Climate Justice Alliance
Our Board of Directors
The Board of Directors provides political leadership and assures that the alliance stays on strategic course toward climate justice.
Elizabeth C. Yeampierre is a nationally recognized Puerto Rican attorney and environmental justice leader of African and Indigenous ancestry born and raised in New York City. She is Executive Director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization. Her award winning vision for an inter-generational, multi-cultural and community-led organization is the driving force behind UPROSE. She is a long-time advocate and trailblazer for community organizing around just, sustainable development, environmental justice and community-led climate adaptation and community resiliency in Sunset Park. Prior to assuming the Executive Director position at UPROSE, Ms. Yeampierre was the Director of Legal Education and Training at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, Director of Legal Services for the American Indian Law Alliance and Dean of Puerto Rican Student Affairs at Yale University. She holds a BA from Fordham University and a law degree from Northeastern University. Elizabeth is the first Latina Chair of the US EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
Mateo was born and grew up in La Paz, Bolivia. Since moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, he has worked in the labor, environmental justice and international solidarity movements. He has spent the last decade integrating concepts of popular education into his movement work. Mateo is one of the co-founders of the Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project. Prior to joining MG, Mateo designed and facilitated political education trainings and conducted staff development workshops for grassroots and community organizations interested in growing their organizing, advocacy, and leadership capacities. Mateo is the son of Barbara, and fortunate father of Maya and Nilo. He is also a member of the Latin rock band Los Nadies.
Aghilah is an Equity Fellow and grant writer with the Kheprw Institute. As a graduate of Indiana University in International Studies, she is passionate about social justice and equity, especially within the global context. Working with Kheprw, she has facilitated community discussions, written grants to support the organization’s work, and now is working with other youth within the Climate Justice Alliance to establish a Youth Collective that brings in the perspective of youth within the broader climate justice movement.
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Raised by a Filipino immigrant family in the working class town of Pittsburg (no “h”), CA, Christine acts from the deep belief that we are stronger together and can go farther together than we ever could alone. She is Co-Director of Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), organizing with immigrants and refugees for a healthy environment and thriving economy for all communities. For over 20 years, Christine strategized, organized, and built coalitions across environmental health and justice, workers rights, and economic and racial justice issues. Previously, she was Executive Director at the Center for Story-based Strategy, training 2,000+ people and working with 200+ groups to reinvigorate narrative strategies for social justice. Christine is an ordained priest of the Chozen-ji line of Rinzai Zen, and trains in Oakland, CA and Kalihi Valley, HI. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics from Stanford University, with a focus on language and power.
Darryl Molina Sarmiento
Communities for a Better Environment
Darryl Molina Sarmiento is the Executive Director for Communities for a Better Environment, a 40-year-old environmental justice organization that builds local power through community organizing, research, and legal support in Wilmington, South East Los Angeles, East Oakland, and Richmond, California. Darryl embodies CBE’s leadership ladder, having first encountered CBE at the age of 18, when she took a CBE Toxic Tour. In 2005, she formally joined CBE as the Youth Program Coordinator where she organized youth to defeat the Vernon Power Plant. In 2011, Darryl transitioned into the role of CBE’s Southern California Program Director and was at the helm of successful community-based campaigns against the fossil fuel industry and toxic polluters. Darryl was instrumental in leading the passage of Clean Up Green Up, a City of Los Angeles ordinance that is one of the first Environmental Justice Green Zone Policies in the nation. She has worked on the passage of statewide energy and climate policy and has worked to advance local clean energy and transportation goals. Darryl graduated from UCLA and has done labor organizing with AFSCME Local 3299 and community organizing with the Pilipino Workers Center of Los Angeles. She previously served on the boards of Southern Californians for Youth, The California Fund for Youth Organizing and the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice.
