The Karuna Foundation supports visionary organizations in developing nations working to both mitigate carbon emissions and help human populations and the ecosystems they rely on adapt to climate change. Karuna is the Sanskrit word for compassion.
Rapid economic development in Western economies caused much of the climate change that we are witnessing today. The impacts of climate change are already affecting the world’s poorest people, who have contributed very few carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Developed nations have a moral, ethical, and arguably a legal duty to work with the developing world to mitigate the effects of economic development on the earth’s climate, while helping the world’s most vulnerable populations adapt to the impacts of climate change.
In 2010, Eric Lemelson founded the Karuna Foundation to contribute to the pressing issues of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the vulnerable Himalayan region. As a career environmentalist and a farmer, he was deeply concerned with consequences of even slight changes in temperature, particularly in vulnerable regions and communities whose livelihoods would be hardest hit that had least contributed to global emissions. Research shows that mountainous high-elevation regions were going to see the most dramatic changes in temperature, and in response, the Karuna Foundation decided to focus funding efforts in Bhutan.
The Karuna Foundation Board of Directors is composed of friends of Eric Lemelson. Collectively, they boast a wide-ranging set of professional credentials and an array of skills and experiences that contribute to the Karuna Foundation's creative grantmaking.
Eric Lemelson is the President and Founder of the Karuna Foundation, Vice President and Treasurer of the Lemelson Foundation, an environmental lawyer, a winery owner, and a climate change and energy policy activist.
Jennifer Bruml is an active community volunteer involved with a number of organizations in Portland, Oregon. The majority of her work focuses on homeless youth, primary through high school science education and art education. She is currently on the board of The Lemelson Foundation, OMSI, Our Table Cooperative and Pear.
Lafcadio Cortesi is an environmental activist focused on preserving the rainforests of Indonesia. His past employers include, but are not limited to, Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network.
Lisa Danzig is an infectious diseases physician and Vice President of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs at PaxVax. She spent over 18 years at Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics where she worked on the development and licensure of meningococcal vaccines and blood screening solutions. She is an independent director at OrSense, serves on the boards of the Merola Opera Program and the Karuna Foundation and is an advisor to the Lemelson Foundation, Kernel, and the Batchery.
Julia is a Lecturer at Stanford University, with research and teaching focused on building a sustainable society - integrating human and ecological priorities. A World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Clinton Global Initiative Topic Leader, Fulbright and Marshall Scholar, and graduate of Stanford University, Julia has served as a non-profit leader and foundation executive for 20 years – advancing social enterprise throughout the developing world, creating new market-based approaches to conservation, and authoring articles and book chapters on innovation, sustainable development and impact investing.
Liz Kaufman is a political campaign and grassroots organizer focused primarily on improving public support and funds for public services including schools, community colleges, libraries and parks. Kaufman ran a statewide campaign to protect Oregon’s farm and forestland; and has helped elect dozens of candidates for public office, particularly at local and legislative levels.
As the head of Occam Advisors, Patrick Maloney advises foundations, financial institutions and individuals on investments that combine financial, social and environmental returns. He has previously worked for Google.org, Lemelson Foundation and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace.
Holly Pruett has a masters degree in organizational development and has worked as a leader and consultant with non-governmental organizations at the state and national level in the US since 1985.
Amy Wong is a Portland-based attorney who earned a JD with a certificate in Environment and Natural Resources Law from Lewis and Clark law school. Asia has long been an area of interest, as Amy lived in Beijing for three years while studying Chinese. In addition to serving on the Karuna Foundation board, Amy runs Cultivate Oregon, a non-profit project of the Earth Island Institute. Cultivate Oregon promotes regenerative agriculture.
Alejandra has been working alongside the Board President since 2010, and Rachel joined the Karuna Foundation in 2017. They oversee administrative operations and coordinate grantmaking for the Foundation.
Cory Hawbecker is a Senior Associate and Sustainability Director at Portland-based Holst Architecture, where he serves as a Project Architect on a variety of project types and scales. In addition, he is a Certified Passive House Consultant, LEED Accredited Professional and Registered Architect. Cory is an advocate for sustainability issues; such as the architect’s role in combating climate change, the building envelope’s role in performance, durability and occupant comfort, as well as working to specify sustainable and healthy materials. He has demonstrated a passion for creating beautiful spaces constructed of sustainable and healthy materials that are comfortable and efficient.
Dan brings expertise in energy and durability in buildings to the Karuna Foundation team. He is a consultant with RDH Building Science and is an instructor and curriculum developer for the Passive House Institute US' (PHIUS) Builders Training Program. In an effort to evolve building practice Dan combines a passion for energy efficiency, sustainability, and the natural environment with 30+ years of experience in construction and building detailing. He joins knowledge in Passive House, building science, materials selection and energy with his extensive background of hands-on craft & project troubleshooting.
Thorsten Chlupp, founder of Arctic Sun LLC in Fairbanks, Alaska is a building science consultant, educator, designer, and builder with an expertise in super-efficient and zero energy design for cold climates. He is the developer of cutting edge methods of superinsulation, thermal storage, and integrated renewable energy systems which have enabled his projects to achieve unprecedented levels of performance. From zero net energy and zero fossil-fuel residences and passive house commercial projects in Alaska’s interior (an area with among the highest temperature swings in the developed world: from -40 to 90 Degrees F) to Living Building Challenge homes among the Aleutian Islands, his work re-defines what sustainable building can be in even the most challenging climates. Thorsten works closely with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks and is a founding member of the Passive House Institute US Technical Committee. He lectures regularly on Passive House, Zero Energy Design, and Sustainable Building approaches throughout the United States and overseas. He is currently Karuna’s technical advisor on the ground in Bhutan.