James McMahon, Chief Executive Officer
As CEO of The Collider, James McMahon leverages his experience with public, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors to build and serve the global climate services enterprise. He began his career in global change by studying physics at Harvard University, and atmospheric chemistry at MIT under the guidance of Nobel Laureate Mario Molina. At MIT, his focus was investigating heterogeneous mixed-phase reaction rates relevant to polar stratospheric ozone depletion.
He developed his business and technology management skills at Coca-Cola in a number of roles, including managing the company’s consumer marketing technology group for the U.S. James also has small business experience as COO and CEO of three companies, including a web development firm, a social networking startup, and a publicly traded marketing services venture.
Most recently he was a consultant for LMI, a nonprofit consultancy, and provided advice and assistance to the Director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. During his time there, he was a co-author with NOAA scientists of a paper published in the journal Science that challenged a “hiatus” in global warming. The study set off a firestorm of controversy by climate change skeptics. A recent study concluding that James and his former colleagues at NOAA were right drew significant media attention worldwide.
James is President of the Harvard Club of Western North Carolina and Treasurer on the Board of Directors of the Education and Research Consortium (ERC) of the Western Carolinas. He also serves as a small business mentor for the Venture Asheville Elevate program, and as choir director at Congregation Beth Ha Tephila.
Megan O’Connor Robinson, Executive Director
Megan Robinson is the Executive Director of The Collider, working on internal strategic development of programming, membership, coworking, and events. She is the key contact for anyone interested in cowork or office space at The Collider and the many benefits of membership with the organization.
Megan is passionate about expanding The Collider’s impact on climate resiliency, both locally in Asheville and globally. Prior to joining The Collider team, she was a consultant with LMI, a nonprofit consultancy, and was the program and policy analyst for the Deputy Director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
Megan earned her Masters in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and her Masters of Science in Environmental Science from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Megan also serves on the board of The RUN828 Foundation, a nonprofit working to promote healthy, active, outdoor opportunities for individuals and families in Western North Carolina.
Kathi M. Petersen, Director of Communications
Kathi Petersen oversees internal and external communications for The Collider and serves as the organization’s media and speaker’s bureau contact. Prior to joining The Collider, Kathi served as Executive Director of Operations and Senior VP of Corporate & Public Relations for the 23-county economic development commission AdvantageWest, whose programs included entrepreneurial funding and development, the green and clean-tech economy, food and natural products, and advanced manufacturing, among others.
With a Master’s degree in Public Administration and an undergraduate degree in Communications Media, Kathi’s previous positions also include Director of Corporate Communications for the 1,000-employee CarePartners Health Services and Director of Advertising & Marketing at WLOS-TV. In addition, she provided communications services for a wide variety of industry segments across the country for more than a decade through her consultancy, KP Communications, from film and food festivals to green building, tourism, natural products, environmental groups, medicine, and the outdoor industry.
Kathi is a graduate of Leadership Asheville and the recipient of numerous awards for her work. She has volunteered her communications expertise for countless nonprofit and community organizations. A former member of the Asheville Hub Alliance Board, she currently serves on the Board of Mountain Area Radio Reading Service.
Leah Donatelli, Office & Events Manager
Leah Donatelli plans and manages events for The Collider including venue rentals for meetings, conferences, workshops, and receptions. She also coordinates the weekly PercCollider gathering, an informal coffee hour for those in climate services and the community at large, as well as events ranging from the monthly State of the Climate briefing to Beer City Science Pub with Asheville Museum of Science and the new Oskar Blues Presents Movie Night at The Collider.
Leah earned a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in design, business, and entrepreneurship from Appalachian State University and has served as a wedding planner for the past three years. Before joining The Collider, Leah worked in Asheville with the advertising agency, Market Connections, as Special Projects Coordinator in the PR department, focused in communications and event coordination.
Outside of The Collider Leah can be found with the Blue Ridge Alumnae of Zeta Tau Alpha as Vice President of Collegiate Relations collaborating alumnae support with regional collegiate chapters. She also enjoys serving her time on a discernment committee with The Cathedral of All Souls and participating in Integrare, an integration of young adults across the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina.
Sarah Carballo, Communications Intern
Sarah Carballo is a student at UNC Asheville with a double major in Environmental Science and Mass Communication. She was awarded a semester-long internship with The Collider through the Dr. Thomas R. Karl Internship Program.
During her time at UNC Asheville, Sarah has been extensively involved with the campus community, serving as the Executive of Environmental Sustainability with the Student Government Association, and completing multiple on-campus internships with UNC Asheville’s award-winning Communications and Marketing Office. Outside the university, she has assisted with communications for numerous events and organizations including the 2016 NCSHRM State Conference and, most recently, the Asheville Art Museum. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous print and digital publications such as The Laurel of Asheville, Mountain Xpress, and the UNC Asheville Magazine, among others.