Meet the MNN Team

Joel Babbit

Chief Executive Officer and co-founder

With sites that attract more than 10 million visits a month from 200 different countries, MNN is the world’s largest online network for environmental and social responsibility news and information. It was launched in 2009 by Joel and Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, and equity partners include both CNN and Discovery Communications. It has been labeled “The New Green CNN” by Time, “The USA Today of Sustainability” by Fast Company, and “Green Machine” by Associated Press; selected “Best New Idea” at Fortune Magazine’s Green Summit; and chosen as a “Top Pick” by Newsweek.

Prior to launching Mother Nature Network, Joel spent over 25 years in the advertising and public relations industry. He co-founded and served as CEO of Babbit and Reiman Advertising (acquired by Gold Greenlees Trott) and 360 (acquired by WPP’s Grey Global Group). His prior experience also includes serving as President of WPP’s GCI, which was one of the world’s ten largest public relations firms. He began his career at McCann-Erickson, working on the Coca-Cola account. Other clients have included AT&T;, Home Depot, RJR Nabisco, Dell, UPS, Holiday Inn, USA Today, and General Motors.

Following Atlanta’s selection as host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics, Joel took a leave of absence from the private sector and was appointed the City’s first Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. He also served as a member of the mayor's Cabinet during this historic period. He has been active in many civic and charitable organizations including Young Presidents Organization, The CDC Foundation, The Anti-Defamation League, The Atlanta History Center, and serves as a Director of Primerica (NYSE; PRI) and The National Health Museum.

A native of Atlanta, Joel is a graduate of The University of Georgia.

Chuck Leavell

Director of Environmental Affairs and co-founder

In addition to his musical career, Chuck is one of the nation’s most respected voices for land conservation and the environment. He has been a board member of several important and influential organizations including the American Forest Foundation and The U.S. Endowment for Forests and Communities. Well known on Capitol Hill, his testimony to the U.S. Congress played a critical role in forming the past two U.S. farm bills. In 1999, Chuck and his wife Rose Lane were named National Tree Farmers of the Year for the management of Charlane Plantation, their 2,500-acre farm near Macon. In 2012, the U.S. Forest Service appointed him an Honorary Forester, only the second person to ever receive that honor. He is the author of four books – "Forever Green: The History and Hope of the American Forest," "Between Rock and a Home Place," "Growing a Better America," and "The Tree Farmer," which received the American Farm Bureau’s Book of the Year award.
In 2009, Chuck co-founded Mother Nature Network.

Emily Murphy

Chief Operating Officer

Emily was the Managing Editor of when the site launched in 2009. Prior to MNN, she was an award-winning multimedia producer at and, where she helped launch National Geographic for Kids magazine and the accompanying web site in 2000. She started her career at CNN, where she was an Emmy Award-winning producer. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and a Ted Scripps Fellow of Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. Emily is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Online News Association.

Hope Dlugozima

Vice President and Director of Community and Social Networking

Before coming to MNN, Hope was Vice President of Community & Social Networking at WebMD, where she launched the Web’s largest health message board community, blogging initiative, and live chats along with WebMD’s Facebook and Twitter presence. Hope's more than 20 years of editorial experiences includes serving as community leader at iVillage, producer at Time Warner, creative director at Creative Multimedia in Portland, OR and features editor of the Prague Post in the Czech Republic. She was also named one of the top 100 Multimedia Producers in the U.S. by Multimedia Magazine.

Michael Jacobson

Chief Financial Officer

Michael Jacobson has over twenty-five years of experience assisting numerous companies in strategic planning, financial procedures, financial statement preparation, business and marketing plan creation; and operation analysis and implementation. He previously held management positions with the international accounting firm KPMG Peat Marwick. Michael is a member of the Georgia Society of CPA’s and the American Institute of CPA’s. He holds an MBA from Georgia State University and a BS/BA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ashley Chase

Executive Assistant to Joel Babbit and Office Manager

Ashley Chase manages the MNN office and serves as Joel Babbit's executive assistant. She also contributes to social media and various editorial projects. Before coming to MNN in 2008, Ashley studied at the University of Georgia and earned degrees in both telecommunication arts and Spanish.


