Who We Are

We are a team of policymakers, scientists, advocates, and others concerned about the fate of our planet, the people living on it, and the generations to come.

Armine Avetisyan, Grants Officer

Armine Avetisyan is a grants officer at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she supports the full lifecycle of grants and helps refine grantmaking processes.

She previously served as a grants and compliance specialist at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, supporting both domestic and international grantmaking programs, and as a program associate at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She started her career in philanthropy at a small, newly established family foundation in Armenia back in 2007.

Armine holds M.A.s in international relations from the College of Europe in Belgium and Yerevan State University in Armenia. She is fluent in Armenian and Russian.

 

Nicholas Bianco, Program Director

Nicholas Bianco is a program director with the Sequoia Climate Foundation, where he oversees Sequoia’s investments in the United States.

Before joining Sequoia, Nicholas was deputy director for the World Resources Institute’s United States country office, where he helped oversee the U.S. climate team and helped coordinate domestic efforts across the climate, energy, food, forests, water, and sustainable cities programs. He has held a variety of other roles at the World Resources Institute, overseen analytic research conducted in support of the Environmental Defense Fund’s U.S. climate and air regulatory team, and helped design and implement climate change and air quality programs for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Nicholas holds a master’s degree in environmental studies from Brown University, and a B.S. in biochemistry from Muhlenberg College.

Steven Borden-Weill, Director of IT
Steven is the IT director for Sequoia Climate Foundation, overseeing all technology strategy and operations. Steven has built IT teams for large technology companies and, most recently, the quantitative investment firm D.E. Shaw.
 
 
He is new to Southern California after relocating from New York City. He believes technology is at its best when it becomes an invisible extension of self-expression, rather than simply another tool to leverage. When he’s not busy bridging the gap between people and their tech, he runs an online record store and cooks increasingly elaborate meals for his friends.
Jesse Bragg, Program Director

Jesse Bragg is a program director at the Sequoia Climate Foundation, where he leads the organization’s work on strategic communications and engagement.

Prior to joining Sequoia, Jesse was the media director at Corporate Accountability, a corporate watchdog and human rights organization, where he oversaw media communications across five areas—climate, food, tobacco, water, and democracy. Jesse has also worked in various communications, director, and political roles for state elected officials, a governor, and U.S. Representatives and Senators across the northeastern United States, including as executive director of a state political party.

Jesse has a degree in Economics from the University of Vermont. When he’s not communicating about the climate crisis, Jesse enjoys cycling and hiking with his family and honing his skills as an amateur carpenter.

Allison Catalano, Evaluation and Learning Manager

Allison is the evaluation and learning manager at Sequoia Climate Foundation, leading the implementation of credible, mixed-methods evaluations to support adaptive action. Drawing on systems thinking concepts, she develops evidence-informed theories of change and action by staff and grantees, and designs and facilitates organizational learning across program teams.

Allison was previously a logistics officer in the U.S. Navy, where she most recently served as the lead planner for the Defense Support of Civil Authorities, collaborating with civilian federal, state, and local agencies to coordinate Department of the Navy assets in times of natural or man-made disasters. She also served in the Department of State as the community liaison officer for the U.S. Ambassador in Ankara, Turkey, and was a management consultant for Bain & Company in London.

She joined Sequoia Climate Foundation after completing a PhD in organizational learning in environmental conservation organizations in the Life Sciences Department at Imperial College London. She also holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and a B.A. in environmental geology from Bryn Mawr College. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, running, traveling, and spending time with her patient spouse and energetic teenagers.

Janice Chasten, Executive Assistant

Janice Chasten is executive assistant at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she provides high-level, comprehensive administrative support to the chief operating officer (COO) and director of evidence and learning.

Janice comes to Sequoia with more than 20 years of experience as an executive assistant, including at the leading insurance company Chubb, the publishing company Dow Jones, and the travel company Synergi Global Travel management. Throughout her career, her key responsibilities have encompassed project management, team leadership, event planning, and customer service. Highlights include organizing a global conference involving teams from 48 countries held in Cape Town, South Africa, and being an active member of the National Association for Executive Women.

Janice holds certifications in employee recruitment, business succession planning, and generation gaps, and is a New York State Notary Public. She earned a degree in business administration and management from Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, New York. She is a native of Brooklyn and enjoys reading, yoga, dancing, and travel with her daughter.

