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Ten New Members Join Delta Institute’s Associate Board for Another Impactful Year

04.17.18 | Announcements

Guest post by Hannah Slodounik

On behalf of the Delta Emerging Leaders (DELs), we are ecstatic to welcome 10 new DELs to our already energetic and robust associate board! We are now a passionate team of 20.

This year’s application process was more competitive than ever before. And it served as a reminder that a growing amount of people are interested in collaborating to solve complex environmental challenges in the Midwest, and want to get involved.

Thank you to all of the amazing applicants this year, the review process was no easy task. To those who were not selected or didn’t apply, we hope you are able to attend events and participate in other ways. And we encourage you to consider applying next year when the application is released following BOOST in November.   

Our approach to ensuring another impactful year is to creatively support Delta Institute’s mission through new education and volunteer opportunities. As 2018 celebrates Delta Institute’s 20th anniversary, we, too, plan to reflect on our impact as Delta’s associate board, in order to best plan for a thriving future.

We encourage you to take a moment to learn about our 10 new DELs, and come out to meet all of our associate board members at our 8th annual Green Soapbox event in June — more details to come!


Amy DeLorenzo is a waste reduction specialist with diverse experience in, well, trash. She’s wasted no time getting involved in the Chicago waste scene as a Communications and Outreach Committee Member for the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition. Prior to receiving her masters, Amy served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in the City of Chicago for two years. Amy is looking forward to contributing to the numerous waste reduction efforts Delta has established in communities across the Midwest and learning more about their priorities moving forward.


Ashley Hodges is a 21st century Carmen Sandiego who calls Chicago home base. After gaining more than five years of experience in marketing and development, Ashley earned a Masters in Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility, which brought her to Spain and China for work. Having interned for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Germany, Ashley’s ready to combat climate change in Chicago through her work as a DEL and her new role with the Calumet Collaborative.


Ellen Gottschling is a Transit Planner by day at Sam Schwartz – and a dedicated cyclist by day and night. Having attended Indiana University and UIC, Ellen is excited to join the DELs to further her commitment to innovative and sustainability-focused projects throughout the Midwest. Ellen is always on the roll, whether she’s working on the Milwaukee Corridor in Logan Square, or traversing the Corridor on her Bianchi to tour architecture and urban design firm, Studio Gang, during Open House Chicago.


Erin Fry launched the Green Laboratory program at the University of Chicago to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and continues similar mission-driven work as an Analytics Engineer for Tradewater, an environmental project development firm that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There, Erin guides the team in making data informed decisions to combat climate change. While she also has significant experience in event planning and fundraising, her secret skill-set is even more fast paced — in her free time Erin volunteers as a a softball pitching coach for a local high school. Erin is excited to join the DELs to fully immerse herself in local environmental challenges.


Kirsten Melling has made her passion for sustainability part of her work as a Consultant for West Monroe Partners. Along with integrating sustainability into her client facing role and serving as a Manager of the Sustainability Team, Kirsten also serves an internal ignitor as the Leader of her office’s Green Committee. Kirsten’s midwestern roots and background in sustainable business practices attracted her to Delta’s collaborative, stakeholder-focused work. Kirsten looks forward to further developing BOOST as it was her first entrée to the DELs.


Laura Yates may have lived in a tiny house during her dual masters program, but her ideas are never tiny – they are big! Always an entrepreneur — from running an informal clothing alteration business in undergrad to founding her own sustainable consulting business — the DELs are excited to have her go-getter attitude and experience contributing to the board. Laura looks forward to supporting other social entrepreneurs through BOOST and our other events.


Savitha Chelladurai is focused on reducing electricity use as an Energy and Sustainability Analyst at Walgreens, but ramps up the energy on the dance floor teaching Indian classical dance to the community. Savitha’s engineering background combined with her MBA in Environmental Management and Sustainability have resulted in some monstrous energy savings. Who knows, maybe the next DELs program will be a Rube Goldberg-style, energy saving competition led by Savitha.


Stef Funk is an environmental scientist with a strong background in community-based development. In her current role as Education Associate at Plant Chicago, Stef works with K-12 students in the Back of Yards community and around Chicago to ensure STEM education is accessible. Stef is excited to be a DEL and support BOOST, a program she is familiar with as many Plant Chicago tenants have been BOOST finalists and recipients. Fun fact: We both attended the same abroad program, The School for Field Studies in Costa Rica, just a few years apart and completed similar field research to quantify carbon storage. (Shout out to Yendry in Atenas!)


Sydney Fitch spends more time indoors than in her previous professional roles, but her energy efficiency work at Verde is essential to protect the habitats she spent years restoring. After serving in AmeriCorps and spending two years with the National Park Service, Sydney came to Chicago to commit herself to expanding energy efficiency in Chicago. Sydney is excited to cultivate relationships with the DELs and continue to expand her impact on the ground in Chicago.


Todd Koenig knows logistics. Whether managing distribution at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams or now, optimizing routes for Collective Resources, Todd has always integrated efficiency into every role. Todd’s connection to the Midwest runs deep and is one of the key reasons he wanted to join the DELs. I hope Todd can help us host a zero waste ice cream social in the future.