The COEEA Board is comprised of the following members, effective November 2015:
Michelle Eckman, President (Nov 2015-Nov 2017) & NEEEA Liaison. After graduating from UMass Amherst, Michelle spent the first 15 years of her conservation career as an avian field biologist. Michelle shifted her focus to education in 2002 and earned her MS in Biology and Experimental Statistics from New Mexico State University where she evaluated an environmental education program for her master’s thesis. Michelle has been the Connecticut Audubon Society’s director of education for over 3.5 years and brings with her over 12 years of experience in education. Michelle began her tenure on the board of COEEA in 2012 as Conference Chair (formerly known as Education Chair). She is also one of 26 North American fellows in EECapacity’s Community Climate Change Fellowship program.
Geoff “Geo” McCann, Membership Chair & Past-President. Growing up in Georgia, Geo discovered a love for nature through family trips to regional mountains and lakes, scouting excursions and canoeing through the murky waters of Okefenokee Swamp. He graduated from the University of Georgia with Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Psychology. Since graduating in 2002, he has worked at a variety of environmental education centers (4-H and YMCA) and camps across the southeast and Ohio. Additionally, his time working for Trailside Discovery, a youth education wing of the Alaska Center for the Environment, as Program Manager for summer camp as well as Outreach Director was a pivotal experience. He served as Education Program Director with the New Canaan Nature Center and loves going on nature adventures with his wife, Angela, and daughter, Lorelei.
Abby Peklo, President Elect. Abby’s passion is experiential, place-based learning. She has many years of experience as an informal educator, program manager and administrator. Abby currently serves as the Director of Interdistrict Grants and Programs at EdAdvance in Litchfield. She is a successful grant writer and has created many innovative outdoor environmental science programs for K-12 students, working with grant funding from the Connecticut State Department of Education, NOAA and EPA. Abby has an undergraduate degree from Muhlenberg College and an MA in Education and Human Development from The George Washington University. She was the recipient of COEEA’s 2013 Environmental Administrator of the Year Award. Abby lives in a renovated mill in Woodbury with her environmentally conscious husband, adolescent son and lovable rescue dogs.
Alberto Mimo, Treasurer. Alberto was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He arrived to the US in 1973, graduated with a MS in biological sciences from CCSU, and has been living in CT ever since. He has spent the last 19 years working in the field of EE for the Connecticut DEEP. He has designed and coordinates 5 major statewide EE programs, mostly to provide technical education to high school students and adults in CT. Alberto has been recognized with providing CT with a number of very unique EE programs with applications beyond his home state. He now serves as Project Science Coordinator for EdAdvance in Litchfield.
Francesca Cristofaro Williams, Communications Chair. Francesca, Curriculum and Evaluation Consultant at Audubon Greenwich, is responsible for standards-aligned outdoor curriculum and professional development for Audubon Connecticut’s Schoolyard Habitat Program, which transforms schoolyards into native wildlife habitat and outdoor classrooms. She has worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in the Bronx Zoo’s Professional Development Department, leading onsite and online courses for teachers in conservation biology, ecology, animal behavior, science and technology, and science teaching methods. She holds a Master’s Degree from Columbia University in Conservation Biology, where she studied ecology, evolution, environmental biology, and conservation education, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behavior from Bucknell University. She can be found exploring local parks with her husband, son, and rescue dog.
Sarah Wilby, Affiliates and Partnerships Chair. Sarah is the head of the new Bio-Science and Environmental Technology Department at A. I. Prince Technical High School in Hartford. Prior to becoming a classroom teacher, Sarah was the Animal Program Curator at the Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Vermont. Sarah is serving her third term on the COEEA Board and also served two terms on the NEEEA Board. She has served as Awards Chair for both organizations.
Jill Keating-Herbst, Conference Chair. Jill is the Professional Development and Programs Manager for the Connecticut School Garden Resource Center at Common Ground High School, Urban Farm and Environmental Education Center in New Haven. In her time at Common Ground, Jill has also managed the K-8 field trip program, served as camp co-director and taught in all children’s programs. Before joining the team at Common Ground, Jill taught elementary and middle school science in public schools and for a variety of environmental and farm education organizations from Florida to California to Vermont. She received her B.A. in anthropology from the University of Florida and M.Ed. in science education from Antioch University New England. When not working, she spends her time with her husband chasing around two very young children and an energetic spaniel.
Tim Laughlin, Secretary. Tim was raised in Groton and attended Southern CT State University where he earned his BA in Education, his MA in Environmental Education, and his 6th year Science Education. Tim is a retired middle school science teacher, all 39 years in the Brookfield Public School System (7 as district science curriculum leader grades 3-8). Now Tim serves as the “new” Program Director @ New Pond Farm Education Center. In the summers, Tim can be found working on his home, woodworking, kayaking, working as a camp counselor, summer camp supervisor, instructor at regional science camp, golf professional,and/or tutor. In his massive free time, he works part time at LLBean as a fly tying and fly casting instructor. Tim is married with 2 adult children.
Tara Carvalho, At-Large. Tara manages several environmental science programs for elementary and middle school students from all over the Northwest region of Connecticut through her role in the Interdistrict Grants Department at EdAdvance in Litchfield. Her work involves the organization and coordination of field experiences at nature centers throughout the area where she meets talented outdoor educators; and it lets her go outside to work, which makes her very happy and healthy. She also served on the Conference Committee for NEEEA 2016. Tara received her B.S. in Elementary Education/English from Western Connecticut State University, has taught 4th grade, and supports the conservation of bats, her favorite animal. In her personal time, Tara enjoys traveling with her husband and friends.
Bill Flynn, At-Large. Hailing from the great state of Iowa, corn-fed Bill Flynn found his love of nature during camping trips to the Boundary Water of Minnesota and Canada. He attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, and in 2007 he graduated with a B.S. in Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology and Pre-medicine. He then worked as a Naturalist in middle Ohio and Southern California before heading out to Connecticut to work at the New Canaan Nature Center. Formerly the Director of Animal Care, Bill currently serves as the Executive Director. He resides at the New Canaan Nature Center with his wife Anna, and son Henry.
Please visit our contact page to connect with any of our board members.