Alternatives for Community and Environment
Dwaign has over twenty-eight years of professional experience in economic development, community and neighborhood development, youth development and workforce development. Throughout his professional experience, Dwaign has effectively led capable and diverse teams and has also been able to communicate complex public policies to various stakeholders to show how community-based partnerships can build stronger communities and empower residents and businesses to take active roles in their neighborhoods.
Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE) builds the power of communities of color and low-income communities in Massachusetts to eradicate environmental racism and classism, create healthy, sustainable communities, and achieve environmental justice. ACE is a membership organization anchored in Roxbury, and from these strong roots, organizes residents and builds coalitions using an environmental justice framework to win significant concrete victories in Greater Boston and Massachusetts.
Jesús Vázquez is an activist, organizer and lawyer who is part of the Sustainable Agriculture and Agroecology Movement of Puerto Rico. Jesús works with public policy and advocacy around environmental justice and food sovereignty issues. He also coordinates different activities to support the network of local sustainable farms in the different regions of Puerto Rico. Jesús gives priority to organizing tasks to strengthen the local movement for food justice. He is a member of the National Coordination Team of Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica de Puerto Rico.
Black Dirt Farm Collective
Kirtrina M. Baxter, M.A. is a dedicated mother, spiritual drummer, returning-generation farmer, food & land justice activist, community strategist and afroecologist. Kirtrina has spent the last twelve years facilitating growth and development of diverse individuals, groups, and organizations. As a systems thinker, her work largely focuses on supporting collective and group development of Black and Brown organizations and farmers to nurture the sustainable ecosystems that organically grow out of agrarian communities. In Philadelphia she co-organizes Soil Generation (SG) which is a women-led Black and Brown coalition of food justice activists that work within a racial and economic justice framework to help inform policy, provide community education and support growers in the city. She is a founding principle at 4DaSoil/AP3, a business support hub for Black and Brown folks in land and food and a member, educator and trainer of afroecology with Black Dirt Farm Collective in the Mid-Atlantic, she loves getting her hands dirty and meeting kindred spirits. Kirtrina is a board member of the Climate Justice Alliance, a mentor and friend to Black women in the EJ movement and land workers internationally. In 2008, she received her M.A. in Cultural Studies.
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
Lisa Abbott is a member of KFTC’s organizing team, and serves as Deputy Organizing Director for Just Transition. She joined KFTC’s staff in 1992 and served as organizing director from 2002 to 2015. In her current role she coordinates KFTC’s work on Just Transition, sustainable energy, and climate change. She also serves on the board of the New World Foundation and is a Philanthropic Trustee of the Solutions Project. She was instrumental in the formation of the Student Environmental Action Coalition in the late 1980’s. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Maryland at College Park and a BS in Biology from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.
Ironbound Community Corporation
Maria is the Leadership Developer for Ironbound Community Corporation in the Environmental Justice and Community Development Department. Maria has over 10 years of experience as a facilitator, specializing in conflict resolution, racial and gender justice, and community building. She is a founding member of the Roots Project, Inc., an organization that leads trainings in social justice, building connections and healing communities.
Indigenous Environmental Network
Tom is Diné and Dakota and lives in Minnesota. Since the late 1980’s, Tom has been involved with environmental related issues and programs working within tribal governments in developing Indigenous-based environmental protection infrastructures. Tom works with Indigenous peoples worldwide. Tom is known as one of the environmental justice movement grassroots leaders in North America addressing toxics and health, mining, energy, climate, water, globalization, sustainable development and Indigenous rights issues. Tom is one of the founders of the Durban Group for Climate Justice; co-founder of Climate Justice NOW!; co-founder of the U.S. based Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative and a member of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change that operates as the Indigenous caucus within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Tom is a policy adviser to Indigenous communities on environmental protection and more recently on climate policy focusing on mitigation, adaptation and concerns of false solutions.
Meet the CJA staff!
