Katrina Spade is the founder and executive director of the Urban Death Project, a new system for gently and sustainably disposing of the dead using the process of composting. Katrina has focused her design career on creating human-centered, ecological, architectural solutions. Prior to architecture school, she studied sustainable design and building at Yestermorrow Design Build School, with a focus on regenerative communities and permaculture. While earning her Masters of Architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she received a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture to build and monitor a compost heating system, a project which helped initiate the Urban Death Project. Katrina earned a BA in Anthropology from Haverford College, and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is an Echoing Green Climate Fellow.

Board of Directors

Brian Gix is a 26 year Seattle resident originally from Oregon. The son of an engineer, he grew up on a small family farm and spent his summers on working on his uncle’s ranch in Northern British Columbia. Brian is the "Democratic Precinct Committee Officer for Seattle precinct 43-2029. 

Brian joined the board because the Urban Death Project is developing a truly sustainable disposition system, and also because of its egalitarian non-profit nature. He hopes to one day be returned to the earth with his wife Shelly, and have his compost added to the urban forests of Seattle. He has two wonderful children who are active and empathetic.


Devon Knowles is a Lecturer at the University of Washington School of Law. Prior to joining University of Washington, she was Visiting Assistant Professor at Seattle University School of Law. She has worked with the Washington Appellate Project and as a public defender for The Defender Association. She has also served as a clerk for the New Jersey Supreme Court, focusing exclusively on death penalty cases.

Devon has an undergraduate degree in philosophy from New York University and a juris doctorate from Columbia Law School. Born and raised in Alaska, she has worked for environmental organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Counsel and Oceana.

Erin Gainey is a small-scale philanthropist and co-founder of Seattle Design Foundation, an organization which helps local, emerging creatives through grants and mentorship programs. She studied Book Arts at Mills College, has a background in publishing at various houses in the Bay Area and has done extensive event work with the West Coast based party planning company The Adventure School. Born and raised in Seattle, Erin spends time with her young family exploring the British Columbia's Inside Passage. In addition, she is trained as an astrologer, and is interested in how the universe can help us manifest our internal and external energies.

Kate Stephenson is a partner in HELM Construction Solutions, which works with owners, designers, and builders to create high performance and sustainable buildings and businesses. She is an experienced leader in the fields of green building, professional education, sustainability, and business management. Kate helped to develop and is a facilitator for NESEA’s BuildingEnergy Bottom Lines program. Kate is the Chair of the Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee, and serves on the Advisory Board of One Square World. She holds a MS in Management from Antioch University New England and a BA in Anthropology and Environmental Science from Haverford College.

Nora Menkin is the Managing Funeral Director for The Co-op Funeral Home of People's Memorial, the only not-for-profit cooperative funeral home in the United States. With a background in home funerals, Jewish traditions, and a passion for natural burial and modern funeral practices, Nora started as an intern with The Co-op when it opened its doors in 2007. She became a licensed funeral director in 2009 and was named Managing Funeral Director in 2013. Nora holds her B.A. from University of California, Santa Cruz in Theatre Arts.

Troy Hottle has a PhD in Sustainable Engineering from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. His research focused on optimizing the end of life treatment of biopolymer wastes via composting and developing various methodologies for evaluating environmental impacts. Troy’s experience includes researching the possible application of manufactured soils using residual industrial products, neighborhood-based environmental assessments for vacant land, and developing standard procedures for the evaluation of project sites for the organization. 

Troy is currently an ORISE Postdoctoral Fellow at the US Environmental Protection Agency in North Carolina researching the integration of life-cycle thinking and energy systems modeling. He is Permaculture Design Certified.

Technical Advisory Team

Angela Hennessy is an Oakland-based interdisciplinary artist and Associate Professor at California College of the Arts where she teaches courses on visual and cultural narratives of death.

She volunteers with hospice and works with families on home funerals, death vigils, and grief rituals. She is certified in the Grief Recovery Method and has trained with Final Passages and the International End of Life Doula Association.

Her current project, The School of the Dead, is a program for the decolonization of death and grief through the radical inquiry of aesthetic and social practices that mediate the boundary between the living and the dead.


Alan Maskin is an owner and principal of Olson Kundig – an award winning, Seattle-based design firm. For over two decades he has focused on the design of museums, installations and exhibition projects including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center, Microsoft Cybercrime Center, The Frye Art Museum, and the Bezos Center for Innovation. 

Maskin’s work has been recognized by regional, national and international award programs, including several awards from the American Institute of Architects, American Alliance of Museums Media & Technology MUSE Award for Interpretive Interactive Installations,  a SEGD Global Design Award,  Northwest Design Award for Best in Commercial Design and he was a NIAUSI Fellowship winner.

Caitlin Doughty is a licensed mortician in California. She founded the Order of the Good Death in 2011 with the goal of bringing the realistic discussion of death back into popular culture. Caitlin’s webseries “Ask a Mortician” and the Order website have led to features on National Public Radio, BBC, the Huffington Post, Vice, the LA Times, The Atlantic, Forbes, and Salon.  She also co-founded the public engagement series Death Salon.

Her first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, is a New York Times Bestseller.


Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs is an Associate Professor of Sustainable and Organic Agriculture at Washington State University. Her primary areas of research and teaching are biologically intensive and organic farming systems, and beneficial plant-soil-microbial interactions. Because science and society evolve through collaboration, she also works with a broad array of scientists and farmers to understand and improve the carbon footprint of farming, nutritional quality of crops, soil health, and many aspects of sustainability. In addition to her work in the Pacific Northwest and Upper Midwest of the US, she has conducted research and extension in Africa, the Middle East, and A

Cheryl Johnston, Ph.D. is a board certified forensic anthropologist and a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. She grew up in Asheville, N.C. and earned her doctoral degree at the Ohio State University. She is part of the faculty at Western Carolina University. Dr. Johnston has worked as a consultant in forensic anthropology since 1991 for numerous agencies including the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and numerous Coroner’s and Sheriff’s Offices. She directs the Western Carolina Human Identification Laboratory and Western Carolina University’s Forensic Osteology Research Station (FOREST), one of only a few outdoor decomposition facilities in the world.


Max Page is Professor of Architecture and History at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He is the author and editor of eight books including The Creative Destruction of Manhattan; The City’s End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction;  Building the Nation: Americans Write About Their Architecture, Their Cities, and Their Environment; Giving Preservation a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States; The Future of Higher Education; Reconsidering Jane Jacobs; Campus Guide to the University of Massachusetts; and Memories of Buenos Aires: Signs of State Terrorism in Argentina. He is a recipient of fellowships from the Howard Foundation, Fulbright Commission, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Rome Prize.


Tanya D. Marsh is a Professor at Wake Forest University School of Law. A graduate of Indiana University and Harvard Law School, Marsh is a licensed attorney in the State of Indiana and a licensed funeral director in the State of California. Marsh teaches courses in property and real estate transactions, as well as the only course in a U.S. law school on funeral and cemetery law. She has been called "our nation's foremost academic scholar on the law of cemeteries and human remains" and is the author of The Law of Human Remains (2015) and the co-author of the first casebook on Cemetery Law (2015). She is the creator of The Funeral Law Blog and a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post.


Rick Finch is a 4th generation Eastern Washington resident and Washington State University alumnus, who grew up working on the family wheat and cattle farm near Pullman.

Rick is the manager of the WSU Waste Management program, which includes the compost facility, waste to landfill self-haul, recycling, surplus property, and medical and bio-waste. He has practiced whole carcass animal composting since 2007.

Rick is also an avid outdoor enthusiast and has had an interest in sustainable agriculture and conservation practices for over 20 years.