Meet Team Verdis: Belyna Bentlage

With a background in rigorous social science training, Belyna (she/her) seeks to understand and analyze the social physics of an organization and its capacity for change. Belyna’s areas of expertise include research, facilitation, workshop design, project management, and organization of complex systems and data.

Belyna’s recent work includes conducting climate vulnerability assessments for municipal climate action plans, developing and implementing sustainable design guidelines, managing AASHE STARS reporting processes, and guiding multiple strategic planning efforts with clients.

Before joining Verdis, Belyna served as Creighton University’s inaugural full-time sustainability coordinator. As a former research associate and outreach coordinator at Purdue University, Belyna has learned to thrive when facilitating meaningful engagement throughout the entirety of a project to ensure successful and satisfying outcomes. Belyna holds an M.S. in Natural Resources Social Science from Purdue University and two B.A.s from Loyola University Chicago in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. She also earned a certificate in Design, Partnering, Management, and Innovation (DPMI) from Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Belyna enjoys building relationships, cultivating understanding through dialogue, and facilitating pathways for more resilient people, communities, and organizations. Belyna’s Gallup Strengths are Learner, Intellection, Input, Empathy, and Connectedness.

The best advice I’ve ever received: I grew up in Indiana with a deep affinity for the game of basketball. One of my role models growing up was the great John Wooden, a former Purdue all-star player and the legendary coach who led UCLA to 10 national championships (seven in a row!). Foundational to John Wooden’s success on the court were his values in life, many of which informed by his parents and his humble upbringing in Indiana. The best I advice I ever received was a lesson John Wooden’s father taught him and Coach Wooden went on to share with all of his players, known as the Two Sets of Three: “Never lie, never cheat, never steal. Don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t make excuses.”

My favorite days always include: Three things: Time for learning (reading a book, reading the newspaper, listening to podcasts), time for quiet reflection (journaling, contemplation), and time for sport (basketball, tennis, skateboarding, rugby, hiking, Olympic lifting). And coffee…make that four things.

My favorite memory at Verdis: Every time we have a new member join the team, each current team member shares a piece of advice with the new team member. Every time this happens, it becomes my favorite memory because we get to welcome a new colleague and hear the wisdom of the group.

The best thing I’ve read: Kurt Vonnegut’s anthology. I can’t select just one novel or collection of essays and speeches! One of my favorite recurring themes in Vonnegut’s collection of writings is the plea he has for all of us to stop and notice when we feel a moment of delight, no matter how great or small. Toward the end of his book “A Man Without a Country”, Vonnegut shared some advice that he borrowed from his Uncle Alex: “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”

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