Gilbert Ching, Director of Finance and Administration

Gilbert Ching is the Director of Finance and Administration at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where he oversees the organization’s finances and administrative activities. He brings more than 20 years of experience in both private and public accounting to this role. Before joining Sequoia, Gilbert was the CFO of a nonprofit social-impact asset manager. He also previously provided financial and business advisory services to a wide range of clients worldwide. Gilbert received his undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of California, Riverside and is currently an inactive Certified Public Accountant in California. He is tri-lingual and bi-cultural, having spent time in Asia. When he’s not busy working with numbers, Gilbert enjoys spending time with his wife and four kids.

Carlo De La Cruz, Program Officer

Carlo De La Cruz is a program officer at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where he supports grantmaking to decarbonize the global economy and build broad support for the climate movement.

Before joining Sequoia, Carlo helped lead Sierra Club’s clean energy and clean transportation work in California as deputy regional director, working with frontline and impacted communities. He has also worked statewide on sustainable economic development policy and transit-oriented housing at the Milken Institute’s California Center and for the Association of Bay Area Governments.

A double graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Carlo received his Master in City Planning and B.A. in Asian American studies and history of art. Carlo has lived the last 16 years in California as a car-free resident, exploring cities and new neighborhoods on bike and trying out local transit options wherever he goes.

Jolie Emenike, Executive Assistant

Jolie Emenike joined Sequoia Climate Foundation in July of 2022. She is the Executive Assistant to Louise Glew, Chief Evidence and Learning Officer and GIlbert Ching, Interim COO.

Jolie skillfully manages administrative and operational duties while assisting with planning staff retreats and events at Sequoia. Jolie is a hands-on administrative professional with a track record of strong performance in high-volume, high-pressure environments. She has an extensive office and project management background. With a wide range of professional experiences before her time with Sequoia, Jolie led the management of several specialty care practices for UCLA Health. Jolie is an enthusiastic and collaborative leader that brings a remarkable ability to apply system-level thinking to day-to-day operational challenges.Outside the office, Jolie enjoys many outdoor activities such as camping, swimming, and hiking. In addition, she enjoys traveling, entertaining friends and family, and spending quality time with her son.

Alina Eprimian, Director of Communications

Alina Eprimian is the Director of Communications at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she leads the organization’s strategic communications goals.

Prior to Sequoia, she was the communications director at Sunnova Energy International, a publicly-traded solar company, where she developed the company’s inaugural communications strategy and focused on strengthening brand awareness through media relations and executive communications. Her career in sustainability started almost 10 years ago at the International Renewable Energy Agency, where she initiated human impact storytelling – documenting the ripple effects of renewable energy in countries on the frontlines of climate change, expanded global media relations, and managed onsite communications at UN climate conferences. She also led communications at an international non-profit that focused on advancing clean tech innovation and worked as a roaming field producer in war zone hotspots like Ukraine.

Alina comes from an international background and attributes her passion for social change and storytelling to growing up all over the world, especially in Africa. She believes innovation and local action are key to achieving our climate goals.

Gauri Gadgil, Program Associate

Gauri Gadgil is a program officer at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she supports grantmaking to decarbonize the global economy and build broad support for the climate movement.

Before joining Sequoia, Gauri served at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and at the World Bank, working with local and municipal governments to develop and finance green, climate resilient infrastructure. She has also worked on economic development programs abroad, through the United Nations Office for Project Services in Myanmar, and domestically, with resettled refugee populations through the International Rescue Committee, and she retains a people-centered focus in her work on climate change.

Gauri holds an M.A. in energy, resources, and environment from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A in international relations and French from Wellesley College.

Allyssa Gapinski, Grants Officer

Allyssa Gapinski is a Grants Officer, where she manages projects that improve grantmaking processes and systems, as well as design and lead the implementation of training opportunities to build effective grantmaking practices.

Before joining Sequoia, Allyssa served as a program specialist at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, supporting efforts to serve thriving children, working families, and equitable communities. Prior to this, she was a Lead Teacher and Program Manager at Tobey Elementary in Scotts, Michigan. Allyssa earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in history with an emphasis in East Asian Culture from Adrian College and attended graduate school at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University, where she specialized in Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Gender Justice Issues.

Outside of work, Allyssa holds multiple referee and coaching licenses through the United States Soccer Federation and previously coached multiple competitive youth soccer teams, including a top ranked team in Michigan. She is an experienced equestrian and loves backcountry backpacking in the National Parks.

