Board of Directors

The People Behind Earth Day


DENIS HAYES, Board Chair, President, CEO, The Bullitt Foundation

Denis Hayes is president and CEO of Bullitt Foundation, which built the “world’s greenest office building” []. Mr. Hayes is perhaps best known for having been the National Coordinator of the first Earth Day when he was 25 and then expanding the event to 170 nations over the subsequent four decades. During the Carter Administration, Denis directed the federal Solar Energy Research Institute (now NREL).  He has been a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, director of the Illinois Energy Office, professor of engineering at Stanford University, and a Silicon Valley attorney. Denis has received the national Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Public Service as well as the highest awards bestowed by the Sierra Club, the Humane Society of the United States, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Council of America, the American Solar Energy Society, and the Commonwealth Club, among others. Time Magazine selected Hayes as one of its "Heroes of the Planet."

GERALD TORRES, Vice Chair, Bryant Smith Chair, University of Texas-Austin

Currently the president of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), Professor Torres is a leading figure in critical race theory and an expert in agricultural and environmental law. He taught and served as associate dean at The University of Minnesota Law School, as deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and as counsel to then U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

Prof. Torres is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute. In 2004, he was honored with the Legal Service Award from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) for his work to advance the legal rights of Latinos. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard and Stanford Law Schools.

KEN BERLIN, Retired Partner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP

Ken Berlin retired as head of Skadden's East Coast and international environmental practice. Mr. Berlin has been involved in a wide range of environmental issues since 1979, when he was section chief in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Mr. Berlin has an extensive background in environmental litigation, including representing parties in environmental cleanup issues, in criminal and civil penalty cases, in appeals of administrative decisions, and in arguing cases in federal appeals court. Mr. Berlin has acted as national environmental counsel in the bankruptcies of Owens Corning, IT Group, Inc., US Airways Group, Inc. and Kmart Corporation, and represented National Steel Corporation and Sterling Chemicals, Inc. in resolving environmental issues in their bankruptcies

DR. PETER BROSS, Clinical Team Leader, Cancer Therapeutics, U.S. FDA Office of Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapy

Peter Bross has been active in conservation for many years. While in California, he taught snow camping and river kayaking for the Sierra Club and was an active volunteer for Friends of the River, and the Tuolumne River Preservation Trust, contributing to successful efforts to add to the California Wild & Scenic River system. As a volunteer for San Francisco-based Environmental Traveling Companions, he took handicapped and disadvantaged kids on sea kayaking and river trips. Dr. Bross served as a volunteer physician for the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic in San Francisco and for the Himalaya Rescue Association in Nepal.

Since returning to Washington DC, Dr. Bross has become active in a number of conservation organizations, including the Environmental Law Institute, Potomac Conservancy, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, American Whitewater, American Rivers, Monocacy Canoe Club, Canoe Cruisers Association, Bethesda Center for Excellence (a whitewater racing club), Anacostia Watershed Society, Friends of the Cheat and Friends of the Gauley River. Dr. Bross is on the Board of Potomac Riverkeeper, an organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Potomac River and its tributaries, from its headwaters in West Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay, through citizen action, education, advocacy and enforcement.  Dr. Bross is a graduate of the University of Virginia College and School of Medicine.

AVIS GOLD RICHARDS, CEO, Birds Nest Productions

An award-winning producer and creative director, Avis Gold Richards runs a visual media production company dedicated to providing multimedia services for fund raising and increasing awareness and understanding of non-profit organizations. Since founding her company, Ms. Richards has overseen the production of 50 videos promoting promoting various charities that have won more than a dozen Stevie, Telly and Davey awards. Ms. Richards sits on several boards, including HELP USA, R Baby Foundation and the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, and is a senior advisor with the Hopewell Group, a philanthropic advisement firm. She has been an integral, managing member for programs and events at the Westchester Medical Center Children’s Hospital (founder/chair, annual 100K Bike Ride); the Boomer Esiaison Foundation (Game Ball recipient), Lance Armstrong Foundation (Peleton Project); American Cancer Society (Excalibur Award, Gala Event chair, founding member, Gilda’s Club Young Committee Member’s Gala) and Auschwitz Jewish Center (Educational, Bar and Bat Mitzvah Committees). She is a member of the King of David and Lion of Judah for UJA Federation of New York.

