Faculty Profiles

The SBI Training Initiative is comprised of expert faculty with decades of experience in fundraising, strategic planning, marketing, and communication.  We are privileged to also have dedicated Advisory Committee Members who represent a variety of biological infrastructure projects, and ESA Staff who have helped create and spearhead this initiative.  You can read more about the vast array of skills and experience that make up the whole SBI Team below.

Current SBI Faculty:

Dr. Jon Anderson

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Jon is the Director of Research and Development, Biotechnology, at LI-COR Biosciences in Lincoln, Nebraska. His PhD in Bioengineering and MBA specializing in strategic management have served him well in leading biotechnology development projects at LI-COR and serving on scientific review boards at NIH.

John enjoys instructing the SBI course because it gives him the opportunity to have a substantive impact on the long-term success of projects and programs, and to learn about new and exciting research. He loves hearing that the information and tools provided in the course are often immediately implemented by participants.

“Scientific discovery is crucial to understanding the ever changing world we live in.  Researchers across the nation possess the scientific tools necessary to study our environment, but may lack the business tools needed to maintain the research program and general infrastructure. Sustaining Biological Infrastructure is a way to provide directors and project leaders with new core skills that can help them be successful in developing new resources while still maintaining existing infrastructure.”

Ms. Mary L. Klein

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Mary is the former President and CEO of NatureServe located in Arlington, Virginia (2006-2016), and currently serves on the board of directors of AIBS. She is also affiliated with several universities and wildlife partners including Yale, University of Florida, and the SESYNC.

One of the biggest challenges Mary faced in assuming the role of President and CEO of NatureServe was facing a seemingly insurmountable operating deficit. She used a logic-model to develop a new, more focused strategic plan for generating new product and service revenue for the organization, and within a few years NatureServe was responding to over six million inquiries for information annually. Mary’s expertise led NatureServe to win the 2014 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

“For many students, the course has been transformational, by giving them the tools to bring their own vision of success to life.”

Mary enjoys instructing SBI and seeing the confidence of the students in their own leadership abilities grow over the course of a few days. She also is motivated by the amount of experience and depth of insights brought to the class by the staff, other instructors, and participants. For anyone considering taking the course, Mary advises “Just do it! This course will help you reach your true potential.

Dr. William Michener

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“There are at least two key things people learn from SBI: (1) how to plan for and acquire project funding; and (2) how to manage funds in a business-like fashion.”


Bill is Professor and Director of e-Science Initiatives at the University of New Mexico’s University Libraries and Project Director for Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE). He enjoys leading diverse teams of researchers tackling major science and technology challenges. With his PhD in Biological Oceanography, he has published extensively in marine, ecological science, and specifically in creating information technologies supporting data-intensive science.

Bill enjoys teaching SBI, especially as it deals with strategic planning and developing competitive proposals. Bill uses strategic planning tools taught in the course, such as logic models, to write and manage winning proposals.

Mr. Justin Pollock

Justin is founder of Orgforward, a consultancy that partners with community benefit agents and capacity builders to develop leadership and strategies that create communities where equity, dignity, engagement, and a healthy environment exist for everyone. His focus is on supporting leadership with what is needed to effectively govern and operate their organizations with an eye towards making the world a better place. Justin is an active educator, coach, writer, and strategist with more than 25 years of experience in the areas of leadership development, organizational management, group process facilitation, curriculum development, team-building, and facilitator/trainer development. He works with board members, staff, and volunteers from agencies ranging from small start-ups to large well-established agencies on topics of community outcomes, values and culture, governance, financial management, planning, supervision, leadership development, and organizational sustainability. Core to the values of Justin’s work is considering every engagement an opportunity to partner with others to learn, engage, and feel confident about how we can create benefit for the people and environment around us.

Justin holds a dual B.A. in Organizational Theory and Environmental Studies from Pitzer College and a M.Ed.in Curriculum and Teacher Education from Stanford University.

Justin is a Creating the Future Fellow and a Standards for Excellence Licensed Consultant® through the national Standards for Excellence Institute and also serves as a master trainer for the Licensed Consultant Training program.


Former Instructors:

Ms. Lynda S. Ramirez-Blust

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Lynda is owner of LSRB Consulting LLC and has over 19 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations. Linda specializes in identifying and managing risks, translating programmatic goals into financial plans, and designing financial reports to meet the needs of various stakeholders.

“From SBI participants learn a new language – the language of business.  It is a critical language to learn if they are going to ensure the sustainability of their projects, programs, departments, or organizations.”

Lynda also is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in landscape architecture. Combining her experience from the non-profit and consulting worlds with new knowledge from courses in natural resource management, she has developed new insight into building impactful solutions to real-world issues.

 “My favorite part of the course is Session 10.  It is in session 10 that the participants get to apply all that they have learned over the course of the workshop.  Their successful pitches means I’ve done what I’ve set out to do – shared knowledge to empower others to be successful.”


ESA Staff:

Ms. Jill Petraglia Parsons

parsonsfamily-154Jill has worked at ESA since March 2010, and serves as the Associate Director of Science Programs.  She holds a B.A. in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University and an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Sussex.  Before ESA, she worked as a Training Support Officer for a UK-based charity that conducted financial management training for NGO professionals.  At ESA she has managed a variety of projects, including NSF-sponsored workshops on “Strategies for Sustainability of Biological Infrastructure” and “Strategies for Developing and Innovating Living Stock Collections.”

Ms. Maria Sharova

Maria has worked at ESA since July 2020 as the Science Programs Assistant. Maria helps manage a variety of projects through the Office of Science Programs by connecting scientific and management communities. Maria is interested in facilitating science engagement through effective project design, management, and evaluation. She holds an M.S. Fisheries, Wildlife, Conservation Biology from North Carolina State University and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Maryland College Park. Prior to graduate school, Maria worked at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center with the Citizen Science Program.