Our team

Ashley Colby, PhD

Director of Rizoma Foundation

Ashley Colby is the Executive Director of the Rizoma Foundation. She earned her PhD in Environmental Sociology with a focus on household food production in the United States. Her dissertation was published as a book: Subsistence Agriculture in the US: Connecting to work, nature and community. It was in the process of completing her research that Ashley discovered the creativity in individuals creating diverse informal economies unnoticed by policymakers and politicians. Ashley is interested in and passionate about the myriad creative ways in which people are forming new social worlds in resistance to the failures of late capitalism and resultant climate disasters. Ashley is a qualitative researcher, so she tends to focus on the informal spaces of innovation. Ashley’s focus has turned to Rizoma Foundation, where she seeks to accelerate local, decentralized networks of people who can get us to the next iteration of society, and fast.

Contact: ashley@rizomafieldschool.com

Advisory Board

Joan Diamond, MAHB

Joan has brought to the Rizoma Foundation an extensive executive background in the private and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining the non-profit sector in 2001, her career included executive responsibilities in business planning/strategy, organization transformation, and all administrative functions in Fortune 500 companies, energy, and in the Silicon Valley telecommunications industry. She is the Executive Director of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere, a Stanford University initiative addressing the gap between knowledge of global problems and societies’ failure to act as well as the Crans Foresight Analysis Consensus. In addition to serving on numerous Board of Directors, she has held executive roles in research institutes including the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability and the Woods Hole Research Center.

Halina Szejnwald Brown, PhD Clark University

Halina Szejnwald Brown is Professor Emerita of Environmental Science and Policy at Clark University, a Fellow at Tellus Institute, and co-founder and board member of Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI). With a doctoral degree in chemistry and toxicology, during the 1980s she directed the environmental health policy at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Brown’s research and teaching covered numerous areas: risk assessment of environmental pollutants, environmental health policy, corporate environmental management, sustainability reporting, technological innovation, and socio-technical transitions. During the past decade she has been investigating the phenomenon of consumer society: its origins, structure, functioning, and politics; and pathways toward more sustainable lifestyles. Brown is a fellow of the International Society for Risk Analysis, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award from American Environmental Health and Science Foundation. Brown is a Chairperson of Citizens Commission on Energy in her home city of Newton, Massachusetts. She authored dozens of articles and four books

Valentina Aversano-Dearborn

Valentina is the Co-founder and Executive Director of the NGO Forum ViA (www.forum-via.org). She is passionate about participatory and sustainable solutions to societal challenges. Her research and journalism focuses on opportunities and hinderances for sustainability transitions in society. Valentina has over fifteen years of experience in a wide variety of sustainability related fields including governance, energy, agriculture and food systems, economics, and education. Valentina in her role as Executive Director of Forum ViA will be partnering with the Rizoma Foundation to build a curriculum of experiential learning about sustainability that could be potentially adapted at the secondary and post-secondary levels around the world. This curriculum will focus on field experiences, citizen science, participatory action research, and science communication on sustainability.