Advisory Council

Marisha Auerbach

Marisha Auerbach is an internationally recognized permaculture educator, designer, and speaker based in Portland, OR. Marisha has lived and practiced permaculture in both urban and rural environments. As an avid gardener and herbalist, Marisha specializes in food production, ecology, and useful plants. Marisha believes that it is possible to respond to the current environmental challenges, lower our ecological footprint, and continue to live equally delightful lives through permaculture design. This passion is what drives Marisha's active teaching schedule throughout the year.

Carmen Gonzales

The thing that lights me up every day is using my specialized knowledge and skills in water quality and permaculture design to help Tribes protect and regenerate their waters, cultures, and lives. I believe that it is possible to meet all of our needs while also creating regenerative and vibrant ecosystems. I also deeply believe that the sovereign status of Tribes makes it possible to fully realize the beautiful possibility of seeing watershed-scale regeneration take place. I am committed to continuously learning new ways of improving our waters and our livelihoods while growing a new way to relate to our Mother Earth and each other.

Brandi Mack

Brandi Mack, a holistic health educator, therapeutic massage therapist, and permaculture designer, holds a bachelor's degree in Human Service Management, and a certification from Starhawk's Earth Activist Training. Brandi currently directs Girls 2000, a program of the Hunter's Point Family, in San Francisco.

Marilene Richardson

Marilene Richardson’s passion for bringing sustainable living information and community-building skills to people of all ages prompted her to create the Foundation for Sustainable Community. Marilene received her Permaculture Design Certificate after living and studying on Orcas Island at the Bullock Brothers Permaculture Farm. Joel Salatin, KP Khalsa, Toby Hemenway and Jude Hobbs are among some of her many instructors. As a child, Marilene developed a deep reverence for the natural world, while running free in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Marilene has worked extensively on building intentional community and has assisted or taught classes on topics ranging from biodiesel production to gardening and food preservation. Her six years as a volunteer at The Root Connection Farm grounded her belief in the importance of local, healthy food. Her desire to make organic meals more readily available, while supporting local CSA farms, led her to found and direct an organic catering business. Marilene enjoys raising chickens and keeping bees as well as growing and preserving much of her family’s food. Marilene is a WSU Master Gardener as well as a WSU Livestock Advisor. She teaches classes for WSU Extension and Mother Earth News Fair. Marilene is a Professional Herbalist who has studies with Kp Khalsa, on staff for Bastyr University, and is the happy owner of SongCroft Naturals.

Nina Simons

President and Co-Founder of Bioneers.

Founder of Everywoman's Leadership,

and Co-Founder Cultivating Women's Leadership, programs of Bioneers

Nina Simons is an award-winning social entrepreneur and visionary thinker. In 1990, she co-founded Bioneers ( with her husband and partner, Kenny Ausubel. As President, she has helped to lead the organization through 23 years of identifying, gathering and disseminating breakthrough innovations that reveal a positive and life-honoring future that’s within our grasp, today.


She is a founder of Earth Activist Trainings (EAT), teaching permaculture design grounded in spirit and with a focus on organizing and activism. Together with Charles Williams and others, she co-teaches EAT courses in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. She also champions ‘social permaculture’: the application of permaculture principles to social organizations, policy and strategy.

Wanda Stewart

Today, Wanda Stewart is an urban farmer and homesteader, educator, mother of twins and comrade to many in the movement to educate and inspire others to grow their own food and communities. She believes that the skills to grow food and medicine, to maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit, and to live cooperatively and communally, are essential to our collective survival. She is committed especially to working with other African Americans to reframe our shared history, trauma, and greatness through the act of legacy gardening. As current program director for the Victory Garden Foundation, former Executive Director of People’s Grocery, long time schools administrator, Master Gardener and certified permaculturalist, Wanda blends her professional skills in community outreach and program development with her personal passions for people and urban farming. She seeks to model, galvanize, and support whole life transformation – in individuals and in community – through the act of gardening and the lens of African American culture and traditions.

Starting with (permaculture) Zone 00, Wanda is creating Obsidian Farm – her land in the flatlands of Berkeley, CA that models a new way of living in an urban environment. With landscaping that is nearly 100% edible and 20 chickens in a side yard, it is part food forest, part oasis, part community center and all home. Everyone is welcome to learn and grow in the diverse, intentional community effort that celebrates gardens and the soul of Black folk. Drawing on past lessons while moving Into the future, her fearlessness in stepping forward, speaking and acting in ways that disrupt the status quo, work across culture and insure that folks actually eat well is only emboldened. Specializing in garden-centered wellness, visionary program development, and the facilitation of courageous conversations about race and our environment, she knows in her heart that we must “grow the power.”

Pandora Thomas

The earth is my employer

Pandora Thomas is a passionate global citizen who works as a teacher, writer, designer and speaker. She studied at Columbia and Tufts University and with several permaculture and greenbuilding design programs. Her writing includes a children’s book, various curricula and a manual entitled "Shades of Green" for individuals wanting to teach green building to youth.

She has keynoted and lectured on topics ranging from diversity, social justice, youth and women's leadership, social entrepreneurship and sustainability. She has taught groups as diverse as Iraqi and Indonesian youth to men serving in San Quentin creating inspiring and hands on programs around permaculture design, sustainability, and outdoor and environmental education.

Pandora co-founded Earthseed Consulting LLC, a holistic consulting firm whose work expands the opportunities for sustainable living for diverse communities.

Her most recent projects include co-founding the Black Permaculture Network, working with Toyota to design and currently serving as a coalition member of the Toyota Green Initiative, which supports African Americans in understanding the benefits of adopting sustainable lifestyles and co-designing, teaching with and directing Pathways to Resilience-a permaculture and social entrepreneur training program that worked with men and women returning home after incarceration, When she is not working you can find her spending time with her beloved mother and cats or in the redwoods.