Delta Institute is a nonprofit that thinks like a business to build both a resilient environment and economy through sustainable solutions.
At least, that's the easy way to put it...
Disrupt the Energy Status Quo
Catalyze Ecosystem Stewardship
Transform Waste from Liability to Asset
WE SERVE OUR CLIENTS AND PARTNERS BY:
Identifying strategic solutions.
Developing sustainable markets.
Convening diverse stakeholders.
Informing better policy.
Designing and implementing model programs.
WTTW’s “Urban Nature,” explores vacant lots
The 16-part web series brings viewers to unexpected places in three big cities: Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. Delta's hybrid poplar tree farm in Gary, Indiana is featured here in the "The Intricate Ecology...of Vacant Lots," episode (2:50). We're working in partnership with Fresh Coast Capital and the City of Gary to use these fast-growing plants as an interim land use strategy that beautifies vacant properties and removes toxic substances from the soil. Read more in our blog.
This report recommends strategies to improve the landscape for funding, operations, and management of nonprofit-led social enterprises (NPSE) in Illinois.Read More >
This summarizes the three-part report that aims to provide a more sustainable conservation funding model in Illinois through the creation of formalized regional partnerships and an agricultural investment cooperative.Read More >
This paper describes the process Delta Institute’s project team used to develop an engineering-based, brownfields prioritization rubric, the use of which resulted in a site prioritization that more truly reflected the goals of the community in an impactful way.Read More >
People and Profiles
Lead Ecological Economist
Ryan provides technical and programmatic leadership across Delta’s strategic priority areas. He is instrumental in fostering new projects and partnerships, particularly around agriculture and payments for ecosystem services, and in applying a systems lens to Delta’s projects. Ryan recently designed and taught an ecological economics course at Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability. Before joining Delta in 2007, Ryan conducted policy and economic research at World Relief and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He is a member of the Chicago Advocates for Urban Agriculture Steering Committee and holds a B.S. in Finance from North Park University and a M.A. in Ecological Economics from the University of Leeds. Ryan grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and when not deep in the weeds of a PDF, he can often be found looking after his hens, bees, and raised beds.
Senior Programs Associate
As a Senior Associate, Martin provides technical and programmatic support and GIS expertise for Delta’s waste and ecosystems projects. Native to the Washington D.C. region, Martin holds a B.A in Environmental Studies with minors in Architectural Studies and Art from Ithaca College. In Martin’s free time, he can be found on the pool deck coaching for the Chicago Dive Club at Northwestern University.
Kevin Dick, LEED AP O+M
Kevin oversees and implements Delta’s energy and buildings strategy, which includes managing Delta’s green building portfolio and residential and commercial behavioral energy programs. Kevin’s passion is finding new, innovative connections, and technology-based solutions that make permanent market change and enable partners and clients to be leaders in sustainability innovation. Born in Atlanta and raised in Cincinnati, Kevin has a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Cincinnati, and a M.A. in Geography & Environmental Studies from Northeastern Illinois University. In his spare time, Kevin plays four musical instruments, cooks, gardens, goes on nature excursions, designs software, takes photographs, writes short stories, and occasionally keeps bees. .
Caitlin supports programmatic work across Delta’s objective areas. Before joining Delta, she worked as a Lab Operations Associate at Accugen Laboratories, aiding in quality control for a diverse set of industries. Caitlin holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Loyola University Chicago with a minor in Communications. While at Loyola, she aided in research surrounding farming conservation and pollination practices as well as urban agriculture. When she’s not in the office, Caitlin enjoys writing poetry, crafting homemade cards, and exploring Lake Michigan's shoreline, even in Chicago’s winter.
Director of Finance & Operations
As Director of Finance and Operations for Delta, Helen is responsible for all of the financial, administrative and operational aspects of the organization. She brings more than 15 years of experience in a leadership capacity in accounting and administration in the nonprofit, government, and private sectors. A native of Chicago, Illinois, Helen holds a B.S. in Accounting from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee and M.S. from Keller University in Accounting and Financial Management. In her spare time, she loves football (GO STEELERS!), traveling, and playing with her dog.
