Founder, President & Chief Innovation Officer
Gina has over 20 years of experience working in education, sustainability, and social innovation. In 2008, Gina founded EcoRise as a nonprofit that aims to unlock the power and potential of youth to design resilient communities of the future. Gina has stewarded its dramatic growth, introducing the principles of sustainability, social entrepreneurship, biomimicry, design thinking, and green building to over 1,100 schools in 47 states and 39 other countries.
Prior to EcoRise, Gina spent 10 years working with innovative educational programs serving youth in Brazil, India, Nepal, and Guatemala, as well as in Harlem, New York, and Taos, New Mexico. In 2004, Gina moved to Austin, Texas, and pioneered a robust summer and afterschool program at a Title I middle school. She also built and led a youth cultural exchange program to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and served as a facilitator and counselor at the Global Youth Peace Summit. While in graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, Gina studied sustainable development and social entrepreneurship and earned a certificate in Nonprofit Studies at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Gina practices systems-thinking and human-centered design, and recently completed the School for Systems Change program at the Forum for the Future. Gina serves on the SXSWedu Advisory Board and the Green Schools Conference & Expo Program Working Group and is a former co-chair of Austin ISD's Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee. Gina has presented extensively at local, regional, and national conferences and recently received the Women in Sustainability Leadership Award by Green Building & Design.
Jonathan Stott, M.P.A.
Jonathan Stott is an experienced leader with a passion for building community and driving impact. He believes that a nonprofit organization can further its mission through a values-based organizational culture that fosters staff autonomy, mastery, and purpose. He has led organizations through periods of rapid growth and change and improved performance measures and outcomes.
Jon has seven years of prior experience in education reform, focused on closing the achievement gap and increasing experiential learning opportunities for all students. As the founding Dean of Students at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Jon co-designed a tutoring program that increased student growth percentiles on state assessments, resulting in Codman posting the highest combined median student growth profile of any district in the state. In 2010, Jon became an independent project management consultant working with a range of educators and private and public sector leaders in support of innovative school design projects. In 2011, he helped successfully launch two schools, one of which was the first public dual-language high school in Boston. In 2012, he moved to Austin, Texas, and joined Idea Public Schools as a founding member of its Campus Leadership Team. At Idea, Jon helped ensure a successful launch for one of the first in-district charters in Austin, resulting in strong academic and operational performance.
Jon recently completed his Executive Master in Nonprofit Leadership at the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Jon is also a graduate of Swarthmore College with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Environmental Studies. In his spare time, Jon enjoys cooking, backyard gardening, and exploring Austin by bike.
Abby Randall, M.S.
A former secondary science teacher and the 2015 EcoRise Teacher of the Year, Abby Randall is committed to inspiring teachers to ignite passion in a new generation of green leaders. Abby was born in London, England, raised in Hingham, Massachusetts, and spent the last decade in Austin, Texas, teaching and designing curricula for a wide variety of K–12 science courses and alternative education programs. Abby holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Trinity College and an M.S. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment from Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
In her current position as Deputy Director, Abby oversees the implementation of a wide variety of leading-edge educational resources, including sustainability and design curricula, a workforce development program focused on green building education, teacher professional development, and a K–12 grant program that brings students' green innovations to life. Abby also leads EcoRise's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives and is responsible for leveraging and streamlining technology to efficiently scale EcoRise's innovative programs to thousands of educators across the globe. In 2018 Abby was selected as an ee360 Fellow for the North American Association for Environmental Education. In her free time, she enjoys tending her vegetable garden and backyard chickens, swimming in Barton Springs, hiking, camping, and traveling the world to visit friends and family.
Jenji Henson, M.Ed., LEED Green Associate
Director of Special Projects
During her 28 years of producing educational programs and materials, Jenji Henson has been a writer, editor, evaluator, program manager, innovator, and leader. She began her career at Holt, Rinehart & Winston (HRW), an educational publisher now known as HMH. There she helped create one of the first environmental science textbooks designed specifically for high school students, as well as countless middle school science products and a high school health series. Over the years, Jenji has helped develop a number of influential and award-winning materials on a variety of topics, including environmental science field guides and virtual laboratories, professional development materials, and online learning curricula on topics ranging from K–12 Science and Literature to college-level Criminal Justice Ethics. Jenji holds bachelor’s degrees in English and Philosophy from Southern Methodist University, and she holds a Master of Education in Educational Technology and E-Learning Certification from the University of Texas.
