Our Team

We're fueled by an amazing team of enthusiastic educators, activists, researchers, artists, and youths. We believe in the reciprocal relationship of gifts that humans and all other living systems share.

(Team portraits illustrated by our Youth Intern, Isabel Marte!)


Barbara Zahm, PH.D – Board President and Advisor of Product Development

Dr. Zahm received her Doctorate in Anthropology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School in New York in 1980. After teaching in the City University of New York, CUNY, system from 1980-1982, she became a full time documentary film and video Producer/Director for public television and educational distribution. She has received multiple awards as a film and video Producer/Director. Her awards include: the Ester Award, the Earth Watch/National Geographic Society Award, the Silver Cindy Award, the American Film Festival-Blue Ribbon Award, and several Cine Golden Eagle Awards, among others. In addition, she was field producer for the Emmy Award winning television series, Big Blue Marble and 3-2-1 Contact.

In 1998, Dr. Zahm joined It’s About Time (IAT) as the Director of Product Development and Grants. At this global leader in research-based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curricula for K-12 and college students, she supervised the publication of all IAT print, video, and multimedia products since that time including: Active Physics (3 Editions), MathConnections (3 Editions), EarthComm (2 Editions), Investigating Earth Systems, Active Biology, Active Chemistry (2 Editions), Investigating Environmental Science, InterActions in Physical Science (2 Editions), BioComm, and Project Based Inquiry Science (PBIS) a 3 year middle-school science curriculum.

In addition, Dr. Zahm served as the Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project Overcoming Obstacles to Scaling-Up with a Cyberlearning Professional Development Model (PBIS CyberPD Project) (NSF Award # 1119202). She also served as the Principal Investigator on the Active Chemistry (NSF Award # 0137872) and Active Physics Revision (NSF Award # 0352516) curricula development projects. 


Lauren Wigo – Visionary, Co-Founder, Writer, and Producer

Lauren is a mother, writer, and movement educator. For over twenty years she has incorporated body work, experiential anatomy, yoga, and meditation into her private practice. Her work helps clients understand and identify their movement patterns and provides support for new pathways of moving and being. Through the years she's also had the privilege of teaching the awareness practices of yoga and meditation to youth organizations like The Door, The Lower Eastside Girls Club and various New York City schools. 

After finding most of her free time dedicated to environmental activism, the ideas and desires to be involved with youths and the environment led to the creation of Rising Earth. Lauren is the main writer for the graphic series and all around producer for the organization. She is thrilled to be involved in work that will help youths understand and cherish our Earth’s finite resources and become the ones to shift our patterns of impact towards a more positive pathway for this and future generations. 


Maggie P. Chang – Co-Founder, Art Director, and Producer

As an artist and educator, Maggie has written several, interdisciplinary art curriculums for the New-York Historical Society and has helped hundreds of teen artists at LaGuardia Arts High School (aka New York City's acclaimed "Fame" school) develop their artistic skills and harness them for good. With her remaining hours, she's led the non-profit, Orange Giraffe Project, in guiding a multitude of people living with cancer to transform and celebrate their bodies through personalized jewelry making.

Maggie is currently working on projects that cultivate empathy and empowerment and that bring important stories to life through art, including her own children's books and organizations like Rising Earth. For Rising Earth, she guides the art team in creating its graphic novels, from manuscript edits to sketches to final art, and will soon be working on its VR documentaries. She is an all around collaborator and has played an integral part in establishing the organization as a non-profit, like developing the mission and building this site. Maggie is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University's Teachers College. 


Eris Johnson-Smith – Curriculum Writer and Advisor

Eris earned his BA in Creative Writing and African American Studies from Hampshire College and his Master's degree in the John W. Draper program in Humanities and Social Thought at NYU. Eris currently supervises curriculum development for high school and middle school programs and trains Global Kids staff in youth and program development. Global Kids is an internationally recognized youth development and global education non-profit and one of its primary goals is to develop youth to lead the movement to address climate change and create a more sustainable world.

While working in schools, Eris developed and facilitated programs that provided students with opportunities to address climate change and sustainability in their communities. Eris also co-led student trips to Costa Rica and New Orleans that focused on youth action and leadership in response to climate change and environmental racism.


Viney Maykut – Non-Profit Fundraising Consultant

Lavina is a development professional with significant experience writing and managing all aspects of foundation, corporate and government grants. She currently works as a freelance fundraising and grant writing consultant, as well as part-time with the Office for College Advancement at Kingsborough Community College. She is an active board member of City Growers – a young non-for-profit that provides hands-on environmental education to children of all ages on two working rooftop farms in New York City. Lavina holds an MA and BA in Environmental Studies and has worked with a range of organizations, from environmental justice and social justice to advocacy, education, and more. 


Julia Yellow – Graphic Novel Artist

Julia is a New York based illustrator and designer from the tiny little island Taiwan and graduated from Savannah College of Art & Design.

Julia's clients include: The New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Scientific American, Ogilvy & Mather, Houstonia Magazine, Il Corriere della Sera, Eastern Publishing, Liberty Times, Mandarin Daily News. Her work has been recognized by: PRINT Magazine 2014 Top 20 under 30, Society of Illustrators NY, Society of Illustrators LA, Applied Art Magazine, CMYK Magazine #55, American Illustration #31, 3x3, Greater China Illustration Awards, Addy Awards.

See more of her work at www.juliayellow.com.


Nguyen Tran – Graphic Novel Sketch Artist and Storyboard Artist

Nguyen is an illustrator whose wide range of happy clients include The New York Times, Amazon Education, and Elle Magazine. His works have been recognized by American Illustration, Society of Illustrators LA, Applied Arts Magazine, and more. He also has experience with non-profits doing creative work for the Chicago Children's Theatre.

Originally from Vietnam, Nguyen is a kind human being who lives and works in Chicago, IL. When he is not drawing and illustrating, you can find him playing and coaching table tennis professionally.

See more of his work at www.leftstudio.com.


Isabel Marte – Production Assistant

Isabel is recent graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, where she majored in 3D Animation with an immersion in Portuguese. Although her studies were in animation, graphic design has remained a significant part of her life. At RIT, Isabel was involved in the Desano Language Documentation Project with linguist Wilson Silva, who works on the documentation of the language of an indigenous group named Desano located in Brazil. Their goal was to gather more interest within the Desano community to preserve their language, which Isabel assisted with by creating animations for their traditional spoken stories. She even got to travel to Brazil to work on this project and meet the community. Isabel’s goal is to use her love of graphic design and animation to teach others in a more interesting and entertaining way. She keeps the Rising Earth team organized and assists on just about every part of the organization. (She's also the artist who drew the team portraits!)


Joseph Baiz - Production Assistant

Joseph Baiz is a citizen of the Comanche Nation and a descendant of the Onondaga, Oneida, and Otoe-Missouria nations. Originally from Syracuse, New York, he is currently studying for his PhD in linguistics at the University at Buffalo, with an emphasis on the indigenous languages of North America. In 2014, he received a BA in linguistics and a Certificate in Iroquois Linguistics from Syracuse University. Having a lifelong interest in storytelling and creative writing, he is excited about the possibility of art and story to communicate an indigenous view of the relationship between humans and the natural world.