Ms. Richards earned a B.S. at the University of Maryland and pursued post-graduate studies at George Washington University and Bank Street College of Education.

NORA POUILLON, internationally renowned Chef/Owner, Restaurant Nora

Nora Pouillon is a social entrepreneur and champion of organic cuisine. Born and raised in Austria, she spent several years on a self-sufficient farm, which influenced her understanding of the role of food and its impact on personal and environmental health and well-being.

Restaurant Nora, opened in the heart of Washington, DC in 1979, went on to become, 20 years later, the nation's first certified organic restaurant, a feat since achieved by only two other restaurants. Ms. Pouillon was instrumental in creating the organic certification standards for restaurants, which guarantee that at least 95% of all food served originates from certified organic sources.

Committed to the education of both her colleagues and the general public, Ms. Pouillon became a founding member of the Chefs Collaborative, to educate culinary professionals, over 10 years ago. More recently, she helped support TOG, an organic farmers’ co-op by introducing the farmers to other local chefs, thereby ensuring the livelihood of small farms. Ms. Pouillon also initiated the Fresh Farm Markets, several producer-only farmers' markets in the DC area and, as a Board member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, established an organic internship at her restaurants, receiving five interns each year. Her book, "Cooking with Nora," encourages the public to cook and eat healthily.

Ms. Pouillon sits on the advisory boards of the Washington DC Environmental Film Festival,, The Center for Mind Body Medicine's "Food as Medicine" program, Rachel's Network, Body & Soul Magazine and the Amazon Conservation Team.  Widely recognized for her pioneering work, Nora has received awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the Organic Trade Association, New Hope Natural Media, the American Horticultural Society and the Campaign for Better Health.

RICK RIDGEWAY, Vice President, Environmental Initiatives and Special Media Projects, Patagonia Inc.

Patagonia’s three-part mission statement is: to make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Rick Ridgeway and his team develop, implement and promote the second two parts of that mission.

To that end, his department oversees the company’s environmental grant-making, internal and external environmental education, and special multi-year environmental projects, including Freedom to Roam, a coalition founded by Patagonia to seek protection for wildlife corridors. Mr. Ridgeway also manages Patagonia Productions, the company’s division that publishes book and produces films.

Before joining Patagonia, Mr. Ridgeway was owner/president of Adventure Photo & Film, building it into the world’s most recognized outdoor stock photo and film agency before selling it in order to focus on his own writing and filmmaking. At the same time, he was active in the outdoor equipment industry, working as a consultant for the Kelty Pack Co. for over 20 years.

In addition to his business history, Mr. Ridgeway is recognized as one of the world’s foremost mountaineers and adventurers, and is known to many through his writing, photography and Emmy award-winning filmmaking. He has produced and directed over 30 adventure shows for television, written 40 articles for Outside and National Geographic and many other magazines and six books, including the highly acclaimed Seven Summits, The Shadow of Kilimanjaro and Below Another Sky. Along with three companions, Ridgeway became the first American to summit K2, considered the hardest mountain in the world to climb, and he has done many other significant climbs and explorations on all continents. Rolling Stone magazine called Ridgeway “the real Indiana Jones”, and National Geographic recently honored him with its “Lifetime Achievement in Adventure” award.


A 17-year Best Western member and hotel operator, Mr. Patel served as Chairman of the Board of Best Western International from November, 2001 to December, 2006. 