Jonathan Gaventa, Program Manager

Jonathan Gaventa is a program manager at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where he focuses on the transition of the oil and gas sector. He joins Sequoia after three years in Maputo, Mozambique, where he worked as a freelance consultant, supporting strategy development on energy from NGOs and foundations. Previously, he was a director for European climate and energy policy at climate think tank E3G in London and Brussels, covering areas ranging from net zero targets to the expansion of electricity grids.

Louise Glew, Director of Evidence and Learning

Louise Glew is the director of evidence and learning at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she leads efforts to inform Sequoia’s strategy, and impact through a blend of systems thinking, Bayesian approaches to causal inference, and quantitative modeling.

Prior to joining Sequoia, Louise was the global lead scientist for conservation evidence at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where she led an interdisciplinary team focused on the generation, synthesis, and use of evidence in decision-making. She also convened the Alliance for Conservation Evidence and Sustainability (a cross-sector collaboration focused on the use of evidence in decision-making) and was the founding chair of the Impact Evaluation Working Group of the Society for Conservation Biology.

Louise holds a doctorate in environmental science from the University of Southampton and has published research on the impacts of biodiversity conservation interventions in leading scientific journals, including Nature and Science.

 

Jessica Halverson, Director of Grantmaking Operations

Jessica Halverson is the director of grantmaking operations at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she leads the development of grants management processes and systems, and partners across the organization to build effective grantmaking practices.

Prior to joining Sequoia, Jess was a grants officer in environment at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, working across the grantmaking portfolio on the foundation’s strategies in climate change and conservation. She also led Hewlett’s efforts to build more financially resilient nonprofit organizations across the social sector. Previously, Jess was a senior manager at Ceres, a nonprofit organization focused on the business case for sustainability.

Jess holds an MBA with concentrations in nonprofit management and strategy & innovation from Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, and a BA in sociology from Grinnell College. Outside of work, Jess loves to be outdoors—walking the beach, running in the park, or hiking a good trail.

Lynn Huynh, Information Technology Lead

Lynn is the information technology lead at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where they oversee technology strategy and operations.

Before joining Sequoia, Lynn was an IT specialist at both Disney Streaming and Hulu. Lynn is an empathy-driven IT technician who believes that the intersection of technology and business strongly impacts culture, efficiency, and strong collaborative communication. Lynn aspires to be a bridge between new technological processes and end users, helping to promote creative ways to showcase their expertise.

In their free time, they enjoy playing video games, spending time with loved ones, and attempting to cook.

Amit Khare, Program Manager

Amit Khare is a program manager at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where he develops grant-making strategies to accelerate the energy transition and climate action in India. Amit has spent more than 15 years working on global clean energy and climate-change mitigation, including with government agencies, private-sector companies, and nonprofits. Most recently, he was part of the ICF’s energy efficiency analytics team supporting North American utilities. Amit also managed multilateral and bilateral funded energy efficiency programs in South Asia and Africa. Amit has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from India and a graduate degree in environmental systems from Humboldt State University in California.

Laura Lin, Controller

Laura Lin is the Controller at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she oversees the accounting process, including accounts payable, general journals, cash management, annual audit and 990 filings. Laura is an alumna of UCSB, and an active CPA with over 15 years of public and private accounting experience in industries ranging from public accounting, non-profit, manufacturing, retail, education, and automotive industries. She enjoys reading, cooking, yoga, card/board games, Disneyland, Marvel movies, and traveling with her husband and their two boys. And for what it’s worth, she is a Virgo and her favorite color is purple!

Sze Ping Lo, Program Director

Sze Ping Lo is a program director at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where he leads the organization’s grantmaking portfolios for China and Southeast Asia.

Prior to joining Sequoia, Sze Ping was CEO of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in China, and served in top leadership and governance roles in Greenpeace, Friends of Nature, Society of Entrepreneurs and Ecology (SEE), China Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN), and Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA). He has founded two NGOs, Forward Works and Greenovation Hub, and has received numerous recognitions for his achievements, including being named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2012.

He holds an EMBA from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and is a political scientist and anthropologist by training. Apart from being a diligent reader and eclectic music lover, he is also an internationalist foodie.

Jess McDonald, Program Officer

Jess McDonald is a program officer at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she supports grantmaking to decarbonize the global economy and drive climate action.

