Click on a year to jump to the list of TWIG speakers and presentations:
2022  |  2021  |  2020  |  2019  |  2018  |  2017  |  2016  |  2015  |  2014  |  2013  |  2012

January: Nicole Avendaño, Zero Waste Nashville Meetup

Nicole Avendano is the founder of a local meetup dedicated to discussing the zero waste philosophy, sharing tips and struggles, and working on getting local businesses and government involved and participating in zero waste initiatives.

  • Join the Zero Waste Nashville meetup group founded by Nicole
  • Participate in the Tennessee Environmental Council initiative "Come, Post Your Compost!"
  • If you didn't win the special drawing prize but want to get your hands on some reusable bamboo utensils of your own, check out these or other similar items!
February: Rebecca Selove, Northwest Earth Institute
  • Head to the Northwest Earth Institute to learn more about the programs they offer and the Eco Challenge
  • If you would like to sign up for the Rebecca's next course: Choices for Sustainable Living 2018, email to apply for scholarship funds. The details are below:
    • 8 1.5 hour meetings to talk about the challenges and joys of changing our lives
    • Meetings will take place on a weekend at a time that works for the group beginning in March 2019
    • Meetings will take place at a room in a Vanderbilt library
    • To sign up, contact

March: Sabrina Cowden of Milepost Consulting and Jeff Gowdy of Owen School of Business Vanderbilt Universtiy

As CEO of Milepost, Sabrina brings a blend of southern charm and global experience to her work. From Indonesia to Indiana, she focuses on guiding diverse groups to reach innovative and creative project solutions. Sabrina supported the Tennessee Valley Authority on the eScore™ pilot with Memphis Light, Gas and Water, providing project management and strategic support to the Energy Efficiency team. Past positions include Program Director for the Climate Reality Project and Employee Relations Manager for Aspect Communications. She believes that maximizing human potential makes the difference in any project and that adults laugh far too rarely.



Jeff's environmental interest started in childhood when he earned the Eagle Scout rank in Clemson, SC. It has continued as an adult as an avid backpacker - he has hiked a majority of the Appalachian Trail. He has volunteered for numerous environmental groups including the Earthwatch Institute and the Appalachian Trail Club. Jeff graduated with honors from The University of Viriginia with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering with a concentration in Management Systems. He graduated with honors from Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management with a concentration in Strategy and an emphasis in Environmental Management. In 2005, Jeff worked for GreenOrder on the launch of GE's ecomagination, which is often considered the first, key landmark corporate sustainability initiative in the US. In 2006, Jeff worked for BluSkye on the rollout of Walmart's Sustainable Value Networks, which is often considered the second, key landmark corporate sustainability initiative in the US. Other key sustainability experiences include work with Home Depot, Bridgestone, Verizon, and World Wildlife Fund.


April: Kristen Westerbeck, Jackalope Brewing

Kristen Westerbeck discovered her love of beer while living abroad and returned to Nashville in 2012 to find a home at Jackalope. She loves dark beers, good friends, traveling, and her toothless cat named Casper. Chances are you can find her at home in her garden, searching for ways to have less of an impact on our environment, or making plans to visit her 7th & final continent, Antarctica.

Check out this recent spotlight on Kristen from Jackalope Brewing Company!



May: Emily Stutzman from Lipscomb University, "Thinking Smaller About Stuff"

This is an invitation to remember why you liked stuff in the first place. It's an exploration into finding meaning in the stuff we depend on--and even the stuff we enjoy. It's a challenge to opt for borrowing or making rather than buying, repairing rather than throwing away. Paradoxically, explore freedom that can be found in the interdependence of opting out of consumer culture. We have the option to to strengthen social ties and grounding ourselves in nature in the process of re configuring our relationship to stuff.

We will learn how TWIG members can subvert the culture of consumerism, what to read on the topic, and opportunities to volunteer with Emily during instructional labs this fall!

