About EFCWest

Founded in 1994, EFCWest teaches and develops innovative leadership curriculum, builds organizational capacity and empowers disadvantaged communities in the United States and internationally. 


Leadership Training

EFCWest trains communities and organizations in the US and abroad in leadership skills and tools that emphasize an overall systemic and multi-stakeholder approach. Our Leadership philosophy stresses the belief that we can all be leaders and our training  incorporates the views and input of all levels of a community or agency – from the front desk to the top floor.  To achieve our goals, EFCWest Leadership Workshops focus on:

  • Powerful Communication and Advocacy,
  • Effective Decision-Making and
  • Risk Management.

Capacity Building

EFCWest helps communities and organizations build their capacity to increase funding, pursue new opportunities, manage their resources and plan for a successful future. We provide a unique set of capacity building services and training that emphasize our Green MBA background, including:

  • Entrepreneurship, 
  • Leadership, 
  • Strategic Planning and
  • Resiliency.

Empowering Disadvantaged Communities

EFCWest works to empower Native American Tribes and other disadvantaged communities in the United States and Africa.  Through local workshops, one-on-one assistance and organizational development we support efforts to:

  • Maintain safe and clean drinking water,
  • Manage waste,
  • Build sustainable enterprises and
  • Develop community leadership and advocacy skills.


Senior Staff

Sarah Diefendorf, Director

Sarah is the Director of the Environmental Finance Center West at Earth Island Institute. She has founded and managed numerous nonprofit organizations throughout her career and has specialized in building financial, communications and leadership capacity in the US and abroad.    Sarah serves as a Leadership and Communications trainer for the Environmental Finance Center Network and most recently Sarah co-facilitated leadership and internal/external communications workshops to elected officials, water systems and government agencies as part of a USEPA grant in 28 states to gather support for sustainability and environmental health initiatives. 

In addition to her leadership work, Sarah has worked with Native American Tribes throughout the American Southwest for over ten years to help build their green economies through strengthening Tribal codes and regulations and supporting strategic, solid waste and recycling, climate vulnerability and adaptation, and water protection planning.  Sarah has served as a national and international capacity building and leadership trainer for the League of Women Voters and the Center for Collaborative Exchange.  She has trained in capacity building, advocacy, community outreach and leadership in countries around the world including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Jamaica, Armenia, Uganda, Kenya and Thailand. She has been an Expert Witness for the USEPA National Environmental Finance Advisory Board and is the immediate past Board Chair of the Carbon Cycle Institute.  She holds a BA in International Relations from San Francisco State University and an MS in Environmental Geography from Cambridge University.

Lauralee Barbaria, Associate Director

Lauralee has an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise and is the past Director of Dominican University’s GreenMBA program. Her executive management and leadership expertise gathered from 25 years in the financial, hi-tech and health care industries reflect her success as a change agent working with organizations and communities of all sizes domestically and internationally.   Her experience with a wide variety of hands-on tools and communication methods help individuals and teams, organizations and Tribes to identify and implement techniques and strategies to build capacities, partnerships and gather support for complex challenges. Most recently Lauralee co-facilitated leadership and internal/external communications training to water systems and government agencies in over 26 states to gather support for water initiatives.   In addition, she has led efforts to develop integrated waste management plans and recycling enterprises for Tribes in Arizona and Northern California, has overseen the development of a business plan for grid-scale solar development for a large Arizona Tribe and has worked with several southern California Tribes on vulnerability assessments focused on the health impacts of climate change.

Lauralee has provided multiple workshops in Latin America to participants from Brazil, Argentina, Columbia and multiple Scandinavian graduate students, focusing on the business case to integrate sustainability into operational efficiencies, strategic plans and entrepreneur business ideas.

Elaine McCarty, Senior Associate

Elaine brings over fifteen years of management and consulting experience in business, health care and education with an emphasis on developing and implementing strategic plans with multidisciplinary teams. Elaine has consulted with companies, government agencies and nonprofits in industries ranging from health care to banking, specializing in strategic planning, business planning, finance and communications. She recently served as VP of Operations for a start-up medical device company, where she helped bring the world’s first biodegradable medical device to market.