Anacua Orellana Garcia
Anacua is one of CJA’s Regional Organizers. Growing up along the supposed frontera, Carrizo Comecrudo lands, Anacua knows the first hand effects of environmental racism in the colonias of South Texas.
She grew up with her parents and three siblings, often spending summers up north working the fields as migrant farm workers.
As a queer and transgender individual, she spends a lot of time doing movement work that intersects many aspects of queer existence.
Based In San Antonio/ Yanawana, Anacua has worked fighting for transgender rights, environmental justice and energy democracy. She comes to CJA after five-years of organizing at Southwest Workers Union.
She holds a BA in Journalism. Anacua is currently a member of Climate Justice San Antonio, a rate advisory committee member for San Antonio’s municipally owned utility, and of the San Antonio Climate Ready Action and Adaptation Plan fighting for a just transition in every space she occupies.
Anacua enjoys spending her time cooking plant-based meals with her husband and their 14-year old dog, Ender.
Andy is the Finance manager at CJA. He manages all things related to the finances and provides support to the program directors and other CJA staff in setting and executing on their respective operating budgets. He is passionate about the role Finance plays in supporting CJA’s mission of transitioning the world from an extractive to a regenerative economy. He has a BA in Accounting from Arizona State and is pursuing a Masters in Environmental Science and Policy from John’s Hopkins. Andy enjoys all things outdoors in his spare time around unceded Me-wuk land near Lodi, CA. He spends that outside time farming, hiking, walking his dog Rumi, playing basketball and snowboarding.
Member Mobilization and Engagement Organizer
Carlos is CJA’s Member Mobilization and Engagement Organizer. As a native of Central Florida- Carlos has seen the effects of Climate Change for the region’s most vulnerable communities first hand. His organizing work has been rooted in supporting and building structures for Central Florida’s Frontline communities to build strong, resilient and organized communities to not only face the Climate Crisis headon but to also build out new alternatives to our current extractive economy- that exploits workers and communities. In his previous role he spent considerable time building bridges between Organized Labor and other frontline Climate Justice communities. He believes that Organized Labor and the Climate Justice Movement go hand in hand; and only through building alliances and relationships can we build a strong Climate Justice Movement. His work leans heavily on not only building local alternatives but also linking them to regional, national and international movements of decolonization, feminism, and Anti-neoliberalism.
Carlos holds a BA in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. He currently serves as a board member of Black and Pink, a trans/queer led prison abolition organization; along with other local and regional community advisory boards on sustainability and local transit.
Regional Organizing Manager
Oklahoma City, OK
Chloe is formerly CJA’s membership engagement coordinator, graduated from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque with a degree in economics, and is currently based in Oklahoma City. She became involved in climate justice organizing during a one-year exchange to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she joined the fossil fuel divestment campaign. Chloe started working with CJA in the summer of 2015 as a Fossil Free Fellow and has since stayed on staff. Chloe enjoys reading, cooking, and walking her dog Hiro.
Chris Caraballo (they/them or he/him) is one of the Executive Assistants at the Climate Justice Alliance. Chris is a born and raised Bronxite who has had a passion for environmentalism and community organizing since their high school years.
After receiving a B.A. in Sociology with concentrations in Environmental Studies and Racial/Ethnic Studies from the University of Vermont Chris returned to the Bronx to invest time in local organizing, specifically around restoration of the only freshwater River in the Bronx. They are now providing logistical support to the Co-Executive Directors at CJA.
Beyond supporting environmental movements and other forms of activism Chris enjoys engaging with their community, the MCU, traveling, and spending time with their dog Cornelius.
Destinee is the Accounting Coordinator at CJA. They graduated from Indiana University with two bachelor degrees in accounting and finance in 2019. Since starting their accounting career, they have had the opportunity to work in both corporate and nonprofit environments. They are passionate about inclusion and helping others. In their spare time, Destinee enjoys bike riding, writing poetry, and playing the guitar.