Nishaat Y. Killeen
Senior Communications & Engagement Associate
Nishaat manages Delta’s online communications presence and provides communications and programmatic support for Delta's projects. Before joining Delta, she was a Communications and Program Manager for Midwest Pesticide Action Center, a nonprofit focusing on reducing harmful effects of pesticides, and worked for the U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office as a Research Fellow. Hailing from Rockford, Illinois, she holds a dual B.S. in Chemistry and Science, Technology, and Society from Butler University, and is working on her Masters of Public Policy and Administration at Northwestern University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring Chicago for different cuisines, consuming public media, learning about science and nature, and playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Senior Ecosystems Specialist
David is a Senior Specialist in the Ecosystems practice here at Delta where he manages a portfolio of projects that focuses on building a more regenerative economy. David holds a Ph.D. in Environment and Resources and an M.S. in Land Resources from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Michigan State University. Before his days as a Deltoid, David was the Managing Scientist of the Knowledge Systems for Sustainability Collaborative at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where he also led the Agricultural Innovation Prize. David was born and raised in the Mitten State and spent his childhood exploring the natural wonders of the Great Lakes. When David isn’t training to be the next Captain Planet, you can find him with his family in Madison, WI gardening, beekeeping, cooking, woodworking, and participating in any number of silent sports.
As ecosystems specialist, Olga utilizes analytical approaches and data analysis and visualization to facilitate the development and implementation of projects in Delta's ecosystems portfolio. She leads projects that connect innovative solutions and measurable outcomes on the landscape, particularly in freshwater ecosystems. Prior to joining Delta Institute, she served as the Research Manager for Alliance for the Great Lakes, providing analytical and research support for policy work and managing the academic network for the organization. Before the position at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, she conducted photo-catalysis research at Northwestern University in the Environmental Engineering Department. Olga holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. Olga grew up in Russia, and has lived within two blocks of Lake Michigan shoreline since moving to Chicago in 2002.
Finance & Operations Assistant
As Finance & Operations Assistant, Mackenzie provides interdepartmental support to Delta staff, specializing in HR, accounting, operations, and executive assistance. Prior to joining Delta, Mackenzie worked for a financial management services company that specialized in real estate investment. She has a B.S. in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Sciences with a certification in Professional Event Management from Texas A&M University. In her free time, Mackenzie enjoys camping and tries to visit at least one national park a year. She also enjoys hanging out with her dog, Quincy, eating Mexican food, and traveling home to visit her family in Texas.
Katie Yocum Musisi
Communications & Development Director
Katie leads Delta’s communications and marketing strategy, as well as the organization’s development activities. Before joining Delta in 2013, she spent over seven years in Washington, D.C., working in strategic communications and public policy in the nonprofit and government spheres. From 2009 to 2013, she served as an appointee at USDA Rural Development, where in her last year she served as Deputy Chief of Staff. Prior to USDA, Katie worked at the Federal Communications Commission as a Confidential Assistant and Director of Outreach. Katie holds a BS in Media Studies with an emphasis in English and Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a founding board member of FUEL Youth, a nonprofit that builds schools in Liberia, and in addition to traveling, Katie likes to garden, cook, and drink wine (and repeat).
Eve she helps drive organizational strategy and manages Delta’s programs focusing on sustainability, new markets and waste material. Before joining Delta, she served the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus in Chicago as the director of environmental initiatives and led the Clean Air Counts Program. Pytel has won numerous awards and published nearly a dozen papers, including several regarding the devastating effects of emerald ash borer. She earned a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Public Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and received a B.A. in liberal arts from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. Hailing from Boston, Eve arrived to Chicago in 1999 attracted by great culture, the lake, and food. She truly believes it is cooler by the lake.
Katie supports Delta’s development activities by strengthening our relationships with individual donors. Before joining Delta, she worked in Northwestern University’s Alumni Relations and Development office, supporting the School of Communication major gift team. Previously, she worked in the Student Services office at North Park University. Hailing from the east coast, Katie holds a B.A. in Communication from Elon University and a Masters in Higher Education from North Park University. In her spare time, Katie enjoys traveling, running, and drinking wine to recover from running!
Margaret Renas, PE, LEED AP O+M
Community & Brownfield Revitalization Lead
Margaret is responsible for project management and implementation of sustainability-related projects. As an environmental engineer, her areas of focus include energy efficiency, waste management including electronic waste, brownfields redevelopment, certifications and LEED consultation. Margaret received a B.S. in Mathematics from Purdue University and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Margaret studies the violin, sits on the board of the Oistrach Symphony Orchestra and shares one of her favorite music quotes from the great philosopher Plato: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
As Program Specialist, Emily manages projects in the Communities portfolio and provides programmatic support for Delta’s work on community development and urban infrastructure. Prior to joining Delta, Emily worked as a Senior Project Manager at the New York City Economic Development Corporation where she oversaw planning projects focusing on goods movement and the industrial sector. Emily is a native Michigander and holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology from Kalamazoo College, and a Master of Urban Planning from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Policy. When Emily is not at Delta, she can be found exploring neighborhoods in her new hometown, tending to her houseplants, and hanging out with her cat, Taco.
