Jack Hébert
Chief Executive Officer/Founder

Jack Hébert is the Chief Executive Officer; and Founder of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC). Jack spent his early years in Alaska wintering 60 miles from an Inupiat community in the mountains of the Northwest Arctic and summers in the “old” Denali Park. His mentors and teachers were the people that thrived in these environments, the First Alaskans that lived a traditional life and the next Alaskans, homesteaders and pioneers that brought change to a timeless land. His relationship and commitment to Alaska were born from these deep roots in the “Country.” For the past 36 years, Jack has been designing and building homes as a licensed general contractor in Interior Alaska through his companies Taiga Woodcraft and Hébert Homes LLC. His homes and planned communities have created many high-quality, well-designed, environmentally appropriate, and energy-efficient buildings over a long career.

Jack is a graduate of the University of Washington, a Certified Green Professional, and is trained in LEED standards. He has received numerous honors, including the U.S. Green Building Council Cascadia Fellowship in recognition of his contributions to sustainable building, design and science; the first State of Alaska Governor's Award for Excellence in Energy Efficient Design; and the Energy Rated Homes of Alaska President’s Award. He has twice been honored as the Alaska State Homebuilder of the Year.

As an active member of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Jack has held many leadership roles on local, state, and national levels including the NAHB Executive Board, National Vice Chair for the 5 Northwest States, President of the Alaska State Home Building Association and State Representative for Alaska. He addressed the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Energy on “Sustainability and Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment” and served as host and moderator of the Circumpolar Forum at the Sustainable Northern Shelter 2007. Jack has been an invited speaker at many conferences in North America and most recently in Scandinavia and Greenland. He helped raise five of Alaska’s next generation and look forward to watching their children’s children embrace a healthy, vital and sustainable future for the Circumpolar North.

Aaron Cooke, AIA
Architect/Project Manager

Aaron Cooke is an architectural designer and project manager at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks Alaska.  He designs, builds, and monitors experimental prototype buildings in challenging physical environments across Alaska, and has collaborated with design groups in Russia, Canada and Antarctica to test new methods of building durable and energy-efficient homes in the circumpolar regions.  He believes that northern environmental conditions and northern culture are inseparable factors that must both be equally reflected in architecture and design in order for it to be successful.

Aaron’s university studies emphasized a specialization in rural development and Arctic responses to architectural form.  This emphasis on northern built form led him to study at the Novosibirsk State Technical University in Siberia and at the Danish International Studies Institute in Copenhagen.  He received his Masters Degree in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati and completed his thesis work as the Design Lead on the Mertarvik Evacuation Center, where he worked with the community of Newtok to develop an environmentally and culturally sustainable facility that will serve as a place of refuge as the community relocates from their current eroding site to a safer location. He was born and raised in Alaska.

Birgitta Evans
Financial Administrator

Gitta was born and raised in Germany, and earned her Master’s degree in Audiology at the Technical Institute of Audiology in Lübeck, Germany. She moved to Alaska 14 years ago, and started her own bookkeeping business in 2003. She is the financial administrator for CCHRC. In her spare time she backpacks, hikes, motorcycles, reads, plays music, teaches and works with young people. She is the proud stepmom of six, and grand-stepmom of 12.

She is very proud and excited to work for an organization whose mission is promoting healthy and sustainable shelter for all Alaskans.

Bruno C. Grunau, P.E.
Chief Programs Officer/Research Engineer

Bruno is enthusiastic about life. He is also passionate about developing socially conscious and sustainable technologies in Alaska and the North, which began when participating on Virginia Tech’s Solar Decathlon Team in 2001. As an engineer, he spent six years at a shock-and-vibration test laboratory where testing and analysis were a part of everyday life. Though he never knew it, these experiences led to his current position, where the mission of the CCHRC merges with his passion. Bruno joined CCHRC January 2011 after serving as chief engineer for an Alaska renewable energy firm. As a research engineer at CCHRC, Bruno has been responsible for research and testing of building systems for ventilation, thermal, and moisture control properties in cold climates. Bruno regularly designs and analyzes building foundations on permafrost, building envelopes in cold climates, and heating and ventilation systems in rural Alaska. He is regularly involved in teaching classes, building and energy system consultation, and other efforts to reach out to general public, contractors, homeowners, engineers, architects, and inspectors. As Chief Programs Officer, he is responsible for overseeing the organization’s programs and services and helping establish private and public sector partnerships and relationships. When not at work, he is often found making music, dancing, enjoying life, and enjoying the backcountry with his family.

Conor Sosebee
Project Manager/Research Scientist

Conor Sosebee began working at CCHRC in the fall of 2016 after moving to Alaska from Atlanta, GA.  Conor gained his appreciation for the built environment through his work on high performance buildings with a focus on affordable housing in the Southeast during his time at Southface Energy Institute. While living in North Carolina, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University where he concentrated on environmental justice and climate science. Conor enjoys running and cycling in the summer and woodworking in the winter. He looks forward to continuing to bring his passion for energy efficient and resilient housing to the Interior and helping to create a more sustainable Alaska.

