Wisconsin's Green Fire Staff


Meleesa Johnson

Executive Director

Email: mjohnson@wigreenfire.org

EXPERIENCE: Meleesa Johnson became Executive Director of WGF in 2023 after a 20+ year career directing solid waste management for Marathon County and Portage County. She has been an adjunct faculty member at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Meleesa has been a member of Wisconsin Green Fire’s Science Council and Contaminants of Emerging Concern Work Group.
Meleesa served seven terms as president of Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin (AROW) and over the last 20 years has held leadership roles in both the Solid Waste Association of North America-Badger Chapter and for the Wisconsin Counties Solid Waste Management Association. She was appointed to Governor Jim Doyle’s Blue-Ribbon Taskforce on Waste Materials Recovery and Disposal, the DNR’s Waste and Materials Management Study Group and the DNR’s PFAS External Policy Advisory Group. Meleesa has also served four terms as alderperson for the City of Stevens Point and three terms on the Portage County Board.  
EDUCATION: Meleesa received her A.A. in 1998 and B.S. in 2000 from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. She served as the diversity affairs coordinator of the Student Government Association and graduated summa cum laude. Meleesa was named a Morris K. Udall Congressional Scholar for Excellence in National Environmental Policy. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Leadership Medallion.  
PERSONAL: Meleesa has three grown children, a son-in-law, two grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.  She enjoys community capacity building, gardening, cooking (and dreams of a gourmet kitchen!) and riding her bike—Brenda—as much as possible.  
Meleesa Johnson in a purple jacket with a green backpack in front of a forest and pond.

Paul Heinen

Policy Director

Email: pheinen@wigreenfire.org | wigreenfire@gmail.com

EXPERIENCE: Paul joined Green Fire in October of 2018. He works closely with Green Fire’s work groups and volunteer members to share their expertise and knowledge with policy makers and their staff and other conservation and environmental groups statewide. Paul started his career as a legislative aide to the Chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. He was the Legislative Liaison for the Department of Natural Resources for over 34 years. He has worked to pass hundreds of new laws including the Acid Rain law, Recycling Program, the first Groundwater bill in the United States, the Stewardship Program, numerous deer and wildlife management program changes and air quality standards for the state. He has also directed legislative affairs for the Nature Conservancy of Wisconsin. Continuing his work with many former colleagues in and around state government is one of the most satisfying parts of his job.

PERSONAL: Paul is married to his artist wife Kathleen and spends time at art shows and galleries with her, marveling at people who have talent. His daughter Priya, who turned out to be interested in all sports, allowed him to see the state’s venues for basketball, softball, soccer, and tennis. There are a lot of venues. His golden retriever Harper and black cat Barlioz welcome him when he returns home.

Paul Heinen

Nancy Larson

Senior Water Resources Specialist

Email: nlarson@wigreenfire.org

EXPERIENCE: Nancy Larson has been with Wisconsin’s Green Fire since it formed in 2017. She currently focuses on special projects, having served as Assistant Director until 2021. Nancy retired from Wisconsin DNR after 27 years with the state of Wisconsin. Her background in aquatic ecology and interest in communications led her to positions including Deputy Director of the Bureau of Watershed Management, Northern Water Program Leader, and UW-Extension Natural Resource Educator. Prior to that, she worked for the state of Minnesota and EPA contractors. Nancy spent a good portion of her career working to protect the greatest lake in the world– Lake Superior. She was recognized for her work with partnerships in 2003 with the DNR’s Rebecca Wallace award.

EDUCATION: Nancy has a B.A. from St. Olaf College and M.S. from the University of Minnesota in biology.

PERSONAL: Nancy lives in Drummond where she splits her time between being in town and at her cabin in the woods built by her late husband John Spangberg (also retired DNR), where she indulges her love of writing.


Mike Meyer

Senior Scientist

Email: mmeyer@wigreenfire.org

EXPERIENCE: Mike joined WGF as Senior Scientist in 2022. He works closely with the Science Council in developing and organizing WGF's research projects. Previously, he worked as a Research Scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources until retirement in 2015. Mike’s research emphasis was wildlife toxicology but also oversaw projects on lakeshore protection and restoration, climate change impacts on wildlife, and common loon conservation. Mike has also served on the Wisconsin Green Fire Board and co-chaired the WGF Climate Work Group. 

EDUCATION: Mike received his PhD in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin in 1989.

PERSONAL: Mike lives in Manitowish Waters and owns and operates Nova Ecological Services which specializes in lakeshore projects in the Northern Highlands Lake District.


Carolyn Pralle

Communications and Outreach Coordinator

Email: cpralle@wigreenfire.org

EXPERIENCE: Carolyn Pralle joined WGF in May 2023 as the Communications and Outreach Coordinator. She previously served as the Land Conservationist technician for the Adams County Land & Water Conservation Department. Carolyn has a dual background in environmental science and communications. She has worked in the private sector as a wetland biologist and in academia and nonprofits as a wildlife biologist researcher specializing in coastal ecology and herpetology. She has technical science communication experience from leading the University of Rhode Island Graduate Writing Center and as an author for SciCommBites. She has won awards for her creative work including a yearlong international Thomas J. Watson fellowship and various prizes for her poetry, essays, podcast, and short documentary film. 

EDUCATION: Carolyn holds an M.S. in biological and environmental sciences from the University of Rhode Island (URI) in 2021 and a B.A. in environmental science from Wheaton College (Massachusetts) in 2014. She also received graduate certificates in Science Writing and Rhetoric and the Diversity and Inclusion Badge Program from URI.  

PERSONAL: Carolyn lives in Wisconsin Rapids with her husband, son, and two indoor cats. She loves poetry, video games, hiking, and gardening. 

Carolyn Pralle, a smiling 30-ish year-old white woman with squarish glasses, a yellow baseball cap, and a blue t-shirt. She is holding an adult female diamondback terrapin in a sunny leafy outdoor area.