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About Us

Preserve, protect, and promote a healthy Alabama for a sustainable future.

Focus and Intentions

Alabama Environmental Council, formerly Alabama Conservancy, was established in 1967 before the first Earth Day, before the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, and before there was an Environmental Protection Agency. We were the first environmental advocacy organization in the state! We have an admirable history that you may not be aware of. We invite you to read Protecting Alabama: A History of the Alabama Environmental Council written by Clara Ruth Hayman.

Preserve and Protect Alabama’s Natural Capital

AEC advocates for ecologically sustainable practices to prevent and reduce litter, pollution and waste, that negatively impacts our communities and natural environment. AEC promotes a holistic approach to environmental preservation, which requires a combined effort from state and local governments, private industries, organizations and individual residents. Much of this effort will concentrate on raising awareness of the environmental issues affecting our state, as well as educating and empowering citizens with the tools to solve them. Together.

Unify Information and Action for Healthier People and Places

Building on history and our statewide mission, AEC continues to bring people, groups, and information together, building strength on strength toward a healthier living environment. We support groups that have a similar mission and connect individuals to local relevant resources and offer practical sustainable living tips. Together we can.

Promote Economic Growth through Green Business

The future of environmental protection lies in the hands of an economically-stable community. AEC promotes “green” jobs and businesses, and advocates for growth of environmentally-sound companies within our state.

Our Team

Meet our team members.

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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Pat Byington

President

With a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi, Kate attended Samford University in 2015 as a master’s student in Environmental Science and Energy Management. Kate has an extensive background as a researcher in many biological fields, as well as teaching labs and lectures. Kate has continued to pursue her passions to continue learning and teaching others in biology and environmental sciences. Kate is currently employed as an environmental scientist in the consulting field, and has experience involving hydropower, development, and wetland delineation projects in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. In addition, she has worked as a science education director of local youth science camps, and an environmental educator for Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. Kate is currently a board member for AEC and Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.

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Kate Cosnahan

Vice President

Fernando Valentin, is the President and CEO of The Trinity Design Group, LLC, an environmental services company, specializing in the engineering and manufacturing of circular, returnable packaging. In 2018, he cofounded Neowaste, a chemical recycling company that converts waste into fuel. Fernando volunteers his time serving as Treasurer for the Alabama Environmental Council, Paymaster and previous Commandant for the Krulak Detachment of the Marine Corps League, and Assistant Treasurer for the FBICAAA. He is a member of the Downtown Kiwanis Club of Birmingham and the Birmingham Business Alliance Advisory board. Previously, Fernando served on the boards for Jimmie Hale Mission and the Hispanic Business Council.

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Fernando Valentin

Treasurer

Scott Helton, PhD is a Research Scientist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the Dept. of Medicine, Div. of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care with projects studying the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension, cystic fibrosis, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Outside of the laboratory, he enjoys hiking and fishing in the great outdoors. Scott has volunteered and supported the AEC for over 15 years and has served on the Board of Directors since 2018. Amongst his goals at AEC, he seeks to unite the private and business communities to solve environmental and conservation issues facing the great state of Alabama.

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Scott Helton

Secretary
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Ahana Vedre

Member
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Amanda Braddock

Member
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Bob McKenna

Member
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Dusty Farned

Member

Kristina Habchi, CLC is the Executive Director of Mothers’ Milk Bank of Alabama (MMBAL). Since accepting the position in 2017, Kristina has helped to shepherd MMBAL's more than 200% growth in staff and operations. Kristina studied nutrition and hunger studies at Auburn University, and was her background in food justice and food banking that led her to milk banking. As a first-generation American born and raised in the Black Belt, Kristina has a deep- rooted passion for equity work in the Southeast. Kristina is a board member at Alabama Environmental Council and Breastfeeding Education Support Team where she uses her unique background to add perspective and push for the equitable distribution of resources and programming. Kristina is a certified lactation consultant and currently pursuing a Nonprofit Management Certification from Harvard Extension School.

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Kristina Habchi

Member

Lauren joined the Board of the Alabama Environmental Council to initiate a program whereby the AEC promotes restaurants that adopt sustainable practices such as eliminating the use of Styrofoam containers. She is dedicated to supporting local businesses and raising consumer awareness regarding the health hazards associated with the use of single use plastics. Although Lauren’s background is in banking and finance, over the past decade she has sold commercial janitorial services for Trust Building Services and has many friends and associates that will attest to her passion for a “clean” environment. She is very Spiritual and attends Unity of Birmingham where she leads a weekly meditation group. Although Lauren loves being active in her community, her greatest pleasure is hiking and exploring the wildernesses of Alabama.

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Lauren Guillebeau

Member

Melva Tate is often called the “HR Fixer”, Melva has successfully navigated the complicated world of human resource management for 25+ years. In 2008, she launched the consulting firm, Tate & Associates, LLC. The firm provides human resource consulting, career coaching, and customized training to organizations across the United States. Putting in work like this leads to an impressive list of credentials, including a B.S. degree in Human Resource Management, an Executive MBA, Certified Life Coach, Professional in Human Resources(PHR), and DiSC Team Training Facilitator certifications. Melva is also a Navy veteran and received the Navy Achievement Medal for her commendable and exceptional active duty service. Melva’s commitment to her profession and the community has earned her recognition as a 2019 “Top 50 Over 50” in Alabama honoree, Birmingham’s 2006 “Top 40 Under 40” Professionals, the BSHRM Leadership Excellence Award, Best Minority Business Honoree by the Birmingham Business Journal, Cox Media’s Best in Minority Business Winner and the 2020 Hoover Area Chamber Small Business of the Year. As an activist, executive advisor, and often board member, Melva has volunteered her time and energy with The Women’s Network- Birmingham (Past President), United Ability (Past Board President), Jefferson County Workforce Development Board, and Alabama Women In Business. She is also a past two-term president and current senior advisor for the Birmingham Society for Human Resource Management (BSHRM).

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Melva Tate

Member
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Olivia Barone

Member

A supporter of the AEC since its beginning I am a determined reuser, recycler, and try hard to reduce. In my second term on the AEC board I’ve been a community volunteer most of my adult life, am married to an attorney and we are the parents of 3 grown, married sons and grandparents of 9. I enjoy exercising, reading, knitting, needlepoint and being a grandmother, not necessarily in that order. I drive a Prius with a bumper sticker which reads “Make America Green Again”.

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Susan Haskell

Member

Tina Upshaw is the Director of Operations for Momentum Leaders and is responsible for the oversight of the organization’s administrative processes including financial, human resources, contracts, IT and strategic planning. A native of North Carolina, Tina received a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Communications from Wake Forest University. Currently, she is serving on the Alabama Environmental Council board and shares her passion for living sustainably with minimal impact on the environment. Tina and her family enjoy all things outdoors from the mountains to the sea logging many trail hours exploring our country’s natural beauty.

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Tina Upshaw

Member

William joined AEC’s Board of Directors in 2018. As an Alabama native, his passion for conservation and waterways began as a result of time spent in the Boy Scouts, where he obtained the rank of Eagle Scout, and volunteering throughout his youth. It was in his youth where he discovered his love for the outdoors After receiving his Bachelors in Science from University of North Alabama in 2011, he pursued a legal career with the intent to focus on being a steward of the environment. In 2016, William earned a Master of Laws (LL. M.) in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. He was admitted to the Alabama State Bar in 2017. William is currently an Assistant Attorney General for the Alabama. In his free time, William enjoys birding, volunteering with Alabama Audubon, and being outdoors.

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William Berry

Member
We work closely with local, state, and national environmental organizations

Organizations that are working to make a difference in our state