NoVA Outside Leadership

Peggy Ashbrook is a nationally known expert on early childhood science education who serves on the early childhood committee. She is the author of Science Is Simple (2003, Gryphon House), the National Science Teachers Association’s Early Years blog and the Early Years column in Science & Children. She began teaching science in her home as a daycare provider in 1988. Currently, Peggy teaches in schools and provides professional development sessions on science inquiry. Her favorite place is where the worlds of early childhood and science learning overlap.

Kathryn Culbertson serves on the leadership team and the strategic plan task force. Kathryn has over 20 years experience as a program manager in government affairs, small business management and K-12 education. She brings extensive experience planning and implementing grant-supported programming. Her professional experience includes teaching in Fairfax County Public Schools, managing programs for The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program and designing and evaluating curriculum for the Alice Ferguson Foundation in Accokeek Maryland. Kathryn is currently Executive Director of the American Education Forum and Director of Programs for the American Council of STEM Educators. She holds a BS from Virginia Tech, and is currently pursuing her MAEd / PhD in Integrative STEM Education from Tech as well.

Tami Entabi provides administrative coordination for the organization and supports fundraising activities. Tami’s professional experience includes over 20 years as an administrator and director in a large Washington DC law firm. She left that world to follow her interest in conservation and natural ecosystems. Tami is a Virginia Master Naturalist and a naturalist at Huntley Meadows Park. She is a member of The Virginia Native Plant Society and serves on the steering committee for Plant NoVA Natives, a non-profit dedicated to supporting Virginia wildlife by encouraging local residents and businesses to add local native plants to their gardens. She earned two BAs from Pennsylvania State University.

Addison Helmke serves as co-chair of the school age green educators (SAGE) committee and on the leadership team. Addison is the Dean of Students and Director of Environmental Sciences at The Howard Gardner School in Alexandria. Addison received a BA in Environmental Studies from Dickinson College and an MS in Environmental Science with a focus in Environmental Education from Antioch University New England. She is a Certified Project Learning Tree and a Leave No Trace Facilitator.  Addison also works as an Assistant Naturalist at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington County.

Elenor Hodges chairs the leadership team and as such, focuses on overall coordination for NoVA Outside, organizing board meetings, coordinating quarterly membership gatherings, and writing grant proposals. She has been involved with NoVA Outside since the beginning, helping to found the organization in 2009. Additionally, Elenor works as the executive director of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, a community nonprofit promoting sustainable lifestyles. Her previous experience includes environmental consulting with DynCorp, developing the Animal Tracks environmental education program for Wal-Mart, and program management in the education department at National Wildlife Federation. She lives in Arlington with her husband and two daughters. Elenor earned a BA in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia and a MEd in Education from George Mason University.

Debra Lane, PhD, serves on the leadership team and the strategic plan task force. Dr. Lane has been an educator for more than 25 years, as a teacher, principal and Director of Learning in the U.S. and abroad. She was a principal in Fairfax County Public Schools and in China at the Shanghai American School. She taught grades from pre-K through middle school, as well as ESOL, literacy, and gifted and talented classes in Fairfax County Public Schools and in the Dominican Republic. She holds a Ed.D. from the University of Virginia. She has taught undergraduate and graduate classes at George Mason University and the University of Virginia. She has presented at numerous international conferences on adult learning and through her work with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has grown to love environmental education opportunities for students and teachers. She is currently Director of Talent Development in Alexandria City Schools and is a board member with NOVA Outside and GMU Fall for the Book Festival.

Melanie Kadlic Meren serves on the advisory committee and leadership team where she provides strategic organizational management and communications leadership. She contributes her passion for building work systems, fostering organizational capacity, and growing networks and coalitions to increase the effectiveness of providing children and communities with science- and nature-based learning experiences in Northern Virginia, and beyond. Melanie’s work helps NoVA Outside be strategically poised for opportunity to grow. She has been involved with NoVA Outside since 2012.

Professionally, Melanie is a management and communications consultant who builds healthy learning experiences to support strong kids. She began her career at the US Department of Education managing a multi-million dollar program to provide professional development to educators working with at-risk students. She has also worked at the US Office of Management and Budget on regulatory issues and as a consultant with a company focused on education reform via community engagement. Melanie has led her own consulting practice since 2009, and focuses on supporting outdoor and nature-based learning, early childhood education, and healthy living for kids. She has worked on projects with the National Park Service, National Parks Conservation Association, National Park Foundation, Children & Nature Network, Green Schools Alliance, and others. Melanie holds a BA from the State University of New York at Albany, and a Masters in Public Policy from Duke University. She lives in Vienna with her husband and two young children.