Dana Truffer-Moudra
Building Science Researcher

Dana came to Fairbanks in 1995 to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks and never left (Fairbanks, not the University). Between living in a log cabin followed by a log house for almost twenty years, and moving into a new energy efficient house with her family recently, she has had an interest in building efficiency for many years.  With a PhD in Physics, she works on projects related to ventilation, lighting, and energy efficiency. When not at work, she can be found driving her kids around town to various activities. She enjoys taking the dog for a walk in her neighborhood, and in winter brings a sled along in order to sled on the downhills, because one should not miss an opportunity to ride on a sled whenever possible. Or on skis.     

Dustin Madden
Policy Researcher

Dustin was born in Alaska and raised in Nome, with family roots going back to the village of Wales.  He found his passion for sustainable energy at Stanford University, where he earned a B.S. in Earth Systems in 2004.  He is excited to be working with CCHRC to help reduce energy costs and improve long-term sustainability in Alaska through data-driven policies and innovative design and technology.  Before coming to CCHRC he earned a master’s degree in teaching, taught science to Alaska Native students through Cook Inlet Tribal Council, traveled and lived abroad, and was adjunct faculty at University of Alaska Anchorage.  When he’s not analyzing data, you might find him trail running, dancing Argentine Tango, or harvesting wild foods.  

Haley Nelson
Project Assistant
Haley is a born and raised Alaskan originally from Juneau, but moved to Fairbanks in 2013 to complete her B.S. in Physics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Haley has spent over half of her academic career studying architecture with an emphasis on affordable, environmentally responsive design, a passion she has had since high school. Committed to contributing to a sustainable future for Alaska, Haley is interested in exploring adaptable, durable, energy-efficient, affordable, and socially conscious housing options for cold climates and the people who populate them. As a new addition to the CCHRC team, Haley looks forward to helping derive the built solutions that will keep Alaska “Sailing towards the future, but anchored to the past,” to borrow a Buddy Tabor lyric.
Ilya Benesch
Building Educator

Ilya Benesch was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska. He joined the CCHRC staff in August 2008 after spending the previous 15 years working as a residential carpenter. His educational background includes two years in an accredited furniture-making program at the Oregon College of Art & Craft and an associate’s degree in Wood Technology with an emphasis in Residential Construction from Seattle Central Community College. He also completed an intensive three-month apprenticeship touring with the Timber Framers Guild of North America, which left him with a lifelong passion for antique tools. His professional experience revolves around all phases of home construction, custom millwork and finish carpentry which he does out of his cabinet shop. Ilya has traveled and worked in many places, but ultimately came to the conclusion that he is unfit to live anywhere but Fairbanks. He works in the CCHRC design group writing educational articles, researching building trends, promoting energy-efficient construction, and answering building questions from the public.

Kristen Thomas
IT Specialist

Kristen was born and raised in interior Alaska but moved to Michigan when she was 18 years old for six years to attend school before joining the CCHRC staff in October 2007. While in Michigan, Kristen was a certified massage therapist, land surveyor, and computer technician. Kristen worked at the University of Michigan Health System at the computer helpdesk and then as an application programmer/analyst. In 2010 she received her BS in Information Technology with a focus in Website Development. Her personal interests include coloring and taking pictures of dogs, her favorite models are her dogs Kasey and Darby who can regularly be spotted at CCHRC.

Michele Doyle-Brewer
Chief Operations Officer

Michele grew up in Western New York, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at SUNY Fredonia. She began spending her summers working at Denali National Park in 1992, and traveled during the winter. After the summer of 1994 she moved to Healy year-round. During her nine years in Healy she worked for the National Park Service and private tourism businesses. Afterwards Michele spent five years in Minnesota working for a contracting company specializing in cold storage construction. In Minnesota, Michele lived in, and was very closely involved in, the conception and construction of a highly energy-efficient and sustainable ICF home, the design of which also focused on function, air quality, aesthetics, and minimizing sound. In September 2009 Michele earned her MBA at the Minnesota School of Business. Michele came back to Alaska and lives in Fairbanks with her husband Sean and twin children Cierra and Hunter. Michele oversees the general operations of the organization. 

Molly Rettig
Communications Manager

Molly Rettig grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania and attended the University of Richmond, where she played soccer and studied sociology. After graduating in 2004, she moved to Colorado to ski, and later earned an MA in Journalism with a focus on Environmental Policy.

She moved to Fairbanks to work as a reporter for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in 2010 and covered government, science, and education. She started working at CCHRC in 2011 because she loved the mission of creating sustainable, culturally appropriate housing for Alaskans. At CCHRC she writes technical and educational articles, produces videos, and works with staff to communicate housing and energy research to the public.