Prior to joining Sequoia, Jess was an associate with Propel Clean Energy Partners, where she managed the Clean Power Hub, an initiative supporting power sector transformation in Southeast Asia. Jess also worked as a senior manager for international programs at the Edison Electric Institute, and as a fellow in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy, where she supported initiatives to accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies.

Jess holds a master’s degree in environmental management with a focus on energy, and a certificate in sustainable systems analysis, from Duke University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Outside of work, Jess enjoys spending time outdoors exploring new trails and practicing Ashtanga yoga.

Hannah McKinnon, Program Director

Hannah McKinnon is a program director at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she leads the Foundation’s work on oil and gas along with other portfolios.

Prior to joining Sequoia, Hannah was the founding director of the Energy Transitions and Futures program at Oil Change International, where she also played a central role in founding the Global Gas and Oil Network. Hannah has also worked in national and international climate policy, politics, and advocacy in North America and Europe, as well as climate adaptation and risk management in Central America.

Hannah holds an MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an honors degree in Biochemistry from Mount Allison University. She also studied at Lester B. Pearson United World College.

Daniel Noll, Program Manager

Daniel Noll is a program manager at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where he supports grantmaking to transform power and energy systems throughout major economies.

Previously, Daniel has worked in advocacy, academia, government, and the private sector to accelerate national and global energy transitions. From 2017 to 2020, he was the director for international programs at the Edison Electric Institute, prior to which he was a senior fellow in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy.

Daniel holds a master’s degree in energy and earth resources, a master’s degree in global policy studies, and a bachelor’s degree in government from The University of Texas at Austin.

 

Seema Paul, Program Director

Seema Paul is a program director at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she leads grantmaking portfolio for India.

Prior to joining Sequoia, Seema successfully led the launch of two environmental start-ups in India—Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and, more recently, The Nature Conservancy. She has also worked in two philanthropic start-ups focused on climate change—Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation and Climateworks Foundation—as well as for international organizations such as UNAIDS. She is Rockefeller Foundation’s Lead International Fellow and an Alfred Friendly Press Fellow.

Seema completed the International Executive Program at INSEAD and holds one master’s degree in public policy from University of Maryland and another in English literature from University of Delhi. She has published widely in global and Indian media including Time magazine, The Dallas Morning News, and The Times of India as well as in peer reviewed and other professional journals.

Jessica Redoblado, Human Resources

Jessica is a human resources generalist at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she helps drive a high-performance culture and employee engagement at Sequoia Climate Foundation.

Jessica has worked in Human Resources in various capacities. She started her career at a non-profit organization, assisting with talent acquisition, training and development, and employee engagement needs. She later joined a Nestle Subsidiary were she was a Human Resource representative providing strategic HR consulting related to state and local HR compliance for over 600 hourly employees and senior leadership in food manufacturing, coaching and advisement on employee relations resolutions, workforce reduction strategy and planning, and drive employee engagement. Jessica also consulted with I-9 compliance, workers compensation cases, talent review and succession planning processes, conducted statistical reports on effectiveness of recruitment and COVID-19 safety compliance.

Jessica holds a BA in Business Administration with a concentration on Management and Human Resources from California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, cum laude where she was a recipient of the President’s Scholar award, the Hilda Solis Scholar award, California Latino legislative Caucus Foundation Scholar and regional recipient of the “Live your Dream” Soroptimist International of the Americas award for academic excellence. She is currently obtaining her Masters of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Strategic Human Resource Management at Grand Canyon University. When she is not fostering growth and teamwork towards others through her HR support, she enjoys gardening, binge watching television, going to sport events, and yoga. Most of all, she enjoys every moment of being an active mom of three children and wife.

Richard Santos, IT Manager

Richard is an IT Manager at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where he manages technology strategy and operations.

Richard brings over 25 years of IT expertise, making technology work not only for the organization, but also to the individual end user. He has architected, implemented, and supported IT infrastructure for corporate needs, as well as for clients’ e-commerce infrastructures. In 2020, he transitioned to a Senior IT Auditor position, where he was responsible for the firm’s largest client engagement for SOX compliance and Cybersecurity risk assessment.

Richard is So Cal raised and has a degree from California State University Dominguez Hills in Business Administration with a concentration in Computer Information System. Richard also loves the outdoors! In his free time, he enjoys taking the path less traveled to camp with family and friends. As much as he loves “keeping the lights on” professionally, he also appreciates the opportunity to unplug and recharge out in nature.”

