The Green Neighbor Team

The Green Neighbor team is a dedicated all-volunteer crew, contributing time and skills as we are able. We are currently seeking funding to create paid positions for our team so that we can continue and accelerate our work toward a green energy future.


Andrew Butts, Lead Neighbor

Andrew Butts is the founder of the Green Neighbor Challenge. Quick to point out his green energy costs less than his inhaler, he believes the solution to our health, economic, and environmental crises lies in empowered neighbors coming together. Part systems thinker, part creative misfit, his combined experiences in analytics, communications, organizing and energy policy inform the development of the project.

Email: GreenNeighborChallenge@gmail.com


Aaron Hanson, Team Advisor

Aaron Hanson is Program Specialist for Leadership and Education at the Institute on the Environment. He splits his time between teaching, research, and project management. Currently, Aaron is leading an effort to examine potential benefits of solar with strategic vegetative ground cover. Aaron enjoys grappling with interconnected systems, educating others, and working together to solve complex problems. Aaron has experience in construction and real estate, and a Master’s in Science, Technology, & Environmental Policy, with a Minor in Law from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.


Lilly Richard, Research & Communications Lead

Lilly Richard is the Green Neighbor research lead and a Master of Public Policy graduate from the Humphrey School. She also has a degree in Women’s Studies from Vassar College. She is most interested in issues at the intersection of social and environmental justice. Lilly is excited to help build a practical and impactful tool, while advocating for radical systemic change and a reimagining of what our world could look like. Lilly enjoys the outdoors in all its forms, and currently lives in Minneapolis with her cat Cowboy and several dying houseplants.


David Mercer-Taylor, Software Developer

David Mercer-Taylor is our coder and developer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Economics from Hamline University, and is a graduate of the software engineering program at Prime Digital Academy in Minneapolis. David is proud to contribute useful, ethical, sustainable solutions through his work as a coder, and sees the Green Neighbor Challenge as a great opportunity to do his part in not ending the world. When he’s not busy coding, David enjoys playing guitar.


Jessy Countney, Policy Advocacy Resource Designer

Jessy Countney is a Policy & Advocacy Resource Designer with the Green Neighbor Challenge. They received their BA in Architecture from the University of Minnesota in 2019 and is a current Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the Humphrey School. Jessy is interested in urban design, social justice, and environmental politics, with special interest in bringing design principles to planning. In their free time, Jessy loves taking their pug Jumper for walks in the woods and creating inkwork pieces for their friends and community.


Sophie Blumenstock, Research

Sophie Blumenstock is a volunteer energy researcher with the Green Neighbor Challenge. She received her BA in Urban Studies from Vassar College in 2019, and is currently a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the Humphrey School. Sophie is passionate about green energy and waste management, and is relationship- and communication-oriented in her work. Sophie is originally from St. Paul, but the Hudson Valley, with its river, beautiful trees, and geologic diversity, holds a special place in her heart.


Becky Rupel, Graphic Arts

Becky Rupel is a Professional Landscape Architect with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Landscape Architecture. She uses her comprehensive skills in graphic design to create logos, graphics, and diagrams for the Green Neighbor Challenge. She highlights the importance of sustainable design, community engagement, and universal design.


Caroline Arkesteyn, Graphic Design

Caroline Arkesteyn is a University of Minnesota graduate with a Master’s degree in Public Policy. She currently is a Public Policy Intern at Ever-Green Energy. She works on graphic design and contributes to grant writing for the Green Neighbor Challenge. She has a passion for improving environmental policy, especially in the communication sector, and enjoys crafting as well as spending time on lakes in her free time.


Graham Ambrose, Project Support

Graham Ambrose is a Research Associate at Princeton University, with skills in systems thinking, environmental science and technology, and community engagement.  He has a Masters Degree in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from the University of Minnesota, and assists Green Neighbor with research and development. In his free time, Graham enjoys gardening and skateboarding with fellow neighbor Matt Grimley.


Alec Porter, Research Intern

Alec Porter is a senior at the University of Minnesota studying Business & Marketing Education, and exploring a growing interest in the environmental and sustainability field. Alec is from Mound, Minnesota, and he is excited about the impact that Green Neighbor Challenge could have on everyday people and communities like his. When he’s not busy with school or research, he enjoys working out, listening to music, hiking, and playing cards.


Jessica Lynn, Coalition Development & Fundraising

Jessica Lynn works on coalition development and fundraising for the Green Neighbor Challenge. A current MBA student at the Carlson School of Management, she holds a B.AS in Industry Technology from Ball State University and has a background in welding, project management, and hard technical skills. Jessi is passionate about renewable energy as a driver for social equality, and is excited to expand and strengthen the Green Neighbor network. In her free time, Jessi enjoys powerlifting, drawing, collage, writing, and hiking – especially when she can be in the grounding presence of trees or the ocean.


Steve Simonson, Software Developer

Steve Simonson is a software developer in St. Paul, who hails from Red Wing, Minnesota. He holds a Liberal Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Minnesota, and is a graduate of Prime Digital Academy. Prior to making a career change into software development, he worked in veteran’s transitional housing and Coordinated Entry homeless housing data, policy, and resource management. In his free time, he enjoys working with ceramics, home brewing, and riding his bike on long paths through nature.


Emily Mehr, Web Development Intern

Emily Mehr is our web development intern and a member of our coding team. An artist and cartoonist living in Minneapolis, she is currently pursuing an A.S. degree in Web Design & Front End Development from Minneapolis College, graduating May 2021. She is excited to use her coding and design skills for a good cause. When she is not busy with school or work, Emily can be found gardening, making comics and zines, or watching the Great British Baking Show.


Former Interns, Volunteers, and Team Members

We are grateful for everyone who has been a part of bringing this project to life!


Meet our Advisory Board here.

Interested in becoming part of the team? Check out our opportunities page.