Executive Board Members
Chief Executive Officer
Jeff wears many hats in life, including entrepreneur, professional athlete, inspirational speaker and environmental steward. ATIRA Systems® is the professional nexus of Jeff's entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the environment. While seeking a fire retardant for his Wildfire Equipment Company, Jeff was struck by disturbing statistics about the toxicity of current offerings and asked himself, "What if we could come up with a non-toxic product that is more effective at fighting fires of all types without doing unnecessary harm?" Jeff discovered that annually there are millions of gallons of flame retardant dumped into natural resources, further destroying precious wetlands and large population centers throughout the world. So began Jeff's drive to create a business that not only saves lives and structures, but does no harm to the earth.
Starting at a young age, Jeff pursued a diverse professional background, taking him out of the typical business environment and into the iconoclastic and adventurous world of a professional Mariner and commercial diver. The seasonal contract work of the profession enabled him to pursue and excel at a variety of outdoor sports, which strengthened his connection to the environment.
It was a life-changing injury, sustained in his work as a Mariner, that redirected the course of Jeff's life forever. His personal mission became focused on what he would give back to the world. Rebuilding from his injury delivered a daily sense of gratitude for family, friends and the experiences that so positively shaped Jeff's life.
Jeff remains dedicated to adventure sports, despite the effects of his injury, and is currently well rewarded as an athletic ambassador for the Patagonia Company. To Jeff, this honorable nomination serves as an inspirational springboard in creating a sustainable and socially responsible business. Jeff aims to build upon the Patagonia business model and lead ATIRA Systems® into the lucrative, rewarding and untapped landscape of truly non-toxic fire protection systems. ATIRA Systems® represents the culmination of Jeff's diverse vocational experience coupled with his desire to protect the natural world.
Jeff's charismatic “can do” spirit benefits several audiences worldwide. He serves as a motivational mentor to those who are surviving traumatic injuries, while also contributing tirelessly to causes in his community and other social-benefit organizations, including 1% for The Planet, Save the Waves Foundation, Ghostryders Watermans Club, and the Ride-A-Wave Foundation.
Steve has extensive experience in the manufacturing industry, in all phases of management, with strengths in product development, marketing and accounting. He is responsible for ATIRA®'s product technology, including chemical and mechanical aspects, as well as early stage business development. Steve's vision and engineering prowess serve as the foundation for ATIRA®'s unique offering, future roadmap, and ultimately, our sustainable competitive advantage. As son of a regional Campfire Administrator, Steve adopted a deep love and healthy appreciation of the environment. He enjoys almost any form of outdoor recreation and is a passionate organic hobby farmer.
Steve's resumé includes President/CEO of NorPac-GSE Inc., an Aviation Ground Support Equipment manufacturer which provides specialty products to Boeing and the world airlines, as well as President/CEO of SEM Manufacturing, an Environmental Reprocessing equipment manufacturer, which produced Insulation and Drywall reprocessing systems and products. He has significant experience as a career firefighter/EMT III for the City of Corvallis and the Boring Rural Fire Departments, and he leads our Gel Strike Team on large-scale wildfire incidents. Steve holds a degree in Engineering and Accounting from Oregon State University.
Mr. Comer is Principal, Fixed Income Sales, at Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., where he works with commercial bank and thrift clients in the areas of asset liability management, balance sheet restructuring and strategic business planing. He joined the firm in 1988.
In 1990, the firm created Sandler O'Neill Mortgage Finance Corp. in response to growing client demand for whole loan mortgage portfolio valuation and securitization. Mr. Comer was responsible for daily operations of the Memphis–based unit, including client/firm relations, transaction negotiation, audit reviews, structuring mortgage securitizations and whole loan transactions. In 1992, Mr. Comer returned to New York and resumed sales and trading activities in the Fixed Income group. In 2004, he relocated to San Francisco to expand and manage the firm's business on the West Coast. The San Francisco office has 19 professionals in banking, fixed income and research. Prior to joining Sandler O'Neill, Mr. Comer held several positions with Bear Stearns & Company.
Mr. Comer holds an undergraduate degree from Ithaca College and a graduate degree from Harvard University.
