Summit Leaders

Summit Leaders

Click on the names of our summit leaders to learn more about them.

Marty Pickett is a Managing Director, Trustee, and General Counsel of Rocky Mountain Institute, an entrepreneurial nonprofit “think-and-do tank” that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources. An 18-year veteran at RMI, Marty focuses on the Institute’s advancement in alliances, funding, and governance as well as general strategy and legal counsel. Marty holds a Masters Degree in Community Development and Planning from the College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado, Denver, and a law degree, with an emphasis in environmental law, from the University of Denver. Prior to joining RMI in 1998, Marty practiced land use planning and land use and real estate law in Denver and Aspen Colorado. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for the Environment at Catawba College in North Carolina, the international jury of the Dutch Postcode Lottery’s Green Challenge prize, and the People and Planet advisory board of IKEA.

staff7 (1)

Executive Director, Center for the Environment

Dr. John E. Wear, Jr., is the Founding Director of the Center for the Environment at Catawba College and Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science. During his tenure at Catawba, he assumed responsibility for establishing the college’s Environmental Program, coordinating the faculty’s creation of four different degrees.

He has committed his energies to environmental initiatives at the local, regional and state level. His leadership has been instrumental in launching a number of sustainability initiatives in the state relating to air and water quality and land conservation.

HeatherWhiteforBioi (2)

Heather White is president and CEO of Heather White Strategies, a consulting firm for businesses, foundations, and nonprofit organizations based in Bozeman, Montana. Heather is a nationally recognized sustainability leader, proven nonprofit executive, and expert on environmental law and policy. Heather is also a writer and expert on eco-anxiety, the mental health impacts of the climate crisis.

She was former president and CEO of Yellowstone Forever, the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park. She raised more than $50 million during her three-year tenure, including providing $18 million of cash grants to Yellowstone National Park. She also served as Executive Director of Environmental Working Group, where she guided the organization’s fundraising, advocacy, and outreach strategies, managed four offices, and oversaw the engagement of more than two million online supporters. White previously worked as the director of education advocacy for National Wildlife Federation, the nation’s largest conservation organization, counsel to United States Senator Russell D. Feingold, a litigation associate at Bass, Berry & Sims law firm, and served as an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University Law Center.


A native of East Tennessee, Heather spent her early years hiking and camping with her family in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Heather has been widely praised for her work, including being named one of the “Top 20 Women Leaders in Sustainability” by Green Building & Design magazine in 2015 and “100 Women to Watch in Wellness” by MindBodyGreen. Heather is often cited in national press outlets on conservation matters, including MSNBC, PBS, CBS, New York Times, The Guardian and The Washington Post. She serves on the board of directors of The Center for the Environment at Catawba College, Women Leaders in Sustainability Awards Alumnae, the Plastic Pollution Coalition, the Erin Brockovich Foundation, and the Bozeman Symphony.


Heather received a B.A. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia as an Echols Scholar and a J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law magna cum laude. Early in her academic career, she also studied conservation biology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand and comparative natural resources law in Nairobi, Kenya.

Focus Group Leaders


Assistant Professor of Biology

B.S., Virginia Tech; M.S., Ph.D., Old Dominion University; Post-Doctoral study, Smithsonian Institution Dept. of Botany

Dr. Jay Bolin holds a Ph.D. in Ecology from Old Dominion University and a B.S. degree in Environmental Science – Plant Resources from Virginia Tech. Jay has been a faculty at Catawba College since 2011 and is crazy about plants and plant ecology. Prior to coming to Catawba, he was a fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s Botany Department. In addition to interests in our indigenous plants he has botanized  (studied plants) all over the world including South Africa, Namibia, Borneo, Turkey, and Greece.

Summit Focus Group: Invasive Alien Plants and Animals: Friend or Foe to the Environment?


Associate Professor of Biology

B.S., College of William and Mary; Ph.D., Old Dominion University; Post-Doctoral work at the American Type Culture Collection, MR4 Division 

Dr. Carmony Hartwig holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from Old Dominion University and has experience in both academic and industrial research. Carmony joined the Catawba faculty in August 2011 and is actively conducting student-involved research on disease vectors in the Catawba Preserve. She loves the opportunity Catawba provides to work closely with her students in the laboratory and in the field.  Prior to coming to Catawba she served as a Senior Authentication Biologist in the Malaria Research and Reference Reagent Resource Center (MR4), where she worked on developing standardized fluorescence-based assays to monitor antimalarial growth inhibition in Plasmodium falciparum  in addition to continuing her dissertation work on artemisinin-class compounds. Her interests and expertise include aspects of molecular biology, parasitology, microbiology, biochemistry and disease vector ecology. 

Summit Focus Group: Environmental Health Investigators


Assistant Professor of Visual Art

B.A., M.F.A., East Carolina University

Pierce holds Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees from East Carolina University. Pierce studied on site at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota Florida and studied abroad in Italy through Linda Darty’s “Travel through Tuscany” program. Pierce began teaching at Catawba Fall semester of 2010. She encourages an interactive and creative classroom environment. Pierce teaches Painting, Drawing and Intro to Visual Art in the Day Program as well as Intro to Visual Art in the Evening Program. She continues to make, show and sell her own visual artwork.

Summit Focus Group: Explorations in Environmental Art


Associate Professor of Biology

B.S., Butler University; Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Prior to coming to Catawba College, Dr. Poston was a Postdoctoral Fellow and Adjunct Instructor at the University of Kentucky. He is a member of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology, the Association of Southeastern Biologists, the North Carolina Academy of Science, and the American Ornithologists’ Union.

Summit Focus Group: A Backbone for Conservation


Assistant Professor of GIS and Conservation

GIST Minor Coordinator

B.A., St. Olaf College

M.E.M., Nicholas School of the Environment

Ph.D., University College London

Jacobson is a conservation biologist who uses geographic information systems (GIS) to research the location and distribution of special species and places on planet Earth. Jacobson earned his bachelor’s degree at St. Olaf College in Minnesota and then attended the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University where he earned his Master’s degree and began a specialization in GIS. Jacobson obtained his PhD from the Geography Department at the University College London, with research focusing on the distribution of large carnivores in East Africa. Before coming to Catawba College, Jacobson worked as a Science and Geospatial Advisor to the National Geographic Society, helping to identify and prioritize protection of wild places throughout the world.

Summit Focus Group: Can Technology Save Biodiversity?

Lisa Pope is an environmental professional who works with Catawba College, the N.C. Office of Environmental Education, and other agencies and organizations across the state to provide individuals with opportunities to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving and take action for a sustainable environment.

Wear served as science specialist and director of Horizons Unlimited, an environmental education center located in Salisbury, where she enjoyed facilitating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education experiences for teachers, students and the community.  She also served as a curriculum director and grant writer for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.   

She is currently teaching in the Environment and Sustainability Program at Catawba College with a focus on environmental and outdoor education. Wear holds a BA in biology, certifications from Duke University’s Center for Inquiry-Based Learning, and is a N.C. Certified Environmental Educator.  She received her education from UNC-Greensboro and N.C. State University.

Summit focus group: The Butterfly Effect