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 Sustainable Wheat Ridge by laws can be found here.
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.
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 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.
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.
Susan has worked in the sustainability field for over ten years. Most recently she was a member of the City of Denver's Office of Climate Action, Sustainability & Resiliency managing the business sustainability program, Certifiably Green Denver and working with the Natural Resources group to develop policies, pilots and strategies to reduce waste and foster a more circular economy. Prior to that, she worked for the City of Boulder, Boulder County and Eco-Cycle on projects pertaining to waste reduction and community engagement. Susan recently went back to her roots in architecture to join her husband in a design build practice. In her spare time, she loves to be outdoors with her family and friends.
Susan holds a B.S. in Architecture and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Virginia and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Sydney.
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.
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.