Sarah Hicks

Managing Editor

Sarah was part of the team that launched Before MNN, she worked in a wide variety of roles at and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, including planning, design and management roles. In her 11 years in the AJC newsroom, she managed the online entertainment site,, served as the newsroom planning editor and designed the front page of the newspaper.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Senior Writer / Editor

For more than 17 years, Mary Jo covered health, education and family for Atlanta magazine where she contributed to the award-winning pets, education and hospital issues. She spent four years writing and editing for WebMD and has contributed to, Ladies Home Journal, Parents and Family Fun magazines. She wrote a family travel book for Random House and worked with Donald Trump on his daily radio commentary.

Lisa Agostoni

SEO and Social Editor

Before joining MNN, Lisa was Sr. Manager of Organic Search at The Home Depot. She’s been an online marketing & communications professional for more than a decade in industries from non-profit to retail to telecommunications. Lisa has a degree in Psychology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. She’s a dog lover, blog writer and certified yoga instructor.

Russell McLendon

Science Editor

In addition to being an Earth Matters blogger, Russell creates infographics, special projects, and features for Translating Uncle Sam. Prior to working at MNN, he was the copy editor for Creative Loafing in Atlanta, where he edited the alternative newsweekly and wrote for its news blog. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2005 with degrees in magazine journalism and environmental anthropology. While at UGA he spent four years working for The Red & Black independent student newspaper as a writer, editor and editorial cartoonist.

Jaymi Heimbuch

Senior Writer / Photographer

Jaymi Heimbuch received her degree in English and creative writing from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and married her loves of writing and green technology while working as managing editor of She spent five years as an editor and writer for where she covered technology, ocean and water, and wildlife conservation issues, and where she gained experience as a wildlife photographer. Jaymi's writing has appeared on,,, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Alternet, Gizmodo and more. She also wrote the text for "The Ethiopian Wolf: Hope at the Edge of Extinction," published by Lobelia Press in 2013.

Laura Moss

Writer / Editor

Laura frequently writes about pets and animals and has developed a reputation as an aspiring cat lady. She spends her free time camping and hiking, reading and writing young adult books, and indulging her addiction to Korean dramas. She has worked as an editor for, and several travel publications. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in journalism and political science and a master’s in mass communication.

Noel Kirkpatrick

Associate Editor

Noel edits third party and freelance content for MNN. He is an advocate of standing desks, works as a freelance television critic in his spare time, and is a recovering would-have-been academic. He is a graduate of Georgia State University with a B.A. in film & video with a minor in journalism.

Catie Leary

Associate Photo Editor

Catie contributes to MNN's Photo Blog and is a freelance photographer, moonlighting petsitter and a media studies para-academic who loves cats, science fiction, bicycles, hiking and crafting. She is a graduate of Georgia State University with a B.A. in journalism and a minor in photography.

Deegan Mundy

Editorial Assistant

Deegan is a recent graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in Magazine Journalism. In addition to contributing editorial content as well as some design at MNN, she is a freelance writer for the Environmental Defense Fund.

Sponsor Relations

Travis Bright

Vice President of Sponsor Relations

Travis joined MNN after a successful stint as the Director of Marketing for the Shop At Home television network, where he was responsible for all on-air, direct, and online marketing for the network. Prior to Shop At Home, Travis was the Director of Channel Operations at WebMD where he led the development of new publishing tools and oversaw the creation of dozens of sponsor programs for Fortune 1000 Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and CPG companies.

Andrew Golubock

Senior Account Director

Andrew brings a broad background in advertising, marketing and production to MNN. Before joining MNN, he worked for a social networking startup where he was responsible for sponsor campaigns and digital marketing initiatives including search, email and display advertising. Prior to that he spent eight years at global advertising agency, Grey Worldwide, on their account planning & management team working on campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world including Dell, AT&T, MillerCoors, Coca-Cola and Georgia-Pacific. He began his career producing TV commercials at CNN after graduating Cum Laude from the University of Georgia.