Kurt Moser serves on the advisory committee, leadership team and development committee. Kurt has studied social network analysis and the Network Weaving approach to partnership building, and he infuses this in his work with NoVA Outside. In addition, he co-chairs NoVA Outside’s annual School Environmental Action Showcase, building partnerships to coordinate multi-organization involvement and sponsorship in this signature event.

By day, Kurt is an independent researcher/ecologist and president/co-founder of the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the conditions and park lands on lower Four Mile Run. His past experience includes leading professional development and environmental education as a program manager for Earth Force, a national nonprofit focused on youth-driven civic action to improve the environment. Kurt earned a BA in History from Dartmouth College and an MS in Environmental Science and Policy from George Mason University.

Sandra Redmore serves on the early childhood committee. She is the director of the 2012 NoVa Outside Green Schools Award recipient, Clarendon Child Care Center. As the recent Chair of the Early Childhood Advisory Committee to the Arlington Public Schools and board member of the Virginia Cooperative Preschool Council, Sandra has been a passionate advocate for outdoor play and learning. She has a MA in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University. Sandra and her young daughter live and play outdoors in Arlington.

Nancy Renner serves on NoVA Outside’s early childhood committee. Nancy has taught at Fort Hunt Preschool, a parent cooperative preschool with a nature-rich curriculum, for 16 years, and expanded her role there to include Director over 8 years ago. Nancy has a degree from Harvard Law School and an undergraduate degree in American Studies with a concentration in Art History from Middlebury College. Nancy loves nature and the outdoors, and studied landscape design before discovering her love for early childhood education. Nancy also is active in the early childhood education community as co-president of the Potomac Association of Cooperative Teachers.

Nancy Striniste serves on the advisory committee and leadership team where she focuses on programming and outreach for NoVA Outside. She was a founding member of NoVA Outside and served as co-chair of the early childhood committee from 2011- 2014 and co-chair of SAGE (school aged green educators) committee. Additionally, Nancy is the founder of EarlySpace, LLC. She is a landscape designer and former teacher who specializes in creating sustainable natural play and learning spaces for children and teaching teachers about using the outdoors. Her designs are in parks, schools, early childhood programs and residences throughout the mid-Atlantic. She lives under a green roof in Arlington with her husband and two cats. She has two college-aged children who enjoy the outdoors in Texas and Maine.

Elaine Tholen is a co-founder of NoVA Outside. As a member of the leadership team, Elaine helps lead strategic partnership building. She is co-chair of NoVA Outside’s signature School Environmental Action Showcase. She shares her content expertise in environmental education to advise on programming and partnerships.

Professionally, Elaine is the Program Manager, Environmental Stewardship for Fairfax County Public Schools. She runs a district-wide Get2Green program to promote environmental stewardship among the more than 186,000 students and approximately 200 schools the district serves. The district is partnered with Eco Schools USA to promote student driven stewardship and has over 90 registered Eco Schools, twelve of those being Green Flag schools, the highest honor in that program. Another 65 schools are also engaged in stewardship work. Elaine coordinates efforts across all FCPS departments to work toward an overall district view of sustainable schools. She also coordinates the efforts of many outside partners to bring resources and manpower to schools that are engaged in Get2Green activities. She lives in Great Falls with her husband and is the mother of two college-age sons.

Sissy Walker is a member of the early childhood committee. She is an early childhood consultant with over 20 years experience as an educator and preschool director. She serves as a star quality mentor to centers and family child care providers through the Virginia Star Quality Improvement System (VSQI), and is involved with Alexandria’s “Project Play” initiative seeking to promote young children’s active play, especially in the out of doors. Sissy is trained as a Virginia Master Naturalist, and is passionate and knowledgeable about connecting children and nature.

Tina Williams serves on the leadership team and communications committee. Tina has worked as a school counselor with Fairfax County Public Schools for 15 years. Eleven of those years have been at Sangster Elementary School. She has been active in the community promoting environmental awareness issues such as healthy foods, energy conservation, and fitness. For four years, Tina has been the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers’ sustainability committee chairperson, working with the union’s national and local offices to advocate and advance sustainability initiatives. Tina holds a B.S. in computer science with a minor in Mathematics from Eastern Michigan University and a M.Ed. as a school counselor from Dallas Baptist University.

NoVA Outside Staff

Ali Culhane graduated from George Mason University in 2014 with a B.A. in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. She currently works as the Program Assistant for Environmental Stewardship in Fairfax County Public Schools, where she supports environmental education efforts and initiatives in a district of nearly 200 schools. Such initiatives include recycling, introducing wildlife habitat, growing food, and conserving energy in schools. Through her work with FCPS and NoVA Outside, she is able to pursue her passion: engaging others in implementing projects that positively impact the planet and its people. In early 2014, she connected with NoVA Outside and began working with the School Environmental Action Showcase (SEAS) team as an event coordinator. She also serves as editor of the NoVA Outside monthly newsletter.