Edna is the Compliance Coordinator at Climate Justice Alliance, where she primarily manages contracts, grants and organizational compliance. She’s passionate about helping the operations of the organization run smoothly so that the rest of the organization is able to focus their work on our mission and values. Currently, she calls Portland, OR home, but she’s a Southern California and Northern Mexico Native – having grown up across both borders. She hold a Bachelors Degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science.
Esteban is a climate policy advocate hailing from Medellin, Colombia. After living in NYC and then Vermont, he moved to DC to become a policy fellow for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. He holds a BA from Middlebury College in Environmental Studies and Policy and is very passionate about the intersections between policy and climate mitigation and adaptation. He enjoys hiking, geeking out about policy, ginkgo trees, capoeira, and has a growing obsession for food history documentaries.
Haleigh (she/her) provides logistical and technical support to CJA’s Co-Executive Directors. Raised and currently resides in Upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountains. In 2016, she joined AmeriCorps NCCC and found a passion for grassroots organizing and providing support to organizations determined to protect and enrich their communities and natural environments. Haleigh has a BA in International Studies and Political Science. Besides supporting EJ activists and leaders, she enjoys rock climbing, yoga, reading, and listening to podcasts at her local cafe.
Director of Operations and Finance
Heather is the Director of Operations and Finance at CJA. She oversees CJA’s finance, administrative, and human resource systems, and provides support and coordination within database and IT systems. She is passionate about the role operations can play in supporting social movements, and strives to center values of community care and continuous learning in her approach to operations work. Heather has a BFA in Acting from NYU, and until joining CJA full-time, split her time as a movement operations consultant and performing artist. Heather loves drawing, seeing plays, and spending time outside with her dog Stella.
Digital Media Coordinator
Hendrik is part of CJA’s communications team and coordinates the digital media work. Born in Germany, Hendrik started his political activism as part of the anti-fascist movement against the resurgence of nationalism and racist violence following the reunification of Germany in 1990. To avoid the military draft in his home country, he moved to the United States and started to work in the Latin America solidarity and Global Justice movements and became the National Organizer for School of the Americas Watch. Hendrik started to freelance with the Climate Justice Alliance during the It Takes Roots Ruckus Direct Action and Resiliency Camp in the summer of 2018. In February 2019, he joined CJA as a member of the staff.
Resource Mobilization Strategist
Through tracking trends in philanthropy and working with members and funder allies, Holly advises CJA’s resource mobilization strategies to move more money to the grassroots. She builds relationships with philanthropy and elevates Just Transition solutions led by frontline communities, in order to bridge between funders and frontlines. She supports CJA member groups’ funder relations, and engages in dialogue and action with grassroots organizations, movement support networks, and philanthropy to shift resources and decision-making power to the grassroots organizing sector.
Holly has 25+ years’ experience working for grassroots organizations and other non-profits. For 19 years, she worked as the Grants Coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida, and for 6+ years, provided program support to the farmworker-led agroecology and cooperative development work there. She has provided leadership within the Southern Region of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance; Domestic Fair Trade Association; La Via Campesina North America; Southern Reparations Loan Fund; and Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network.
Prior to her long service in farmworker communities, she worked for the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice and co-led the Walk for the Earth, from the Everglades to Tallahassee. She also worked in development for Enzian Theater, an independent arthouse cinema. Currently, she volunteers with an emerging Indigenous-led ecovillage and has supported many Indigenous rights campaigns. A native Floridian, Holly is based in Tallahassee, on Maskoke homelands.
Reinvest Campaign Organizer
Prior to joining CJA, Jolene led state campaigns to stop fracked gas projects and commit Virginia to a just transition to a 100% clean renewable energy grid by 2035. During her time as a state organizer, she allied with frontline communities to stop two high pressure fracked gas pipelines, and a power plant. She also helped grassroots groups advocate for the Green New Deal Act in the Virginia State Assembly.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Environmental Science & Policy. When she’s not organizing, Jolene loves to sing, write, hike, and act in her local community theater!
