Meet Our Staff

 

Michael Brown – ExecutMPB7ive Director

Michael has served as Executive Director of the Ecology Action Center since November of 2007.  He has a diverse background in environmental work including training of volunteers in ecological monitoring for the Illinois EcoWatch, service as a Peace Corps volunteer at Pirin National Park in Bulgaria, management of a 320-acre educational park for the Peoria Park District, work in environmental health with the Peoria City/County Health Department, and restoration of natural areas for Peoria Wilds. He currently serves on the ISU Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Community Consulting Board and the Board of Directors of the ParkLands Foundation, acting as chair of stewardship efforts. Michael is a 2006 recipient of Peoria’s 40 Leaders Under Forty Award, 2013 recipient of the Illinois Recycling Association’s President’s Award, 2014 recipient of the McLean County Public Health Award, and the 2015 inaugural recipient of Illinois Central College’s Alumnus of the Decade award.  In his spare time, Michael is an avid cyclist, in 2017 completing a 250 mile ride across Death Valley National Park as part of “Climate Ride”.

Larissa Armstrong – Assistant Director

Larissa was hired in the fall of 2010 to provide part-time assistance with a wide variety of programs at the Ecology Action Center and came on full-time in 2016.   Beginning in 2018, Larissa was promoted to Assistant Director of the EAC. She coordinates the BN Energy Bright program, Yard Smart, Solar Bloomington-Normal, the Illinois Sustainable Living and Wellness Expo, and annual giving and fundraising in addition to other responsibilities. Larissa has a Bachelor’s Degree from Illinois State University in Politics and Government, and a Master’s Degree from Rutgers University in Global Affairs with a research focus on Global Environmental Issues.  She is also a Certified Diagnostic Energy Tester.  When Larissa isn’t busy working for the EAC, she is practicing yoga, hiking, baking, hanging out with her cats and husband, gardening, and staying engaged in the community.

Gary Kamplain  – Program Assistant

Gary joined the EAC in June 2011; previously he worked for over 30 years in the safety and agricultural fields. He is from central Illinois with a B.S. degree from Illinois State University. With seven rain barrels in use at home he was a natural for teaching the Ecology Action Center’s rain barrel workshops. He is also part-time resident Handy Man for the EAC. He greatly enjoys finding out how many ways the EAC serves the community and being part of this dynamic team.

Molly McCready – Education Coordinator

Molly joined the EAC team as Education Coordinator in early 2018. Prior to working at the EAC, she worked as a Research Assistant while earning her Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from Southern Illinois University. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2014.  With a focus in environmental policy and local government, Molly previously spent time interning with the Town of Normal, the City of Peoria, and the Illinois EPA. In her new role, she hopes to serve as an agent of positive influence while empowering children and adults alike to partake in collaborative efforts and help ensure a sustainable future for the McLean County community. Her passion for this work is founded on a belief that the origin of innovation is education. In her spare time she enjoys doing yard work, trying every restaurant in town, reading most anything, teaching softball, and above all spending time with her family and multiple cats.

Katie Gandhi – Program Technician

Katie joined the EAC team in January of 2018 to work on the 2016 Green House Gas Emissions Inventory. In the past, Katie served as a volunteer for the Ecology Action Center for many years. Katie has a Bachelor’s Degree from Augustana College in biology and environmental science and Master’s Degrees from the University of Iowa in urban & regional planning and library & information science. Katie has a passion for many things in this world, but her strongest belief is that we need to work together to be responsible stewards of our earth.

Eric Marshall – Stewardship Coordinator

Eric coordinates the Sugar Creek Stewards program for the EAC on a part-time basis while working on his small farm near Downs. He is interested and experienced in a wide range of resource management disciplines, from large scale rainwater collection, improving pollinator and wildlife habitat, to renewable energy generation. Eric’s previous farm had a 10,200 gallon rainwater collection system and his current farm power is supplied by a 9.9kW solar array purchased through the Solar Bloomington-Normal program. He also loves to volunteer to maintain parks, help local food pantries, and build nesting boxes for wildlife rehabilitators.

Sara Keene – Program Coordinator

Sara joined the Ecology Action Center in May of 2018 as a Project Assistant for the Solar Bloomington Normal 2.0 group buy program which concluded in October 2018. In November 2018, Sara returned as the Project Coordinator for the Bloomington-Normal Community Energy Strategic Plan (BNCESP). Sara is an Honors Student at Illinois State University, majoring in Renewable Energy with a minor in Environmental Studies. Sara will be graduating in May 2019. She is currently the Chairperson of the Honors Council and the Vice President of The Renewable Energy Society, both at Illinois State University. Sara is also a Student Ambassador for the Department of Technology at ISU. In her free time, Sara enjoys playing board games with her teenage daughters and her husband.

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