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Green Steps - About - The team behind Green Steps

photography of dark plant
Lettering Green Steps
Lettering Green Steps

That's the spirit

The history of green steps

Green Steps was founded 2017 in Shanghai, a city with 27 million inhabitants, where we live since many years. We felt a need to instill environmental awareness into urban residents and save children from a spreading nature deficit disorder. Ever since then our mission is connecting you with nature.

If China can teach us one thing, then it is the economy of scale and the effects of a large population on the environment. We felt that we need to act. From China for the world.

We started by designing and facilitating experiential outdoor activities. We continued by training Nature Guides and now want to bring our work to the next level with a gamified platform which helps growing children’s empathy for the planet. What we know, we love. What we love, we protect.

We have recently registered a non-profit organization in Europe to link our efforts in China with the people of our home countries. 21st century solutions are global, not national.

2020 will be a decisive year for Green Steps as an organization and probably also for the world at large; and we need your support. Contribute with your time, your knowledge, your network and your financial resources to the best shot we have at solving the climate crisis.

Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I might remember. Let me do it and I will understand.

- Xunzi

This is us

This is the team behind Green Steps

Portrait of Joan Elizalde from Green Steps

Joan Elizalde

Co-Founder & CEO local services. Marine Biologist, Montessori teacher and MBA in sustainable tourism management; worked as a professional diver, hiking guide, team building facilitator and designer of ecotourism experiences. At home when walking off-track. Passionate about all kinds of outdoor activities

Portrait of Annie Wu from Green Steps

Annie Wu

Sales director. 15 years of working experience in Japan and with Japanese MNCs. Montessori teacher and mother. Passionate about bringing to China best practices on holistic education from around the world.

Portrait of Knut Wimberger from Green Steps

Knut Wimberger

Co-Founder & CEO global services. Former tech lawyer and corporate executive. Interested in providing technological solutions to social problems. Montessori teacher and father of two. Passionate about fixing the environment, reforming education and unfolding the human potential.

Portrait of Lukas Helebrandt from Green Steps

Lukas Helebrandt

IT director. Free and Open Source tech enthusiast; Linux sysadmin developer; life-long volunteer for meaningful causes; promoter of a plant-based diet, of living in tune with nature, of rationality and tolerance.

Portrait of Gudrun Bruckner from Green Steps

Gudrun Bruckner

Operations director. BSc in chemistry; outdoor enthusiast and certified sports trainer; NGO founder; hobby mountaineer; travel aficionado. Interested in finding global solutions for ecological problems.

Portrait of Giuseppe de Stefano from Green Steps

Giuseppe de Stefano

Marketing director. Environmental journalist; visual communication lover; worked in several Chinese based startups; willing to preserve mountains and countrysides.

Portrait of Juliane Vopel from Green Steps

Juliane Vopel

Funding manager. Non-Formal education enthusiast; striving for a green future, where everyone can enjoy nature; currently Studying International Vocational Education. Supporting Green Steps from Germany in EU projects

Portrait of Li Fangfang from Green Steps

Li Fangfang

Nature Guide. Law degree; kayak coach; working experience as a farm agent; assistant teacher of guitar, keyboard, ukri and African drum. Likes cooking, nature, and physical exercise.

Portrait of Ping Jie from Green Steps

Ping Jie 平洁

Translator. BA in German language from Capital Normal University; Flow artist; nature and music enthusiast. Passionate about contributing to make the world a better place.

Peng Ying Green Steps Team

Peng Ying

Accountant. Mother of a child. I hope all children will have the chance to grow up in a green environment. Love nature and tourism.

anna rigillo

Service Designer. A BS in Industrial Design and a MA in Service Design between Milan and Shanghai. Believes in the role of design in making environmental care reasonable and actionable for everyone in their small way. Enjoys listening to stories, putting ideas on paper and growing things.

xiaofang suskita

Part-time Wechat Content Creator. Passionate photographer, biker, and blogger. loves travelling, spreading happiness and raising awareness for sustainability. keen about connecting you with nature through her photos, videos and stories.

