Board + Staff

The work of Green Built Alliance in the community is led by our passionate and engaged staff and Board of Directors.

Sam Ruark-Eastes
Sam Ruark-Eastes has been working in the field of sustainability for local governments, nonprofits, and small businesses since 1998. Sam’s first foray into the nonprofit world was working with the Harmony Project and the Sustainability Institute in Charleston, SC. There, he ran a building materials reuse center for affordable housing and a green building trade show. In 2000, he heard the call to “go west young man” and moved to the Bay area without a job or place to live. Within a year, he had a job working as a Sustainability Planner for Marin County, CA, where he developed and implemented their green building program, helped write the Energy and Green Building Element to the County’s master plan, and initiated two sustainability policies that dramatically reduce energy use and construction waste. In 2005, he returned to North Carolina and served as Educational Programming Director for Seven-Star Events where he worked with a team to organize and manage the Green Festivals and GreenCities. When the economy dove into a recession, he returned to California to work as an Energy and Sustainability Coordinator for Sonoma County, CA, where he managed a commercial and municipal energy efficiency program in partnership with the utility. He also developed renewable energy projects including a 700 kW PV system, managed the post-installation commissioning of a 1.4 MW hydrogen fuel cell and developed a clean commute program for county employees.

In 2014, he returned to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. After brief stints with Ashevillage, Organic Growers School and Accelerating Appalachia, Sam landed his North Carolina dream job in November 2015 as the executive director of Green Built Alliance. He has served on the Boards of Directors for three successful nonprofits and is excited to bring those experiences to this organization.

Sam has a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Communications from the College of Charleston, is a LEED AP, NARI Certified Green Building professional and Certified Permaculture designer. He and his wife Lena tend a 1.5-acre homestead in Candler, NC, where they strive to incorporate the principles of sustainability and stewardship into daily life.
Maggie Leslie
Maggie Leslie has been working for Green Built Alliance since 2003, and became full-time staff in July of 2006 after serving as Treasurer. Currently, she is keeping busy as Program Director of the Green Built Homes Program and LEED-Homes Providership.

Maggie received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies, concentrating in Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Policy, from Warren Wilson College. Since completing her Bachelor of Science, Maggie received a certificate in Sustainable Building Advisory from the City of Seattle, WA. After relocating back to the southeast, she worked with the Southface Energy Institute in Atlanta, Ga. While at Southface, Maggie trained as a HERS rater and developed her understanding of building science and sustainable design.

Maggie enjoys spending time gardening and cooking with her husband Micah and her daughters Opal, Sophia and Isabel.
Cari Barcas
Cari Barcas brings more than a decade of experience in communications and nonprofit management to her work at Green Built Alliance, with the intention of helping both members and the broader community more effectively connect with the organization's mission and access ways each person can make an impact.

Cari graduated from DePaul University in Chicago with a major in journalism and minor in political science, and an interest in the way people engage in the story of their own community as well as in the systemic policies and practices which either support that connection or foster civic disengagement. Before moving to Asheville in 2014 to work in nonprofit management, Cari worked as a journalist in Chicago, including time covering green building as a reporter focused on residential and commercial real estate. She's a big believer in the idea that the way you do anything is the way you do everything, and that the process of creating a sustainable experience in the outer world directly relates to the practice of cultivating balance in our inner world.

When she's not supporting the work of Green Built Alliance, Cari can be found teaching yoga classes in the community, enjoying the vibrant Asheville food and music scene, or exploring these majestic mountains with her family.
Hannah Egan
Hannah joined Green Built Alliance in early 2018 as an intern and transitioned to work on staff later that year. She has since been learning about the nonprofit sector, green building, and energy efficiency. Hannah graduated from Appalachian State University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Development concentrated in Community, Regional, and Global Development.

Originally from just outside Baltimore, Hannah moved after college to New Zealand and then back home to Maryland before returning to the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is excited to lend her skills and education to an organization that is dedicated to creating a better built environment for the entire community.

