We are a team of social entrepreneurs who create and share innovative approaches to tackling social and environmental issues. We inspire your positive impacts by

making a personal connection between you and the most pressing issues of our times. 


Meet our Crew


Tara DePorte

Executive Director and Founder

Tara founded the Human Impacts Institute in 2010, seeing a need for creative approaches to sustainability and global coalition building. Before starting the Human Impacts institute, Tara worked for 9 years as Director of Environmental Education and as Program Director for a NYC community-based organization--developing opportunities for inner-city youth to learn about, and develop responsibility for, their local environment. She has also served as a global representative of The ClimateRealityProject since 2006, presenting to thousands of people about climate change.


With a BA in Human Impacts on Ecosystems from the University of Virginia and a MA in Climate and Society from Columbia University, Tara’s formal education has focused on issues of sustainable development, society, and the environment. Professionally, her international experience includes work throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe, working with colleagues throughout the world on creative community development, environmental education, social justice, policy and networking.


 Tara is also an adjunct professor at Webster University in the Netherlands and has developed and led courses in Environmental Studies, Policy, Sustainable Development and Visual Arts the New School, Syracuse University, and Columbia University.


As a visual artist, Tara has exhibited and performed her work in galleries and museums in six countries.  Her personal website is TaraDePorte.com

Mikelle Benfield

Program Manager

Mikelle received her B.S. in Geography from the Pennsylvania State University and has a MSc in Environmental Risk and Human Security with the University of Bonn and United Nations University. Her academic focus was on disaster risk reduction and the vulnerability of marginalized groups.


Mikelle began her involvement with HII as the Global Leadership Intern in 2017 and then continued with the Crew as the Program Manager.   In addition to her work with HII, Mikelle work with OutRight Action International as their Communications Intern in 2018. There, she was working on the intersection between LGBT issues and the environment through blogging, press releases, and op eds.  


When not managing programs enjoys playing the piano, traveling, and trying not to fall while jogging.

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Sarangi Iyengar

Board President

Sarangi is a Senior Manager of Compliance at Oscar Health Insurance and former Vice President at Goldman Sachs. 


Sarangi holds a J.D. from Pace University and B.S. in Environmental Policy from Rutgers University, where she was a member of Iota Sigma Beta, the nation’s first leadership sorority. Prior to working at Goldman, Sarangi interned with the United Nation’s World Intellectual Property Organization, Sony Electronics, and the N.J. Department of the Public Advocate.

Doug Semmes

Board Vice President

Doug's career started with nearly a decade working in sports marketing in Europe. When world events persuaded him to focus on energy topics, he relocated to Texas and dedicated himself to sustainable development and renewable energy. He joined Green Mountain Energy and built diverse sales channels throughout the state until being asked to establish a foothold in the Northeast. In 2010 Doug opened the company's New York office and launched a grassroots campaign with over 100 staff driving awareness of renewable energy and consumer choice. As director of retail residential sales for the Eastern U.S., his efforts subsequently expanded to encompass new markets in Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania while activating relationships with major retailers and five NFL teams. In addition to generating demand for renewable energy, customers acquired by Doug and his teams have helped fund solar donations to a variety of noteworthy nonprofits, with more installations planned in the years ahead. Doug lives in New York City with his wife and twin son and daughter.

Doug is a LEED accredited professional and member of the US Green Building Council.

Lisa Jaycox

Board Secretary

Lisa Jaycox is a digital strategist who has worked in the media and nonprofit sectors, advising organizations on the best ways to leverage insights for success across platforms, with a particular interest in social media. Currently as the director of content strategy for Trinity Wall Street, Lisa is building capacity for engaging audiences in new ways to make a measurable impact on social justice issues like homelessness, art as advocacy, and prison reform. In past roles at Fast Company magazine, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Architectural Record, and Aviation Week, she has built new revenue streams leveraging social ad products, led communication for coalitions that secured millions in funding for arts organizations, and consistently builds people-, process- and platform-centric strategies that support collaborative growth. Lisa's passion for the environment and desire to give back led her to the Human Impacts Institute, where she also applies her interests in event planning and the arts.

