About us

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Karin Ascot – Co-Founder

Karin Ascot earned her undergraduate degree (Plan II) from the University of Texas at Austin, after which she studied for 5 years at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet in Freiburg, Germany. The freedom and enjoyment of living in a walkable/bikeable village with ample public transit, nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Black Forest, left an indelible impression on her. She returned to Texas to earn a Masters degree in Applied Geography from Texas State University, where she focused on regional planning and sustainability. Karin has been walking the talk for over 25 years, serving successively as Conservation Chair, Group Chair and Political Chair of the Austin Sierra Club, Vice Chair of the Save Our Springs Alliance, and seven years on the City of Austin’s Environmental Board, always advocating for quality of life issues such as better water quality and more sustainable and equitable land use and transportation policies for the City of Austin. Much of the Citadels concept can be traced back to her graduate thesis work and years of observing the damage to human and ecosystem health caused by car-dependent sprawl development.

Karin has been an engaged participant in 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.


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.

Elizabeth Luc Clowes. Innovative and analytical landscape designer with experience in creating sustainable and harmonized landscapes. Engaged in realtime lessons of thriving urban plazas, smart growth, multimodal transport, and community engagement as a resident of Davis Square, Somerville. Utilizes blue green infrastructure techniques, and native plant knowledge for projects in both urban and suburban settings. Broad experience in project management, urban design, and application of nature-based solutions. An engaging speaker with experience holding public meetings, advocating for open space policy, and managing public lands. Enjoys conferring with homeowners, civil engineers, local officials, developers, and the public. Skilled at conveying concepts using schematics, AutoCAD drawings, 3d modeling, and renderings. Demonstrated ability to collaborate with architects, and engineers projects such as complete streets, parks /greenways, and constructed wetlands. 

Ernesto Furukawa enables all of the technical and financial modelings 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 multifamily development in Peru.

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