The Climate Trust | Staff


Sheldon Zakreski

Chief Operating Officer

Sheldon co-manages The Climate Trust and is responsible for managing The Climate Trust’s operations, finances, Board, public policy, carbon credit acquisition programs and its carbon credit portfolio. Most of Sheldon’s professional experience has been concentrated in carbon markets and policy.Sheldon began his carbon market career in 1998 tracking U.S. policy for the Japanese government. He also worked for Trexler Climate & Energy Services where he specialized in international carbon price forecasts and market design. Sheldon has Masters in economics where he wrote his graduate thesis on cap and trade program design in 1995. He has been with The Climate Trust since 2008. 

Kristen Kleiman

Chief Investment Officer

Kristen co-manages The Climate Trust and is responsible for managing the The Climate Trust’s finances, investment portfolio and Climate Trust Capital, its wholly owned subsidiary. She is an institutional investment expert with 30 years’ experience. She specializes in natural resource investment portfolio management with particular expertise in the negotiation, structuring, and management of international timberland acquisitions and dispositions. Kristen’s background includes her tenure as a member of the Board of Directors of East Africa’s largest forestry company and as a central participant in investment decision-making for two leading timberland investment management firms. She has been with The Climate Trust since 2016. 

Karen Ward C.P.A., C.G.M.A.

Director of Finance

Karen is responsible for managing The Climate Trust’s accounting and finance activities and related compliance. Karen is a Certified Public Accountant, a Chartered Global Management Accountant and a member of both Oregon Society and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She has more than 20 years’ experience in public accounting with the international CPA firm, Deloitte & Touche, LLP; supervising and managing the audits of a wide range of clients in various industries. Prior to The Climate Trust, Karen served as the Execute Director of two nonprofit organizations overseeing mergers, contract negotiations, grant reporting and overall strategic planning. She has been with The Climate Trust since 2016.

Julius Pasay,C.F.

Forestry and Grassland Asset Manager

Julius oversees due diligence and assessment for forestry and grassland related investment opportunities, and works on the technical aspects of carbon offset project development with landowners and land managers throughout the U.S. He also manages investments in these sectors for Fund I. Prior to his work at The Climate Trust, Julius was the Forest Manager for the Yale Forests and a U.S. Fulbright scholar investigating climate-smart agroforestry techniques in France. Julius is a Certified Forester and holds a Master of Forestry from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He has been with The Climate Trust since 2017.

Kyler Sherry

Senior Project Analyst

Kyler manages The Climate Trust’s carbon offset projects in the biogas digester sector and provides technical analysis, including greenhouse gas modeling, to support the Trust’s carbon project development in grasslands, forestry and wetlands. She also manages The Trust’s offset project portfolio account registries and internal credit tracking registries. Kyler holds a Masters of Greenhouse Gas Management and Accounting and B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Colorado State University. Kyler has been with The Climate Trust since 2018. 

Nichole Wallace

Administrative Coordinator

Nichole ensures smooth day-to-day office operations, manages vendor relationships, board communications, and select accounting duties. Nichole holds a Graduate degree in Museum and Exhibition Studies from The University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to working at The Climate Trust, Nichole was the Executive Assistant at The Chicago High School for the Arts. She has been with The Climate Trust since February of 2019. 

Morgan Rider

Board Chair
Director of Business Development, Oliver Russell

Morgan Rider is the director of business development at Oliver Russell, an advertising and marketing agency. She is an environmental engineer with over 25 years’ experience working with government, nonprofit and private organizations on a variety of environmental and natural resource related issues. Morgan believes the best way to affect long-term behavior change is through amazing creative visuals, simple messaging, and great storytelling. Morgan serves as a Board Member for the Wetlands Conservancy, the Chair, Clean Fuels Rule Making Advisory Committee, and on the Advisory Committee Climate Chaos | Climate Rising, Northern Lights. She has a degree from Cornell University, in Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Patrick Maloney

Vice Chair
Principal, Occam Advisors

Patrick works at the intersection of capital and impact across sectors and asset classes. At Occam Advisors, he helps investors, entrepreneurs and nonprofits building companies and funds that combine impact and profit, especially those in his home state of Oregon. Prior to forming Occam Advisors, he was a Principal with Imprint Capital, a leading impact investment advisor to foundations and high net worth families, where he was Head of Strategy as well as lead for the Energy & Environment practice area. Prior to Imprint, he was Program Director for The Lemelson Foundation, where he headed the Foundation’s investments in for-profit and nonprofit organizations developing and distributing energy, water, agricultural and health technologies, primarily in the developing world. He has an MBA from UC Berkeley and a BS from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Neal Sacon

Board Treasurer
Principal, SkyBlue Center for Community Development

Neal is a transaction, tax and finance professional experienced in the acquisition, operation and disposition of business & real estate assets valued between $5M and $1B. His technical competency includes legal structure, tax effect, financial operations and reporting requirements of partnerships & joint ventures; pre- and post- acquisition investment due diligence; transaction negotiation & transaction management; and the syndication of Low-Income Housing, New Markets, Historic and Renewable Energy Tax Credits. 

Neal has special expertise working with community & economic development groups, including commercial and non-profit developers, housing authorities, and quasi-public agencies planning and implementing community and economic development programs & projects in the public interest using community development corporations, limited-cooperative corporations, and community land trusts. 

