Mariel Nanasi

Mariel Nanasi – Executive Director:

Mariel Nanasi is the Executive Director and President of New Energy Economy. Mariel is New Energy Economy's chief strategist - she develops NEE's campaigns and leads its legal interventions before the PRC and NM Supreme Court. A civil rights and criminal defense attorney, she is licensed to practice in both the state and federal courts. Legal cases she has won and settled have been featured in the major media, including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Albuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican, and on many television stations, including a documentary, “End of the Nightstick,” on PBS. When Mariel realized the urgency of climate change, she came to work for New Energy Economy as the senior policy advisor. Two years later, she was asked to serve as executive director. A zealous organizer, Mariel’s can-do spirit is infectious. As comfortable with complex policy and legal challenges as on-the-ground organizing, she easily connects with the public, including young Hispanic artists, firefighters on the front lines, acequia caretakers, grassroots Native leaders, funders, and legislators. Mariel lectures on climate change and environmental justice at conferences and college classrooms and her essay, A Future Without Coal: In New Mexico Supreme Court, Again, can be read at She is also a rhythmic skier and enjoys having friends over for delicious meals and lively discussions.


Bianca Sopoci-Belknap, program director

Bianca Sopoci-Belknap – Associate Director

Bianca Sopoci-Belknap has been with New Energy Economy since 2013 when she decided to shift her work to focus on climate justice. As the Associate Director, she co-creates and co-directs NEE's strategy, develops its communications and campaign infrastructure, writes its grants, and manages NEE's staff. Originally from Santa Fe, Bianca has been involved in community development and organizing efforts in her hometown for over a decade. She brings years of nonprofit management and program development experience through her role as the Founding Director of Earth Care’s Youth Allies and Food Cadre Programs as well as her work for community & educational organizations throughout the country, including Antioch College, Global Exchange, Destiny Arts Center, the Border Network for Human Rights, Del Pueblo Inc., OffCenter Community Arts, and Local Energy. In addition to her work with New Energy Economy, Bianca is the Executive Director of Earth Care where she mentors an amazing staff to run youth empowerment, social justice, and environmental stewardship programs and projects in the community. With a background in global justice and youth organizing, she brings a passion for community empowerment and radical grassroots-led change. She has served as an advisor and consultant for a number of youth development and empowerment programs throughout the country.  She is the former Chair of the City's Sustainable Santa Fe Commission and served on the Santa Fe Food Policy Council for 3 years. She holds a B.A. from Antioch College in Social and Global Studies with a focus in Sustainable Economic Development and is the mother of two little ones.


Miguel Angel Acosta- Lead Organizer

Miguel leads NEE's work to strengthen the grassroots movement for a just transition to renewables and build the political power necessary to advance climate justice and energy democracy in New Mexico. He has more than 40 years of experience in community organizing in frontline communities and advocating for policies and community development that advance equity for underserved populations. In addition to his work with New Energy Economy Miguel is the Co-Director of Earth Care - which trains and supports young people of color and low-income youth and their families to organize for their rights and the protection of the Earth. Before joining New Energy Economy, Miguel has worked as the Director of El Colegio Sin Fronteras, a social enterprise focused on community education, training and capacity building for healthy communities, as well as a Principal Associate at the Center for Relational Learning, an international consulting firm based in Santa Fe, NM which focuses on building family-community-school partnerships. In addition to his long history working as an educator, organizer, and community advocate, he has served in elected office on the Board of Education of Albuquerque Public Schools where he helped establish The Community Schools Partnership with the City, County, and Business Community.


Kimberlysmith.JPGKimberly Smith – Just Transition Organizer

Kim Smith hails from the Diné Nation in the southwestern part of the U.S. She has recently joined New Energy Economy to lead just transition organizing in the Four Corners. Kim's work engaging community members with an assessment of the impacts of the San Juan Coal plant on their health, livelihoods, culture, and environment as well as their vision for the future will inform New Energy Economy's legal work and the development of a health impact assessment led by indigenous and local communities. Kim has dedicated her life to fighting for indigenous human rights, water & land at a local, national and international level. In her Diné community her work includes advocacy work in environmental justice, food sovereignty, art & indigenous based knowledge. When she is not home Kim curates a national traveling exhibition called, “The Art of Indigenous Resistance”  which highlights graffiti and indigenous art as a platform to raise awareness about indigenous resistance. Kim also travels to indigenous resistance communities around the world to reconnect intertribal relationships and build solidarity. This year alone Kim has helped raise over $20,000 for the frontline communities she has visited. Kim is the founder for the online collective indigenous feminist magazine, "Indigenous Goddess Gang". Kim works along side Winona Laduke as a board member for Honor the Earth & Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment, she is considered an expert on Climate Change for the United Nations and is a registered International Front line Defender.