As CEO of Delta Institute, Bill drives Delta’s strategy, fundraising, external relations, and administrative efforts. He also brings deep technical expertise in environmental markets, pollution prevention, policy analysis and project areas related to climate, agriculture, water and ecosystems. Bill is a trustee of the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund, and he is a member of the Vital Lands Working Group dedicated to coordinating conservation efforts across Illinois. He also serves as a member of the Advisory Board for Loyola University Chicago Institute of Environmental Sustainability. Bill holds a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology and Environmental Studies from Tulane University and a M.S. in Environmental Analysis and Decision Making from Rice University. Bill hails from Stevens Point, Wisconsin (it’s in the middle), partakes in annual trivia contests and is continuously improving his usage of synergistic vernacular.
Finance & Operations Specialist
As Finance and Operations Specialist for Delta, Katherine is responsible for administering the financial and operational aspects of the organization and assisting with grant management and I.T. She has worked in non-profits for her entire career, including a family foundation, a university, and smaller programmatic organizations, totaling 15 years of experience in the field. Katherine grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and stayed in Chicago after receiving her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. She loves spending time with her husband and their dog, doing DIY projects, and catching up on TV and movies.
Ben Shorofsky, EIT, LEED AP O+M
Ben provides technical expertise and manages programs across all of Delta’s work, including the areas of environmental markets, green infrastructure, deconstruction, and community development, among others. He holds an M.S. and a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University. Before joining the Delta team, he completed a Fulbright Fellowship focused on piloting an innovative wetland treatment system for textile effluent in the Thar Desert Region of Rajasthan, India. When he’s not hopelessly rooting for Northwestern sports or his hometown Baltimore Ravens, you can find Ben woodworking, baking bread, or searching for the best green tea in town.
Senior Ecosystems Specialist
As a senior specialist, Ryan leads projects in Delta’s ecosystems portfolio, including the areas of climate, agriculture, water, and forestry. He is instrumental in fostering new projects and partnerships, particularly around green infrastructure, agriculture, conservation finance, watershed prioritization and environmental markets. Prior to joining Delta Institute, he served as the Operations Manager for Cardno, managing the environmental and ecological restoration division for the Illinois office. Prior to Cardno, he worked 12+ years for the Butler Soil and Water Conservation District in Hamilton, Ohio implementing conservation best management practices in the agriculture and urban arena. He is a Certified Conservation Planner and holds a Bachelors in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Wright State University. When he is not saving soil, Ryan enjoys spending his time exploring Chicago and is on the hunt for the best chicken wings in the City.
Senior Programs Assistant
As Senior Assistant, Megan supports programmatic work across Delta’s strategic priority areas. She previously worked on the Finance and HR team at Delta. Megan holds a B.A. in Art History from Trinity University in San Antonio and is currently enrolled at DePaul University for her M.S. in Public Service Management. Out of the office, Megan enjoys volunteering with PAWS, a no-kill animal shelter and animal welfare advocacy organization in the city; discovering new favorite Chicago restaurants and beaches; and riding her bike.
Director of Land and Community Planning
Cindy leads Delta's community planning portfolio, helps drive organizational strategy and manages Delta’s programs focusing on coal transition, urban infrastructure and sustainable development. Winland is an urban planner with almost thirty years of experience in the Great Lakes region, working with urban and rural municipalities, nonprofits, professional organizations, and the academic community. Before joining Delta, she owned a consulting firm based in Midland, MI, where she led efforts around brownfield redevelopment, alternative energy planning, and sustainable master planning. She earned a Master of Urban Planning and a BA in Economics at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. A native of Detroit, she wouldn't dream of living away from the water, is enjoying the sunrise side of Lake Michigan and finally living in a city with great bakeries and like-minded Wolverines.
A co-founder of Delta Institute, Donna currently serves as a Senior Advisor, lending her expertise to Delta’s current brownfield redevelopment projects. Prior to founding Delta, she served as the executive director of a local economic and employment development council, and she also served as Deputy Commissioner for Industrial Development with the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development, where she worked with the Department of Environment to create the city’s $50 million Brownfield Redevelopment Initiative. Donna holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from Carleton College and a M.S. in City Planning from MIT.