Staff and Board of Directors

Karen Olson Johnson

Executive Director


Karen is an experienced educator who has worked on numerous national, state, and local science education projects. The early focal points of her career were the advancement of effective science education and the training of stellar science educators. She currently spends most of her time in writing and speaking. She is the author of two books, Common Sense for Common Good and From Where I See It, both about sustainability. Her second book is the winner of the Midwest Book Awards. Karen is the co-host of a weekly morning talk show on AM950 radio called Food Freedom Radio.

Karen is the developer and author of an elementary “Hands-on, Minds-on” science education training manual for grades K through 6 which was used as the basis for an ongoing summer science education institute component at the University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

She studied marine biology at the University of Miami Field Station in the Florida Keys and has taught classes on sharks, starfish, and squid to hundreds of students. Karen has studied marine animals for decades and has dived more than 150 dive sites in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. She has performed in depth studies on the chiton, an intertidal invertebrate, and has literally swum with sharks.

She has presented lectures, taught classes, developed materials, delivered seminars or run retreats for the Women’s Congress Future First, Science Museum of Minnesota, Bioneers, Altrusa, the Living Green Expo, St. Catherine University, the University of St. Thomas, Hamline University, the Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Project 2061, the Interfaith Earth Day Celebration, the Summer Academy for High Potential Students, and INROADS to name a few, and she sits on the advisory and foundation boards of several environmental and educational based organizations. She has inspired young and old in the wonders and the challenges of knowing science and using this knowledge to better our lives.

Karen is also a patent -holding inventor and her ideas have become manufactured products with world wide distribution. She currently holds several licence agreements for products that will hopefully soon be a part of your life.

Her two books, Common Sense for Common Good and From Where I See It, both address issues of sustainability and our collective willingness to make this world a better place for all who inhabit the planet. Karen is a Consociate of the Sisters of St. Joseph and volunteers in many capacities in their mission of “Love of God and our dear neighbor without distinction.” She believes that as we are, so is the planet, and we can work together toward a better world for all. Karen joined the NSS board in 2012 and resigned in April, 2015, when she was hired to be the new Executive Director of the organization.


Endel Kallas

Board Chair

Endel brings a unique emergent perspective to the NSS board.  He is a graduate of the Rohr Institute Living School for Action and Contemplation who seeks a holistic approach to compassionate activism and inclusive environmental education. Drawing across a number of disciplines, he is a creative practitioner of Integral Knowledge Management who has helped social profit organizations by applying collaborative practices to build operational, administrative and governance capacity. His recent service includes charter school board initiatives aimed at narrowing the achievement gap across diverse learning styles.

His interest in NSS reflects a “second half of life” effort to realize a life-long interest in integrating the natural sciences, humanities, and the social sciences and bring this perspective into local community and corporate culture.

“My aim with NSS is to sustain transformation throughout our community by delivering critical educational initiatives with effective communications. I define sustainability in terms of an inclusive embrace of scientific, cognitive ,aand spiritual diversity framing solutions in terms of evolving an ever more expansive awareness of an emergent and inspired consciousness.”


Rebecca Cramer

Board Secretary


Rebecca lives in South Minneapolis and is a retired cell biologist. Her professional scientific work was in the field of membrane biophysics and neuropharmacology. Her avocation has been “peace and social justice” ; she participated in human rights advocacy in El Salvador and Haiti and in environmental advocacy around renewable energy. She is interested in intergenerational work to protect and restore the natural environment. Rebecca has attended many national Bioneers conferences, joined the board of Northland Sustainable Solutions at its inception and worked on the planning committees which produced 7 Northland Bioneers Conferences in the Twin Cities, from 2006 to 2012; after a year’s respite, she re-joined the board in 2014. Rebecca and her husband Scott own a geodesic dome cabin on a small lake near Savannah Portage State Park in Aitkin County, MN, where they enjoy kayaking and bird-watching and have been growing food and tending wildflowers in a large garden. She recently became a grandmother.


James Price

Recent Past Board Member

James is a native Minnesotan. He has a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota. He has also done work toward a M.S. in Systems Management from the University of Southern California. He worked at Unisys Corporation as a Software Engineering Manager for fourteen years. He also worked as an Engineering Aide in the US Air Force. Now he would like to pursue a career in sustainability, especially clean renewable energy. As a world traveler and avid scuba diver, backpacker and marathon runner, he would like to see a sustainable world that will allow all to enjoy such activities in the future.


Doug Shoemaker

Board Advisor

Doug grew up in South Dakota on a farm without electricity. In the Air Force, he traveled the world for four years as an electric power production technician. While earning a degree in business administration at the University of Sioux Falls, he joined Xcel Energy. Over a 34-year career, he managed Xcel’s transport fleet and supervised non-destructive testing in the Twin Cities area. In 1985, he helped found the Minnesota Windstar Connection, a chapter of John Denver’s Windstar sustainability movement. At retirement, in 2002, he embarked on a frenzy of volunteer organizing on behalf of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES): he took on management of Minnesota’s portion of the National Solar Tour (it drew 2,000 visitors at 52 locations last year), the Living Green Expo (25,000 visitors last May), and the State Fair’s Eco Experience (350,000 visitors over 12 days). As co-chair of MRES, he also organizes about 30 table exhibits annually at functions around the state — including a lot of school outreach programs. In addition to his work for MRES, Doug now serves on about 20 renewable energy related committees and task forces.