Eric Makai Lewis - Just Transition Organizer

Makai is a Diné tribal member from the Diné community of pinedale, NM. He has been a prominent servant in his community, fighting for environmental justice and cultural rights of his Diné community. Makai's passion is working in his Diné community. He has taken on the challenge of going into his community to educate about climate change, water and food from a decolonial grassroots traditional standpoint. As a fluent Diné speaker he finds innovative ways to educate youth and elders. From youth led information sessions, to painting murals, to growing ancestral foods, to organizing art shows, he has found innovative ways to educate and support indigenous rights.

You are sure to find Makai alongside his partner Kim Smith. Together they are a force to be reckoned with. Their choice to work in their homelands lies in their desire to uphold the sacred responsibility and duties of Diné ancestors and for the generations ahead.


Orion Nightwalker Yazzie - Just Transition Project Specialist

Orion is a Diné community member of northwestern New Mexico. Orion is a plant saver and traditional dry-land farming and traditional herbal healing practitioner. Orion has been working for over a decade to advance community-driven solutions to housing, literacy, and land stewardship challenges in order to support the continued survival of desert communities.


Megan Keller – Operations Manager

Megan has joined New Energy Economy to bring her skills and expertise to the Operations Manager position. Megan is responsible for NEE's day-to-day operations, coordinating the logistics of its campaign work, coordinating volunteers, running the office 5 days/week, and supporting NEE's business management. She has lived in New Mexico for 22 years and has more than 12 years experience in high-level administrative support, most of which has been in the non-profit realm where she has gained an in-depth knowledge in all aspects of operations. Highly skilled in multi-tasking, Megan strives to bring organization to each aspect of her position creating a harmonious foundation from which the organization can thrive. Megan is a passionate environmentalist, animal lover, mother, wife, artist, and athlete and loves to get out and enjoy the people and landscape of New Mexico. She holds a B.A. in Psychology, is a licensed massage therapist, and an established silver jeweler.

12646640_10153414670717776_5681128150270219338_o-1.jpgLyla June Johnston – Communications Specialist

Lyla June Johnston brings her creative genius to New Energy Economy's communications campaigns by designing provocative, inspiring, and educational visual, video, print media, and performance productions. She was raised in Taos, New Mexico and is a descendent of Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineages. Her personal mission in life is to grow closer to Creator by learning how to love deeper. This prayer has taken her on many journeys and materializes in diverse ways. She is a student of global cycles of violence that eventually gave rise to The Native American Holocaust and the destruction of many cyclic relationships between human beings and nature. This exploration birthed her passion for revitalizing spiritual relationships with Mother Earth and cultivating spaces for forgiveness and reconciliation to occur between cultural groups. She is a co-founder of The Taos Peace and Reconciliation Council, which works to heal intergenerational trauma and ethnic division in the northern New Mexico. She is a walker within the Nihigaal Bee Iiná Movement, a 1,000-mile prayer walk through Diné Tah (the Navajo homeland) that is exposing the exploitation of Diné land and people by uranium, coal, oil and gas industries. She is the lead organizer of the Black Hill Unity Concert which gathers native and nonnative musicians to pray for the return of guardianship of the Black Hills to the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota nations. She is the also the founder of Regeneration Festival, an annual celebration of children that occurs in 13 countries around the world every September. In 2012, she graduated with honors from Stanford University with a degree in Environmental Anthropology. She is a musician, published writer, public speaker and internationally recognized performance poet.


Betsy Taylor, young climate leaders director.jpg

Betsy Taylor – Young Climate Leaders Director

Betsy Taylor leads the Young Climate Leaders Action Network, an informal yet highly dynamic network of predominantly young social entrepreneurs working for climate solutions and a sustainable economy. She is President of Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions, a small consulting firm offering strategic services to philanthropic, business, and nonprofit clients. Her consulting practice focuses on high-impact, catalytic initiatives to address climate change and promote a sustainable culture and economy. Betsy is former president of the Center for a New American Dream and board member of Garrison Institute. She is the author of three books, including More Fun, Less StuffWhat Kids Really Want that Money Can’t Buy; and Sustainable Planet: Solutions for the 21st Century

Screen_Shot_2015-10-28_at_2.13.16_PM.jpgGibrán Rivera 

Gibrán Rivera is an internationally renowned master facilitator who has devoted his life to the development of leaders and organizational transformation. Gibran's graduate studies were in diplomacy, mediation, and negotiation. He brings special expertise in helping organizations create a new paradigm of communication, leading to inclusive, democratic and results-oriented practices. Gibrán is a Senior Associate at the Interaction Institute for Social Change, a consulting practice that works with organizations, communities and networks to build their capacity for more effective, equitable, and inclusive social change.  Through IISC Gibran helps design and facilitate the Barr Fellowship, a program dedicated to building connections between Boston’s most prominent non-profit and public school leaders to drive positive change in our community. As a facilitator, organizational consultant, leadership trainer and speaker Gibrán has partnered with several organizations, including The Lambent Foundation, Web of Change, Social Change Institute, Creative Change, OPEN-US, Creative Leadership Lab, Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions, The Rauschenberg Foundation and many more.




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