are members of a living planet, the tissues and organs that must be healthy and in alignment for optimal well-being of the whole earth-body.”

Elizabeth Allen

Elizabeth Allen is a recent graduate of Duke University who is looking to find a job working at the intersections of complex topics such as climate change, poverty, disasters, public health, and mental health. She especially enjoys researching and writing about environmental topics. In her free time, Elizabeth loves reading, journaling, and listening to Broadway musicals.

Elizabeth learned about The Resilient Activist while doing research to explore the connections between climate change and mental health. As someone who has struggled with eco-anxiety and ecological grief herself, she is excited to help other activists become personally resilient as they work towards environmental resilience.