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Multidisciplinary Team

The multidisciplinary team of staff and students offer experience and expertise across a diverse range of areas. We are formally trained as public administrators, engineers, planners, attorneys, finance/business specialists, economists, policy specialists, information and data scientists, environmental scientists, and more.


Erin Riggs

Executive Director

Erin Riggs is the Executive Director of the EFC and conducts applied research surrounding legal, policy, and accounting framework that influences environmental finance issues around the country. She graduated from the University of Florida’s Levin … Continued

Email address for Erin Riggs
Phone number for Erin Riggs 919-966-3126

Ahmed Rachid El-Khattabi

Associate Director

Dr. Ahmed Rachid (AR) El-Khattabi is the Associate Director of the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His background is in applied economics and urban planning. He earned … Continued

Email address for Ahmed Rachid El-Khattabi

image of Christy Ihlo

Christy Ihlo

Deputy Director

Christy Ihlo joined the EFC as the Deputy Director in 2021, overseeing the daily operations of the Center. She brings a diverse background including program management, monitoring and evaluation, technical report writing, spatial analysis, and … Continued

Email address for Christy Ihlo
Phone number for Christy Ihlo 919-966-1040

Tenika McMillan

Project Director

Tenika McMillan joined the EFC as a Project Director in July 2022. She focuses on providing personnel management, as well as researching barriers and solutions to increasing water service connections in underserved areas. She brings … Continued

Email address for Tenika McMillan
Phone number for Tenika McMillan +1 (919) 966-4415

Kristen Downs

Project Director

Kristen Downs joined the UNC EFC as a Project Director in September 2022. She completed her PhD in Environmental Sciences and Engineering in the fall of 2022, with a focus on the relationships between weather … Continued

Email address for Kristen Downs
Phone number for Kristen Downs +1 (919) 962-8901

Alicea Easthope-Frazer

Project Director

Alicea Easthope-Frazer joined the EFC as a Project Director in March 2023. Alicea was most recently at The Aquaya Institute, in both program and operations roles over the years. Her career focus has been on … Continued

Email address for Alicea Easthope-Frazer

Anna Patterson

Project Director

Anna Patterson Joined the EFC as a Project Director in June 2022. She is focusing her work on helping communities and water utilities improve their environmental health and financial resilience. She brings experience in stormwater … Continued

Email address for Anna Patterson
Phone number for Anna Patterson +1 (919) 966-4332

Melanie Sanchez

Project Director

Melanie rejoined the EFC in February of 2023. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in statistics & analytics and a minor in geology. She has a unique … Continued

Email address for Melanie Sanchez
Phone number for Melanie Sanchez 910-599-3743

Hope Thomson

Project Director

Hope Thomson joined the EFC as a project director in April 2022. She focuses on providing technical assistance to utilities, as well as researching barriers and solutions to increasing water service connections in underserved areas. … Continued

Email address for Hope Thomson
Phone number for Hope Thomson 919-962-8273

Andrew Waters

Project Director

Andrew Waters comes to the Environmental Finance Center as a project director after working in the nonprofit land conservation field for fifteen years. An undergraduate at UNC Chapel Hill, Andrew received an MBA from UNC … Continued

Email address for Andrew Waters
Phone number for Andrew Waters +1 (919) 962-2785

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Austin Thompson

PhD Research Assistant

Austin Thompson joined the EFC at UNC in 2018 as a Project Director. In this role, she conducted applied research and provides technical assistance and training for environmental service providers. Thompson holds a BS in … Continued

Email address for Austin Thompson

Justin Nolan

Project Manager

Justin Nolan joined the EFC as a Project Manager in May 2023. He completed his Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning in the spring of that same year. He comes to the EFC after … Continued

Email address for Justin Nolan

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Julia Cavalier

Database Manager

Julia Cavalier joined the Environmental Finance Center in 2018. Prior to joining the EFC, Julia had 15 years of experience in the water sector and 13 of those years spent with the Public Water Supply … Continued

Email address for Julia Cavalier
Phone number for Julia Cavalier 919-962-0716

Emma Copenhaver

Project Analyst

Emma Copenhaver joined the EFC in December 2022. A recent UNC alum, she graduated in December 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Chemistry. As a student, she focused her … Continued

Email address for Emma Copenhaver

Megan Doherty

Project Analyst

Megan Doherty joined the EFC in December 2022. She graduated from UNC in June 2022 with a Bachelors of Science in Biology, and minors in Chemistry, Environmental Science, and Mandarin Chinese. As a student, she … Continued

Email address for Megan Doherty