Mr. Patel’s expertise is corporate governance and electronic marketing and revenue management for the hospitality industry.  As a Board member he hired three CEOs, created the Board's compensation, audit, and governance committees and served as chairman of the Compensation Committee for three years.  He has worked in every aspect of the hospitality industry from housekeeping to marketing and sales.  Through conservative growth in strategic markets, Patel and his family have expanded their owned and operated hotel holdings to a total of over 1,407 rooms in 13 hotels in the Washington, D.C. area,  including: Best Western Georgetown Hotel and Suites, Best Western Pentagon – Reagan Airport, Arlington, Va.; Best Western Fairfax, Fairfax City, Va.; Best Western Capital Beltway, Lanham, Md.; Best Western Manassas, Manassas, Va. ; Best Western Potomac Mills, Woodbridge, Va., and Best Western Springfield Mall, Springfield, VA, Econolodge Metro, Falls Church, Comfort Inn Pentagon, Comfort Inn Glebe Road, Arlington, VA, Best Western Iwo Jima, Rosslyn, VA, Ramada Inn Quantico, Quantico, VA, Best Western Mount Vernon, Alexandria, VA. These hotels are marketed jointly through the website 

Mr. Patel graduated cum laude from Duke University and holds a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He has been involved in a variety of local tourism groups and serves on the Advisory Board for Virginia Tech’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management. He also is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors, which has been active in governance reforms that have shaped corporations dramatically over the past several years.

DENNIS ARFMANN, Co-Chairs Hogan Lovells' Global Climate Change and Clean Energy practice.

Hogan Lovells’ is one of the oldest and largest international law firms based in Washington, D.C and London. Dennis participated in the first Earth Day as a college freshman at the University of Nebraska.

Dennis' distinguished career includes representing energy companies, smart grid and distributed generation energy companies, utilities, and manufacturers. His pro bono client highlights include representing The Nature Conservancy, the American Solar Energy Society, the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, as well as serving on the Colorado Climate Change Advisory Council to Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. He has served on the American Solar Energy Society Board of Trustees, the American Lung Association Board of Directors, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Bridge House Community Table for the homeless in Boulder, Colorado.

Dennis is a published author and frequent lecturer on Clean Air Act, climate change, smart grid, and distributed generation topics. Lectures include “The Future of Distributed Generation,” Electric Utility Environmental Conference (February 2012), "Clean Air Act Update-GHG Regulations," Colorado Bar Association (February 2011), "Nordic-US Clean Energy Symposium," U.S. Embassy, Helsinki, Finland (October 2010), "Global Strength in Climate Change" (October 2009), "Smart Grid Technology Forum" University of Colorado (March 2009), "Carbon Capture and Sequestration-the Path Forward" (January and February 2008), "Carbon Sequestration Risks, Liabilities and Solutions" (July 2007), "Tips for Successful New Energy Facility Permitting" (January 2007), "An Industry Perspective of the Navajo Nation Clean Air Act Program" (September 2005), and "Regulatory and Air Quality Trends in the Rocky Mountains," Colorado Bar Association (March 2005).

Publications include editing The Colorado Lawyer Special Issue, "Climate Change & Clean Energy" (October 2011); "The Regulatory Future of Clean, Reliable Energy: Increasing Distributed Generation" (October, 2011); "Kyoto Protocol Enters into Force" (February 2005); "Environment and Energy," Hogan & Hartson Climate Change Update (February 2005); and "The Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission: Reasonable Progress Toward the National Visibility Goal," Environmental Lawyer (June 1996).

PETER RESNICK, President, PIR Capital

Peter Resnick is the President of PIR Capital, a Colorado based real estate investment and development company with primary holdings in the Boulder area. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Boulder Bridge House and the Board of Trustees of Boulder Country Day. He is a graduate of Hobart College and received his MBA from Columbia Business School.


An avid lover of nature, Molly has worked in advertising, marketing, and public relations as a graphic designer, art director, and account and production manager. She continues her passion for the arts as a sculptor. She has been president of the Junior League of Denver, chairman of the Denver Urban Resources Partnership, and co-founder of the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, a community-based Colorado nonprofit that helped children develop principled leadership skills. She is president of her family's companies and president of the Swift Wings Foundation which she created to support renewable energy, environmental sustainability, the arts, poverty, and social justice. Molly is an officer on the Executive Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club Foundation. She is a longtime member and Secretary of the Board of Rachel's Network, and is on the National Advisory Council of American Farmland Trust. Molly is a member of the Board of Directors of Idanha Films, Inc. She is the Executive Producer of the Idanha Films documentary film, Arise, which tells the stories of women around the world who are working to heal the planet.

Organizations listed for identification purposes only.