Our steering committee members are an experienced and skilled group of leaders representing our diverse faith communities. They share their talent, wisdom and passion
Joanne Gerson, Chair Green Umbrella/ Faith Community Go Green Impact Team, created educational programs including Kinder-Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo’s first preschool program, and The Super Saturday Program, an enrichment program for gifted children, which she directed for ten years. Through her business, Decorative Art, she painted furniture and murals. Passionate about environmental issues, she founded the Rockdale Temple Environmental Committee, Shomrei Olam - Jewish Environmental Advocates, served as Montgomery Planning Commissioner leading the revisions of Montgomery Storm Water and Lighting Zoning Codes, Program Committee Chair for Hamilton County Regional Planning Partnership, and member Green Umbrella’s Watershed Task Force. A graduate of University of Wisconsin, holds three U.S. Patents, dressage enthusiast with national awards.
Simone Bess, a member of New Prospect Baptist Church, has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University, a Masters’ in Education from the University of Cincinnati, and additional graduate level courses focused on qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation. She has over 37 years of progressive roles in engineering, manufacturing, education and the non-profit sectors. She spent years volunteering in a variety of organizations. In support of public education and her children, she held several positions in education including chairing an LSDMC, president of an elementary parent board, and vice president of a high school parent board.Simone is a STEAM enthusiastic. She has spent the last 5 summers running a STEAM camp. The camp theme is sustainability. Students are able to experience nature, coding, robotics, yoga, chess and project-based stem activities, among other programming.
James P. Buchanan, Ph.D., Co-Chair Green Umbrella/ Faith Community Go Green Impact Team, was educated at Yale University and University of Chicago where he completed a Ph.D. in comparative religions and value systems. He also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, The University of Moscow, and the University of Beijing. His teaching and research has focused upon ethics, global systems, and interfaith dialogue. He held the first endowed chair in Ethics/Religious and Society at Xavier before becoming University Professor and Executive Director of The Brueggeman
Justin Kirschner, is the Associate Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Cincinnati. He's a community connector who has a passion for using reflective conversation, civic engagement, and partnerships to co-create just and vibrant communities. Justin has been involved with various social justice, youth mentoring and leadership development endeavors, facilitating cross-cultural exchanges and teaching experiential education. He is a double graduate of Ohio University with a B.A. in Political Science, Minors in Business and Global Leadership and a Master's in Public and Nonprofit Administration.
Anas B. Malik, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Political Science Department, and Chair, Committee on Climate Change, Xavier University. Anas’s interest is in cultural and religious factors in constituting polycentric order in Islamic and inter-religious contexts. As a political economist interested in development, his early work emphasized the consequences of the strategic pursuit of political survival. He focused on Pakistan in two book projects, Polycentricity, Islam, and Development: Potentials and Challenges in Pakistan and Political Survival in Pakistan: Beyond Ideology. He is generally interested in developing countries where the central authority has low political capacity. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science, and an M.A.in Economics, from Indiana University, Bloomington, a B.A. Highest Honors, International Political Economy, Marlboro College, Marlboro, Vermont.
Pat Timm, Ph.D., is a civic leader and nonprofit consultant in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since 1982 Pat has been a faith leader at Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church where she convenes the Earth Care Leadership Team. The Team is leading their congregation in Green Faith, Green Learning, Green Living, and Green Justice. During her career as a Public Policy Mediator and Consensus Facilitator, Pat was the Director of the Ohio River Way, the Licking River Greenway, the Metropolitan Growth Alliance, and the Hamilton County Environmental Priorities Project (HCEPP). The Green Umbrella was founded by HCEPP. Pat lives in the Madisonville community of Cincinnati where she has served on the boards of the Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation and the John P. Parker Local School Decision-Making Committee.
Caroljean Willie, Ph.D.,a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Master’s Degree in Reading and a Ph.D. in Multicultural Education. She has extensive experience working cross-culturally throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Asia, South and Central America as an environmental educator, teacher-trainer and cultural diversity consultant. Before becoming program director at EarthConnection, she served two terms of office as the NGO representative at the United Nations for the Sisters of Charity Federation and continues to work with microfinancing projects in Africa.
Rashida Manuel, Staff Liaison, Green Umbrella Director of Public Engagement, brings over a decade of experience in diversity, equity and inclusion. A community engagement professional, Rashida has worked with the Ohio Innocence Project, Molina Healthcare, the Children's Defense Fund and Planned Parenthood to build equitable communities and forge relationships between organizations and the communities they serve. She is also active in her community serving on the boards of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio and Friends of Women's Studies, the Cincinnati Women's Fund's advocacy committee and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center's young professional advisory board. Rashida is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati where she obtained her B.A. in journalism and M.A. in Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies.