Shannon Head Shot 2023

Shannon Binns
Founder + Executive Director

Shannon is the Founder and Executive Director of Sustain Charlotte. Before moving to Charlotte in 2007, Shannon worked at The Nature Conservancy in Washington, D.C., where he was part of their climate change science and policy team. Shannon served in the Peace Corps in Senegal, in AmeriCorps' National Civilian Community Corps, and helped found a tsunami relief organization in Thailand. He worked as an industrial engineer for Motorola, General Motors and Trane in the for-profit sector. He holds a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from Iowa State University and a Master of Public Administration in environmental science and policy from Columbia University. He has previously served as a supervisor on the Mecklenburg County Soil and Water Conservation Board, an adjunct professor in the Sustainable Technologies program at Central Piedmont Community College and a member of the North Carolina Advisory Board for Environmental Defense Fund. In 2015, he was named one of "Seven to Watch" by The Charlotte Observer and one of the Charlotte Business Journal's "40 Under 40." In 2018, Charlotte's NPR affiliate, WFAE, named him one of "The Most Powerful Voices in Charlotte." Contact Shannon at [email protected].




Krissia Bonilla
Donor Specialist

Krissia joined the Sustain Charlotte team in April 2023 as the Donor Specialist. She attended CUNY Hunter College in Manhattan, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a Minor in Human Rights. A lifelong New York City resident, Krissia was civically engaged from a young age and passionate about uplifting community members through education and empowerment. She eagerly took on opportunities to volunteer on political campaigns, intern at various nonprofits, and work for the NYC Department of Education. She credits her background as an immigrant, coupled with growing up in NYC, for her strong sense of empathy and altruism.  A recent arrival to Charlotte, Krissia is excited to embed herself into the Charlotte community and contribute to its sustainable growth. As Sustain Charlotte’s Donor Specialist, she is a firm believer that every contribution, no matter how small or large, can make a huge difference and strives to make every donor recognize how instrumental they are. Contact Krissia at [email protected].



  Sophia Headshot

Sophia Ege
Marketing + Communications Manager

Sophia supports marketing and communications at Sustain Charlotte. She has a background in organizational change management, design thinking, and digital marketing. She holds an MBA focused on Organizational Behavior from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, and a Bachelors in Rhetoric from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She currently studies Textiles and Sustainability at NCSU and participates as a board member of Upcycle Arts Charlotte, a local nonprofit supporting creative reuse and upcycling. In her free time, Sophia enjoys hosting a monthly sewing meetup, applying permaculture principles in her backyard (aka feeding the wildlife), and exploring new places for their coffee shops and used books. Contact Sophia at [email protected].



Meg Fencil
Director of Engagement and Impact

Meg Fencil (she/her) joined Sustain Charlotte in 2014 and serves as the Director of Engagement and Impact. Meg educates, engages, and unites the community through partnerships and programs to increase equitable transportation choices and promote smart growth in the Charlotte area. Prior to her current role, Meg earned a Ph.D. in marine sciences from the University of Texas at Austin, designed and implemented field research projects in Croatia and Japan, and taught project-based mathematics and science to elementary and high school students. She enjoys uniting her lifelong passion for science with the multidisciplinary work of advancing sustainability to support a healthy environment and better quality of life for all. Contact Meg at [email protected].




Jessica Freely
Director of Operations 

As our Director of Operations, Jessica coordinates human resources, office management/technology, financial management, and communication for the Sustain Charlotte team. A recent arrival to the Charlotte metro area, Jessica was previously the director of operations for the Adult Congenital Heart Association, a national health advocacy organization based in Philadelphia. Prior to ACHA, she led regional strategy and operations for the Philadelphia office of the Nielsen Company, an S&P 500 global management company with operations in over 100 countries. There, she was twice recognized with awards in outstanding teamwork and leadership. Jessica is passionate about building internal structures and support so that organizations can fulfill their work and mission. She is thrilled to be part of Sustain Charlotte. Contact Jessica at [email protected].




Allison 2023 Head Shot  

Allison Rhodes
Director of Donor Engagement

Allison is a non-profit professional with a passion for sustainability. Allison joined the Sustain Charlotte team in May of 2023 as the Director of Donor Engagement. With an extensive fundraising background in human and health services, Allison is excited to apply her skills to a cause that aligns with her personal values. A native of South Carolina, Allison has lived in Charlotte since high school and has witnessed Charlotte's immense growth over the years. Allison earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is deeply committed to promoting sustainable growth and raising awareness among Charlotte residents. In her free time, which is limited due to her three teenage sons, Allison enjoys hiking, traveling, baking, reading, and learning about the philanthropic passions of others. If you want to learn more about Sustain Charlotte, connect with Allison at [email protected].



Lauren Sawyers 2023

Lauren Sawyers
Director of Communications

Lauren Sawyers joined the Sustain Charlotte team in early 2022, supporting marketing and communications. After nearly 10 years in corporate communications in the financial services industry, she turned her attention to freelance and contract work while raising her three young children. A lifelong Charlottean and outdoor enthusiast, Lauren enjoys discovering new local places to play and explore and takes great joy in helping others do the same. Lauren earned a degree in journalism and mass communication with a focus on public relations from UNC-Chapel Hill and a master's of science, recreation, parks and sport leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University. Lauren cares deeply about the sustainable growth of Charlotte and is particularly passionate about preserving green space and ensuring access to parks and greenways for all. Contact Lauren for media inquiries at [email protected].




Hope Wright
Advocacy Manager

Hope (she/her) joined the Sustain Charlotte team in January 2023 as Advocacy Manager. A native of Virginia, Hope received her bachelor’s degrees in environmental science and anthropology from the College of William & Mary before heading to Scotland for her master's in environmental sustainability at the University of Edinburgh. Armed with this education and a taste for civic engagement, she completed several advocacy-centered positions starting with an AmeriCorps internship at Theodore Roosevelt’s home on Long Island and most recently as a consultant with National Parks Conservation Association, a nationally recognized nonprofit. Hope’s advocacy work led her to several communities in the Mid-Atlantic, from rural New Jersey to college-town Delaware to bustling Philadelphia. But after several years away from her beloved Southern biscuits, she is delighted to advocate for smart growth and greenway expansion in her new home: Charlotte. Contact hope at [email protected].



Eric Zaverl
Urban Design Specialist

Eric is our Urban Design Specialist and has been a strong advocate for walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented design in Charlotte's neighborhoods for years. His main area of focus is working with multiple city and county departments and committees, including the Ordinance Advisory Committee on pushing the boundaries of urban design to meet the challenges that face Charlotte. Before his work with Sustain Charlotte, Eric was president of the South End Neighborhood Association. While president, he advocated for more green space in the neighborhood, safe crossings on the Rail Trail, and the creation of the two corridor studies on South Boulevard and South Tryon Street. After leaving the neighborhood association, he attended UNC Charlotte. While there, Eric received his master's degree in urban design and finished at the top of his class. Eric has studied urban design abroad in Brazil and is a member of the Congress for the New Urbanism. Contact Eric at [email protected].