Deidre Griffith – President

Deidre Griffith is an experienced public health leader, collaborator, and champion for health equity. Deidre joined BJC in April, 2023 as Vice President, Community Health Improvement. In this role, Deidre leads BJC’s community programs and initiatives to advance health equity across the St. Louis region.

Deidre was also an executive leader with a national nonprofit organization, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, where she lead the programmatic vision for equitable, inclusive and just delivery of the organization’s strategies to transform youth-serving environments and empower youth to develop lifelong healthy habits. Furthermore, she has an extensive background in health philanthropy, having served as Program Director at Missouri Foundation for Health where she led numerous strategic initiatives, including Healthy Schools Healthy Communities– an ambitious and collaborative, multi-million-dollar obesity prevention initiative prioritizing schools in disinvested urban and rural communities. Additionally, Deidre’s foundation as a public health leader was critically shaped by her experience in community-based participatory research as a program manager and research coordinator with Washington University in St. Louis and Saint Louis University.

Deidre received her Master of Public Health from Saint Louis University and her Bachelor of Art in Sociology/Environmental Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has received numerous recognitions including Terrance Keenan Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy and she is an alumna of Leadership St. Louis, one of the most prestigious leadership programs in the nation.

Debbie Njai – Vice President

Debbie joins the MCE Board with a deep passion for the outdoors and protecting everything in it. Debbie’s love for the outdoors began after venturing out on her first hike in August of 2019. Shortly after, Debbie founded Black People Who Hike (BPWH), a St. Louis based organization that serves as a platform to empower, educate and expose black people to the outdoors.  Debbie believes spending time outdoors is fundamental to our health and that a healthy lifestyle includes a proper balance of nutrition, exercise and adequate time in nature. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Finance and Management from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and has spent the last 10 years working with people in all aspects of management operations including, sales, hiring, training, recruiting and marketing.  Debbie has experience blogging, creating and managing global social media campaigns and building creative content.  She also enjoys hiking, running, camping, golfing, plant based cooking and spending time outdoors with her dog Brownie.

Dawn T. Christoffersen – Secretary

Dawn is an estate planning, business and tax attorney in St. Louis, Missouri and is licensed to practice law in Missouri, Illinois and Colorado.  She founded her own firm, DTC Advisors, LLC in 2011 after practicing at several large firms in St. Louis, Missouri.  Dawn received her BSBA in accounting from Washington University in St. Louis, her JD from Northwestern University and her LLM in taxation from Washington University, where she taught as adjunct faculty for some time.  She also passed the CPA exam and has her Masters in Sustainability from St. Louis University.  Dawn has been and is involved in a variety of charitable endeavors, including chairing the Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis Major Gifts and Planned Giving Committee, as a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Planned Advisory Group and as a member of the Spirit of St. Louis Finance Committee, among others.  In her spare time, Dawn enjoys hiking with her husband Jared and their two dogs, exploring the Colorado wilderness, and preparing international and vegan cuisine.  She is passionate about altering the course of climate change, saving our national parks and creating healthy food systems for all.

Ingrid Lee – Treasurer

Ingrid Lee has been a Missouri resident for the past 20+ years living in the St Louis area. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, MA with a degree in Economics. Upon graduation, she returned to St Louis where she joined Moneta Group Investment Advisors, where has served clients for the past 13 years on the Kukla McGinnis Brown Team. As an Advisor for the past 5 years, she has helped clients navigate everything from retirement and education funding to complex business sale transactions, executive compensation planning, and estate plan funding and gifting. She and her team also aid in coordination with tax, insurance, and estate planning professionals on behalf of the client. She is a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst. In her free time, she is outside hiking Missouri trails and visiting National Parks with her husband and 3 boys. She is an avid tennis player and enjoys time playing with her USTA team. What gets her excited about MCE is the opportunity to ensure that Missouri kids have safe, outdoor spaces to explore so they can cultivate a love and sense of responsibility for the environment and its creatures big and small across the state.

David Garin

David retired from the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he was Associate Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Science and Technology. He co-authored the textbook, “Chemistry: Its Role in Society” and served as the first chairperson of Missouri’s Hazardous Waste Management Commission. David was a Congressional Science Fellow in 1980-81 working in Congressman Al Gore’s office on environmental issues. In October 2019, David received the first UMSL Retiree of the Year Award. He has served on MCE’s Board for more than 25 years in various roles.

Caryn Haddix

Caryn has been a resident of St. Louis City for the past 20 years. She is an avid traveler, music lover, soccer fan and dog mom. Caryn and her one-eared border collie, Oliver, can be found hiking the trails, enjoying a dog-friendly patio (weather permitting) or playing at the dog park. Caryn holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and an MBA, both from Saint Louis University, as well as a Master of Science in Environmental Management from Webster University. She also earned a J.D. from Southern Illinois University School of Law and is currently pursuing an LLM in Environmental Law from Lewis & Clark Law School. Caryn began her legal career as an attorney for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, specializing in water law and hazardous substances, including the regulation of Confined Animal Feeding Operations. Caryn is excited to bring her experience and lifelong passion for the environment to the MCE Board.