As Program Director of Dominican University’s Green MBA program, she led all aspects of an innovative graduate program in sustainability, including strategic planning, operations, compliance and budgeting. Prior to entering the business world, Elaine worked in a variety of health care roles including inpatient dietitian, food service, and consultative sales of metabolic medications such as insulin for diabetes. As a U.S. Air Force veteran, Elaine participated in more than 160 reconnaissance sorties resulting in eight Air Medals and the Southeast Asia Service Award for support of Operation Desert Storm.  She holds an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise from Dominican University of California and a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from Southern Illinois University, summa cum laude.

Devon Shane Baker, Senior Associate

Devon brings extensive experience in consulting and training with an emphasis in strategic planning and organizational change. Devon has consulted with small to large companies, communities, and non-profits, bringing desired outcomes with the implementation of her plans. As a sustainability strategy and marketing consultant, Devon managed clients and collaborated at the executive level, inspiring business leaders across a range of fields to take action launching new products and pursuing strategic goals. In the field of hi-tech, Devon was a Customer and Marketing Manager for multiple companies. She managed client relationships at the executive level for successful product pilots and launches, designed and facilitated effective trainings, and developed communications and management strategies. She more recently served as the VP of Marketing and Strategy for The Happiness Institute, a non-profit based in San Francisco, where she assisted in launching a co-working center and facilitated workshops focused on exploring the concept of happiness.

Before venturing into technology and business consulting, Devon was an independent high school teacher and strategic academic coach for middle and high school students as well as a singer/songwriter. She holds an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise and a BA in Psychology from Skidmore College, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa Honors. She’s completed additional training courses including advanced systemic thinking facilitation, storytelling for leaders, and mind-mapping.


Janet MacGillivray, J.D., LL.M. 

Executive Director, Seeding Sovereignty

Janet is an environmental attorney and social change activist. She founded and directs The Seeding Sovereignty Project birthed at Standing Rock to amplify the role of indigenous knowledge for environmental justice. Janet is a former whistle blower, and has worked in legal and leadership positions at USEPA and national and international NGO’s on the interconnected issues of water rights, land and food sovereignty, global trade, climate refugees, environmental health, and the rights of nature. Janet, is of Muscogee (Creek) heritage.

Jill Sherman-Warne

Executive Director, Native American Environmental Protection Coalition (NAEPC)

As Executive Director of NAEPC, Jill supports efforts to reach out to Tribes in California, Nevada and Arizona to provide guidance on new and existing Tribal approaches and programs. Formally established in 1997 by tribal leaders and elders from La Jolla, Pawma, Pechanga, and San Pasqual, NAEPC assists member tribes in establishing their own environmental offices and providing environmental and health training.  Jill is a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe.

Julianne Maurseth, PhD.

Founder, Awake at Work

Julianne E. Maurseth, Ph.D., founded Awake at Work - a consulting firm since 1996 - to build and support organizations, teams and leaders committed to creating consciously ethical, healthy, effective and socially responsible work environments.   She has over 20 years of management experience in various industries and non-profit organizations, and is an expert in organizational psychology, group dynamics and human behavior. Julianne completed her Ph.D. and M.S. in Organizational Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. 

Todd Barnell

Program Manager, Institute of Tribal Professionals (ITEP) Waste and Response

Todd is the Program Manager for the Institute of Tribal Professionals (ITEP) Waste and Response Division.  Todd joined ITEP in 2002, and currently manages ITEP’s programs involving solid waste, source reduction, brownfields, Superfund and other contaminated sites, USTs, and emergency response issues.  Todd also leads the ITEP annual Tribal Lands and Environment Forum which routinely attracts over 500 Tribal members from throughout the United States.

Heather Himmelberger

Executive Director, Environmental Finance Center at University of New Mexico

Heather is a registered professional engineer in environmental engineering specializing in water and wastewater issues. She has been the director of the New Mexico Environmental Finance Center, which serves USEPA Region 6, since 1996. She has more than 20 years of experience in all areas of environmental engineering including planning, design, operation, and troubleshooting. As the director of the EFC, she has assisted numerous states with capacity development strategies under the Safe Drinking Water Act, including development of the strategies and implementation of the programs.