When Hannah is not connecting with people in the community through Green Built Alliance, the Blue Horizons Project, or Energy Savers Network, she enjoys yoga, outdoor activities, supporting community agriculture, traveling, live music, cooking, and enjoying life with her cat Peaches.
Jonathan Gach
Jonathan Gach (pronounced Gahk) would take a phrase like "master jack of all trades" as a compliment and personal challenge. Nurtured by his experiences as the seventh generation of his family to grow up in Asheville, he is passionate about fostering the ability to adapt to life's universal constant: change. Having studied environmental policy, business and economics at UNC Asheville, Jonathan seeks to nurture closer connections to our community's life-giving resources.

Starting an early professional career while in high school, he worked at Biltmore to further estate sustainability. Since then, his professional interests have touched several aspects of sustainability, including clean transportation through supporting work for Asheville's first solar charging stations for electric vehicles. Desiring a balance between physical and mental work, work for renewable energy mechanical and efficiency contractors eventually helped inform his passion for home performance. Jonathan now brings his enthusiasm and experiences to Green Built Alliance with certifications from the Building Performance Institute and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

Jonathan involved himself early in the endeavors of the Energy Innovation Task Force. Now, Jonathan brings his past experiences to benefit a more-resilient energy future for Asheville by managing a strategic equity-focused energy upgrade program for Buncombe County households, in hopes of reaching peak-energy reduction goals, as well as improving occupant health and structural durability.

A resource to the community, Jonathan invites you to reach out to him. When not at work, Jonathan can be found deep into home improvement projects of his 1890s home in Saluda, NC with his wife.
Sophie Mullinax
Sophie Mullinax joined Green Built Alliance in February 2018. She brings nine years of nonprofit experience to the project, and is elated to be in a position that puts her skills and passions to work for a community she loves.

Sophie has lived in Asheville off and on since 2001, spending much of her childhood before then in New York City. Before moving back to Asheville in 2018 for this role, she lived and worked in Washington, DC for the DC Sustainable Energy Utility doing program management and implementation.

Sophie received her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Wake Forest University and is a LEED Green Associate. When not coordinating the Blue Horizons Project, Sophie can be found biking around Asheville or enjoying the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains hiking with her partner, Jerick.
Yulia Shaffer
Yulia Shaffer is the newest staff member at Green Built Alliance. Originally from Baku, Azerbaijan, Yulia completed three years of Architecture School prior to moving to the United States in 2008. She received her bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Arkansas in 2015 and is currently finishing up her master’s degree in sustainability science from Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Her first exposure to the nonprofit world began in 2016 when she started volunteering with Energy Savers Network, then a small grassroots project. This inspired her to dedicate her graduate project (capstone) to the development of an Effective Volunteer Management Handbook for them. Yulia is now deeply immersed in learning about the world of nonprofits. Her wish is to help our region become more resilient by continuously improving the work and operations of Energy Savers Network.

When not at work, Yulia can be found lifting weights at CrossFit, jogging or biking around town; painting with oils; cooking from scratch; exploring nature; adventuring with friends; or reading a book on her porch surrounded by Rocky, her Russian Spaniel, and Persik, her black cat.
Riley West
Riley joined Green Built Alliance in June 2019 as an intern with Blue Horizons Project. He soon transitioned into a role on staff, supporting the efforts of Energy Savers Network. His experience as a residential carpenter, coupled with a deep-seated love for the natural world, is what first drove him to seek out a position at Green Built Alliance.

Hailing from the Philadelphia area originally, Riley's first visit to Asheville came in 2009 as a freshman at Warren Wilson College. After graduating with a degree in outdoor leadership, he spent six years living in the mountains of California before making his way back to Asheville.

When not at work, Riley spends his time riding bikes, rock climbing, and growing food in his backyard.

Board of Directors

Chrissy Burton (Chair)
Robin Cape (Vice Chair)
McGregor Holmes (Treasurer)
Jamie Shelton (Secretary)
Jessica Arrowood
Leigha Dickens
Stephens Smith Farrell