Peter brings more than 25 years of branding experience to the ATIRA® team. Drawing from his experience in having been a key strategic player in the launch of more than 300 new brands, Peter is leading strategy and positioning to ensure ATIRA® is more than just a product, but also a brand that becomes synonymous with safe, sustainable and effective fire suppression.
As the CEO and founder of Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based MicroArts Creative Agency, Peter has used his creative prowess to help grow major brands such as GE Healthcare, Waste Management, Lindt and Bauer. He also has extensive experience growing fledgling brands from the ground up, having played a key role in the launch and acquisition of dozens of B2C and B2B brands in a diverse set of market categories. Additionally, he is an entrepreneur and the author of "LAUNCH," a playbook of proven strategic principles that guide his approach to branding.
When Peter isn't enjoying the waves with his family, he can be found skiing or brainstorming his next big project. He is passionate about building brands that solve problems while remaining true to the environment.
Bill is a partner with the law firm of Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP, a pioneering law firm in the sustainability space that achieved third–party certification as a green business in 2003. Simultaneously, the firm launched a Green Business Practice Group to serve clients that wanted to do well by doing good. Bill is the Chair of the firm's Green Business Practice Group – an experienced group of attorneys who advise companies that value health, the environment and a sustainable economy.
Under Bill's leadership, Wendel Rosen's Green Business Practice Group has developed a significant client base of forward-thinking and innovative companies; joined 1% for the Planet, an organization where member businesses donate one percent of annual revenue to approved environmental nonprofits; gained certification as a B Corporation, and co-authored and advocated the passage of AB 361, which established Beneficial Corporations as a legally recognized business form in California. Bill works with all manner of sustainable businesses, such as energy efficiency contractors, organic foods and natural products companies, and media-based companies that focus on sustainability issues. Bill provides his clients with legal services pertaining to entity formation, general business advice, contract negotiation/drafting, trademark and licensing issues, employment counseling and business litigation. Bill is also a frequent speaker at green industry events, including Opportunity Green.
Advisory Board Members
Co-Founding Partner, Play Bigger Advisors
Al Ramadan is a co-founding partner of Play Bigger Advisors, the world's first category design firm. Play Bigger helps entrepreneurs and CEOs create and monetize new categories.
Prior to Play Bigger, Al co-founded Quokka Sports, which pioneered data-intensive sports immersion on the internet and revolutionized the way people experienced sports. He then joined Macromedia—and Adobe, after Adobe acquired Macromedia—where he spent almost 10 years changing the way people think about great digital experiences on the web and on then-new mobile devices. At Adobe, Al led teams that created the Rich Internet Applications category and helped develop the discipline of experience design.
Al started his career as a mathematician and software engineer—an old-school data scientist. He cut his teeth writing Fortran 77 on a VAX 11/780 and still writes the odd piece of Python code. In the '80s he built real-time analytics engines for big steel manufacturers and brewing companies. In the early '90s he applied data science to Australia's Americas Cup—an innovation in sports performance analytics. His work in sailing led directly to the idea for Quokka.
Al loves the outdoors and remote expeditions. He has hiked the John Muir Trail, sailed in the Sydney/Hobart yacht race, surfed Mavericks, lived on remote atolls in the Pacific and Indian oceans, and can often be found bombing back country lines around Tahoe on a split board. He is also a mentor, father and favorite uncle to an ever–growing circle of next–generation superstars.
President, Newman's Own Organics: The Second Generation
Nell Newman launched Newman's Own® Organics: The Second Generation with business partner Peter Meehan in 1993. “Great tasting products that happen to be organic” is the company's motto. She is the President of the company, which started as a division of Newman's Own and became independent in 2001. Nell's responsibilities are in the areas of product development and public relations.
The daughter of actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Nell had an early introduction to natural foods at their rural Connecticut home. The family had a small apple orchard and a few chickens. Nell learned to cook from her mother and how to catch fish from her father. While in college, she continued to experiment in the kitchen, and is still the designated chef when home for family holiday dinners.
Nell attended the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, graduating with a B.A. in human ecology. She worked briefly at the Environmental Defense Fund in New York, but, preferring a more rural environment, later moved to Northern California. There, she became the Executive Director of the Ventana Wilderness Sanctuary, which was working to reestablish the bald eagle in central California. After two years, she left to become the Development Director for the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, the nonprofit responsible for the captive breeding and restoration of the peregrine falcon in California.