Nathan Wiltse
Project Manager/Building Energy Economist

In December of 2007, Nathan Wiltse received his M.Sc. in Mineral Economics from UAF, where he worked closely with the Mining & Geological Engineering Department and the Economics Department. He has presented at the Alaska Mining Association Biennial Conference a number of times on such topics as, Assessing Risk in Achieving an Acceptable Rate of Return, and a Feasibility Model of a Rock Quarry. He worked on USARAK's pre-feasibility study for an All-Weather Crossing for the Tanana R. He graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield Minnesota in 2000 with a B.A. in Economics. He minored in Computer Science and Management. While at St. Olaf he spent a year abroad attending the University of Ottawa in Canada. He was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska and attended West Valley High School.

Ness Stevens
Research Scientist

Ness began working for CCHRC as an intern in 2010. She was born in New Mexico, grew up in Texas, and then moved to Colorado in high school. She received a BS in physics from Texas A&M in 2004 and then spent 2 years serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania before moving to Fairbanks. In Alaska, she earned a MS in physics from UAF while working as a teaching assistant for a distance education physics course. Her professional interests include all types of science education, sustainable housing and green energy. In her spare time, Ness enjoys paddling during the summer, skiing during the winter, and cycling year-round.

Robbin Garber-Slaght
Product Testing Lab Engineer

Robbin moved to Alaska in 1997 from Maryland, where she completed her B.A. in history, Spanish, and archaeology. She spent six years travelling and living in rural Alaska, in the process earning her M.S. in library and information science. In 2005 Robbin returned to school, finishing her B.S. in mechanical engineering at UAF in 2008. She is interested in ideas that will make living in Fairbanks more comfortable and sustainable.

Ron Ponchione
Building Manager

Ron grew up in California and came to Fairbanks fifty years ago. He attended the University of Alaska and he essentially hasn’t left. After getting a B.Ed in Elementary Education in 1969, he co-founded and directed Enep’ut Chidren’s Center, Fairbank’s first nonprofit daycare center. He has held a number of positions in Fairbanks’ non-profit organizations ever since. His interest in energy efficient building led him to initiate and director of the Low Income Weatherization Program in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the Low Income Housing Rehabilitation Program for the City of Fairbanks. Stints as an Energy Planner at Tanana Chiefs Conference and a Coordinator at Adult Learning Programs of Alaska had him traveling to many Interior Villages observing and assessing living conditions of the residents. After six years Ron supervised Tukuvik, a group home for severely disturbed children. The last twenty-four years, Ron had his own business - building energy efficient homes, remodeling, plumbing and electrical work. His eight kids call him Dad and six that call him Papa. So life’s good!

Ryan Tinsley
Building Educator

Ryan is a life long Alaskan and has been building, designing and modifying homes for over 18n years.  He has hands-on construction background with architectural technology training, artistic design innovation, and broad project management experience in Alaska. Particularly passionate about aesthetics, functionality, and low-energy lighting design for the northern environment. He is a dedicated hard worker who takes on additional responsibilities while managing multiple projects. He collaborates with Alaska Native communities and other stakeholders in rural Alaska. He has a deep understanding of construction techniques, design, and energy efficiency methods for cold climates.

Sandee Mayo
Lead Administrative Assistant

Sandee grew up in California and moved to Fairbanks with her husband, Jim, in 1976. She worked in the banking industry as a secretary and was promoted to construction loan officer. She changed careers in the mid-80s and became a paralegal and office manager in the legal field, where she worked for 20+ years. Sandee is now part of CCHRC and wants to help make Alaskan homes more energy-efficient and affordable in our cold climate, especially in Fairbanks. Sandee earned associate degrees in Small Business and in Paralegal Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Sandee is also a PADI MST scuba instructor as well as a certified first responder and CPR instructor. She has two children who have built their own homes in Fairbanks and two beautiful grandchildren.

Tom Marsik, Ph.D.
Research Director

Tom Marsik is the Research Director at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center. He has a joint position with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he serves as an Associate Professor of Sustainable Energy for the UAF Bristol Bay Campus and Alaska Center for Energy and Power. He is passionate about research and education in the areas of energy and sustainability, and utilizes the synergies of his joint position to benefit people in Alaska and beyond. His passion is reflected in numerous honors, including Alaska’s Top Forty Under 40 award and a recognition from the World Record Academy for designing and constructing the world’s tightest residential building on record.

Tom has an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Czech Technical University in Prague, and a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He has numerous publications and has served on high profile committees, including Alaska’s Governor Bill Walker’s Transition Team and its Consumer Energy subcommittee. He has a loving wife and a very precious daughter whose face keeps reminding him to work hard on helping develop a sustainable future.