Arya Behbehani

Board Secretary
Senior Director, Portland Gas & Electric

Arya is the Senior Director of Environmental and Licensing for Portland General Electric (PGE)–a role that ensures PGE operations comply with all environmental regulations and that the company demonstrates outstanding environmental stewardship. This work includes fish and wildlife protection near all generation facilities, habitat restoration, air and water quality sampling, and environmental permitting. Arya first worked at PGE from 1985 to 1988 as a Trojan Nuclear Plant engineer and rejoined PGE in 1997 as an engineer in the Power Supply Engineering Department. She has served as a project manager for the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, Port Westward project development and Willamette Falls Hydro facility, among others. She received her Bachelor of Science in engineering from Roger Williams University and received her MBA from Marylhurst University.

Laura Beane

Board Member
President and CEO, Avangrid Renewables

Laura Beane is the President and CEO of Avangrid Renewables, one of North America’s leading developers and marketers of renewable energy. Laura has spent more than 20 years with the company, holding a wide variety of roles and responsibilities across the business. Her previous executive role as Vice President of Operations and Management Services followed her tenure as Director of Market Structure and Policy. Laura holds a Master of Global Energy Management with the University of Comillas in Spain and an MBA with the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. Laura lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and teenage son. 

Jason Johns

Board Member
Partner, Stoel Rives, LLP

Jason advises independent power producers, utilities, investors, and large users of gas and power resources with matters arising in power markets and state and federal energy regulatory arenas. Jason appears regularly in proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. His experience includes the negotiation of major facility contracts, such as interconnection, transmission, and power purchase agreements, the prosecution of disputes at FERC, and counseling and defending clients on issues related to regulatory compliance. Jason has also assisted these clients with demand management agreements, the installation of on-site resources, and with retail and wholesale power purchase agreements for renewable energy and other resources. Jason and his wife are parents to two growing boys, and they live just outside of Portland, Oregon.

Odin Knudsen

Board Member
Retired, Real Options International

Odin has retired from President/CEO and founder of Real Options International where he helped clients transform environmental compliance and other regulatory liabilities into assets through a comprehensive approach to risk management and the use of options in investments and portfolio decisions. Odin also started J.P. Morgan’s leading environmental markets business. Odin has nearly three decades of experience at the World Bank, where he was Deputy Vice President and Senior Advisor and oversaw the bank’s carbon finance business, growing carbon offset transactions from $140 million to over $1 billion, with nearly $2 billion of funds under management in the carbon offset market.He holds a PhD in Applied Economics and several engineering degrees from Stanford University and advanced management and financial training from Harvard’s and Stanford’s business schools. 

Brad Hunter

Board Member
Business Lender, Craft3

Brad is a senior lender with Craft3 and manages Craft3’s Clean Tech Investments, as well as the Conservation Bridge Fund that provides financing to accelerate land conservation in the region. Prior to joining the Craft3 team, Brad worked for GreenWood Resources as a business analyst. Previous work experience includes commercial lending with GE Capital and forest management/timberland valuation for Green Crow and American Forest Management. Brad received his B.A. in History from The University of the South. He also has a Master of Forestry from Yale University and an MBA from University of North Carolina. 

David Van’t Hof

Board Member
Attorney and Energy Consultant, Van’t Hof Legal and Strategic Services

David is an attorney with his own policy and law practice in Portland, Oregon. His practice focuses in the areas of sustainability, renewable energy and climate policy, drawing from his experience as Sustainability Policy Advisor to former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and ten years of practice at Stoel Rives and Lane Powell law firms. With the Governor’s Office, David led the state’s participation in the Western Climate Initiative, the framework for a regional cap and trade program, and in developing the state’s nationally recognized climate change and renewable energy policies. David has served on numerous renewable energy and energy efficiency non-profit boards, including Climate Solutions, and also works with non-profits on a contract basis both providing legal and policy expertise. David earned his law degree (J.D., cum laude, 1994) from the University of Michigan Law School and his undergraduate degree (B.A. Philosophy, Phi Beta Kappa, 1988) from Trinity College, Hartford CT.

Ryan McGraw

Board Member
President, Orion Energy Group LLC

Ryan believes that renewable energy is good for local communities, good for America, and great for our environment. With that belief in mind, Ryan works to develop, construct, and operate renewable energy farms across the United States, including managing over $1 billion in operational assets and developing over 1,000 megawatts of new wind and solar projects. His educational background includes a JD from Willamette University College of Law, an MBA from Atkinson Graduate School of Management, and a BS from University of California, Davis. 

Thomas C Dempsey, PE, MPS

Non-voting Board Member
Manager Thermal Operations & Maintenance, Avista Utilities

Thomas manages the thermal fleet of generating units for Avista Utilities in Spokane, Washington.Thomas has 26 years of generation experience. He started his career at Houston Lighting & Power as a plant performance engineer in 1993. He continued his career in 1996 at Washington Water Power (now Avista) as a mechanical production engineer focusing on projects for the utility’s hydro and thermal fleets. He began his management career in 2001, taking over Avista’s fleet of peaking combustion turbines. Recently, Thomas assumed responsibility for Avista’s Community Solar project. Thomas has a passion for renewable energy and has recently focused efforts on identifying energy storage solutions that may be able to help achieve Washington State’s mandate of 100% carbon free energy by 2045. Thomas earned his BSME from the University of Texas in 1993 and his Masters of Professional Studies in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems in 2019.