Emily Van Laan
Emily earned her B.A. in Elementary Education from Ball State University and went on to teach first grade in Indianapolis, IN. At that time, the lack of widely accessible environmental education in urban areas led her away from formal education and into the field of informal science education at Lincoln Park Zoo. She worked on developing inquiry-based science curriculum for the zoo’s Conservation Camp program and later found her niche as the Early Childhood and Family Programs Coordinator.
Emily’s knowledge of nature education and developmentally appropriate practice allowed her to drive early childhood programming to the forefront of education offerings at Lincoln Park Zoo. Her work primarily focused on highlighting the importance of early experiences with the natural world and the long-term positive impact of these experiences. In an effort to break down barriers and create more diverse and accessible programming, Emily worked to expand the zoo’s offerings to a broader audience. Her progress on this goal is exemplified most notably through a partnership with Chicago Park District, the addition of an early childhood volunteer position, and the design and implementation of several nature play spaces.
In service to the greater AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) community, Emily served as a Nature Play Leader, where she supported other early childhood environmental educators by sharing resources, professional development opportunities, and leading discussions around important topics. Her experience advocating for early childhood environmental education led her to NAAEE and Natural Start Alliance as the Communications and Conference Coordinator. She is excited to continue the important work of Natural Start Alliance and explore new ways to support and engage the Alliance’s amazing community of members.
Emily is based in Chicago, IL.
Daniella earned her B.S. in Conservation Biology and Ecology from Arizona State University. She holds a certificate in Sustainability and Behavior Change from the University of California-San Diego and is pursuing her master’s degree in Environmental Studies from Prescott College. She has been in the Environmental Education field for over a decade. This includes working as a gallery interpreter for the Arizona Science Center, as a Recreation Coordinator for the City of Chandler Nature Center, and then as a Water Conservation Specialist for the City of Chandler. Daniella recently transitioned to the East Coast and has helped the Shaw Institute, a nonprofit marine and environmental research center in Blue Hill, Maine, with outreach and special projects. She’s excited to join the NAAEE team and help support the ee360+ program.
Carrie earned her B.A. in both Environmental Studies and Spanish, a dual major she explored hands-on while studying in the cloud forests of Ecuador. After attending Indiana University to complete her Masters in Public Affairs, with concentrations in Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management, she took on the role of Environmental Educator with the City of Bloomington. Here she connected with community members of all ages, teaching about habitats, sustainability practices, and conservation efforts.
As an established marketing professional and award-winning public speaker, Carrie brings a variety of skills to NAAEE. Hailing most recently from the private sector, she is versed in planning complex marketing strategies for such names as REI, Icelandair, NPR, and The Weather Channel. A thought-leader in her industry, Carrie has developed and delivered training and audits to hundreds of participants, and prides herself on empowering those around her to excellence. She enthusiastically joins the NAAEE team to combine her creative innovation with her passion for environmental justice and education.
Carrie has spent her life in the Midwest and currently resides in the rolling hills of southern Indiana. Outside work, Carrie serves on the Bloomington Environmental Commission and takes every opportunity to go hiking with her wife and two rescue pups.
Jimena Cuenca she/her
Hi! I’m Jimena, raised in Southern California with a love for nature and shaped by my family. I now call Alaska home, where I’m a part of a community seeking to build momentum for climate action.
Previously, I’ve worked in fieldwork helping on avian research projects with the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before working with the National Parks Service as a park ranger. At present, I’m a Digital Community Coordinator at NAAEE. When I’m not supporting our amazing eePRO community, you can find me reading, writing, doodling, or bicycling to the nearest coffee and tea place.
As the Director of Technology, Mary serves as the project lead for NAAEE online technology, including the NAAEE website and eePRO, the hub for professional development. She collaborates with developers, designers, staff, leaders, and end-users in building out features and improving user experience; coordinates with NAAEE project managers to support the technology used to deliver their programs, including the in-person and virtual conferences; and leads and collaborates with the communications team on association newsletters, web content, and community outreach. Mary has been on NAAEE staff since 1999 and her extensive background in technology, website development, outreach, multi-stakeholder collaboration, security, systems support, and project management experience consistently provides the highest level of support to NAAEE’s team, leadership, and members.
Lily Hariton she/her
I am a recent Environmental graduate that is just beginning her journey within the field.
Jenna (Hoover) Cobb
Jenna Cobb (she/her) is passionate about facilitating spaces to cultivate relationship with nature and engaging youth in academic, advocacy, and faith-based settings to seek community transformation together. She is currently located on unceded Tongva land in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California in the United States. As a Program Manager at Community Nature Connection and a former youth pastor, Jenna is excited about incorporating spirituality, Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and civics in environmental education.
Maxwell works part-time on website, technology, and analytics projects for NAAEE. He was an NAAEE intern during the summer of 2012 and then worked as NAAEE's Project and Technology Coordinator from 2014 to 2015. In this role, he was part of the team that worked on designing and building eePRO and NAAEE's new website.
Maxwell has previously worked on organizational development projects with a variety of government, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including the Aegis Group, the City of Eden, Texas, the Eden Economic Development Corporation, and the Martin County Convent, Inc. Additionally, he served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa from 2015 to 2016, when he worked on community and economic development projects in Mali and Benin.
Maxwell graduated summa cum laude from Angelo State University with a dual BBA in Management Information Systems and International Business. He graduated from the ASU Honors Program with Highest Honors after completing a senior thesis on the use of knowledge management technology in nonprofit organizations and is passionate about using technology and data for social good. In May 2020, Maxwell finished a Master of Science in Data Analytics and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.