Portrait of Liu Yun from Green Steps

Liu Yun

Nature Guide & translator. 9 years in key account management in multinational corporations; Now, Montessori teacher and mother of a 3 years old boy. Passionate about improving early childhood education in China.

Katrin Bruckner

Curious Camp Manager. Physics and sport science student; aspiring to become a teacher and inspire young adults and children to spend more time in nature; loves all kinds of outdoor activities.


Curious Camp Manager. BA in Romance languages, currently on her master’s in European Literary Cultures. Scout and volunteer, passionate about literature and outdoor education. Interested in organic gardening.

Richard nortey

Technical Support Associate. MSc. in Computer Science and Technology: IT troubleshooting expert with a passion to help and solve technical problems. Fitness enthusiast and love for nature and good cause to protect our environment and preserve the planet for our children and future generations.

kelly wang

Operations Manager & Nature Guide. ESL English Teacher with a TEFL and TEYL specialization. First Aid certified. Having grown up in a rural farm she shares lots of knowledge about plants and first-hand experiences of the natural world, making her lessons fun and colorful. She is passionate about experiential education and uses with creativity everything at hand to create engaging experiences.

Mohammed ben-thaier

Lead Developer. Born in France, immigrated to Shanghai 4 years ago. 7 years of software engineering experience including IOT, blockchain, and web development. Enjoys outdoor activities such as rock climbing and hiking, traveling, and exploring landscapes.

sam zhang

Member description...

Lamptey Khalid

Member description...

Ellen Loasby

Nature Guide. Passionate about connecting kids to nature
· 3 years experience of teaching English to Chinese Primary students and Chinese to international Primary students
· 1 year experience of teaching environmental curriculum in Chinese Primary schools
Postgraduate Degree in Business Management from Manchester Metropolitan University UK, and Master of Arts in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language from East China Normal University, with focus on deeper learning strategies. First Aid certified. Participation in Mindfulness and Intercultural Training programs. Project coordinator, teacher trainer and active volunteer for environmental education, disabled children and migrant children projects.

Semega mohamed

Member description...

Rebecca Fang

Event Facilitator. Nursing & Teaching Chinese as a second language education background. Working as a cabin crew for 6 years. Five-year-old vivacious girl’s mother. Love nature and diverse culture. Looking forward to contributing to preserving the earth.

Lucy Zhao

Part time Nature Guide & Translator. More than 10 years of experience in the education industry. Moved to Qingpu area to began a rural life two years ago. Love nature, love animals, love sports, and love cooking vegetarian food.

derek wang

Marketing Intern


Advisory Board

Carel van Apeldoorn

Carel van Apeldoorn

Entrepreneur, venture builder and former Start-up Grind Director. Rich experience in on- and off-line business development, with a strong global network in the start-up ecosystem.

Portrait of Chris Reisinger from Green Steps

Chris Reisinger

Chemical engineer, PhD in biotechnology, longtime Top Executive in Multinational companies. Emphasis on organizational behavior and development, improvement of environmental and energy related processes.

Portrait of Kai Pflug from Green Steps

Kai Pflug

Ph.D. Chemistry, independent management consultant to the chemical industry with focus on China. Passionate birder and photographer.

Portrait of Klaus Beck from Green Steps

Klaus Beck

Lawyer and mediator with a focus on international commercial transactions. More than 20 years of experience in and with China, where he worked as country manager for a German environmental NGO. Languages include German, English, Italian, French, and Chinese.

Portrait of Mercedes Barat from Green Steps

Mercedes Barat

Studied History, Geography and Political Sciences; retired Official at European Commission; Evaluator of European partnership projects

Portrait of Susanne Bruckner from Green Steps

Susanne Bruckner

General practitioner & emergency doctor. Loves all kinds of outdoor-sports from high up to under water. Advices Green Steps in regard to first aid and risk assessment.

