Board of Directors

Betty Chafin Rash, Retired

Betty Chafin Rash is now retired after a long career in higher education (at Queens College and UNC Charlotte) and in nonprofit management.  In addition, she owned a public affairs consulting firm for which she served as principal. She received a BA from Greensboro College and an MPA (Master of Public Administration) from UNC-Chapel Hill. She served three terms on the Charlotte City Council, two of which as Mayor Pro Tem. After she left the City Council Ms. Rash remained active in politics leading campaigns for candidates at the local and state level and organizing bond and issue campaigns in her consulting role. Most recent board memberships include the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, Charlotte Ballet, Trees Charlotte, and Democracy NC.  She is a resident of the historic Fourth Ward where she and her late husband Dennis were instrumental in the revitalization effort and among the first “urban pioneers” to move into the neighborhood.

Bill Allen, President, Republic Crane + Partner, Charlotte Knights

Bill is the founder and president of Republic Crane, a business he founded in Charlotte in 1978 and has led since that time.  Bill is also a minority owner of the Charlotte Knights.  In addition, as a veteran of numerous real estate developments, he has learned the far-reaching impact development has, both positive and negative. As an avid cyclist, Bill has a keen interest in furthering Sustain Charlotte's cycling advocacy.

Brett Tempest, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UNC Charlotte

Brett is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UNC Charlotte. His research is related to the development and performance evaluation of concrete and masonry construction materials, particularly from the standpoint of sustainability. This includes incorporating natural and recycled materials, improving durability, safety, and understanding the lifecycle of products from cradle to cradle. He teaches courses in concrete materials, reinforced concrete design, sustainable design and green building. Brett and his wife, Tina, enjoy urban homesteading in beautiful West Charlotte. They also operate a hostel for Appalachian Trail hikers in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

James Cass, Corporate Lawyer, Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson

James Cass is a corporate lawyer at Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, where he primarily represents financial institutions and companies in a wide variety of financing and capitalization transactions.  He was born and raised in Connecticut, later graduating from the University of Connecticut in 2006 with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2009 with his J.D. James has been excited to witness the development and growth of Charlotte since moving here in 2009 and is dedicated to ensuring that it continues in a sustainable and people-focused way.

Joel Olsen, CEO, O2 Group Ventures

Olee Joel Olsen is the CEO of O2 Group Ventures as well as the founder of O2 emc and O2 energies, which are headquartered in Cornelius, North Carolina. O2 Group Ventures is holding company for subsidiaries that design, develop, procure, and operate clean energy installations across the Southeast. Its subsidiaries have raised more than $400 million in project financing since 2009. As a native Charlotten that is fluent in Norwegian and Japanese, Joel brings both a local and international perspective to the organizations he serves. In addition to his service on the Sustain Charlotte Board, Joel has served on the executive committee of the North Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance, the Z Smith Reynolds Community Leadership Council, the US Norway Fulbright Foundation and as a board member of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association. Joel is a recipient of the Charlotte Business Journal Energy Leadership Award, and the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association Business Innovation Award.

Keith Alyea, COO of Commodities, Sales, and Trading, Wells Fargo 

Keith Alyea moved to Charlotte 14 years ago after spending childhood, college, and early professional years in the New York and Philadelphia areas. A graduate of Drexel University, Keith worked in electric power at Accenture before becoming a partner at Market Reform, a small consulting firm that provides services related to energy markets. Market Reform’s clients include companies located in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and Charlotte. More recently, Keith became COO of Commodities, Sales, and Trading at Wells Fargo. Keith is an active member of the Charlotte community, having been a sponsoring member of the Charlotte Farewell To Summer committee for six years, which hosts an annual event to raise funds for regional LGBT organizations. He also has served as co-chair for corporate sponsors for the Human Rights Campaign Charlotte Gala Dinner, a fundraiser for LGBT rights advocacy. Keith was also a participant in Charlotte’s Dancing with the Stars for the Charlotte Pink House in 2017, helping raise funds to provided services for women battling breast cancer.

