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
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Sam joined Green Built Alliance in late 2015. He 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. In 2009, 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. In November 2015, he began his service as the executive director of Green Built Alliance. During his time here, the organization has grown substantially in staff, scope and impact.

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 lives at Earthaven Ecovillage where he strives to incorporate the principles of sustainability and stewardship into daily life.
Cari Barcas
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
Cari joined Green Built Alliance in the summer of 2016. Cari brings more than 16 years of experience in communications and nonprofit management to her work at Green Built Alliance, with the intention of inspiring the community to engage with the organization's mission and access ways each person can make a difference.

Majoring in journalism and minoring in political science, Cari graduated from DePaul University in Chicago with 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 believes 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.
Amber Gilot
OPERATIONS COORDINATOR
Amber joined Green Built Alliance in early 2021. Born and raised in the mountains of Western North Carolina, these mountains, valleys and rivers are part of Amber's blood.

Her passion and drive for doing work that matters began while at Warren Wilson College, a service-oriented work-college nestled in the rolling hills of Swannanoa, NC. This passion stayed with her as she began her professional career in Asheville. She now has more than 12 years of experience using organizational management, bookkeeping and writing for businesses who are focused on a triple bottom line and local community and environmental matters. Amber is passionate about working with organizations, businesses and people who care about more than just the bottom line. Social, environmental and economic justice and issues of the soul and heart are at the core of who she works with.

When Amber isn't doing the books for Green Built Alliance, she enjoys reading, astrology, writing and all things psychology. She spends her days homeschooling her kiddo Elise, throwing the ball to her lab Biscuit, and taking walks around her sweet little downtown Marshall neighborhood with her partner Bastien.
Annie McGehrin
DEVELOPMENT & MARKETING ASSOCIATE
Annie joined Green Built Alliance in early 2021 as an intern and and was hired to work on staff in the spring of 2022. Her passion for the environment originated from her love for gardening which led her to pursue her first degree in horticulture from her community college in Delaware. After moving to North Carolina in 2016, Annie received her Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University with interest in how people engage in conversation about equity and environmental justice.

Annie has a professional background in marketing communications as well as over a decade of experience in customer service. She’s excited to be in a role where her skills and passions harmonize while working for a community she loves.

When she’s not overseeing fundraising operations or connecting with the community, Annie can be found enjoying the great outdoors, traveling, gardening, tending to her abundance of indoor plants, or relaxing with her cat Aspen.
Leigha Dickens
GREEN BUILDING PROGRAM MANAGER
After three years on the organization's Board of Directors, Leigha joined Green Built Alliance's staff in the spring of 2022. A building scientist and RESNET HERS Rater, Leigha previously managed the green building and sustainability department of Deltec Homes, a member of Green Built Alliance that manufactures and builds high-performance homes. Leigha applies her background in physics and environmental science to building science, green building design, and renewable energy. She has experience in residential construction management with a focus on achieving high performance in residential energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
Steffi Rausch
VOLUNTEER & WEB COORDINATOR
Steffi joined Green Built Alliance in early 2021. She brings 23 years of experience as a self-employed web designer and seven years of climate advocacy volunteer work as a chapter leader for Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). While she still advocates for a bipartisan federal climate policy with CCL in her spare time as a volunteer, she is excited to transition her full-time work to serving her local community in ways that help sustain a livable planet by reducing our carbon emissions. She finds the two opportunities with her career and volunteer work, to serve and protect the most vulnerable of society while protecting the planet, to be extremely rewarding and a way to grow her compassion towards others.

In her spare time, she loves to experience different cultures by traveling the world, taking beautiful hikes to the mountaintops, playing in the garden, remodeling her home, and building wood furniture by her creek. Steffi is very happy to live in Asheville, where she doesn’t have to deal with extreme fire and drought events like what she experienced in Montana where she lived for four years prior to moving here. She hails from Columbia, Maryland originally.
Jamie Wine
BLUE HORIZONS PROJECT MANAGER
Jamie joined Green Built Alliance in the spring of 2022. He hails most recently from New Orleans where he managed an education and outreach program for energy efficiency and building science across Louisiana. Before that, in Seattle, California and Boston, he developed nonprofit programs for varied audiences like students in grades K-12, ocean advocates, traffic engineers, community organizers, adults, families and youth.

