The Green Neighbor Team

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.


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.


Lilly Richard, Research Lead

Lilly Richard is the Green Neighbor research lead and a recent 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.


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, Energy Research Intern

Sophie Blumenstock is an energy research intern 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.


Margaret Keller, Research Assistant

Margaret Keller is a research assistant with Green Neighbor and a current third-year undergraduate student of Finance and Sustainability at the University of Minnesota. Maggie has a background in data manipulation, clean energy, leadership, and communication. She is most interested in sustainability education and making people aware of their impact in a transition to a sustainable future. In her free time, Maggie enjoys rollerblading and hammocking.


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.


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.


Meet our Advisory Board here.

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