Sally Beth and Michael met more than 30 years ago while serving the U.S. Pease Corps in Mali, West Africa. They were stationed several days upstream from Timbuktu. In this region, the Sahara was encroaching and an already stressed existence was endangered by desertification. During their time there, Sally Beth and Michael saw in their Malian counterparts incredible talents, capacities, and perseverance. Even when faced with great adversity, the men and women they met in Mali had hearts of lions.
Amidst the economic abundance of the United States, it can sometimes be difficult to see directly one’s connection to the environment. But in Mali, the connection was clear, as a few millimeters of rainfall could mean the difference between plenty and hunger in a given year.
Returning back to the US after two years in rural Africa, both Sally Beth and Michael worked towards MS degrees in the then new field of Environmental Science. Michael went to work for North Carolina Department of Health and Natural Resources, and then later the Environmental Defense Fund. Sally Beth worked as an Environmental Science instructor, and directed a recycling non-profit. In 2006, the couple took a gamble when Michael founded FLS Energy, a solar energy company with the mission of Making Solar Mainstream. Within 8 years, North Carolina had become among the most successful states in solar deployment, second only to California in installed solar capacity. Michael and his partners sold FLS Energy and he began supporting and consulting with entrepreneurs globally.
As their children grew older, Sally Beth took her environmentalism into a more philosophical and spiritual direction, and after several years of preparation, was ordained to the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 2013, and she has served several congregations since then. Now in their 50s, the couple is more committed than ever to creating a sustainable planet by integrating science, spirit, and the power of human organizations and individuals to rise to meet our challenges.
Today, Michael is the CEO of SustainRNG , a company working to commercialize an improved technology for generating renewable natural gas from large-scale livestock operations. In 2017, Sally Beth became certified in facilitating Appreciative Inquiry, a transformative change approach focusing on strengths, and she now trains and facilitates AI processes for businesses, teams, and churches.
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