Steve Mahfood

Steve has a 40-year track record as an innovator and leader in the environmental, energy, and natural resource fields.  He was appointed for 8 years by three successive governors as Cabinet Secretary to lead the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  During his tenure, he added over 60,000 acres to the state park system and led the development and construction of the first LEED Platinum state office.  He also represented Missouri and the US by chairing the NAFTA-US Governmental Environmental Advisory Commission (GAC), serving on the EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board (EFAB) for 13 years, and he received the “United States Presidential Environmental Achievement Award” in 1989.  His work was also the subject of a “60 Minutes” episode because of his leadership in negotiating the first agreement in US history for a corporate buy out of the houses of Missouri citizens whose children were being exposed to lead contamination and smelter emissions.  Currently, he is advising the Nature Conservancy and many influential organizations on climate change, energy, environmental, natural resource and carbon management issues.  Steve holds a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science from Rutgers University and is a graduate of the Yale University Environmental and Management Leadership.

Bryan Meyers

Bryan is a 24 year Missouri resident who earned a Master of Public Health degree from St. Louis University in 2005. His studies at SLU focused on Community Health, Biostatistics and Epidemiology. He is one of the founders of Three Spring Farms in Perryville, Missouri, an MCE “Known and Grown” farm providing sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken to the St. Louis region since 2011. He serves on the faculty of the Department of Surgery in Washington University School of Medicine and has been awarded for his teaching efforts. His previous service on advisory boards includes work with Blackburn College, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He joined the MCE Board in 2020. He is drawn to serve the MCE based on a longstanding passion for sustainability and environmental issues, catalyzed by his interactions with the Known and Grown program.

Ojetunde (Tunde) Ojewola

Tunde received his Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Missouri – Columbia where he was inducted into the MU Rollins Society in recognition of his service to the university and outstanding leadership. His doctoral research examined factors influencing climate change decision-making behaviors, adaptation strategies, and community resilience. His work was nominated for several awards including wining the 2022 International Award for Excellence by the International Journal of Climate Change: Impact and Responses, and the Science-to-Action Fellowship award by the USGS National Climate Adaptation Science Center.

 While in his home country Nigeria, he taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at the University of Ibadan. His research interest focused on understanding the psychosocial factors influencing decision-making behavior in the natural environment including broader scale concepts such as environmental justice and sustainability. He is interested in understanding perspectives, interests, experiences, and histories of underrepresented groups in land management and natural resource conservation. He intends to further explore the disproportionate impact of climate change especially among marginalized communities. Presently, he works as a data scientist with a Fortune 25 company where he uses his research, statistical, and programming skills to provide data strategy through consultation and analysis. Tunde brings many interdisciplinary and transnational perspectives to MCE.

Joe Pitts

Prior to Joe’s 1989 employment with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), he was employed as a classroom instructor of science and biology at Houston High School in Houston, Missouri from 1981 through the 1989 school years. While at DNR, he worked as an Environmental Specialist, Environmental Education Specialist and Unit Chief of the Environmental Education Unit. In which, he retired with 24 years of service on February 28, 2010. On March 1, 2010 Joe became the Executive Director of the James River Basin Partnership (JRBP) in Springfield.  He then moved his family to Ozark in late summer 2010, serving 5½ years until retiring again on November 1, 2015. Expressing that his time at JRBP was the most rewarding. In October 2015, the MCE recognized Joe’s career as an environmental educator and advocate by awarding him the Susan Flader Education and Advocacy Award.  This was especially meaningful to Joe, as Susan is a friend of his. Joe enjoys canoeing and kayaking on the beautiful Ozark rivers and is an avid fisher. With his wife, they enjoy nature photography and traveling to hike and explore interesting outdoor spots. They are especially in love with Yellowstone Park and the surrounding area and make many trips there, as time and funds allow.

Arlene Sandler

When Arlene moved to St. Louis years ago, she was shocked to learn about St. Louis’ legacy of the Atomic Age radioactive wastes. These wastes were dumped at many locations in the St. Louis metro area, and Arlene has been working toward their removal ever since. She joined MCE’s board in 1979, initially drawn to the organization to help with the ultimately successful referendum, “construction work in progress”  or (CWIP), relating to the Callaway nuclear power plant.  Collaborating with Kay Drey her mentor, Arlene helped write and edit fact sheets and pamphlets for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and Beyond Nuclear. She offered her testimony for many public hearings. Arlene also remains concerned about land use and water pollution issues. Arlene was initially attracted to MCE because it was the only local environmental activist organization around in the 1970’s. She still sees MCE as the best place for her volunteer energy. Her career as a librarian gave her the opportunity and the resources to do research on environmental problems, and the governmental regulations that are supposed to protect us.

