Board and Staff

Ariel Nessel, Founder & Board Member

Ari Horse PhotoAfter an epiphany in 1997 changed the way Ari related to food, his heart opened up to the impact every person’s life has on countless beings and the world at large. Soon after this insight, Ari had a vision of himself attaining all of his worldly goals and dreams (aka the American Dream), yet still feeling empty inside. Thus began his journey, which has culminated in the development of The Pollination Project. In Ari’s day job he oversees a real estate re-development company that focuses on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.  He shares with his wife, Becky, a doctor who cares for underserved populations, the desire to serve others and act as a role model for their two young boys.  Ari also leads meditation and yoga workshops and actively experiences the challenges of being a modern-day yogi, and the delusion that life can be compartmentalized into separate boxes such as family, work, hobbies/exercise and spirit.  As a committed peace activist, Ari remains constantly challenged to live his life in alignment with his values, and to utilize the numerous privileges he has been given to turn seeds into blossom and blossom into fruit.

Stephanie Klempner, Founder & Board Member

stephanie_klempnerStephanie has always had a great love for animals, participating as a foster parent for stray dogs and volunteering with various programs aimed to help the welfare of pets.  After connecting her love for animals with her food choices, she began to open her heart to both suffering and compassion in the world and connecting the choices we make in life to a more blessed and blissed life.  She realized the power that one person truly has to impact the world, and thus teamed up with Ari (her brother-in-law) to create The Pollination Project.  Stephanie is also extremely committed and dedicated to her career as Vice President of a literacy curriculum company and children’s book distributor and feels a deep connection with empowering youth to be readers and writers in the world, while also empowering them to change the world. Stephanie lives in NYC with her dog Miles and spends her time both enjoying the city she loves, as well as traveling the country to be with her family and dear friends.

Mark Morrison, Board Member

mark_morrisonMark is a partner of Morrison+Associates working for the people in the fields of class action and mass tort.  He is a director of the Project Paradigm charity.  Mark is married with four young children.

Peggy Hilden, Board Member

peggy_hilden Peggy has been passionate about animal protection and environmental issues since participating in the first Earth DayEvent in 1970. This passion was fueled by growing up in a family that believed in giving back to their community and opening their door to others (of all species) in need.

She has been involved with numerous nonprofit organizations for more than 30 years – as staff, consultant, board member and volunteer. She currently works for a large healthcare organization providing grants out to the community that support efforts to increase educational opportunities and career pathways to economically challenged youth and adults.

Peggy is blessed with a terrific son and partner both of whom share her belief that each of us can make a huge difference in the world. She currently (when you do rescues the number always changes) has two sweet feline family members, Harley and Beatrice. The most recent addition to the family is a little rescued horse named Chester, who represents the beginning of a dream to have a Sanctuary where humans and animals come together for healing through connections of the heart and in nature. Daily meditation, hiking, kayaking, camping, spiritual exploration and amazing connections with family, friends, animals and nature make her heart sing.

Alissa Hauser, Executive Director

alissa_hauserAlissa is the founding Executive Director of the Pollination Project, a foundation that gives daily $1000 grants to up-and-coming changemakers around the world. Prior to her role with the Pollination Project, she co-founded and served as co-Director of The Engage Network, a social venture nonprofit that provides best practices in citizen-driven organizing.  She led or advised on complex civic engagement projects for groups like Habitat for Humanity International, Slow Food USA, Roots of Change, Green for All, Off the Mat Into the World and the Flawless Foundation.

From 2001-2007, Alissa served as Executive Director of Julia Butterfly Hill’s Circle of Life, leading efforts to create and produce We the Planet, the most eco-friendly large-scale rock concerts in the U.S., which at the time became the primary model for “green events”.  Alissa is also the former Executive Director of the women’s philanthropic organization, Resourceful Women. She proudly serves on several nonprofit advisory boards and boards of directors, including Youth Empowered Action Camp, Bread for the Journey, Go Inspire Go,  Veg Youth and Food Empowerment Project, and regularly provides strategic and business consulting to a wide variety of  social change efforts.  She holds an MBA in Nonprofit Management from the University of San Francisco and a BA from Oberlin College.  Alissa is also a mom and a passionate advocate for her local foster care system.

Julie Santos, Associate Director

julie_santosJulie Santos has been actively volunteering with grassroots movements and international relief agencies for over 8 years. Her efforts have brought her to work in disasters like Katrina and the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti. She has volunteered in multiple countries, helped spear-head several grassroots projects mainly focusing on community and individual action as the pivotal component to inspire change and progress.  She is a graduate student at the Academy of Art University and is working on her thesis, a platform that encourages resource sharing among nonprofit organizations and individuals on an international level.  Julie is constantly striving to find ways to remind people that now is the perfect time to practice a random act of kindness with the tools you have in the place you are at.

James West, Grants Administrator

James WestJames comes from an academic background in social anthropology. He believes strongly in the idea that empowering people to effect change in their own communities is a vital element in the struggle for a more just and equal world. He is a transplant from England, and currently lives in California where he is making the most of all the hiking, rock climbing, and sunshine!

Tara Gardner, Database Developer

tara_gardnerTara is an ethical vegan who advocates for the animals and all beings and is a voice for those who can’t speak. She is a proud facilitator for The World Peace Diet as taught by Dr. Will Tuttle.

She is honored to be a part of anything that connects people to light and love and she is passionate about farmed animals, healing, nutrition, social justice, technology, food safety, the environment and the peace and compassion they all bring to our lives when they are in balance.

Tara, a long-time professional website programmer is our back-office systems architect and support.

“What I love about the Pollination Project is that it brings me back into my heart and enables others to express theirs.”