Founder & Principal
Megan has spent her career dedicated to community growth and development, land and water conservation and restoration, food and farming systems, housing, transportation, and access to nature and outdoor recreation. Pairing her professional experience in community and organizational development with a personal zeal for building trust, openness, and clarity in governance and decision-making, Megan founded Parallel Solutions in 2014.
Before launching Parallel Solutions, Megan worked for seven years at the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy where she served as Associate Director and Director of Development for one of Michigan's largest land trusts. She managed the organization's staff and operations, guided strategic land protection and stewardship programs, led fundraising efforts, and collaborated with public and private partners on community-based park and trail development projects.
From 1999-2007, Megan worked at Networks Northwest where she served as Regional Planning Director for a ten-county area in northwest Lower Michigan and worked with local, state, and federal governments, private businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and institutions to support, educate, and facilitate inter-jurisdictional planning and local decision-making related to land use, transportation, and economic development.
Megan currently serves as the Treasurer of the board of directors of Paddle Antrim, and on the board of SEEDS. She also serves on the board of Commonplace, a community innovation hub and co-working space in Traverse City, Michigan. She is a past board member of Michigan’s Complete Streets Advisory Council, of the Michigan Association of Planning, and of the Homestretch Non-profit Housing Corporation. She is a 1999 graduate of Miami University (Ohio) where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and a Bachelor of Philosophy degree from the School of Interdisciplinary Studies/Western College Program, and completed her thesis work focused on food systems. She earned a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor University, and pursued additional training in mediation, mindfulness, and workplace diversity.
She co-authored the Conservation Millage Toolkit in collaboration with the Huron River Watershed Council (2018), and served as an advisor on the development of the Michigan Water Trails Manual (Land Information Access Association, 2017).
Megan was recognized by the Traverse City Business News as a "40 Under 40" leader in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, and as one of the region's "50 Leading Women in Business" in 2017. She was awarded the Roger Williams Planner Award for Excellence in the Professional Field of Planning by Grand Traverse County in 2005.
She lives in Traverse City, MI with her daughters. In her free time, you can find her trail running, kayaking, gardening, or reading.
From 2001-2021, Megan’s professional work was accomplished and credited as Megan Olds.
Parallel Solutions is a small business. We welcome the opportunity to work as part of a team, and we build teams to meet a client's needs. Depending on the scope of work and outcomes you require, Parallel Solutions may suggest a collaboration with an Affiliated Consultant or with additional professionals to advance your goals.
Elise Crafts founded Statecraft in 2018 to combine and leverage her experience in providing zoning, land use planning and community development services. Prior to that, she worked as a community planner for Networks Northwest and as a zoning administrator for Peninsula Township. She gets deep satisfaction from listening to and understanding different perspectives and creating land use policies with people - resident, developer and Planning Commissioner - in mind. She also enjoys helping to build the relationships and resources necessary to move policy to action. Elise majored in geography, sociology, and writing at Aquinas College and holds a masters in geography with an emphasis on community development from Western Michigan University.
Gary Howe is the advocacy director for Norte, a walk and bike advocacy organization based in Traverse City. For over 10 years, Gary has been a local leader for streets and places designed at the human-scale. Gary is also a freelance photojournalist and writer. His work is a regular feature in Edible Grande Traverse and often in the New York Times. He has a bachelors degree in International Studies from Northern Michigan University. He speaks Mandarin Chinese, last living in China as a graduate student at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies. Gary has over 20 years of teaching experience both in Taiwan and as an adjunct instructor at Northwestern Michigan College.
Sarah Naperala has over 20 years of experience and has worked in the not-for-profit, research, technology and education fields. Performance management and professional development coaching are two of her specialties. Sarah has extensive experience in not-for-profit policy and procedures development and evaluation. She guides and coordinates the work of land conservancies who are seeking Accreditation status from the National Land Trust Alliance. Prior to launching her consulting business, she worked as the Human Resources Director and Special Projects Manager at the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. Sarah volunteers as the coordinator for the Orchard Heights Neighborhood of Traverse City, MI where she recently worked with neighbors, city staff, city commissioners and funders to improve a 3-acre neighborhood city park. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan Technological University.
Gabe Schneider, Founder and Principal of Northern Strategies 360, has 15 years of experience and specializes in government affairs, policy development and advocacy, and state and federal legislative action. Prior to launching his firm, Gabe served as the regional representative for Senator Carl Levin in northern Michigan. Over the course of his professional career, Gabe has worked on issues such as economic development, land and historic preservation, infrastructure development and maintenance, and agricultural and manufacturing job growth and retention strategies. He holds a degree from Michigan State University’s James Madison College in International Relations with a specialization in Environmental Economics. Gabe volunteers as the Vice President of the Adams Chapter of Trout Unlimited.