Brief biographies of Bullitt Foundation staff.
Denis Hayes, President and CEO
A seasoned veteran of many legislative, cultural, and courtroom battles over the years, and the author of numerous books and articles, Denis Hayes is probably still best known for having been National Coordinator of the first Earth Day when he was 25. In addition to serving as President of the Bullitt Foundation, Denis is the immediate past chair of the boards of trustees of the Energy Foundation and of the American Solar Energy Society.
During the Carter Administration, Denis directed the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He has been a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and at the Bellagio Center in Italy. He has been a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, an adjunct professor of engineering at Stanford University, and a Silicon Valley lawyer.
Internationally, Denis is recognized for having expanded Earth Day to more than 180 nations. It is now the world’s most widely observed secular holiday. Hayes remains the honorary chair of the Earth Day Network. Denis has received the national Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Public Service as well as the highest awards bestowed by the Sierra Club, the Humane Society of the United States, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Council of America, the Global Environmental Facility, the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, the American Solar Energy Society, and the Commonwealth Club. He has served on dozens of governing boards, including those of Stanford University, the World Resources Institute, the Federation of American Scientists, the Energy Foundation, Children Now, the National Programming Council for Public Television, the American Solar Energy Society, Greenpeace, CERES, and the Environmental Grantmakers Association. Time magazine selected Hayes as one of its "Heroes of the Planet". He has been profiled as "Newsmaker of the week" by ABC News and as "Today’s Person in the News" by the New York Times.
At the Bullitt Foundation, Denis leads an effort to mold the American Pacific Northwest into a global model of sustainability. Focusing mostly on the region’s largest cities (Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver) and its dominant industries, the foundation applies principles of the science of ecology to the design of 'human ecosystems'. To "walk its talk", the foundation is currently designing and intends to construct and own the world’s greenest office building.
Amber Knox, Director of Grants management
Native to the shrub-steppe ecosystem of central Washington, Amber Knox is delighted to be part of the Bullitt Foundation's staff. Having grown up in a family supported by timber jobs, Amber is passionate about finding ways that humans may exist within healthy natural systems while maintaining a high quality of life for ourselves and the planet.
Amber shares administrative responsibilities with Colleen Walsh, manages the grant proposal process, coordinates the Bullitt Environmental Fellowship, and oversees the Bullitt Foundation website.
Originally trained in Performance Production at Cornish College of the Arts, Amber finds artistic satisfaction in singing with Seattle's Medieval Women's Choir, tending her backyard-wildlife-habitat certified garden, and occasionally stepping in as a hair and makeup artist at the Seattle Opera and the Seattle Repertory Theatre. At other times she can be found high in the Cascades, backpacking with her husband, Sam or playing with baby Rowan.
Neelima Shah, Program Officer
Neelima Shah is passionate about protecting the natural environment and reducing human impact on it.
Prior to joining the Bullitt Foundation, Neelima managed the environment and civic charitable investments for The Boeing Company in the Northwest Region. During that time, she developed the company’s local grantmaking strategies in these areas and worked to leverage dollars with the power of employee and volunteer efforts. Prior to Boeing, Neelima was the Program Officer at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation where she had the opportunity to work with U.S. organizations in the areas of International Affairs Education, Environment and Public Service as well as Russian human rights NGOs.
Neelima is a 2005 American German Marshall Fund Fellow and a 2004 World Affairs Council Fellow. She earned her Masters’ of Public Administration at the University of Washington’s Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs in 2002 and was a guest instructor for a grant proposal writing class at the School in 2006.
Amy Solomon, Program Officer
A Program Officer since 2002, Amy Solomon brings to The Bullitt Foundation a wealth of experience in policy and program development in natural resource, environmental, and sustainability issues. As an independent management consultant, she worked for The Russell Family Foundation, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, and The Henry P. Kendall Foundation. Her nonprofit clients included the Sonoran Institute, Northwest Environment Watch, and the National Association of Counties. Earlier, during her nearly decade-long tenure as Executive Director of the Northwest Renewable Resources Center, the organization helped negotiate landmark agreements in forest practices, water policy, land use, and intergovernmental agreements between tribes and counties.
Between funding cycles, after she has finished reviewing proposals, Amy takes every opportunity to pack her suitcase and travel the world. She was once a Jeopardy contestant (she came in second) and says that winning is a matter of buzzer technique and no, the losers don’t get the money anymore.
Colleen Walsh, Grants and
Colleen Walsh is the new Administrative and Grants Assistant at the Bullitt Foundation. Originally from Virginia, Colleen started making her way out west upon her college graduation when she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, NW working in Missoula, Montana as a children’s advocate at the local YWCA and at the Missoula Food Bank. The extraordinary access to the wilderness that Missoula offered enticed her to stay for seven years after her year long volunteer experience. Colleen primarily worked in Child and Family Mental Health, utilizing the wilderness and outdoor activities in her therapies. She went on to earn her Masters in Social Work from the University of Montana- Go Griz! When she moved to Seattle in 2004, Colleen fought for the educational equity of youth in foster care as an Educational Advocate for Treehouse. After a rewarding career in social work, Colleen is thrilled to be a part of an organization that champions innovative and sustainable environmental and natural solutions for our Northwest corner of the world.
In her free time, Colleen finds balance through her yoga practice, running, tennis and exploring the outdoors with her lovable chocolate lab, Guinness.
Steven Whitney, Program Officer
When Steve Whitney was invited to join the Bullitt staff in 2000, he perceived an unprecedented opportunity to serve the environmental community and protect the ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest. His fourteen years with The Wilderness Society as director of its National Parks Program, Northwest Regional Director, and Deputy Vice President for Regional Conservation built on the time he had already spent in Washington D.C. as a public lands activist and lobbyist.
Steve has also served as a natural resource specialist with the National Parks Conservation Association, as Legislative Aide to then-Representative Leon Panetta, and as a board member of several non-profit organizations including Earth Ministry, Washington Environmental Council, and the Cascade Youth Symphony.
He is the immediate past President of the board of the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity, a national association of environmental foundations.
Steve grew up with an appreciation of wilderness and traces his career choices to the time he spent with his parents in Yosemite National Park. A parent himself, he proudly acknowledges the achievements of two talented daughters. He is a cyclist, and when not traversing trails under towering trees, Steve tends his own miniature bonsai forest.