About us

If you want to contact us directly, please use the 15 minute chat button below, or send us an email at the following link. You can also meet up with us during our office hours at the Barton Creek Farmers Market or other conferences, exhibitions etc.. Check here for our next dates etc.

Karin Ascot – Co-Founder

Karin Ascot earned a Masters degree in Applied Geography from Texas State University, where she focused on regional planning and sustainability. Much of the CITADELS concept can be traced back to her thesis work. Karin served many years as Conservation Chair, Group Chair and Political Chair of the Austin Sierra Club, and seven years on the City of Austin’s Environmental Board, advocating for more sustainable and equitable land use and transportation policies for the city of Austin. She has been an active contributor to other community groups and her children’s schools, and is an active member of her church choir.

Patrick Van Haren – Co-Founder

Patrick Van Haren owns and operates Microbial Earth Farms (MEF) and Sunergie. Both companies are dedicated to rural economic development that improves the environment. With MEF, he produced high-quality compost in bulk and sold over 2,000 residential compost systems in the Austin market. He also provided numerous property owners with soil improvement products and services. Patrick specializes in the economics of regenerative agriculture and soil improvement, as well as long-term operations by community stewards.

Patrick was raised on a farm and participated regularly in 4H and other community leadership programs. He spent 5 years in Europe working for a Dutch animal genetics company where he was responsible for business development in Southern Europe, Denmark and North America. In 1997, he was chosen to participate in a National Agriculture Lifetime Leadership program. He has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Business/Economics and a Masters in Entrepreneurship, and received Sustainable Development Expert certification from the American Association of Energy Engineers. He has completed several courses in Project Finance for wind and renewable energy projects.

Patrick is involved in his church and his children’s schools and has led a Techstars Startup Weekend in Austin TX, focused on the Circular Economy.


Ernesto Furukawa enables all of the technical and financial modeling of the CITADELS projects. Ernesto (MBA in Entrepreneurship, BA Finance) has an extensive background in financial modeling and analysis of real estate development and renewable energy. He worked for 5 years as a Lead Modelling Analyst and Lead Risk Analyst for GE Power and Water, and more recently for 5 years in the execution of a multifamily development in Peru.


Cathey Lowe, CFO, is a financial professional with a CPA and MBA.

Much of her career has been with Fortune 500 companies in housing, where she learned best practices of high-performing finance organizations. She also holds a certificate in Cyber Security Oversight.

Pix Howell has over 40 years of experience in resource planning, policy development and management, and, as president of Diverse Planning and Development, is currently consulting on both urban and rural projects. He works with various municipalities and counties on program management, regional infrastructure organization and policy issues, and the social interface of law enforcement and the public.

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