Jenji joined EcoRise in 2014 to oversee the development of all EcoRise curricula. After completing five curricular programs for EcoRise and partnering with two agencies to create tailored programs (EV Lessons for Schools with Austin Energy and Lessons for Understanding our Water Footprint with GRACE Communications), Jenji turned her writing aptitude and attention to detail toward other vital EcoRise needs, including program evaluation, reporting, and institutional giving. In her spare time, Jenji enjoys reading, writing, yoga, and hanging out with her family and two border collies.
Kristi Hibler-Luton, N.B.C.T.
Kristi Hibler-Luton has more than 14 years of experience in public education. She has served as a science teacher, department chair, and instructional coach. Kristi is passionate about supporting teachers through curricula, resources, and organization. She has written science curricula and has integrated technology and outdoor learning into learning materials. She has supported new teachers in her work as a Content Seminar Leader for Texas Teaching Fellows and as an instructional coach for the New Teacher Project and the University of Texas UTeach program. She has also supported in-service master teachers as the Director of National Board Certification for Teach for America in Texas.
Kristi is a National Board Certified Teacher with a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. As the Program Director for EcoRise, Kristi continues to make curricula and resources easily accessible to educators in the state of Texas. She also leads the EcoRise PBL Academy, where she supports teachers, campuses, and districts in implementing authentic, engaging real-world learning through the lens of sustainability. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening with her kids in her NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat, camping, and hiking.
Brittany Jayroe has worked in education for over six years. She stumbled into the field by happy accident and found a home in helping young people establish their own footing in the world. She has honed her knowledge and teaching skills through leading instructional teams in project-based learning, leading school departments in sustainability and social-justice-minded curriculum development and implementation, coaching master's degree candidates on capstone portfolios, consulting on homeschooling education, and facilitating 21st-century skills seminars to young people preparing to enter the workforce.
Brittany is a graduate of Texas State University with a B.A. in Mass Communication, and she holds an M.A. in Teacher from the Relay Graduate School of Education. She has taught middle and high school humanities in large charter networks, tiny start-ups, and schools dedicated entirely to sustainability. Most recently, she served as one of seven founding members of Rooted School in New Orleans. Brittany's efforts helped earn Rooted School the 2018 LAPCS Innovative Education Award and helped it become New Orleans' highest performing new start-up school in the city's history. Joining EcoRise, Brittany is excited to bring her passion for sustainability and social justice education to a new generation of green leaders.
Kizzy Hannibal Xolani
As a founding member of EcoRise, Kizzy Hannibal Xolani has played various roles for the organization since its inception. She has over 15 years of youth development experience as an impassioned sustainability educator and youth facilitator. Fueled by her natural orientation toward supporting youths to discover their unique potential in shaping our future, she employs an inquiry-based approach that effectively engages participation, draws out collective knowledge, inspires creative problem-solving, and creates spaces for authentic and meaningful connections across differences. Her diverse experience in education spans classrooms and communities in Nigeria, Brazil, Jamaica, Hawaii, and Austin and includes classroom teaching, group facilitation, program development, curriculum development, youth facilitator training, and leadership and professional development.
Kizzy has been an avid member of the nonprofit world since she finished college. She is also a founding member of the Amala Foundation and was its first Youth Program Director. In this position, she created and directed a groundbreaking program, the Global Youth Peace Summit, which unites immigrant, refugee, international, and local teenagers for a week dedicated to personal growth, cultural exchange, leadership development, and community building. She held this position for five years before she helped launch EcoRise.
With more than 10 years of experience in education, Jessica Cravens is fervent about sharing her joy and knowledge with teachers and students. As an Instructional Coach, she worked to help teachers with curricula, classroom management, and instructional practices. In her most recent role as Director of Independent Living, Jessica was able to help youth continue their education beyond the classroom setting.
In her current position as Texas Program Manager for EcoRise, Jessica helps with the implementation of Problem Based Learning in Central Texas, as well as sustainability and design curricula, teacher professional development, and a K–12 grant program that brings students' green innovations to life. Jessica's passion for learning is evident in her student-centered approach.
