Welcoming Our New Board Members

This year the Illinois Green Alliance Board Elections Committee are pleased to present the results of this year's Board of Directors elections. The Board of Directors guides Illinois Green's strategic vision — to make net zero buildings feasible, affordable, and so commonplace that every building in Illinois by 2050 is net zero.

Illinois Green welcomes six members to the board - Royce Cunningham, Amina Helstern, Owen Hull, Elena Savona, Sandrine Schultz, & Sumayyah Theron!

Royce and Elena will be joining as re-elected members while Amina, Owen Sandrine, and Sumayyah will be joining as newly elected members. All will serve for a two-year term, 2024-2025.

The Board Elections Committee would like to thank all of the members who submitted their names for consideration and all of the members who cast a ballot.


Royce Cunningham, LEED AP BD+C, BPI BA

Owner, Founder, and President

Confession No.1.

I hate politics nearly as much as I hate Environmental Injustice.

Confession No. 2

I am a 71 y/o Black man in America.

I have seen and survived it all:

Poverty, gangs, war, teen parenting, and much, much more.

I now have 5 grandkids and 5 great-grandkids, so for me the stakes are high.

I currently live less than a mile of the public housing block where I grew up along with some 1,000 families and about 5,000 other victims of deliberate Environmental racism. My family, my neighbors, and me have been exposed to emissions from leaded gas vehicles, lead in our drinking water, and LBP on our wall surfaces; as well as Asbestos (VAT) in our floor tiles and NO2 from railway traffic moving thru our neighborhoods at a rate 6 times that of other major urban centers. My surviving former neighbors and me are dying at a rate in excess of the national norms.

In my sunset years, I am on a mission to evangelize and demand Environmental Justice, Education, Awareness, and Outreach to Urban Chicagoland.

I am currently designing Net Zero high-density SF new construction and retrofit housing, and NZ hospitality buildings. I enjoy teaching solar panel installation with CUL and IGW to the disadvantaged and underserved.  I hold a BARCH IIT/87, and am active in several local community organizations.

Learn more about Royce on his LinkedIn profile.


Amina Helstern, LEED AP ID+C, Fitwel Ambassador, NCIDQ

Senior Regenerative Design Advisor

Amina Helstern is a Senior Regenerative Design Advisor at Perkins&Will where she oversees high-performance energy and carbon analysis, material research, health and well-being initiatives, and resilience strategies. Trained as an architect, Amina incorporates environmental strategies into the earliest phases of the firm’s corporate interiors, residential, mixed-use, K-12 education, branded environments, sports and recreation, and affordable housing projects. A member of Perkins&Will’s Living Design Leadership Council, Amina works with other experts in design, sustainability, and technical execution to refine the strategic direction for the firm and, by extension, the industry. She has developed numerous tools and resources for project teams and clients to track quantitative and qualitative metrics, resulting in more positive environmental outcomes. Amina is a LEED AP, a Fitwel Ambassador, and has experience with Enterprise Green Communities. She is actively involved with Perkins&Will’s Material Performance and Human Experience research labs. She was part of the research team that released the “Healthy Affordable Housing: The Toolkit” and is currently working on an ASID Foundation grant to develop the Public Repository to Engage Community & Enhance Design Equity tool, which will help designers integrate and translate public health data into design decisions. Amina is a 2023 Crain’s Chicago Business Notable Leader in Sustainability.

Amina is enthusiastic about joining the Board of Directors because it aligns with her values, offers a platform for leadership and influence in sustainable practices, and allows her to actively contribute to an organization and a cause she deeply believes in, making a broader and lasting impact on our city and community. Amina would encourage cultivating inclusive leadership traits such as empathy, active listening, and open-mindedness. Amina looks forward to working with other accomplished professionals, including fellow board members, industry experts, and executives to impact the organization itself but also on our city and green building community.


Learn more about Amina on her LinkedIn profile.

Owen Hull_Headshot

Owen Hull

Development Manager

Owen Hull is a Development Manager at Lendlease. With over 10 years of experience in the real estate finance and development industry he has worked across a wide range of asset classes with a focus on multifamily residential. In his current role with Lendlease, Owen leads development activities at Southbank, a 7-acre multi-phase masterplan located in the South Loop. Serving as project sustainability lead, he has been instrumental in the development and implementation of proprietary low embodied carbon concrete in addition to achieving numerous project certifications including LEED Gold, FitWel and ENERGY STAR. Beyond his professional commitments to sustainability, Owen provides broad development oversight working across the full project life cycle with a broad array of partners from all corners of the industry including architects, engineers, general contractors, property managers, lenders and investors. Prior to joining Lendlease, Owen worked in the Real Estate Advisory Group of Duff & Phelps, providing advisory and valuation services on complex portfolio transactions. He is an active member of the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association and the Urban Land Institute, currently serving on the Climate Ready Chicago Taskforce.

Owen became a member of Illinois Green in 2019, volunteering with the Auxiliary Board and has held various leadership roles, most recently serving as Co-Chair from 2022-2023. During his time with the Auxiliary Board, his focus has been towards fundraising and governance, driving significant growth in total dollars raised and implementing structural enhancements, particularly in regard to recruitment and elections with an emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion. Owen believes that his demonstrated commitment to green building and deep ties to the development community will allow him to serve as a crucial link for Illinois Green to property owners, managers and decision makers to foster the growth of the organization and advancement of its mission and vision.

