Mel Baiser, Partner
Mel has nearly 15 years of experience in the construction industry, both in the field as a carpenter and weatherization installer and in the office as a project manager and estimator. Mel came into the trades after working as a community organizer and social justice activist. A 7th generation Vermonter from a family of builders and farmers, Mel has also lived on the West Coast and in Central America. Motivated by working for climate justice, sustainable community development, healthy, efficient and affordable homes, Mel returned to their roots in Vermont in 2010 and lives in Brattleboro with their wife and son. Mel is a founding member of the Lost River Racial Justice Collective and an active participant in the Southern-VT based Sustainable Energy Outreach Network (SEON). In addition to a BA in Sociology from Linfield College, Mel holds a certificate in Construction Management from California State University, East Bay, has been a BPI Certified Professional, and a Passive House U.S. Certified Builder. Mel is a bilingual Spanish speaker and enjoys martial arts, music and running.
Kate Stephenson, Partner
Kate is an experienced leader in the fields of green building, professional education, sustainability, and business management. She’s worked with established and emerging businesses and non-profits to achieve triple bottom line metrics, develop business systems, and plan for a dynamic and resilient future. She has deep experience in post-secondary education, and led the Yestermorrow Design/Build School for over thirteen years. Her design and planning expertise includes a foundation in regenerative design principles and master plan development. Kate helped to develop and is a facilitator for NESEA’s BuildingEnergy Bottom Lines program. Kate is a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, the Chair of the Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee, and serves on the Board of the Vermont Council on Rural Development. She is a Certified Passive House Builder and a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor. She holds a MS in Management from Antioch University New England and a BA in Anthropology and Environmental Science from Haverford College.
Erin Rennoldson, Project Manager/Designer
Erin brings to HELM over a dozen years of experience working in the construction industry in a variety of roles. Her knowledge of interior design, kitchen & bathroom cabinetry, windows & doors, and plumbing & lighting fixtures positions her well to support our clients during the selection process. As project manager, Erin fulfills many of the duties to keep a renovation or new construction project organized, on budget and on schedule. With a BA in Environmental Science from Franklin Pierce, Erin is constantly seeking ways to lessen our footprint on the planet, from the simple tasks of specifying locally sourced and sustainable materials, to the big picture of being a part of creating high-performance buildings. Born in Vermont, Erin grew up and still lives across the river with her husband and fur-babies. Joining the Brattleboro office, she now works less than 500 feet from where her parents said their vows almost 50 years ago.
Tia Garcia, Project Manager/Estimator
Tia has 30 years of construction experience, with over 20 years as supervisor, self employed general contractor and project manager. She has led crews and supervised subcontractors in and around New York City while executing high end finish carpentry, training the next generation of woodworkers and managing projects from inception to completion. She moved to the Brattleboro area in 2001, where she developed a loyal customer base and ventured into the exciting world of commercial construction as site supervisor and project manager/estimator for complex and demanding projects. She is motivated by love and respect for all with a deep sense of Oneness. While she was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, she considers Brooklyn, NY to be the Motherland. She currently lives in Greenfield, MA and enjoys dancing and rollerskating.
Fhar Miess, Office Assistant
Fhar is a polymath, coming to HELM after decades of hands-on, brains-on and hearts-on experience in transportation, logistics, fabrication, bookkeeping, publishing, database design, coding, print and web design, facilitation, organizational development, office management, and human resources. Much of his work experience is in worker cooperatives and other "flattened" organizations, and he brings to the table a lifetime devoted to social and economic justice. His homes have been as varied as his work, having spent parts of his life in Wisconsin, Ohio, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Egypt and the District of Columbia. He'll be found traveling by bike on the daily, by train when possible, and by car only when necessary. His two wheels have taken him on longer trips down the West Coast of the US, along the length of the San Andreas Fault, from DC to Detroit, all about New England and across Syria before it was a war zone. He's traveled most of the passenger rail routes in Canada in the US, and a few freight lines, to boot. He has called Brattleboro home since only 2017, but he plans to stick around 'for the duration', as they say.