Denise Keele, Ph. D., Executive Director
Having been a farmer, a forester, a grassroots organizer, a political scientist, and a professor, Denise Keele comes to her role as Executive Director of Michigan Climate Action Network with a holistic understanding behind the need to rapidly reverse global warming. Denise holds an undergraduate degree in forestry and a master’s focused on endangered species conservation from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville), as well as a doctorate in Environmental Politics from Syracuse University (a joint degree with the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry). For Denise, a leading priority is inspiring and connecting people—and particularly, taking stock of how policy is matching up with lived experience, to ensure equitable solutions are centered in the movement toward a net zero Michigan. “I just want all of us to have a livable future,” she says with straightforward conviction.
Erica Bouldin, Line 5 West Michigan Engagement Coordinator
As the Line 5 West Michigan Engagement Coordinator for MiCAN and the Oil & Water Don't Mix Coalition, Erica organizes Michiganders to build momentum in support of shutting down Enbridge's Line 5 oil pipeline, specifically within the geographic area of Michigan Congressional District 3. Erica is passionate about centering the conventionally unheard voices within the movement toward a more just and healthy environment for all, and excited about furthering her outreach from Grand Rapids throughout West Michigan. She brings a holistic perspective and hopes to help others find their path through their passions as well.
Erica is presently a Climate Justice Organizer with the Urban Core Collective and a C4 Leadership Board Member, and participated in Freedom Schools at M.L.K. Jr. Park in Grand Rapids as an elder/leader in 2022.
“I would first like to learn about folks in West Michigan and what moves them," she says. "With an open heart and mind, I invite those from all walks of life to join us in understanding how our personal histories can craft a more cohesive future for this beautiful state. I am committed and excited to uplift the wants and needs of the people by empowering them to use their voices.”
When she’s not working, you can catch Erica rolling around on skates, or out thrifting with friends. Erica enjoys playing the ukulele, going on hikes, dancing and yoga with her cats.
Serena Amdur, Digital Community Manager
As Digital Community Manager, Serena Amdur's mission is to encourage a more engaged and supported climate movement through MiCAN’s digital platforms. Serena’s natural interest in community resiliency and local climate solutions led her to earn a bachelor's degree from Macalester College in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Cultural Sustainability as well as a minor in Food, Agriculture and Society. Serena went to high school in the Netherlands which provided one of many opportunities to experience how societies differ in their perception and interaction with their environments. She also has cross-cultural experience through spending time with her family in Taiwan, growing up in a multicultural family in the north suburbs of Chicago, and studying food security, nutrition and sustainable development in Geneva, Switzerland during college. Now, in northern Michigan where she grew up spending the summer, she recalls how the area sparked her passion for preserving the environment. In her free time, Serena is an avid reader, language-learner, and cook.
Colleen Otte, Communications Manager
A northern Michigan native, Colleen Otte learned to appreciate early on the rare beauty of the natural resources surrounding residents of Michigan. Eager to protect the lakes she swam in, forests she hiked, and wildlife she spotted growing up, Colleen looked for ways to combine her knack for wordsmithing with environmental causes, which led her to join the Residential Initiative on the Study for the Environment at Michigan State University, majoring in journalism. After earning her undergraduate degree with a minor in sustainability studies and specializations in design and visual communication, Colleen continued on to her master’s, to take advantage of MSU’s program focused on Environmental, Science, & Health journalism specifically. Stints as a social media intern with the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, launching the online presence for the National Park Service’s Great Lakes Research & Education Center, and engaging volunteers in the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Adopt-a-Beach program landed her at her previous position with the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, where she oversaw the full digital marketing strategy to determine how best to communicate her colleagues’ critical work in advancing decarbonization to quell climate change.
During her downtime, Colleen turns to creative outlets, like photo walks along the lakefront. She hopes her captures can serve as a reminder of the splendor in our surroundings, with the quiet caveat of what’s at stake. Colleen prefers to take a perspective of climate optimism, and brings that spirit to MiCAN, where she looks forward to elevating the voices of those most impacted by climate change in Michigan.