Learn more about Owen on his LinkedIn profile.

Elena Savona

Elena Savona, LEEP AP BD+C, PMP, CEM

Director of Federal Partnerships

Elena Savona is an expert in energy and sustainability and is passionate about equitable climate action that brings the benefits of clean energy to all. In her 20+ years of experience in this industry, Elena has led initiatives ranging from energy and sustainability plans to management of energy efficiency and solar programs.

Elena is the Director of Federal Partnerships at Elevate, a Chicago-based nonprofit. In this role, she is responsible for Elevate’s federal and public sector engagement, overseeing proposals and developing programs in coordination with teams across the organization. In her prior role at Elevate, Elena led a team of project and program managers that managed climate planning, energy efficiency, and solar energy programs for disinvested communities, municipalities, and nonprofits to help them save energy and money while investing in their properties. Elena is a certified Project Management Professional, Certified Energy Manager, and LEED accredited professional.

Elena has been a member of Illinois Green Alliance since 2008. Over the past 15 years, she has collaborated with the organization in different capacities. She was part of the Programs Committee for four years and served as chair from 2018-2020 to develop educational programs in alignment with Illinois Green Alliance’s mission and strategic direction. Elena currently serves as the Illinois Green Alliance Board Treasurer. In the past two years Elena has worked with Illinois Green Alliance on fundraising strategy and helped secure funds to support the Building Energy Hub. Elena wants to continue to shape an equitable path to decarbonization for all buildings.

Learn more about Elena on her LinkedIn profile.


Sandrine Schultz

Senior Sustainability Advisor
U.S. General Services Administration — Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings

Before I discuss my qualifications/bio, I would like to share the reasons for my candidacy for the Board. Although my bio showcases my experience, roles, and responsibilities, it's important to note that my innovative approaches have led to the success of all my projects and programs. I have accomplished this by building coalitions with diverse stakeholders who share my passion and by expanding their passions as well. Currently, I work for the General Services Administration (GSA) at the Washington DC Office of Government-wide Policies and High Performance and Green Buildings (OGP-OHPGB). My previous experience as Director of Energy and Sustainability at Chicago Public Schools allowed me to apply lessons from the Federal Government and implement a more ambitious program to address climate change. My goal was to engage with principals and students, and I was pleasantly surprised to see their enthusiasm for waste reduction, renewables, transitioning away from fossil fuels, electrifying the fleet, and making CPS part of the Better Buildings Program led by the Department of Energy (DOE). With the new administration under President Biden at the White House, I recognized there would be significant changes in the approach towards the climate crisis and clean energy initiatives. It was the right time for me to return to Washington, DC, and extend my support to all the efforts being made across various sectors, not only at the federal but also at the state and local levels. Throughout my 20-year career in the energy, utility, and sustainable industries, I have tackled challenges such as budget limitations, keeping up with rapid technological advancements, and convincing upper management to support initiatives. I have collaborated with many individuals from different backgrounds, all of whom have contributed unique and creative ideas to the team. I have created tools to enable facility managers, procurement specialists, and design teams to perform their work effectively and efficiently.

If elected to the Board, my primary objective will be to ensure that we do not miss out on any opportunity that the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law offer to everyone. I will collaborate with everyone to support the State of Illinois and transform Chicago into a global 21st Century Infrastructure Hub.
Furthermore, I will continue to involve students in this work and ensure everyone has access to clean air, energy, and training to secure clean energy jobs. Today, the Federal Government must work with our cities because sustainable design requires system thinking - a holistic vision of systems and their relationships. So, let's prepare to achieve decarbonization, net zero energy, and net zero emissions, and install the best controls to measure our goals and implement necessary changes to combat climate change. Not only is there momentum here, but there is also money, and we need to ACT FAST.

Learn more about Sandrine on her LinkedIn profile.


Sumayyah Theron, WELL AP, WELL Performance Testing Agent, GGP, GG Fellow, fitwel Ambassador

Director of Sustainability
Cyclone Energy Group

Sumayyah Theron is the Director of Sustainability at Cyclone Energy Group. With 20 years in the industry, her expertise spans climate change policies, global sustainability frameworks, and extensive expertise in building performance. In her position she managed carbon reduction projects and initiatives, including the development and improvement of sustainability and healthy building services for clients and the advancement of the company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) efforts. She led the expansion and management of sustainability programs and green building certifications at Cyclone Energy Group, including LEED, WELL, Fitwel, and Green Globes. Before this, she worked internationally as an architect and building science consultant, designing buildings, and conducting energy audits. Sumayyah's rich certification list includes E.I.T, WELL Accredited Professional, Fitwel Ambassador, and Green Globes Professional and Fellow. A dedicated industry advocate, she's an active member and a volunteer on several committees of ASHRAE, ILGA, and the Green Building Initiative (GBI).

Sumayyah’s decision to seek a position on the Illinois Green Alliance Board of Directors stems from a profound commitment to sustainability and the ambition to further their mission. Leveraging vast experience and an expansive network, she is poised to advocate for environmentally responsible policies, actively participate in strategic discussions, and promote a greener and more resilient Illinois. Sumayyah envisions a future where the alliance not only fosters sustainable practices but also champions an equitable Illinois. Her distinctive combination of technical skills, leadership, and passion uniquely positions her to be a catalyst for meaningful change within the board and the community.

Learn more about Sumayyah on her LinkedIn profile.