Board of Directors & Volunteer Staff

Michelle Hickey, Co-Founder

Michelle was practicing permaculture before she knew the term and is thrilled to pursue it professionally after receiving her PDC from Midwest Permaculture in January 2013.  Michelle also holds certificates in edible wild plants, bioregional herbalism and Forest Therapy Guide and has advanced forest garden design training. Since 2000 she has been on the permaculture path, collecting knowledge, experience, and contacts to get her to this point.  She brings over a decade of experience working in nonprofit and private sectors. She worked as the Director of Membership, Trail Certification, and Partnerships for the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, was Program Director for Illinois Solar Energy Association, raising the level of service that ISEA provides to its members and the public with the initiation of new programs, collaborations, and advocacy. As the Project Manager for Seven Generations Ahead, she designed, implemented, and managed Green Remodeling and Zero Waste programs for schools, communities and events, and built relationships with municipal leaders to foster environmentally sustainable projects, programs and policies. For six years she was the Assistant Program Manager for the award winning City of Naperville Renewable Energy Program while owning and operating Bliss Essentials, an Aromatherapy and Yoga business. She has been very active in her community, co-producing the City of Naperville Recycling Extravaganza for three years, as a member of the Green Leadership Advisory Council for the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, community member of the City of Naperville Enviro-Link Committee, member of Naperville for Clean Energy and Conservation, and Steering Committee Member for Nutrition in the Schools, a branch of the Green Earth Institute.

Dave Eisley

Dave Eisley received his Permaculture Design Certificate in 2014 from The Resiliency Institute and was proud to help plant one of the first trees in The Whole Foods Market Edible Forest Garden. His initial desire to learn more about self-reliance turned into a realization that the most compelling way to transform the world is through building resilient communities.

Dave holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, is an Advisory Board Member for the Design Thinking Certificate Program at Rutgers University, and is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Aurora University Dunham School of Business and Public Policy.  He considers himself a lifelong student of Human Behavior and Systems Thinking, and it is not uncommon for him to cite Simon Sinek and Marcus Aurelius in the same conversation.  Dave believes that an awareness of the “Hero’s Journey” is the most important insight into the universal human mind - that which we all share in common.

Joe McElroy

Joe McElroy works at the crossroads of public policy and marketing communications, helping businesses, not-for-profit groups and public agencies "spread the word" about their products, accomplishments, and policy objectives. Trained as a city planner and as a journalist, he also served as a member of the Naperville City Council.

Amy Coffman Phillips

Amy Coffman Phillips is a mother, biomimic, architect, MBA, and facilitator who serves as one of nature's ambassadors to the human built environment. Amy leads workshops, holds lectures, and offers biomimicry consulting services for clients looking to learn from nature to inspire sustainable, restorative human environments. Amy's particular expertise is increasing resilience in human systems and has co-created a "Naturally Resilient" workshop for business and non-profit leaders. Amy is also a co-founder of  Biomimicry Chicago, a local resource for those looking to learn from nature to design sustainably and restoratively. Through this local node of the  Global Biomimicry Network, she created The Prairie Project (an AskPlace initiative) advancing locally-attuned environmental performance standards for the built environment.  Amy is a Certified Biomimicry Professional, Illinois licensed architect, MBA, and  LEED AP BD+C. She will measure her success by raising great kids and inspiring others to (re)connect with the natural world by learning from Nature's genius.

Volunteer Staff

Jodi Trendler, Co-Founder
Executive Director

Jodi completed her Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) in 2012 through Midwest Permaculture and her Permaculture Teacher Training Certificate in 2017 at Cascadia Permaculture.  She also holds certificates in edible wild plants, bioregional herbalism, and Forest Therapy Guide. She was the Founding Organizer of Naperville Green Drinks, served five years as Vice-President of the non-profit organization Naperville for Clean Energy and Conservation, and was a member of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Green Leadership Council. Prior to completing her PDC, she wrote and project led a state funded $10,000 Zero Waste grant for which she developed and implemented several waste reduction programs including full lunchroom and school wide composting, as well as initiated the PTA Environmental Committee and student Eco Club for her children’s elementary school.


Connie Kollmeyer
Program Coordinator and Accountant
Owner, Organic Grower & Permaculturist, Copper Fox Farm

Connie has been an organic gardener for over 20 years and runs her own small suburban-scale farm, Copper Fox Farm, using knowledge gleaned from her 2014 Permaculture Design Certificate (hosted at The Resiliency Institute) and her Master Urban Farmer training through the University of Illinois Extension. You can find her at local farmers markets selling fresh heirloom produce, herbs, and flowers, plus foraged items and herbal remedies. To broaden her foraged and herbal offerings and knowledge, she has also completed The Resiliency Institute’s Edible Wild Plants Certificate course and is currently taking the Bioregional Herbalism Certificate course. Connie volunteers at many gardens dedicated to underserved communities and is also exploring beekeeping. Professionally she also works as a Class Instructor, Bookkeeper, Accountant and Realtor.


Simona Bruzyte
Forest Garden Friends Coordinator


Simona is pursuing a degree in horticulture at the College of DuPage with a special interest in sustainability and conservation. She joined The Resiliency Institute as an intern to learn more about permaculture, food security, and community resilience. She has been integral in helping TRI successfully create many photo and video projects for our instructors and students, and for our YouTube channel. She is now also bringing volunteers and educators together for "work and learn" events in our gardens as our Forest Garden Friends Coordinator.