Sustainable Wheat Ridge is a volunteer-led committee guiding the City in efforts to improve community conditions in six areas of environmental sustainability:
- Communications and Engagement
- Green Building and Energy Efficiency
- Renewable Energy
- Solid Waste and Recycling
The committee operates under the direction of Mayor Bud Starker and with the support of the City Manager’s office and Marianne Schilling.
The committee is made up of these community members:
Karen Berry is the State Geologist and Director of the Colorado Geological Survey. She works closely with cities and counties, across the state, on a variety of land use and natural resource issues. She is a certified planner, and a professional geologist.
Berry has served on numerous boards and commissions including; Denver Regional Council of Governments; Colorado Municipal League Policy Committee; Wheat Ridge City Council, Planning Commission, Liquor Licensing Board, and Building Code Advisory Board; Jefferson Conservation District; Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership; Coalition for the Upper South Platte; Upper South Platte Watershed Association; and the National Association of Conservation Districts policy committee.
Kelly serves as Transportation Climate Change Specialist at the Colorado Energy Office, where she works to accelerate transportation emissions reduction through policies, programs, and investments designed to increase the use of zero emission vehicles, transit, and other sustainable travel modes. In her spare time, she also volunteers with the Wheat Ridge Active Transportation Advisory Team to make biking and walking safer and more accessible in the city, and enjoys cross-country skiing, rafting, and gardening. She moved to Wheat Ridge with her husband, who grew up in Colorado's North Fork Valley, and her dog in 2020. She holds a Master of City Planning and Master of Science in Transportation from MIT, and undergraduate degrees in Geography and Environmental Studies from Middlebury College.
Rachael is an Environmental Specialist with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory where she is involved in National Environmental Policy Act reviews, geographic information systems and mapping, environmental audits, vegetation management, and pollinator encouragement activities. She collaborates with construction managers, builders, and designers to integrate environmental sustainability and protection into all stages of construction. She has also worked with native, indigenous communities on renewable energy projects and has a passion for honoring and learning from their sustainability practices. She has a M.S. in Environmental Science, M.S. certificate in Geographic Information Systems, is ISO 14001 Lead Auditor Certified, and is in the process of becoming a certified master gardener through Colorado State University. Rachael and her husband live in the Bel Air neighborhood where she enjoys biking Clear Creek Trail and zumba-ing at the Wheat Ridge Recreation Center.
Michaela is a 4th generation Coloradan and avid environmental enthusiast. Michaela is passionate about the environment and community and is supportive of building inclusive and healthy environments for all communities. Her track record of success includes leading a grass-roots composting initiative to the whole of Auraria campus, raising community awareness to food justice, equitable food access, and youth homelessness. In her free time, Michaela enjoys gardening, hiking with her dogs and adventuring across the state.
Michaela received a dual B.A. in Environment, Society and Sustainability as well as Political Science from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Betsy is a native Coloradan and spent her engineering career at Xcel Energy. Her work at Xcel included the technical aspects and the resulting policy of sustainability, resiliency, and reliability on the electric distribution grid. She studied the effects of electric vehicles on the electric grid and the opportunities to mitigate grid issues through storage, flexible charging times to align with the abundance of renewable resources and policy changes to encourage EV ownership. She also led the initial wildfire mitigation effort at Xcel.
Betsy enjoys traveling anywhere and everywhere, especially to places where she can squeeze in a day of sea kayaking. But she always seems to end up making trips to Utah for some desert tranquility and beauty. Betsy has a BS in Electrical Engineering from University of Colorado, Boulder and is a registered Professional Engineer.
Mark De La Torre
Mark De La Torre is the Director of Visualization, and a Senior Project Manager for Planning and Design Services at MIG, a national multidisciplinary firm that designs and sustains environments to support human development through creative problem-solving. Through his professional and academic interests, he has worked across the country, in the Middle East, and in Latin America on planning and design projects focused on a holistic view of sustainability. Mark moved to the Bel Aire neighborhood in Wheat Ridge in 2017 with his wife, Leanna, a historic preservation architect, his now three girls, and their dog, Charlie. He holds a Master of Landscape Architecture and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona.
