Meet the Staff

Jon Jensen

Director, Center for Sustainable Communities

Jon Jensen is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Communities and a faculty member in Environmental Studies. He provides oversight to all areas of sustainability at Luther as well as working to expand the Center's outreach to the community and region. Jensen is a member of the board of directors for AASHE and on the steering committee for UMACS (the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability). He works to promote sustainability in the curriculum at Luther, in the Midwest, and throughout the country and teaches courses on Environmental Philosophy, Food and the Environment, Environmental Leadership, and Sustainable Communities. He holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Maren Beard

Assistant Director, Center for Sustainable Communities, Campus Sustainability

As the Assistant Director for Campus Sustainability, Maren coordinates initiatives related to all aspects of sustainability on the Luther College campus. Maren's favorite part of her job is having the opportunity to work on energy, waste, food, transportation, equity and other issues with talented and dedicated staff from across campus. She also works to promote sustainability programming within Residence Life and oversees marketing and communication projects for the Center for Sustainable Communities. Maren serves as chair of the Food, Purchasing and Waste Task Group at Luther and as a board member for the Iowa Food Hub and Oneota Community Food Coop. She holds a M.S. in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College.

James Martin-Schramm

Professor of Religion

Jim Martin-Schramm is Professor of Religion and coordinates the Energy and Climate Program for the Center for Sustainable Communities. He recently completed a term of service on the board of the Iowa Wind Energy Association and is currently chair of the board of Iowa Interfaith Power & Light and the Winneshiek Energy District. He also serves as Secretary of Luther College Wind Energy Project, LLC. Jim joined the Religion faculty of Luther College in 1993. Most of his research has focused on ethics and public policy. He is the author or co-author of four books including Climate Justice: Ethics, Energy, and Climate Policy (Fortress Press, 2010). He holds a doctorate in Christian Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Visit him at his website.

Emily Neal

Assistant Director, Center for Sustainable Communities, Leadership and Engagement

Emily is the Assistant Director for the Center for Sustainable Communities and a staff instructor in Environmental Studies. A passionate science educator, she has over 20 years of experience teaching people of all ages, on how to integrate concepts of wellness, sustainability and stewardship into their lives. Recognizing that human health is interconnected to the health of our planet, Emily oversees a wide array of healthy living and environmental programs at Luther, including the summer Discovery Camp programs, the Pre-College Environmental Studies Program and the Luther College Immersion Leadership Program. Additionally, Emily oversees outreach programs to regional schools. She works with teachers on integrating topics of sustainability into the curriculum and increasing STEM education. She supervises a team of FoodCorps/AmeriCorps members serving schools to help districts foster healthy environments for students, staff, and the communities they serve. She has a Masters in Science Education and an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science, both from the University of Iowa.

Ashley Dress

Food & Farm Fellow

Ashley Dress is the Food and Farm Fellow for the Center for Sustainable Communities. Ashley previously served as a FoodCorps service member for the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative also based at Luther. For two years, she helped to connect students in northeast Iowa to real food to help them grow up healthy by teaching nutrition and cooking classes, assisting them in school gardens and getting local foods into school cafeterias, which have helped her transition into her new role. Now, as the Food and Farm Fellow, Ashley coordinates the sale of produce to the cafeteria from the student production gardens as well as the Cafeteria to Community Program in which leftover food from the cafeteria is packaged for the food pantry at First Lutheran Church in Decorah. She also coordinates the plots in the community garden for interested faculty, staff and students. Ashley hopes to continue to help people understand the importance and impact of their food choices.

Sam Pollan

Energy & Waste Fellow

Sam Pollan is the Energy and Waste Fellow at Luther College. A recent graduate of Dickinson College, Sam will be working with students, faculty, and administration to reduce Luther’s waste production and energy consumption. He has been recognized as a Baird Sustainability Fellow for his outstanding commitment to sustainability both on and beyond the Dickinson campus. Following his graduation, Sam participated in the EIT Climate-KIC: The Journey program to gain a better understanding of the intersection between climate change and entrepreneurship while studying in three European cities.