Our Steering Council

Laura Adams

A professional engineer with experience in open channel flow, hydrology, stream restoration, watershed planning, and water quality, Laura has evaluated stream stability in river systems across the Midwest and worked with interdisciplinary teams to develop stabilization and restoration strategies. Recently, she coordinated the Sustainable Sites Initiative pilot project in Kansas City and received the ISI Envision Sustainability Professional accreditation and is active with MO Master Naturalists.

Patti Banks

A landscape architect dedicated to developing sustainable communities by facilitating dynamic public processes, Patti uses natural resource preservation as the basis for sound planning decisions. In 1995, after 20 years as City Manager and administrator, she founded Patti Banks Associates now Vireo. Patti recently facilitated a state-wide effort to bring stakeholders from across the State of Nebraska together to craft a plan for cooperative and sustainable use of the Ogallala Aquifer.

Spark Bookhart

An enthusiastic advocate for democratizing wealth and creating a new economy, Spark is chair of Harambee Builders Cooperative, a general contracting firm wholly owned by its members that works to transfer knowledge from older generations to younger ones. Harambee uses vacant and abandoned property in Kansas City as learning laboratories for teaching construction skills. A community educator, Spark’s special talent making the complex seem simple was honed from years of community organizing.

Michael Frisch

Assoc. Professor of Urban Planning + Design in the Dept. of Arch., Urban Planning + Design at UMKC. Michael teaches Land Use, Urban Planning Studio and Environmental Planning. He began his environmental planning career working on urban environmental issues with noted ecologist Dr. Barry Commoner at the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems in New York City and has worked on a wide variety of land use and environmental issues.

John Gordon Jr.

After living in Mexico, Chicago and California, John found himself back home in Kansas City in 2009 where he founded BoysGrow in 2010. John, a fourth-generation small business owner, was inspired after seeing the positive effects agriculture could have on young lives. Mentorship, agriculture and entrepreneurism are the backbone of BoysGrow, blended with John's love for being outside and enjoying the outdoors and a belief in in the potential of our youth.

Forest Decker

As the Superintendent of Parks, Forest manages the Natural Resources Division responsible for all parks, boulevards, and parkways in Kansas City. Forest began work with KCMO Parks and Rec as an Urban Forester in 1997 after working as a Wildlife Biologist with MO Dept. of Conservation. He graduated with a BS in Biology from Central MO Univ, an MBA Baker College and is pursuing a post doctoral in Public Administration.

Terry Winbush

A Louisiana native, Terry has lived in Kansas City, MO since 1980 and has been employed with the City of Kansas City, MO for 34 years and serving as Project Manager for the Blue River Flood Control Project since 1995. He was Executive Board president for the South Suburban Youth Football Optimist Club and currently serves as Vice President of the Prince Hall Masonic Foundation. His environmental background and focus on community led him to many volunteer opportunities and community leadership.

Alecia Kates

Over the last 15 years, Alecia's passion has been to build strong communities socially, environmentally and economically. Throughout her career and personal endeavors she has led communities through various stages of revitalization by serving in roles ranging from volunteer to executive director. She has worked in health and fitness, youth development, community and economic development, and urban agriculture. Most recently she is the Water Quality Planner for Mid-America Regional Council.

Linda Lehrbaum

Linda’s passion for wildlife and wild places started early. As an Air Force brat, she had the opportunity to explore wild habitats all over North America, observing the connections between animals, plants and humans in a wide range of situations. After graduating from the KC Art Institute, she stayed put in Kansas City and intertwined her love of the wilds, animals, education and art into a variety of nature and science-based ventures, with habitat health and conservation always a primary focus.

Stephen VanRhein

Since 2003, Stephen has been a Community Conservationist at the MO Department of Conservation working with cities and counties in the Kansas City metropolitan area to incorporate conservation friendly practices as the area grows. He has served the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks addressing rural water quality issues and spent 2+ years in Cameroon as a Peace Corps aquaculture extensionist. He has a MS in Ecology from Illinois State Univ. and a BS in Microbiology from the University of MO.

Visit Us:


Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center

4750 Troost Avenue

Kansas City, MO 64110



(816) 759-7305, ext. 1148

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