Ranping Song, Program Manager

Ranping Song is a program manager at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where he supports the development and implementation of grantmaking strategies and manages project portfolios for China, South East Asian countries, and beyond.

Before joining Sequoia, Ranping served as the developing country climate action manager for the World Resources Institute, where he coordinated teams across various country offices and the climate, energy, finance, governance, and business programs to accelerate climate action. He also led the World Resources Institute’s Climate and Energy Program in China, specializing in greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting and reporting as well as policy impact assessment. He has also worked for the Climate Group, United Nations Development Group, and Greenpeace.

Ranping holds a Master of Public Administration from New York University and a Bachelor of Laws from Lanzhou University. In his spare time, Ranping enjoys watching musicals and dramas, and is an enthusiastic but awkward skier.

Marcus Thomson, Modeling and Analysis Manager

Marcus is the Modeling and Analysis Manager at Sequoia Climate Foundation. With his colleagues in Sequoia’s Evidence and Learning directorate, he helps to speed-up and scale-up decarbonization outcomes from our grant-making.

Before joining Sequoia, Marcus did postdoctoral research at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and UC Santa Barbara, and worked as a research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria. At IIASA, he joined FABLE, an international consortium of scientists develop practical, scientifically sound pathways to transform agriculture, forestry and land-use to meet global climate emissions targets in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Marcus earned his PhD in geography from UCLA, and his MSc and BSc degrees in physics from Queen’s University and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (now SNOLAB) in Canada. His research has been published in prominent journals, such as Nature.

Christie Ulman, President

Christie Ulman is the president of Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she oversees the foundation’s efforts to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, guides its investments in rapid decarbonization, and leads its strategy of impact-driven philanthropy.

Prior to joining the foundation, Christie served as the climate director at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) in London, and also worked on climate issues at the highest levels of the U.S. government—including at the Department of Energy, the Treasury Department, and the White House. She has also lived in Spain and Thailand, where she worked in public health and education, assisting with disaster relief from the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

Christie holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University and a BSc from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she graduated with honors.

 

Lalli Venkatakrishnan, Program Officer

Lalli Venkatakrishnan, is the Program Officer for the India team. Lalli is a US attorney with a passion for helping our environment. She received her JD from UC Hastings and her undergraduate degrees in environmental studies and South and Southeast Asian studies from UC Berkeley.

Prior to joining Sequoia, Lalli worked with the International team at Earthjustice fighting fossil fuel projects and climate change-induced human rights violations. She has also previously worked with the Center for Biological Diversity and NRDC. In her spare time, she loves to dance, surf (poorly, but trying to get better), and explore California’s national and state parks. Lalli grew up and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and frequently travels to India to visit her family in Tamil Nadu. She is excited to explore another part of California!

Yiting Wang, Program Manager

Yiting Wang is a program manager for the China and Asia team at Sequoia Climate Foundation. She develops grant-making strategies to accelerate energy transition and climate action in China and the developing world, and she manages grantee portfolios.

Yiting previously worked for the Sunrise Project, where she developed and coordinated strategies to decarbonize China’s global power-sector investments. She also developed multi-stakeholder policy, financial, and market-based initiatives to green China’s overseas investment and trade across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) offices in Beijing and Washington, DC. She has published on clean energy access and the role of carbon finance based on her fieldwork in India and East Africa. Over the years, she has also partnered with a wide range of leading and grassroots environmental organizations around the world to explore local solutions for equitable and sustainable development, and to campaign for greater ambition at international climate and environmental governance negotiations.

Yiting earned a master’s degree in environmental science from the Yale School of the Environment and a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College, summa cum laude. She is an enthusiastic cook who knows no boundaries.

 

Rachel Zimmerman, Program Manager

Rachel is a program officer at Sequoia Climate Foundation, where she supports grantmaking to decarbonize the United States and the global economy.

Rachel previously served as the Public Policy Fellow at Vulcan LLC, where she crafted strategies for new philanthropic investments and partnerships across the climate change, ocean health, biodiversity, and tech for good portfolios. Rachel also worked on climate policy at New America in the Resource Security Program, where she examined the link between natural resources, climate change, and human security.

Rachel holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a B.A. in international relations from Pomona College.