With a M.S. in rural sociology and Ph.D. in forestry from Auburn University, Emily Stutzman joined

the Institute for Sustainable Practice in January 2015 as a full-time Academic Director. She is our first academic director to fully embody many of the holistic attributes of sustainability through her own unique interdisciplinary academic journey and skills. As a social scientist of natural resources and agriculture, she teaches the applied social science course in the M.S. in Sustainability program, Zero Management (SU 6153). Stutzman's own academic inquiry applies the sociology of conservation and natural resource management in the context of sustainability. Her past research includes surveying behaviors and attitudes of fish farmers in Uganda and fruit and vegetable growers in Florida, and forest landowners and forestry professionals in Alabama who are experimenting with new sustainability practices. Stutzman also works as a writing consultant, specializing in science writing. To renew herself, she enjoys reading, yoga, and traveling with her family.

View the presentation here!

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June: Diana Andrew, Sustainable Classrooms Manager for Urban Green Lab

Diana Andrew received her Bachelors in Environmental Sciences from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a Masters in Sustainable Practice with a focus in Food Systems from Lipscomb University. She served as a Health Systems Analyst in clinical research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for six years gaining experience in grants, project management, monitoring and evaluation, and the connection between the environment and health. She volunteered at Shelby Bottoms Nature Center and the Nashville Food Policy Council heightening her passion for environmental education and sustainable living, which then brought her to Urban Green Lab.

Diana is a Nashville native who has always had a passion for the outdoors and the environment. After taking an environmental science class in high school, she was inspired to turn that passion into a career and lifestyle. She hopes that by providing all students in Nashville the same opportunity to learn about sustainability, they will have healthier, happier lives and help contribute meaningfully to our growing city and world. 

In her free time she enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking and anything outdoors.

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July: Nicole Brose, Sr. Facility Coordinator for Country Music Television/Viacom Media Networks

Nicole Brose is a Nashville transplant originating from Florida via Texas and New York. In her short career, she brings with her a variety of unforgettable experiences: from operating the Mad Teacups ride at Walt Disney World to serving as an exhibit host at the Texas State Aquarium to escorting a certain True Detective” native Texan to the restroom at Austin City Limits Music Festival. Currently, she works as the Sr. Facility Coordinator at Viacom’s CMT office in Downtown Nashville. Nicole is credited with transforming the CMT offices into one of the most sustainable workplaces in Nashville, with over 70% of daily waste currently being diverted from the landfill.


She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Event Management from the University of Central Florida and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Sustainability Leadership through Arizona State University's esteemed online program. Nicole’s passion for sustainability stems from her love for animals and the ocean. She believes firmly in education’s role in conservation and has been a long supporter of ethically operated zoos and aquariums. In her limited free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, dog, and three cats, taking walks on the beautiful Tennessee Greenways, and traveling.

View the full presentation here!

August: Susannah Fotopulos, founder of Plant the Seed
Susannah Fotopulos is the founder and director of Plant the Seed. She sees sowing, preparing and sharing food as a powerful tool for starting cross-cultural conversations and growing together in community. Susannah grew up on a 72-acre farm in rural Tennessee, where her family raised a 3-acre vegetable garden and shared bountiful harvests with neighbors, learning early the important role fresh food plays in building community. She entered the nonprofit world as an AmeriCorps member and started an award-winning service-learning program for children ages 4-12 at Hands On Nashville. She believes everyone has a right to fresh, affordable, culturally-relevant foods and that young people are capable of effecting meaningful change in their diet, their lives and their communities. 
We meet at the Bridge Building, 2 Victory Avenue, Third Floor, Nashville TN from 7:30am - 9:00am on the first Friday of every month. There are exceptions so please check our calendar and newsletter for the latest information.
We provide coffee and tea to monthly meetings -- please bring your own mug to help us stay green!
Registration is not required. Just come!
September: Chelsea Hamilton, Vanderbilt Sustainability

We learned about Vanderbilt University's Sustainable Outreach Program and their sustainability efforts on VU's campus. Chelsea Hamilton joined SEMO in October 2014 as Sustainability Outreach Coordinator. Chelsea is primarily responsible for sustainability outreach, awareness and education while also collaborating with the various sustainability and recycling programs managed and supported by SEMO. Prior to coming to Vanderbilt, Chelsea promoted home energy efficiency retrofits through the Go Green program of Village Real Estate.

View the full presentation here!

September Event: Women In Green Leadership Breakfast hosted by TWIG and USGBC TN

The Women In Green Leadership Breakfast is an annual celebration of women in sustainability. This year's breakfast included the inaugural presentation of the Tennessee Women In Green Leadership Award, selected by the leadership of TWIG and USGBC TN, for serving as a guiding force for sustainability leadership in the state.