Nell's commitment to organic foods and sustainable agriculture led her to convince her father to let her establish an organic division of Newman's Own. She won him over by creating a completely organic Thanksgiving dinner, and then suggesting organic food products for the new Newman's Own Organics' line. "All of Newman's Own Organics' products are ones that Dad enjoyed, so we chose ones that he really loved," states Nell. She credits her parents, too, with teaching her by example to be socially responsible, politically involved and philanthropic.
An ardent supporter of sustainable agriculture, Nell has participated as a featured speaker and as a panel member talking about her commitment to organic products and producing snacks that appeal to the general public. "By utilizing organic ingredients, we're supporting the environment through the growth of organic agriculture," says Nell.
Nell has served on the Peregrine Fund board in Boise, Idaho and currently serves as a board member of the Wholesome Wave FoundationEcoTrust, and Allergy Kids.
Nell's thoughts on how to make a difference are highlighted in her book, The Newman's Own Organics Guide to a Good Life: Simple Measures That Benefit You and the Place You Live (Villard, 2003), written with science writer Joseph D'Agnese.
It is filled with realistic, practical advice on why living a more environmentally conscious life helps us all.
Patagonia's Vice President of Environmental Initiatives
Rick Ridgeway is currently Patagonia's Vice President of Environmental Initiatives and Special Media Projects. Rick and his team develop, implement and promote the second two of the company's three-part mission statement to make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. In this capacity, his department oversees the company's environmental grant-making, internal and external environmental education, and special multi-year environmental projects including Freedom to Roam, a coalition founded by Patagonia to seek protection for wildlife corridors. Rick also manages Patagonia Productions, the company's division that publishes book and produces films.
Before joining Patagonia, Rick was owner/president of Adventure Photo & Film, building it into the world's most recognized outdoor stock photo and film agency before successfully selling it to focus on writing and filmmaking. At the same time, he was active in the outdoor equipment industry, working as consultant for the Kelty Pack Co. for over 20 years.
In addition to his business history, Rick is recognized as one of the world's foremost mountaineers and adventurers, and is known to many through his writing, photography and Emmy award-winning filmmaking. Along with three companions, Ridgeway became the first American to summit K2, considered the hardest mountain in the world to climb, and he has done many other significant climbs and explorations on all continents. He has produced and directed over 30 adventure shows for television. His 40 articles have appeared in Outside, National Geographic and many other magazines. He is the author of six books, including the highly acclaimed Seven Summits, The Shadow of Kilimanjaro and Below Another Sky. Rolling Stone magazine called Ridgeway "the real Indiana Jones," and National Geographic recently honored him with its "Lifetime Achievement in Adventure" award. Rick lives with his wife in Ojai, California, and they have three grown children.
Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Insititute
Arlene Blum PhD, Biophysical chemist, author and mountaineer, is a Visiting Scholar in Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. The Institute brings government, industry, scientists and citizens groups together worldwide to support chemical policies to protect human health and the global environment. Blum's research and policy work has contributed to stopping the use of toxic flame retardants in children's sleepwear and other products globally. Her current "mountain," which she considers her life's most challenging and important, is to change policy to reduce the use of harmful chemicals.
Arlene Blum also led the first American—and all-women's—ascent of Annapurna I, considered one of the world's most dangerous and difficult mountains, co-led the first women's team to climb Denali, completed the Great Himalayan Traverse across the mountain regions of Bhutan, Nepal, and India, and hiked the length of the European Alps with her baby daughter on her back. She is the author of “Annapurna: A Woman's Place” and “Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life.”
Blum's awards include a selection by the U.K.’s Guardian as one of the world's 100 most inspiring women, and a selection by the National Women's History Project as one of 100 "Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet," a selection as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, and recent election to the Hall of Mountaineering Excellence. Her research paper on flame retardants in baby products was chosen as the outstanding paper of the 2011 by the Journal Environmental Science and Technology.
She currently serves on the board of ISET, which solves climate, water and disaster problems in South Asia and advisory boards for Environmental Building News, Healthy Child Healthy Word, and the Plastic Pollution Coalition.