Amy DePierre, Co-Chair
Amy DePierre is a PhD student, researcher, and lecturer in the Geography, Planning, and Design program with the College of Architecture and Planning and the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver. With a professional background in marketing and sustainability for the built environment, Amy's interdisciplinary research and teaching incorporates elements of geography, environmental science, psychology, and urban planning. Utilizing geospatial methodologies, her research aims to provide enhanced understanding of the ecological, political, and social complexities inherent in local food systems uniquely situated in different global contexts. Personally, Amy loves to garden, hike, and camp, splitting her time between reading and enjoying nature with her family.
Amy received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and her M.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Colorado Denver.
Brittany is a GREEN-designated Realtor with the National Association of Realtors® and works full-time as a residential real estate agent with West + Main Homes. With a diverse background in marketing, technology, non-profit management, architecture and design, Brittany infuses her passion for sustainability into everything she does and everyone she meets. She loves educating homeowners on ways to implement simple and sustainable updates in the home. She loves giving back to the community and has volunteered with the Colorado Renewable Energy Society’s signature Metro Denver Green Homes Tour, as well as Blue Spruce Habitat for Humanity, among others. Brittany lives with her husband and two kids in the Fruitdale neighborhood of District IV.
April works at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Toxics Release Inventory and Healthy Schools Coordinator. Experience working on environmental justice, environmental and land use planning, grant management, policy at the Federal and local level. April is passionate about the environment and community. April supports building and maintaining an inclusive community that supports healthy and active living for all residents. April has lived in Wheat Ridge 2012.
April received her B.S. in Geography and Environmental Planning at Towson University and her Master of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Colorado at Denver.
Joy Opp, Co-Chair
Joy works in the Communication and Engagement focus area of the Sustainable Wheat Ridge committee, and serves as the committee’s co-chair. She is a native Coloradan and a resident of Wheat Ridge since 2006. An avid hiker, Joy founded Colorado Mountain Mamas, a hiking group for moms with new babies and for a decade lead hundreds of hikes all over the front range. She is a local Realtor with West + Main Homes and thrives on helping her clients understand the value as well as the sustainability impact of the homes they are buying and selling. Joy is also a trained Climate Reality Leader.
Joy received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Kansas.
In the first half of his career, Rob worked as a mining engineer for various mining, oil, and engineering companies. Mid-career, Rob returned to university for a master's degree in environmental management and policy. He has worked for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management coordinating the cleanup of abandoned and historic mines on public lands. Ten years ago Rob and other volunteer engineers were first invited to Guatemala by La Comisión Pastoral Paz y Ecología and later Colectivo MadreSelva to evaluate various technical issues concerning four operating and proposed foreign owned mines in Guatemala. Issues included environmental impact analyses performed by the mining companies and approved by government agencies, impacts of mining on downstream water quality, houses damaged by vibrations from mine blasting and truck traffic, post-mining reclamation and reclamation surety bonds, and financial contributions of foreign owned mining to the national economy. This consulting work continues. Rob also volunteers to monitor conservation easements. His favorite retirement activity was a degree in biology.
Rob has a B.S. and Master of Engineering degrees in Mine Engineering and is a registered Professional Engineer.
Montana is a sustainability manager for Danone North America, where she works to embed more environmentally-friendly and socially responsible practices in the company's supply chain. Previously she worked in ingredient procurement at Danone North American and prior to that in international development on microfinance and health projects in sub-Saharan Africa. She enjoys gardening, composting, cooking, rock climbing and camping and is excited to support the Wheat Ridge community.
She received an M.S. in Natural Resources & Environment and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
History of the Committee
In 2017, Mayor Joyce Jay and City Council initiated the inaugural Wheat Ridge Environmental Sustainability Committee (WRESC).
Between June 2017 and June 2018, the WRESC, comprised of 11 residents with vast expertise and experience in each topic area, dedicated approximately 550 hours meeting twice a month at City Hall as well as extensive time outside of these meetings to develop the Environmental Sustainability Action Plan. The WRESC represented each district in Wheat Ridge and was comprised of: Karen Berry, Amy DePierre, Dan Graeve, Heather Head, Alex Helling, April Nowak, Joy Opp, Andy Rasmussen, Rob Robinson, Eric Wilson, and Adam Wylie.
Shortly after the Action Plan was approved, the WRESC entered the implementation phase of its mission. A few new committee members were added to begin to implement several of the programs recommended. The committee also underwent a name change and the program is now known as Sustainable Wheat Ridge.