Portrait of Pan Tao from Green Steps

Pan Tao

PhD in Environmental Science; founder of green think tank the Institute for Sustainable Environment and Energy (ISEE) and the first German Schrebergarden kind of community farm in Shanghai. Passionate about creating sustainable communities for a better world.

Portrait of Karl Bruckner from Green Steps

Karl Bruckner

Independent tax consultant since 1984, specialized in agricultural taxation. Crazy about going to the mountains in summer as well as in winter. Advises Green Steps Europe in taxation and insurance matters.

Portrait of Annette Erpenstein from Green Steps

Annette Erpenstein

Studied Geography and urban planning; with more than 25 years of integrated planning experience, in public, private and academia sector; Associated Partner Constellations International; master degree in mediation

Portrait of Pablo Gonzalez from Green Steps

Pablo Gonzalez

Agronomist with interest on sustainable farming and soil fertility; traveled to different parts of the world to broaden his view beyond agriculture. Currently based in Shanghai working as consultant in crop nutritional management and soil fertility.

Portrait of Florian Pihs of Green Steps

Florian Pihs

Managing Director at Publicis China, leading a multi-disciplinary team of consultants, strategists and creatives; since 18 years in China; special interest in data, analytics and optimization; founder of the Web Analytics Wednesday China after graduating with an MBA from the HKUST Business School.


Permaculture Designer and ISA Arborist practicing Beyond Organic, Bio-Cultural Farming. A Plant Nut focused on Healthy Living through food and consciousness.Permaculture Designer and ISA Arborist practicing Beyond Organic, Bio-Cultural Farming. A Plant Nut focused on Healthy Living through food and consciousness.


“The “modern” way of living made me forget that I was probably a passionate ecologist when I was 10 years old.” 2019 he left the corporate world to start up the Linkpro network with the hope to do more than just talking about what should be the place of humans in the Gaia ecosystem but to act, proposing corrective actions to industrial sites.


Creative director of polymath studio Atelier I-N-D-J, with a basis in architecture. Always had a strong affinity with nature, yet as its prescient decline emerges and response takes on urgency; Ian is tasking to reconcile a typically urbane profession with responsible and humane outcomes that benefit the natural world.


Serial internet entrepreneur since 1997. Fascinated by data and how these rightly and/or wrongly influence the world around us. Currently living in Shanghai and soon roaming the world.


U.S. trained Doctor of Physical Therapy (Creighton University) specializing in manual therapy and educational lecturer. Tai Chi lover – integrating his healing practices with Tai Chi movements; board-certified ergonomic specialist evaluating human movement as it relates to the modern work environment.


Creative facilitator driven by passion to link people, potential and purpose. Founder of CONSTELLATIONS International, 2009 in Shanghai, 2016 in Berlin. Host of C*SPACE Berlin, hub for Sino-International change maker community. Background in China & Management studies. Initiator CITYMAKERS China-Europe network.

Stefan Kratz

Master’s in Political Science and Business Administration, worked in fields of sustainable development, poverty alleviation and clean energy in the U.S., Germany, Italy, France, China, Tibet and Vietnam for past 25 years. Currently co-founder of solar rooftop energy company in Vietnam.


Our past interns

Portrait of Montana Meeker from Green Steps

Montana Meeker

Business administration undergraduate student with a focus on environmental impact aleviation and social innovation.

Portrait of Montana Meeker from Green Steps

Libby Fox

Environmental Sustainablity bachelor, with a focus on environmental education and environmental resources management .

Portrait of Leonie Morand from Green Steps

Leonie Morand

Graduated from high school in Switzerland.
Has been a member of a scout group for 12 years. As a scout leader organizes and facilitates regular activities and camps for children and teenagers all over the year.
Did a two-month internship with Green Steps in 2019.

Portrait of Samaira Saleem from Green Steps

Samaira Saleem

Political Science Undergrad with an interest in youth activism, sustainability, gender equality and engaging young people in decision making.

Do you want to be part of Green Steps?