Philip Otienoburu, Director of Food Systems Finance, Self-Help Credit Union & Ventures Fund

Philip Otienoburu is Director of Food Systems Finance at Self-Help Credit Union & Ventures Fund. Prior to joining the organization, he was tenured Associate Professor of Biology and Sustainability at Johnson C. Smith University and Director of the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainability. His current work involves developing a strategy for financing sustainable and equitable food systems through investments in low-income communities. Philip enjoys traveling with his family, playing soccer, and cycling when he is not attending class at Kenan-Flagler business school.   

Lisa Richards, Director of Communications and Stewardship, Crescent Communities

Lisa is the Chair of our Board and leads the corporate Public Relations and Stewardship efforts of Charlotte-based real estate developer, Crescent Communities.  She is a graduate of the University of Toledo, Ohio, and holds an MBA and LEED AP. A lifelong advocate of environmentalism, Lisa became involved with Sustain Charlotte in order to marry her passion for promoting sustainability with her marketing and real estate background.  Outside of work, Lisa enjoys jogging, yoga, hiking, and traveling. 

Richard Cuebas, Managing Principal, Integra Architecture PLLC

Richard Cuebas, AIA, LEED AP BD+C is Managing Principal of Integra Architecture PLLC, of Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been involved in the design and construction businesses in Puerto Rico since 1997 and North Carolina since 2015. As a sustainable designer, Richard --a LEED Accredited Professional and member of the US Green Building Council-- collaborated in 2010 as a coach for the Puerto Rico Green Jobs Program, a government effort to train employees in sustainability practices. Richard Cuebas is the former president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Puerto Rico Chapter. He also served on the Board of Directors of ACE Mentors in Puerto Rico. Richard obtained a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Design from the University of Puerto Rico and a Masters degree in Architecture from Arizona State University. He is a licensed architect in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Carolinas. 

Ronald J. Tober, Retired

Ron served as the first CEO of CATS where he oversaw the expansion of public transit service and the construction of the first light rail line in Charlotte. He has spent his entire career working in the field of public transportation serving as CEO of two other transit agencies in Cleveland and Seattle as well as holding senior management positions at agencies in Boston and Miami. He is a member of the NC Transportation Hall of Fame and the American Public Transportation Hall of Fame. He chose the field of public transit in order to help people improve the quality of their lives, particularly in America's urban areas. He is a committed advocate for sustainable policies and practices, is active in his church and delivers meals to home-bound individuals through Friendship Trays.

Sara Fedyna, Senior Program Associate, Leon Levine Foundation

Sara Fedyna is a Senior Program Associate for The Leon Levine Foundation, where she manages a portfolio of 60+ grants and works closely with the Director of Operations to implement internal and external grantmaking strategies. In addition to overseeing a team of Junior Program Associates, Sara advises foundation grantees in the areas of outcomes measurement, financial reporting, and board development. She was instrumental in securing a $5M grant for the construction of the Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences at Appalachian State University and stewards the foundation’s multi-million-dollar investment in the Charlotte Jewish Federation. Sara is passionate about the intersection of sustainability and philanthropy. She lives with her husband, Rost, in South Charlotte

Will Pellisero, City of Charlotte's Internal Audit Office

Will Pellisero is a Charlotte native and works in the City of Charlotte's Internal Audit Office. Will enjoys analyzing data and assisting members of management in evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of City operations. Will holds BSBA and MS degrees in Accounting from Appalachian State University (go Mountaineers!) and is an NC-licensed CPA. Will became involved with Sustain Charlotte to spread his passion for sustainability.

Wil Russell

Wil holds a Bachelor of Science in Building Construction from Auburn University and has gained experience in the commercial, healthcare, cultural and educational sectors of the construction industry.  Wil has a passion for planning and development, transportation and how it affects his community. Wil’s passion and construction experience have led him to work on various city initiatives involving Affordable and Mixed-Income Housing, the Lynx Blue Line Extension, The University City Area Plan, and the Immigration Integration Task Force. Wil joined the Sustain Charlotte Board in order to promote responsible and sustainable development in Charlotte.

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  • Maitri Meyer
    commented 2017-10-24 09:51:16 -0400
    What an impressive Board! I hope to meet every one of you at some point.