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.
Christopher works as an environmental scientist and project geologist for a consulting firm based in Denver. He specializes in designing and implementing mitigation strategies for cleaning up hydrocarbon impacted soil and groundwater around Colorado as well as having experience managing projects around North America. Christopher is a native Coloradan and enjoys spending time in the outdoors hiking. camping and fishing with his family. He is proud to call Wheat Ridge home and loves giving back to the community and interacting with neighbors on sustainability projects and awareness.
Amy DePierre, Co-Chair
Amy is the Marketing and Sustainability Manager for Associates III, a residential interior design firm based in Denver, CO and an adjunct lecturer for the Geography and Environmental Science Department at the University of Colorado, Denver. Professionally, Amy enjoys working collaboratively with integrated teams focused on sustainability solutions. Personally, Amy loves to garden, hike, and camp, spending most of her free time in nature with her family.
Amy received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her M.S. in Environmental Science with a focus on sustainable small-scale agriculture systems from the University of Colorado, Denver.
Madelaine is a fifth generation Colorado native who has a background in education and non-profits and worked for many years with international students at the University of Denver. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology, a Masters in Education and graduate certificates in Environmental Policy and Management and Global Affairs as well as a Mini-MBA (High Performance Leadership Program). While at the University of Denver, Madelaine served on the Sustainability Committee and was selected to be a member of the Sustainability Cluster for the University's IMPACT 2025 Strategic Plan. She is also trained through the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corp and an active member of the Denver-Boulder Chapter.
Madelaine grew up in Wheat Ridge and now resides here with her husband and daughter and enjoys the outdoors, reading, and helping young people find their passion. She also likes to explore sustainable products and posts about the advantages and challenges to making these changes in every day life to help our Earth.
Heather is a Project Manager III at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Golden, CO. Her projects include residential weatherization for low-income homes, procurement/financial strategies for utility energy service contracts, demand response education, energy-water-food network, portfolio/program management, and resiliency assessments.
Heather holds a B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, an M.S. in Environmental Studies from San Jose State University, and an MBA at the University of Colorado at Denver.
Laura has over 15 years of experience working in the public sector, including work in public education, and capacity building with nonprofits of all sizes, and grant writing for local government agencies. Her track record of success includes leading grant writing projects that were awarded over $29 million from 2012–2015. Laura’s work in the social sector has also included experience working and volunteering with programs related to food justice, and equitable food access, including: completing a program evaluation of the Denver Public Schools Garden and Greenhouse program; and serving as a founding Board Member and volunteer staff for GreenLeaf—a grassroots food access, urban agriculture and youth development organization.
Laura holds a Masters of Public Administration from CU Denver where she tailored her coursework and projects to focus on food policy, non-profit advocacy and the intersection between public education, food access and food related policies and programs.
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.
Danny is a sustainability enthusiast living in Wheat Ridge Colorado. He moved to Colorado in 2010 to attend graduate school and is currently an engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He enjoys backpacking, gardening, pottery, cycling and improving his community. His favorite part about Wheat Ridge is the Clear Creek trail.
Danny received a B.S. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Oklahoma and an M.S. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Christian is the Director of Transportation Fuels and Technology at the Colorado Energy Office. He also served as Director of Programs and Initiatives at the Energy Office, focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy (public, commercial, residential) and alternative fuel vehicles. Prior to that he worked at the City and County of Denver as Sustainability Program Administrator where he worked on a number of citywide sustainability initiatives including the energy efficiency program.
Christian has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of San Diego and an M.S. in Construction Management from Colorado State University.
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.