Leadership team

Team

Leadership Team

Heidi Binko, Executive Director & Co-Founder

Heidi Binko is currently the executive director of the Just Transition Fund, which she co-created with Sandra Mikush in April 2015. Heidi is responsible for the design and the strategic direction of the Fund. She brings more than 17 years of philanthropic experience working on climate, coal, and energy issues, working with coal communities throughout the US and internationally in Australia. In her previous position as Associate Director for Special Climate Initiatives at RFF, Heidi helped develop the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, obtaining financial and economic expertise related to coal markets in the process. Previously, she taught a short-course on policy and campaigns at the University of Virginia Batten School of Public Policy, and she’s served as board co-chair of both the Environmental Grantmakers Association and Climate & Energy Funders Group.  Heidi holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Notre Dame, and grew up in a small town in Western NY that housed a coal plant where her family worked. She currently lives in Charlottesville, VA with her husband.

Sandra Mikush, Consultant & Co-Founder

smikush@justtransitionfund.org

Sandra Mikush is a part-time consultant and co-founder of the Just Transition Fund. She focuses primarily on Appalachia and provides expertise around impact investing. Sandra formerly served as deputy director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, where she led the Foundation’s efforts to advance Appalachia’s economic transition and managed the foundation’s move toward 100% mission investing. Sandra was a member of the founding executive committee of Mission Investors Exchange and a founding member of the Appalachia Funders Network. A North Carolina native and graduate of Duke University, Sandra lives with her husband in the NC mountains, where she enjoys hiking and kayaking.

Team

Carolyn Caddle-Steele, Program & Grants Manager

ccaddle-steele@justtransitionfund.org

Carolyn leads the Just Transition Fund’s grants management processes and manages day-to-day operations for the Fund. She also holds a similar role at the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF) which houses the JTF. Prior to joining the RFF and JTF teams, Carolyn served as the Program Associate at the Twenty-First Century Foundation (21CF) where she managed the Foundation’s grantmaking activities and provided support to the program department. Carolyn is a member of the Grant Managers Network, a national affinity group dedicated to promoting best practices in grants management; serves on the Grants Advisory Committee of the New York Women’s Foundation; and volunteers with Amani Global Works, a nonprofit that provides medical and nutrition services to residents on Idjwi, an island in Lake Kivu of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cindy Winland, Senior Fellow

cwinland@justtransitionfund.org

Cindy is currently a Senior Fellow at the Just Transition Fund. She provides consulting assistance to the Fund, focusing on technical assistance and planning in communities impacted by the transition away from coal assets. Cindy’s work is focused in the Midwest in Illinois, Ohio, and Minnesota and has also done work in Montana in locations that pose unique opportunities to promote successful transitions.  Winland is an urban planner with over thirty years of experience in the Great Lakes region, working with urban and rural municipalities, nonprofits, professional organizations, and the academic community. Winland’s background includes solid waste and brownfield management in the public sector, alternative energy development in the private sector, and assistance to legacy cities as part of a nonprofit. Before joining the Just Transition Fund and Delta, she owned a consulting firm based in Midland, MI, where she led efforts around brownfield redevelopment, industrial transition, alternative energy planning, and sustainable master planning. She earned a Master of Urban Planning and a BA in Economics at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Mandy Bridenhagen, Communications & Partnerships Director

abridenhagen@justtransitionfund.org

Mandy works on grantmaking programs and communications at the Just Transition Fund. She focuses primarily on Colorado and Arizona, and more broadly across the Fund's priority states in the West. Her nonprofit and philanthropic background includes time at Pew Charitable Trusts, Global Greengrants Fund, and the WestWind Foundation. Additionally, she held strategic partnership roles at Gnip and Twitter. Mandy holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Dickinson College and an MBA  from the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business. When not at her desk, she is exploring the trails (on foot, bike, and skis) of Colorado and the West.

Lois Wallenhorst, Office & Systems Manager

lwallenhorst@justtransitionfund.org

Lois joined the Just Transition Fund to provide additional support for day-to-day operations, with focused work on data and information systems. Prior to joining the Fund, Lois developed and managed database and office structures for the Shenandoah National Park Trust and Southern Environmental Law Center, and the non-profit consulting group Resilient Philanthropy. Lois is originally from Minnesota, where she attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, earning a B.A. in Communications and Political Science. In her spare time, she can be found in her garden or running trails in and around Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia.

Strategy Working Group

The Fund’s programming is informed by a Strategy Working Group, which includes community-based transition thought leaders, labor and climate justice leaders, economic development and clean energy experts, philanthropic representatives and public sector officials. The Working Group will help refine the Fund’s strategies, expand the network, ensure responsiveness to the field, and connect with broader just transition and new economy conversations.

  • Ray Daffner
    Appalachian Regional Commission
  • Tom Cormons
    Appalachian Voices
  • Jihan Gearon
    Black Mesa Water Coalition
  • Kim Glas
    Blue Green Alliance
  • Rebecca Newberry
    Clean Air Coalition
  • Anya Schoolman
    Community Power Network
  • Sandy Buchanan
    Institute for Energy Economic & Financial Analysis
  • Burt Lauderdale
    Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
  • Teresa Erickson
    Northern Plains Resource Council
  • Sara Kendall
    Western Organization of Resource Councils
  • Stephanie Tyree
    West Virginia Community Development Hub

Strategy Working group

The Fund’s programming is informed by a Strategy Working Group, which includes community-based transition thought leaders, labor and climate justice leaders, economic development and clean energy experts, philanthropic representatives and public sector officials. The Working Group will help refine the Fund’s strategies, expand the network, ensure responsiveness to the field, and connect with broader just transition and new economy conversations.

  • Ray Daffner
    Appalachian Regional Commission
  • Tom Cormons
    Appalachian Voices
  • Jihan Gearon
    Black Mesa Water Coalition
  • Kim Glas
    Blue Green Alliance
  • Rebecca Newberry
    Clean Air Coalition
  • Anya Schoolman
    Community Power Network
  • Sandy Buchanan
    Institute for Energy Economic & Financial Analysis
  • Burt Lauderdale
    Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
  • Teresa Erickson
    Northern Plains Resource Council
  • Sara Kendall
    Western Organization of Resource Councils
  • Stephanie Tyree
    West Virginia Community Development Hub