Patrick Schultz

Board Treasurer

Patrick Schultz is the Principal and General Manager of Resource Optimization at Veolia, the world's leading environmental company. His team delivers performance optimization programs for municipal water utilities as well as water, waste, and energy optimization services for industrial clients. Patrick is an expert in water and wastewater management, water utility operations, operational excellence, and innovative public-private partnerships including performance-based contracting.

Before joining Veolia, Patrick worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. where he supported a wide range of clients on performance transformation and strategy projects across various industry sectors including water utilities, chemicals, oil and gas, and semi-conductor manufacturing.

Mr. Schultz received a PhD in Geosciences from Princeton University for his research on the impact of climate change on ocean ecosystems. He also holds an MSc in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Technological University and a Dipl.-Ing. in Environmental Engineering from the Universität Stuttgart in his native Germany.

Susan Lee


Susan Lee is a financial consultant who has worked with Fortune Global 500 companies including Citigroup, Ernst & Young, Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas. Susan took a break from her corporate career to pursue her lifelong dream of traveling the world, where she spent 9 months in Asia and Europe, studying the fundamental drivers of motivation and behavioral psychology. Sixteen countries and forty cities later, Susan achieved her certification as a coach and facilitator of the Leadership Circle Profile in Princeton. Susan brings her life-changing journey to New York City where she commits to developing the next generation of visionary leaders and social entrepreneurs.

Susan is also the co-founder of C9P, a real estate investment firm that specializes in the acquisition and marketing of properties in the Tri-State area. She continues her passions in traveling unchartered cities, playing the piano and working with Human Impacts Institute to continue to inspire the world on environmental change.


George Wukoson


George Wukoson is Senior Corporate Counsel at Ziff Davis, LLC and an experienced content and technology business lawyer. He manages litigation and other disputes and advises a diverse array of Ziff Davis businesses regarding intellectual property and data licensing, commercial agreements, acquisitions, prepublication review, and advertising and privacy regulatory compliance. He has worked extensively in the digital media, entertainment, advertising, consumer electronics and branded goods industries.


Previously, George was an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, where he represented clients in copyright and trademark litigation and arbitration and counseled them on intellectual property protection and advertising regulatory compliance. George attended Dartmouth College and NYU School of Law. 

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Christine Arroyo


Christine grew up in San Diego, graduated with a B.A. and B.S. from U.C. Berkeley, has surfed all over the world, loves graffiti art, and getting lost in a museum. Christine’s environmental activism began during her childhood in California when she helmed community outreach projects for Surfrider and Heal the Bay. She started her career as a news writer for KTVU in San Francisco, eventually moving into advertising and event production for The Black Eyed Peas world tour, including event production for The Academy Awards, The Grammy’s, and American Music Awards. 


Christine now works in the advertising/entertainment industries creating catchy phrases for brands like Beats by Dre headphones, Adidas and the NBA. Christine is currently creative directing a virtual reality segment for Oceanic Ibiza - a visual arts, music and virtual reality concert event slated for Summer of 2017. Christine also designs music videos for social impact, including for such artists as Katy Perry, Pink and Jay-Z. Christine’s concepts have been nominated for Cannes Lions awards, AICP awards and her concept for Katy Perry’s “Firework” music video was awarded MTV’s highest honor of ‘Best Music Video of the Year.’

Esra Eslhafey


Esra Elshafey is a recent MBA in Sustainability graduate from Bard College. She is also a full-time employee with Food Bank For New York City as a Food Sourcing Analyst working on food system analysis, donor stewardship, and cultivation to serve her community. Esra is passionate about the intersection of sustainability, creativity, and empowerment. She has held a number of previous positions focusing on analysis and development through systems thinking approach. Her final capstone work for her MBA focused on building the case for greater impact investment in the Middle East and North Africa region. She was most recently consulting for National Wildlife Federation to ensure that wildlife conservation is a part of every municipal sustainability plan. She has also worked with the Department of Sanitation of NYC focusing on the adoption of the residential organics recycling program citywide, and as a Senior Manager with an NYC health tech startup focused on building health equity through community pharmacies. Esra loves to dance, travel, and create with biodegradable glitter.  