  • Elizabeth Hammit, the Director of Environmental Stewardship and Community at EPB in Chattanooga, points to the value of listening as an initial step. At the same time, she says it is “crucial to remember you do not need permission from anyone to share your perspective, [as] you have valuable insight based on your own experiences.” Regardless of disagreement from others, remembering this can help young women “bounce back and speak up.”

  • Krissy Flickinger, the Director of Sustainability at Looney Ricks Kiss in Memphis, recognizes that “there is no road map to answer this question,” because workplace dynamics vastly differ company to company. However, she encourages women to “find your voice, do your research and know your craft, so no one can question your validity or reason for being at the table.”

  • Leah Sherry, the Executive Director at Turnip Green Creative Reuse in Nashville, highlights the benefits of collaboration. “It’s important to remember you are not alone,” she says, just as it is important to know “who can help you propel your vision, [which] will allow you to feel connection and draw from others’ experiences.”

  • Erin Gill, the Director of Sustainability at City of Knoxville, discusses navigating uncertainties. She often will ask herself “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”, a mantra that helps her to "avoid making fear-based decisions, and to focus instead on overcoming barriers, managing risks, adapting to uncertainty and ultimately making progress.”


Tennessee Women In Green Leadership Award Winner and Keynote Address:

Heather J. Brown, Director, School of Concrete and Construction Management, Middle Tennessee State University

Special thank you to our sponsors:

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October: Rebecca Goodstein, Patagonia

Rebecca is the Environmental Coordinator for Patagonia’s East Coast district, helping to oversee the company’s environmental and community programs. This includes grantmaking, advocacy, community outreach, employee activism, and working with retail staff to implement company-wide environmental campaigns and initiatives. She previously worked as a grant writer for the Student Conservation Association, the Environmental Point Person for Patagonia DC, and on the Conservation Journeys team for 11 years at The Nature Conservancy.

The focus on her talk is on Planet Over Profit -- Patagonia's current mission to save our home planet. We will learn about how they work hard to remain a values-driven company that is a proud B Corp and 1% for the Planet founding member.

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November: Ginger-Rose Krueck, GROW Enrichment

Ginger-Rose is the founder and Executive Director of GROW Enrichment, a 501c3 non-profit organization based here in Nashville. She is passionate about all the ways that caring for the Earth connect with caring for people and is working to create greater balance between these activities in the urban landscape. As a creative thinker, Ginger-Rose seems to find limitless potential within the framework of permaculture to expand the definitions of what urban green space should be and do for residents. She believes that by connecting people more deeply to the Earth we can heal and restore everything, from the soil to the souls that walk upon it. Her enthusiasm for nature is infectious, as is her passion for empowering people to engage in the task of community development. 


Ginger-Rose led a contemplative discussion on utilizing the permaculture framework as a sustainability model for restoring not only urban ecosystems, but also the people who live in them. This is an invitation to look deeper into the spiritual concepts behind the permaculture movement. Come explore the potential for radical social change through the process of restorative land management. 

Click here for more info about the Nashville Permaculture Action Day!


December: TWIG Seed Fund Recipients!

Anna Patton shared her experience attending the Sustainable Business Administration Certification Course from Columbia State Community College. If you are interested in learning more about the programs she spoke about, email the instructor Jeff Gowdy at

Katherine Bomboy shared her experience attending a conference in London: the 22nd Annual Chatham House Climate Change Conference. A resource she shared is Drawdown


TWIG Members in our Community in 2019:

Group at Patagonia Nashville's Environmental Nonprofit Community Night in February!


2019 Weed Wrangle - helping GROW Enrichment and the GROW GOATS at Two Rivers Park!


Tana and her farm were featured on PBS' A Chef's Life with national chef and food author Vivian Howard. 


Irises Book Club at a Pickup for a Pint event in March

Sounds Game Social in May

Our group was on the big guitar screen!

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First TWIG Field Trip was a Music City Center Sustainability Tour:

Learn more about MCC Sustainability:

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Dragon Boat 2019!

Congrats on 11th place overall!

Thank you to our sponsors:

Tennessee Concrete Association for the t-shirts

Kimley-Horn for the lunch

And thank you to our paddlers! Great job raising funds for the Cumberland River Compact!


Planting trees for ReLeafing Day 2019!