Jamie is deeply committed to community empowerment through education, fighting the climate crisis, and bringing environmental peace to disadvantaged communities. While an executive decision is often easier, he believes a collaborative approach yields a more satisfying result.

Jamie studied marine biology and environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and holds professional certifications in building performance, leadership development, public speaking and real estate.

When he's not at Green Built Alliance, he likes to spend time with his partner, his daughter and 3 dogs on hikes, at the playground or splashing in the creek.
Summer Winkler
BLUE HORIZONS PROJECT COORDINATOR
Summer joined Green Built Alliance in the summer of 2021 as an intern and was hired to work on staff in the spring of 2022. She grew up in Western North Carolina and after a few years in New York City and Raleigh, she is thrilled to call these mountains home again.

She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016 with a degree in global studies, focusing on health and environment. Summer's foray into sustainability grew in her personal life with the zero-waste movement and a cross-country road trip where she spent several months camping, spending time in nature, and learning how different cities approached sustainability and had access to it. She then received a Graduate Certificate of Sustainability from Virginia Tech.

When Summer isn't working on Blue Horizons Project, you can find her writing music, watching her husband drum in his band, and hanging with her two cats.
Kelvin Bonilla
ENERGY SAVERS NETWORK MANAGER
Kelvin joined Green Built Alliance in the spring of 2020. A native of Honduras, Kelvin brings more than a decade of experience in the building-performance industry to the Energy Savers Network team.

He started his career with Green Opportunities, gaining vast experience in the field as a crew leader, mentor, and instructor in the classroom. He went on to work with Conservation Pros, a small locally owned building performance company. Kelvin has multiple professional certifications including BPI, HERS, Lead Safe Renovator, Class III Asbestos Worker, CPR instructor, and OSHA-30.

In his work with the Energy Savers Network, Kelvin wants to continue his passion working to reduce the energy consumption of homes in marginalized communities, which are often the most affected by climate change. He is truly passionate about building performance and applying triple-bottom-line principles to help affect positive change for the people in our local community who need it the most.

When he’s not trying to peek in the attic at a friend’s cookout, Kelvin enjoys giving back to the community and serves as the Board Co-Chair for ALAS (Asheville Latin Americans Achieving Success), a local Latinx nonprofit that strives to create Latinx leadership in Western North Carolina. He also loves exploring the outdoors with his daughters Sofia and Elizabeth, by hiking, camping, or jumping into freezing mountain water.
Hannah Egan
OUTREACH & RESOURCE COORDINATOR
Hannah Egan joined Green Built Alliance in early 2018 as an intern and and was hired 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.
Mikal Bonilla
ENERGY SAVERS NETWORK CREW LEADER
Originally a volunteer for Energy Savers Network, Mikal joined Green Built Alliance's staff in the spring of 2022. A native of beautiful North Carolina, Mikal has had a deep love and appreciation for Mother Earth instilled in her since childhood. This, coupled with Mikal's compassion and lifelong desire to help others, made a career with Green Built Alliance of particular interest for her.

Born in the Piedmont Triad with roots in Eastern North Carolina, Mikal has called these mountains home since 2016. Offering a varied set of skills and experience, some of her most proud accomplishments include her time working with FEMA after the tragic hurricanes Irma and Maria; her time spent exploring the "strange and unknown" for FATE magazine; and most recently, dedicating many weeks to the county-wide efforts to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to Western North Carolina with the Buncombe County Health Department in 2021.

When Mikal isn't working with power tools out in the community, she can sometimes be found working with power tools at home! She enjoys refurbishing old furniture, crafting, being outdoors and spending quality time with her wonderful family.

Board of Directors

Robin Cape (Chair)
Rob Johnson (Vice Chair)
Leesa Sluder (Treasurer)
Jamie Shelton (Secretary)
Santiago Cely
Stephens Farrell