Melanie Griffin


Melanie is the Grants Administrator at the Open Space Institute and was previously the Assistant Director of Development at the Wildlife Alliance. Previous to her work in fundraising and development, Melanie was the Outreach Coordinator for the Human Impacts Institute, where she helped to build partnerships and communications efforts. In 2013, Melanie was selected by the U.S. State Department to be an Economic Empowerment Professional Fellows, where she traveled to Panama to learn about social entrepreneurship, economic empowerment for underserved communities, community development, and sustainable development. 


Melanie grew up in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a place that greatly influenced her interests in conservation and community engagement and she has a double major from Indiana University in Modern Dance and Environmental Conservation - Human Environment Interactions.

Luisa Gui


Luisa Gui is an independent producer, project manager, and special events coordinator in visual arts, performance, and film with a background in administrative and curatorial work in galleries and museums. Luisa has initiated, fundraised for, promoted, and managed exhibitions, performances, video, and multimedia projects in NYC, Rome, and Beijing. Her collaborative work includes programmatic partnerships with: the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Performa, ICE Foundation, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Italian Academy at Columbia University, Asia Society, Italian Cultural Institute, Radisson Es. Hotel in Rome, and more.


Since 2010, Luisa has worked as a NYC producer for the documentary video project CRONE. In the Fall of 2011, Luisa was a development consultant for PERFORMA 11, the first biennial for visual art performance in the US. Earlier in the year, she became NYC Coordinator for the third annual DIVINAMENTE NYC Festival on spirituality in the arts.


Luisa aims to create unique projects that bring into the spotlight human interactions and universal issues; are fueled by the desire to achieve beauty and excellence; and ultimately promote individual realization, social responsibility, and spiritual awareness. Luisa is excited to collaborate with the Human Impacts Institute to bring vitality to the Creative Expression program and boost the organization's fundraising endeavors.


Luisa is also a vinyasa and prenatal yoga teacher currently teaching at Lila Yoga, Dharma & Wellness.


Originally from Rome, Italy, Luisa lives in NYC.

Scott Johnson


Scott Johnson founded XDEA Architects, an interdisciplinary New York City based design studio in 2017. Prior to XDEA, Johnson was a Principal with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, working on projects such as The Shed, Museum of Modern Art expansion and the High Line. Johnson is an architect, artist, musician, writer and composer whose work explores public space and performance informed by community, memory, loss and renewal. 


Collaborating with filmmaker Barbara Hammer, Johnson’s work as a designer, composer and cellist has been featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Lesley-Lohman Gallery in New York City, the Berlin Film Festival and forthcoming exhibits this spring with the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. 


Trained as a classical cellist, Johnson also explores the concepts of breath and harmonics to activate the vast space between 12 traditional tones. Inpatient Press published his visual score Nude Walk written for the Whitney’s Dreamlands Exhibit. Johnson recently composed and recorded a score for a film on 911 first responders, currently in post-production. 

Jinny Kim


Born to Korean parents Jinny grew up wearing flip flops and playing with tarantulas in Bolivia. She has a background in Communications Design and is currently a Building Code Consultant in New York City. 


Jinny has grown keenly aware of the damage humanity can do to their planet and themselves and has been a long-time volunteer with HII. 

David Lee Rubin


David Lee Rubin began editing his colleagues' writing in 1963, as a Fulbright Fellow in Paris, and subsequently edited or co-edited numerous books of scholarship and criticism.


In 1987 he founded and for five years edited a themed, refereed annual, Continuum, followed in 1993 by EMF: Studies in Early Modern France. Throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s, he served on the editorial board of American, British, French, and German journals as well as Purdue University Studies in Romance Literatures. He also acted as an adviser to Oxford University Press, University of Chicago Press, and Yale University Press, among others.


After 32 years of service to the University of Virginia French Department, David now an Emeritus Professor teaches argumentation in seminars for first-year students and workshops for pre-law students, in addition to Great Books through the Charlottesville-Albemarle Senior Center.


A former Guggenheim Fellow, David has written three volumes of criticism and lectured on his research at many institutions, including the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London, Chicago and California (Berkeley as well as Los Angeles). 


Gradually phasing out as publisher of Rookwood Press, he recently launched a consulting practice Fox Hill Editorial.

Emma Zinsmeister


Emma is the lead Local Climate Strategy Analyst for the U.S. EPA's State and Local Climate and Energy Program, where she specializes in climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies for communities across the United States. For 9 years, her work has focused on creating and delivering peer-exchange opportunities and technical policy and program guidance to help local governments reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, increase their resilience to extreme weather events, and advance their clean energy goals.