Vicki O’Day

Board Member


Vicki is social entrepreneur who values learning and connecting people for imagining and manifesting resilient futures for themselves, their families, and their communities. She serves as a collaborative consultant with twenty years of experience in financial services and community organizing for creating “next systems” innovations.

Vicki is the MN Next System Project Community Coordinator. She engages community partnerships for developing next systems of healthy communities with a focus on innovations that progress social equality, environmental responsibility, economic empowerment, and true democratic policies honoring the innate ecology of all people and our planet. Get connected: “Like” the Minnesota Next System Project Community. Stay connected – read our Blog.

Nature is home for Vicki. She’s a mother, grandmother, and lover of One. She loves to learn, hike, dance, garden, cook, read, write, experiment and evaluate through iterative process. She is grateful for the opportunity to roll up her sleeves and do her part through her work within the Northland Sustainable Solutions community.

Learn more about Vicki and connect on LinkedIn.


Scott Zastoupil

Board Treasurer


Scott is a Finance and Accounting professional who lives in Minneapolis. He is a licensed CPA in the state of Minnesota with over six years experience in the financial services and investment industries. While in graduate school at University of Wisconsin-Madison, he earned a graduate certificate in Business, Environment and Social Responsibility. During this time, he advised a paper company on how it could reduce emissions while cutting costs, and he prepared a paper evaluating different means of regulating and monitoring carbon emissions.

Previously, Scott was represented his former employer as an Earthwatch Ambassador in Brazil, where he helped researchers collect data and developed a business plan for a local eco-tourism cooperative. Scott has also volunteered with Minds Matter Twin Cities, Junior Achievement, and BestPrep.



Anne Tiller

Board Member

Anne is a lifelong yoga practitioner and has traveled and lived in over 40 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. For 17 years she was involved with the Ananda Marga Yoga Society, serving for 8 years in West Africa. After leaving she returned to Minnesota and completed her degree in Psychology, Religious Studies and Art at St. Cloud State University in 1992. She met her husband, Charlie Tiller, at the Tapestry Folk Dance Center in Minneapolis, and they were married in 1994. In 2000 Anne began quilting and has never stopped: she has exhibited in many venues, won awards and, each year for the past six years at Walker Community Methodist Church, has celebrated her birthday with a potluck, dance and quilt show.

In 2006 Anne volunteered to spread the word about the first Northland Bioneers Conference and has been involved in volunteering for or planning each local conference since then. She joined the Northland Sustainable Solutions Board in 2008. She has attended two National Bioneers Conferences and plans to attend every year going forward.

Anne has been active as a community volunteer in various organizations including Garden Club of Ramsey County and the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, the Friends’ School Plant Sale, the Minnesota Mycological Society, the St. Paul Neighborhood Star Board, Minnesota Quilters, Minnesota Contemporary Quilters, and Lakeshore Quilters. She volunteer ushers for various community Theaters. Anne is an avid environmentalist, has attended Frontiers on the Environment forums at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment regularly for the past 4 years, and is an organic gardener. Doing their part to combat climate change, Anne and Charlie have installed solar panels on their St. Paul home and drive a Prius and Mitsubishi electric vehicle.


Maria Turnblom

Board Member

Maria has pursued integration of the fields of leading-edge science, spirituality and consciousness, wellness, and healing most of her life, as awakening educator and trainer, researcher, and transformational facilitator and healer. The question she ponders is, “How might we elegantly introduce key pivotal change within the system ~ individual & planetary ~ toward positive transformation that upholds LIFE?”

As an academic molecular biologist, Maria’s research focused on quantum change at the DNA level and its impact upon the developmental life cycle of a complex microbial system. She taught University of Minnesota medical students the new energy paradigm of health and disease, the psycho-spiritual causes behind symptoms, how specialized applied kinesiology may be used for accurate assessment, and how theta brain wave healing can quickly clear what’s ineffective, and equally quickly install the desired change. Maria teaches lay and professional people skills to optimize their ever changing self care, and to clear the emotional belief patterns interfering with health & life fulfillment. Besides her current service with Northland Sustainable Solutions, she participates in a shared leadership capacity with Spirit United (St. Paul, MN), MN Association for Global New Thought, MN Pachamama Community, Global Institute for Energy Healing Technologies, and Integrated Healers Consortium. She co-chaired the Infinite Health Council.

Her other significant organizational affiliations currently include Future First, Amnesty International, MN Holistic Medicine Association, MN Holistic Nurses Association, MN Chapter of the International Enneagram Association, Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology, International Society of Subtle Energy Medicine, International Health Research Network, and Pathways Health Crisis Center.

Believing in the self directed natural love of learning, and the importance of freedom, Maria home educated her two children. She also served on several initiatives to charter holistic schools. Her educational board and advisory service has included Eagle’s Wings Coop, Family Learning Center, Learning Adventures Middle School, Studio 4, and Great River Montessori School.


Join the NSS Board of Directors

Are you looking for a creative opportunity to develop a new bio-sphere within an existing non-profit? Are you a pioneer for changing the narrative of the 21st Century? Does environmental education and community building interest you? NSS has several board position openings in 2016. We are in a year or reorganization and welcome new talents to join us. NSS elected Board member terms are one or three years in length. The Executive Committee consists of NSS Board Officers and meets on an as-needed basis. Nominate yourself or another person for the NSS Board of Directors. Please contact NSS at (612) 388-2542 with questions about Board membership.

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