Gamal Sherif, M.S.Ed., LEED Green Associate
For more than 25 years, Gamal Sherif has served as a science teacher, curriculum director, and principal in schools across the U.S. Gamal believes that all students should be able to attend beautiful schools that are green, healthy, and sustainable. Gamal holds an M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Temple University, and an M.S.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Gamal earned the LEED Green Associate credential in 2015 and, in 2017, became an ambassador with TeachSDGs, a global network of educators working to advance the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Gamal enjoys a good game of disc golf, biking, and gardening with his family in their NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat.
Zakhia Grant, M.S., LEED Green Associate
Zakhia is a geologist and a LEED Green Associate and brings with her more than a decade of experience teaching science and sustainability at both the high school and collegiate levels. She found her passion for ensuring sustainability and environmental education was inclusive of students of color while teaching science in the NYC schools in Far Rockaway. In addition, she has developed curriculum and implemented STEM programs for several New York area organizations such as the RISE, Henry Street Settlement, and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Before entering the educational arena, Zakhia spent several years working in the environmental consulting industry where she was responsible for public water supply well construction and water quality monitoring.Zakhia holds a BA in Geology from George Washington University and an MS in Geology from Bowling Green State University.
In her current role, Zakhia provides professional development to K-12 teachers participating in the Sustainable Intelligence Program in the New York, New Jersey and Boston areas and support in applying for student-driven Eco-Audit Grants.
Zakhia likes to spend her spare time enjoying the beach and giving back to her hometown community of Wyandanch, LI.
Communication & Design Manager
As a camp counselor, mentor, and volunteer, Laura has been working with youth in nature since she was in middle school herself. A jack of many trades, Laura has also worked in theatre production, costume technology, videography, and digital design. She is passionate about helping people get in touch with their creative side—because everybody has one! For instance, during undergrad, Laura co-founded a student TV station at St. Edward's University, fostering a supportive community where students from a variety of backgrounds and with a range of interests could work together and tell their stories, fictional and non-fictional, through a tangible medium.
Laura received a Batchelor's in Business Administration with a minor in Communications & Advertising from St.Edward's University. She is now elevating EcoRise's brand and growing the EcoRise family through storytelling and communication initiatives as EcoRise's Communication and Design Manager. She inspires (and makes it as easy as possible for) partners, Board members, Teacher Ambassadors, and students to share EcoRise's story through their lenses.
Laura is enthusiastic about growing her collection of personal talents and soul with her amazing teammates through the ever-evolving scope of projects and connections. Outside of work, she can be found hiking or kayaking with her dog, crafting, or cooking.
Operations & Finance Manager
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Amaryllis Martin is a passionate environmentalist who enjoys serving the community that has significantly shaped her development. She is a vocal champion of environmental conservation and strongly believes that through innovation we are capable of providing society with transformative results. As a native, she has watched the city change dramatically throughout her life and has remained committed to contributing to the unique values that have made Austin such a special place to live. Naturally resilient and enthusiastic, Amaryllis welcomes change and proactively seeks new challenges. She is thrilled to be a part of the EcoRise family.
Amaryllis received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas State University in 2012. She began her career at Birds, a locally owned and operated barbershop, then transitioned quickly into a fast-paced position at Whole Foods Market. The experience provided her the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge regarding efficient and effective operations—something she has grown quite passionate about.
Jaynell Nicholson, M.P.A., M.S.E.S.
Jaynell has always had a passion for connecting people to nature and science. In school, the lack of diversity around her was always palpable leading her to join and lead various efforts to support and retain students of color. Jaynell's time teaching and empowering underrepresented students in STEM specifically was invaluable. She is always looking for innovative ways to give students a more equitable experience in and out of the classroom.
Holding a B.S. in Conservation Biology from Kent State University, Jaynell has invariably been eager to improve environmental quality and connect social-ecological systems. She has recently completed a dual Master's program at Indiana University earning a degree in Environmental Science and a degree in Public Affairs. Her graduate studies focused on finding equitable solutions to urban environmental problems. Her call to work in the non-profit sector was engrained after completing the Environmental Fellows Program in 2019.
Jaynell is elated to join the EcoRise team as the Project Manager of the Collective Impact Project which helps stakeholders visualize the impact of Environmental Education service providers through GIS mapping, Kumu systems mapping, and Tableau. Her passion for giving back guides her need for community involvement and volunteering in her spare time. She also enjoys hiking, cooking, and caring for her plants.
To see current job opportunities available at EcoRise, click here.