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.
Rachel Golden, Chicago Illinois, is the President of the Rachel E. Golden Foundation. She has spent over 30 years working as an economist, academic, business person, activist, foundation executive, and consultant to promote fairness and efficiency in government and governance. Her broad experience, knowledge and skills have enabled her to work in all regions including the US, Russia, China, the Middle East, and Africa. She has served as a Board Member for the American Jewish Congress, Amerians for Peace Now, and Chicago Center for US-USSR Relations and Exchanges. Dr. Golden holds degrees in economics: BA from Bryn Mawr College, MA from Harvard University, and Ph.D from Columbia University.
Carolyn Schmidt, Board Secretary is the Project Manager (US) for the Virtual Foundation, and Project Director for International Exchange Programs. Since early 2005, she has been ECOLOGIA's Expert delegate to the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility.
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). She is a long-time member of the Amnesty International Urgent Action Network. 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 wife, Ruth, and their four children. He is a Deacon in the the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton. He also teaches on environmental policy topics at Marywood University, Scranton.
Paul Soler-Sala, Board Member, is a Senior Project Specialist at ENSR International, a global environmental consulting and engineering firm based in Westford, Massachusetts, USA (www.ensr.com). 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 docummented 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). A long-time supporter of ECOLOGIA and prior ECOLOGIA volunteer and project staff member, in his current role as a Board Member he also assists with Central American programs and evaluates Virtual Foundation proposals as a member of the Executive Committee. 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 currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). He holds a BS from Clark University, and a MA in International Policy from Tufts University.