MEET THE TEAM
ROOT SOLUTIONS' TEAM AND ADVISORS
We believe that by applying the principles of behavioral science, conservationists can generate a quantum leap in environmental progress.
A world expert in design and innovation with over 20 years of industry and academic experience, including 9 years at IDEO, the foremost global design and innovation firm, where he created novel experiences, crafted futures, and shaped design strategy projects across a variety of industries around the globe. As Director of the Stanford Design Program, Banny has been highly influential in creating educational experiences that incorporate design thinking into catalyzing systemic change. As the world faces increasingly complex challenges that require new ways of thinking, working, and collaborating, Banny has focused his academic career on developing radically new processes and toolsets for bringing about large-scale, sustainable impact. To put theory into practice, he founded Stanford ChangeLabs, which applies and advances theory through industry projects and inter-departmental collaborations in the areas of behavioral sciences, social economics, systems analysis, management science, engineering, and art.
He joined the Stanford Law School faculty in 1969 and served as dean from 1987 to 1999 before becoming president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2000. He returned to Stanford Law School in 2012, where, as an emeritus professor recalled to active duty, he is teaching Judgment and Decision-Making at the Law School and Impact Investing and Managing to Outcomes at the Graduate School of Business. Professor Brest is a leading scholar and teacher of constitutional law; he now focuses on judgment and decision-making and philanthropy. Professor Brest is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and holds honorary degrees from Northwestern University School of Law and Swarthmore College. Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 1969, he clerked for Judge Bailey Aldrich of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and Justice John M. Harlan of the U.S. Supreme Court, and did civil rights litigation with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in Mississippi.
Rod is a leader in the theory and practice of aligning incentives with good conservation outcomes, with a focus on improving the health of the world’s oceans. In 2000, he was awarded a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation to work on emerging issues in ocean conservation. In addition to his role at Root Solutions, Rod is the Director of Research and Development at Environmental Defense Fund’s Oceans Program where he has been working with fishing communities, regulators and business leaders around the world to improve fishery policies for more than 25 years. He has helped establish marine protected areas (MPAs) totaling more than 10,000 square miles and worked with partners to reduce the impacts of trawling off California’s coast with an innovative private buyout and transition to more sustainable types of fishing. In 2008, Rod co-founded the California Fisheries Fund, a revolving loan fund that supports fishermen and fishing businesses as they transition to more sustainable business practices.
Rod has served on numerous state, regional, federal and international advisory bodies concerned with fisheries and ocean conservation issues. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications as well as many popular articles and the well-received book, Heal the Ocean. Rod’s interests in the workings of the human mind converged with his passion for conservation during discussions of the book Nudge by decision science pioneers Richard Thaler and Sunstein, which led him to co-found Root Solutions. His current research in the field of environmental decision science is aimed at increasing the effectiveness of conservation advocacy and policy making.
Amanda Hausman is a Root Solutions volunteer. She received her B.A. in Communication, Culture, and Advocacy from Northern Illinois University then continued on to their graduate program with a focus on groups and social influence. With 15 years B2B experience across multiple industries, Amanda brings meaningful insights to our Partnerships & Advocates Team.
Lauren Highleyman, MS, is a communications and behavior change strategist with experience designing and implementing effective and engaging initiatives across a variety of environmental issue areas. She is passionate about applying insights from the social and behavioral sciences to inspire action and strengthen collaboration among diverse environmental stakeholders. She holds an M.S. in Natural Resources & Environment with a focus in Environmental Behavior, Education and Communication from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from UC San Diego. She lives in Marin County, CA.
Ashleigh Kellerman has dedicated her career to shifting the frames, narratives, metaphors and values that underpin many of the world’s most pressing social issues. As a Senior Associate at Root Solutions, she focused on framing for improved environmental communication and behavior change. She is currently pursuing her masters degree at University of Glasgow. She is from California.
An experimental social and personality psychologist and is currently a Behavioral Social Scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund. At EDF, he works to use behavioral sciences to inform programs and initiatives and conducts research on how to communicate information about environmental protection to foster environmentally responsible behavior. He has coauthored numerous scientific articles and has contributed to books on social behavior. From 2006 to 2012, Romero-Canyas was a post-doctoral research scientist and then an Associate Research Scientist at Columbia University. He received his B.A. in psychology from Yale University and his MA, MPH. and PhD from Columbia University.
Susan Schneider holds degrees in environmental and mechanical engineering (MS, Brown University), and did an energy efficiency project for US Steel. After a stint in the Peace Corps, she obtained a PhD in psychology (University of Kansas), specializing in reinforcement learning principles, and had an academic career. Her expertise includes delay discounting, reinforcement schedules, and incentive systems. Schneider’s award-winning book for the public, The Science of Consequences, covers learning principles, their biological context, and their many applications, including sustainability. The book earned coverage in top journal Nature and led to an international book tour. A lifelong environmental activist, Schneider now mainly gives talks about the climate crisis. She co-founded and co-chairs her local Climate Action Coalition, which has vehicle idling and tree planting successes, and conducts education and advocacy. Schneider is a Visiting Scholar at the University of the Pacific.
Jessica joined Root Solutions in the fall of 2022 after completing her Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a minor in Biology at the California Polytechnic State University, SLO. Her past environmental research focused on invasive species and their implications for biodiversity in San Luis Obispo. Jessica is passionate about understanding behavior determinants and aims to apply these insights to environmental initiatives. In her free time, Jessica enjoys hiking and identifying local plants in her home in the East Bay, California.
Nya co-founded Root Solutions in 2014 to increase the effectiveness of conservation advocacy and policymaking through the use of behavior change, design thinking, and systems thinking. She has served as the Executive Director since its inception, leading the development of Root Solutions’ behavior design method and its successful application to reduce carbon emissions, protect wildlife, conserve water in drought-prone locations, minimize resource consumption, improve transportation systems, and clean up plastic pollution in our oceans. She is the first author of Making Shift Happen: Designing for Successful Environmental Behavior Change.
Before Root Solutions, Nya was a fisheries specialist at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), where she worked on the theory and application of sustainable fishery management practices. There she co-authored two books on market-based incentives in fisheries: Catch Share Design Manual, Volume 1: A Guide for Managers and Fishermen, and Catch Share Design Manual, Volume 2: Cooperative Catch Shares, as well as relevant scientific articles. Nya has also created educational and outreach materials for the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society on the fragility of Earth’s coral reef ecosystems.
Nya holds an M.A. from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University and a B.A. in Anthropology and in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley.
Kate Wing is the principal of KW Consulting, where she works with a range of clients on philanthropic strategy design, communications, and ocean conservation. Prior to starting her own firm, she spent five years as a Program Officer for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Marine Conservation Initiative, where she developed and managed a $20 million portfolio of more than 35 grants focused on ocean policy and innovation. She worked on state and national ocean campaigns during her eight years at the Natural Resources Defense Council, including the creation of California’s network of marine protected areas. She was a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow on the Senate Commerce Committee and holds a Master’s of Marine Affairs from the University of Washington and a B.A. in Marine Biology from Smith College.