Roger Still

Roger resides in Columbia, MO and has a background in conservation and regenerative agriculture. His professional experience includes working with the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, and LAD Foundation. Roger also has many years of experience working as a consultant with various philanthropic foundations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. Roger is an Ozarks native, avid birder and hiker, and passionate about learning history including his family genealogy.  

Gwendolyn Verhoff

Gwendolyn completed her Ph.D. in History at Washington University in St. Louis.  Her work has been recognized with an Eisenhower-Roberts Fellowship, awarded by the Eisenhower Institute to support research into the Cold War; a Haas Fellowship promoting “understanding of the chemical industries in relation to societal, environmental, health, and safety issues and in the public understanding of science” completed in residence at the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the Rachel Carson Prize for Best Dissertation in Environmental History awarded by the American Society for Environmental History.  She brings to MCE a life-long interest in education, advocacy, and preserving the environment for future generations.  Her research focuses on the nuclear history of the United States, especially the implications of nuclear weapons production for human health and the environment.

Michael Vestweber

Michael resides in Lee’s Summit, MO and he has extensive experience in solid waste management including recycling and hazardous waste. He currently works for Covanta and travels throughout the Midwest working to improve our solid waste management systems. In his free time Michael enjoys cycling and is a board member of Cycling Kansas City.

Eric Wilkinson

Eric is an award winning Filmmaker and Media Developer at the Missouri Historical Society where he produces and creates videos, media, and interactive content for exhibits and other institutional needs.  In 2017 he won an Emmy Award for his Missouri Historical Society produced documentary feature Show Me 66: Main Street Through Missouri. The film reframes the history of Route 66’s birth and places the Missouri Ozarks as a central player in this story. Also in 2017 he won two Telly Awards and two Hermes Awards for his other works for the Missouri Historical Society. In 2014 his feature film Portrait of St. Louis at 250 Years was the cornerstone presentation for the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, screened at numerous venues, and was a key part of the Missouri History Museum’s 250 in 250 exhibit. He has a life-long passion for environmental issues and enjoys paddling, camping, hiking, and, in his younger days, rock climbing.

Nygel Williams

Nygel is currently the Executive Director of the Physical Therapy Program at Washington University School of Medicine .He has been at WashU School of Medicine since 2018, first as an Executive Management Fellow and subsequently as a Manager of Patient Accounts in Neurology and then Manager of Finance & Administration in the Office of Education and the Department of Genetics.  Prior to joining WashU, he was a policy analyst in the area of healthcare justice in Washington DC and he currently hosts The Healthcare Hustle Podcast, a multi-media project created to highlight the careers of leaders of color across the healthcare industry. When he’s not working, Nygel is an avid lover of cooking, Formula 1, and getting out to enjoy the great outdoors.

Advisory Board Members

Steve Brewer

Steve has earned a BS in Social Studies and an MS in Park Administration. He has over thirty years experience in park management with Missouri State Parks, St. Louis County Parks, the city of Clayton Parks and the US Forest Service in Granby, Colorado. Steve also served in the US Army and the US Peace Corps-Afghanistan. He retired from the VA where he served as a budget analyst and finally as a national records officer. An avid canoeist, kayaker and self-acclaimed river rat.

Kally Coleman

Kally brings a unique environmental experience to MCE with her legacy as co-founder of Friends of Ozark Riverways (FOR), an affiliate organization of MCE. FOR advocates for stronger enforcement of regulations on the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, and works to foster awareness, appreciation, & respect for the history, culture, and natural splendor of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. She has served on the boards of Missouri Parks Association and The Green Center, and has been involved with the Missouri Arts Council as an advisor and grant panelist for the Missouri Folk Arts Program. Through her work at Washington University School of Medicine, Kally serves on the Steering Committee of the Neurology Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging. Having lived most of her life along the Current River, she is an avid fisherman and enjoys paddling, hiking, and camping along Ozark streams.

Doug Doughty

Doug is the lead member of Friends of Poosey in Livingston County, a community organization that worked to stop a CAFO being built near Poosey Conservation Area. Doug is a commodity crop farmer that has been implementing conservation practices on his farm for the last nine years. Doug understands the impacts of climate change especially on farmers, and he is an expert in the role commodity producers play in our complex food system. Doug also cares about building up local food systems, and regularly supports efforts to do so in his community.

Patrick Geraty

Patrick has been a supporter of environmental causes for many years, and he is the owner of multiple green-minded businesses including St. Louis Composting. Patrick brings his expertise in running multiple green businesses to MCE.

Jeanine Arrighi

Jeanine is the former (retired) Director of Environmental Health at the City of St. Louis Department of Health. She has multiple years working on environmental health issues in the City of St. Louis such as reducing lead exposure in youth and ensuring businesses are in compliance with environmental health ordinances.

Dan Snyder

Dan has become a legal expert on issues related to industrial agriculture. Dan worked on a case involving “Cow Palace”, where a community group was able to successfully argue that a Washington State dairy concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) placed so much CAFO manure on adjacent fields that their actions were considered dumping waste under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).