The Virtual Foundation is a project of ECOLOGIA, a registered US 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. ECOLOGIA's Board of Directors is responsible for Virtual Foundation operations.
Randy Kritkausky,Board President, is President and co-founder of ECOLOGIA. Trained as a sociologist and historian, his intellectual interests have focused on societies undergoing profound economic and social transitions. He become involved with environmental and sustainable development issues when he lived in Northeastern Pennsylvania, which was severely impacted by the legacies of coal mining, heavy industry, and toxic waste disposal. During the 1970s Mr. Kritkausky was instrumental in promoting public participation in environmental and economic decision-making in Pennsylvania. In the 1980s he traveled to the Soviet Union to investigate change in the region and to integrate this understanding into his college teaching. From this work ECOLOGIA emerged with a distinct model of constructive and scientifically grounded public participation.
In recent years, Mr. Kritkausky has become involved in promoting partnerships between community based organizations and private enterprise. This work has involved him in the global governance arena, and particularly with the creation and implementation of global standards such as those developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Mr. Kritkausky is a Research Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College in Middlebury Vermont. He holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.A. from Binghamton University.
Photo credit: Copyright 2000, Dave Feiling Photography.
Aleg Cherp, Board Member,is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University, in Budapest, Hungary; he is also affiliated with Lund University (Sweden). He is the coordinator of the Erasmus Mundi Graduate Program in International Policy. In the late 1980s - early 1990s, Mr. Cherp was actively involved in the Druzhina student nature protection movement in the USSR. He was the Program Director of ECOLOGIA NIS Programs from 1994-1997, and was instrumental in the establishment of ECOLOGIA's programs in Russia, Tajikistan and Belarus. He received an MSc. from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. His Ph.D, and his MSc in Pollution and Environmental Control are from the University of Manchester (England). A native of Belarus, he now lives primarily in Sweden.
Carolyn Schmidt, Board Secretary is the Program Director at ECOLOGIA. She works on Corporate Social Responsibility issues, and has been involved with ISO 26000, the global guidance standard, since 2005.
Ms. Schmidt's experiences with glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union led to her involvement with community-based locally initiated projects, such as ECOLOGIA's Baltic Mini-Grant Program (a forerunner of the Virtual Foundation). Her volunteer work includes development of Model United Nations programs on the high school level. A graduate of The Brearley School in New York City, she holds degrees in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania (BA cum laude; MA).
Ed Shoener, Board Treasurer,has worked in the environmental protection field for 25 years. He is the Principal of Shoener Environmental Consulting Services, which provides environmental experience, strategic planning, project management and practical solutions to clients interested in: wind energy projects, environmental permitting, federal, state & local environmental regulations, wetland and ecological systems management, Pennsylvania's unique ecological and environmental issues, waste management, and water quality protection.
Mr. Shoener first became involved in environmental issues by working for local grassroots groups in Pennsylvania in the 1970's. Mr. Shoener holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Penn State University in environmental management and pollution control. From 1978 to 1987 he worked for the U.S. EPA Hazardous Waste Management and Air Pollution Control Programs. From 1987 to 1994 he served as the Regional Director for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, directing a staff of 230 people.
He resides in Scranton, Pennsylvania with his family. He is a Deacon in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton. He has also taught on environmental policy topics at Marywood University, Scranton.
Paul Soler-Sala, Board Member, is a Senior Project Manager in EHS Compliance Consulting, for Antea Group in Massachusetts. In addition to his domestic (USA) consulting work, Mr. Soler-Sala conducts environmental work throughout Central/South America and Europe. His areas of expertise include Environmental Health and Safety audits and auditing protocols, environmental impact studies, site assessments & environmental industrial due diligence, EH&S regulatory research & facility outsourcing, Environmental Management Systems, and soil and groundwater investigations.
Mr. Soler-Sala served as the Russia Representative of the United States Forest Service from 1992 to 1994 (based in Russia), and on numerous occasions has served as a Russian natural resource consultant. He documented his experiences as a volunteer for ECOLOGIA, in "Letters to ECOLOGIA: Fourteen months as an ecological traveler during the collapse of the Soviet Union" (1992 ECOLOGIA). Fluent in Spanish and Russian, and conversational in Portuguese and Indonesian, Mr. Soler-Sala has lived in Spain, Colombia, Indonesia, India, Russia and Germany. He holds a BS from Clark University, and a MA in International Policy from Tufts University. He and his family live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.