Aimee Durham

Senior Account Director

Aimee brings over 17 years of experience in the marketing industry to MNN. She started her career at an integrated advertising agency, handling advertising and interactive projects from strategic planning through project implementation. While there, she focused on accounts in the residential real estate, building product and utility sectors. Most recently, Aimee was with WebMD where she managed sponsor relations for CPG clients such as Bausch+Lomb, Johnson & Johnson, Walmart and Procter & Gamble.

Parrish Walton

Branded Content Writer / Editor

Parrish has more than seven years of professional editing and writing experience. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia with degrees in history and journalism. Prior to MNN, Parrish covered sports as an editor for a startup and for a local media company.

Product & Engineering

Ben Boyd

VP of Product & Engineering

Ben is a 10-year software development veteran and graduate of the University of Georgia with degrees in Computer and Political Science. While at UGA, Ben worked for the Institute for Disaster Management, building out the emergency operations center to support the nation's first state-wide pandemic simulation. Prior to MNN, he spent several years at Discovery Communications leading the tech team behind TreeHugger prior to managing Discovery's mobile engineering efforts.

Justin Caratzas

Senior Developer

Justin works on the CMS that powers MNN. He comes to MNN from Cox Media Group and previously worked at Lockheed Martin. When Justin is not preparing for the upcoming Singularity, he enjoys hanging out with his family.


Bill Worley


Bill joined the MNN video team after previously working on projects ranging from documentaries in Haiti and Peru to shoots for TruTV, Comedy Central, and Vh1 reality TV series. He’s created, produced, edited, and directed award winning comedy short films, sketches, and pilots. Starting at the age of ten, Bill worked with his brother on videos such as “Robbers” (a parody of the show COPS). He was a program manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlanta for 5 years, and then took to the highs seas as a project manager for the musical festival cruise company Sixthman. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Bill has degrees in Communication and Psychology. In his extra time, he performs and records sketches with Automatic Improv, a comedy troupe he helped found in 2008.

Nick Bilz


Top 5 weird things you don't know about Nick Bilz:
5.) He is 6’4”, though he often wears boots, which puts him more in the 6’5” range.
4.) He grew up overseas living in Taiwan, Abu Dhabi, a sailboat, Costa Rica and New Zealand.
3.) He plays the piano, drums and bass guitar well along with the trumpet and saxophone not well
2.) He is a TV production machine. He’s been a sound guy for the Atlanta Falcons; a camera guy for documentaries ranging from Chinese tea (in China!) to historic US roads; and a stage manager for all kinds of awards shows
And the number 1 thing is: Remember how he’s worked award shows? He’s also WON an Emmy for his lighting work on Dean Rusk: At the Heartbeat of History.

Todd Anderson

Interactive Designer / Animator

Todd has over 15 years of experience in the creative industry. He has worked within and contributed to award-winning teams, who have created sites for such clients as Coca-Cola, Full Sail University, LA Film, Denon, Spectracide, Roche, Storyville Coffee Company. He holds a BFA with a Concentration in Graphic Design from Georgia State University.

Media Relations

Dan Beeson

Director of Media Relations

Dan Beeson was formerly Senior Vice President and Director of Media Relations for the worldwide public relations firm Porter Novelli and served in a similar role with GCI Group. He specializes in creating high impact media communications programs and has counseled blue-chip clients including Dell, Coca-Cola, Sony Ericsson, Holiday Inn, Safeco, Equifax, Hewlett Packard, AT&T, Aflac and IBM.

Social Media

Hanna Welch

Social Media Editor

anna spent more than five years at Grist in Seattle, where she was Head of Social Media and Community and a Projects Coordinator. Before that, she was a Washington Field Director for Youth for Understanding and a Project Coordinator for Americorps in New Orleans. Hanna is a graduate of American University in Washington, DC.

Freaks of Nature

Stories You Won't Believe