In 2015, Emma was an Embassy Science Fellow at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. In her role as a fellow, Emma provided expertise on climate policies and programs in the United States and researching opportunities to collaborate with German institutions on climate and energy topics. 


Emma has a Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental science from Boston University and a Master of Public Health degree in environmental health science and policy from the George Washington University.

Brian Tate


Brian is a marketing strategist and culture creator with unique experience in helping clients become more competitive while making a bigger difference in the world. He is also an expert at creating major public programs that unite audiences across traditional divides of race, gender, income and age. He is president of The Tate Group, a NYC-based consulting firm that specializes in strategic marketing, cultural initiatives, corporate sponsorships and critical paths. The firm has engaged with and consulted to a host of leaders in the worlds of business, culture, and media. Economic growth and narrative change are core to its practice. 


Mr. Tate is former executive director of the DC Committee to Promote Washington, a nonprofit group that marketed the Nation's Capital around the world and generated $93M per year in visitor revenues. Since relocating to New York City in 2001, he has created singular marketing strategies for Broadway, Brooklyn, Queens, and numerous arts organizations. A skilled negotiator, he has raised millions in cash and media through deals with AOL, AT&T, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola, Deutsche Bank, NBC4, Pepsi, Target, Visa, The Washington Post, and others.

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Damian Archer


Damian Archer is an undergraduate student at The Pennsylvania State University where

he is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Earth and Science Policy with a minor in

Geography. His interest in the disproportionate effects of global warming on the overexploited has led him to take action in various parts of the nation, including his hometown of Philadelphia.

In this work, he has created environmental education curriculums and helped facilitate

discussions for children about the widespread consequences of our everyday choices. He is

also currently the Vice President of Penn State’s Minorities in Earth and Mineral Sciences. In

this role, he works to create inclusive spaces and encourage engagement from students of

diverse backgrounds in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Ashley Berton


Ashley Berton grew up in Katonah, New York and is currently a senior at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She is an Environment Major with a focus in Ecological Determinants of Health. She also double minors in Geography and International Development. 


At McGill University, Ashley is the VP of Internal Communications for Nourish International, a social entrepreneurship and environmental justice organization. Through this organization, Ashley has helped organize events ranging from sustainable holiday markets to a university wide clothing swap. Through her academic career she discovered her passion for urban sustainability, public health and social justice!  Prior to interning for HII, Ashley was a field data and research intern for the urban green space advocacy group New Yorkers for Parks as well as an Urban Agriculture Fellow for CityGrowers, where she taught NYC youth environmental and food literacy on commercial rooftop farms throughout the city. 


When not working or studying, Ashley enjoys trying new foods, hanging out with friends and spending time outdoors

Sam Fiske


Sam is a rising Junior at Claremont McKenna College pursuing a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. In addition to doing graphic design on campus and playing club lacrosse, he is also the lead researcher at the Salvatori Center for Individual Freedom. He focuses his research on prison education programs and voter participation in Southern California. His passion for addressing challenging environmental issues arose after reading A Global Warming Primer and The Wizard and the Prophet. Motivated by the intersection of social justice and climate change, Sam is especially interested in creating equitable and environmentally conscious solutions through public policy.

Celia Frank


Celia Frank is starting her Junior year at Binghamton University next fall. She is a double major in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Policy and Voice Performance. She began singing at a young age and was in the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, who she recently went on a 30-day tour with in Japan last summer. Both the arts and the environment are extremely important to her and are her two main passions, so she is very excited to be working with HII as it promotes both working together.

Kavie Yu


Kavie is Junior Psychology major at Carleton College in Minnesota. Kavie loves to learn, travel and meet new people. Her experiences have ranged from working in the Geospatial Information System lab, leading trips with kids in the Nature Center, shadowing a psychiatrist to study how food relates to mental illness, working on various projects for LifeWeek magazine in China and volunteering to help build resilience in refugee children at Red Cross Asylum Center in Denmark. She has not defined my career path yet, but she is constantly learning from her adventures. She is particularly interested in the fields of social entrepreneurship, multicultural education, counseling psychology, industrial psychology and market research.