Karina Gonzalez is a Purepecha woman raised in LA’s San Fernando Valley. She found her passion for environmental justice experiencing the first-hand effects of environmental racism in Los Angeles and her family’s hometown in Michoacan, Mexico. She studied Environmental Studies at the University of Arizona and Forestry at Northern Arizona University. Karina has worked for Greenpeace USA, Black Mesa Water Coalition, SustainUS, and Friends of the Earth. She was a recipient of the 2016 Brower Youth Award, the leading national environmental award for youth. Additionally, her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, PBS, and other news sources.
Reinvest Project Co-Director
Lauren Ressler joins the CJA team as Reinvest Project Co-Director. Lauren got her start organizing against coal-fired power plants in Washington state in 2009. She went on to support thousands of students, community groups, and faith leaders across the country demanding divestment from prison profiteers and fossil fuel companies as Campaigns Director at the Responsible Endowments Coalition.
In 2017, she began working with Freedom to Thrive to build a culture of giving to fund the movement to end mass incarceration and immigrant detention. She went on to work with Beloved Economies building narrative tools focused on changing the way we work in ways that are more just and which reckon with history. She has over a decade of experience designing and facilitating dynamic spaces that build trust, generatively move through conflict, and reach collaborative decisions. She is thrilled to be part of growing the Reinvest in Our Power campaign and building the new with CJA members. Lauren uses she/her pronouns.
Black Caucus Convening Program Coordinator
Leah Derray is a writer, director, and community organizer from Indianapolis, IN. She has a background in organizing for racial and environmental justice movements and a bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies with a minor in Civic Leadership. Leah is obtaining her MFA Degree from DePaul University, where she is studying to be a Director of Film and Television. Leah was introduced to CJA and the Environmental Justice Movement through the Kheprw Institute several years ago and has since served on the leadership body of the Black Caucus. Leah is passionate about healing Black, Brown, and Queer communities through education, storytelling, connection, and organizing.
Funder Relations Associate
Luis is the Funder Relations Associate at Climate Justice Alliance. Prior to joining CJA he worked as the Development Manager for ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater NY where he spearheaded the organization’s foundation, individual, and event fundraising efforts. Luis spent the crux of his life living in an environmental justice community, experiencing first-hand the negative impact of hazardous pollution and systematic neglect. The institutional racism within his community originally led him towards a career in education where he could support students of color in an effort to raise their retention and graduation rates at the collegiate level. After leaving higher education Luis became linked to the environmental justice community through his work with ALIGN. He now supports fundraising efforts at CJA via relationship building, proposals, and reports to foundations.
Luis is a native of Newark, NJ, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in History from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). He later received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). Outside of work Luis is an avid supporter of Chelsea FC based out in London. He’s an active member of their US supporters’ group and can be found in stadiums cheering on Chelsea.
Reinvest Project Co-Director
Los Angeles, CA
Guadalupe “Lupe” Romero Elicea is CJA’s Reinvest in Our Power Co-director. Born in Mexico City and raised in Michoacan, Lupe migrated to the United States South-Bay Area at the age of 17.
Lupe started their political involvement with the chicanx and undocumented student movements. Later they became part of the cooperative movement by joining a cooperative silk screen print shop. This cooperative experience gave Lupe many lessons which they now use to support Frontline communities who are fighting the extractivist economy by building their own alternative economies.
Marion Gee grew up in Southern California, watching her aunt stand with striking workers as a labor attorney and acting as a bridge between sets of grandparents who came from very different cultures, world views, and upbringings – from small villages alongside rice paddies in Southern China to the rural farms surrounding Bridgeton, New Jersey. As the Managing Director at Climate Justice Alliance since 2015, she supported the Executive Director and Board in expanding staff from seven to twenty-one, increasing the budget from $1 to $5 million, and developing the systems and staffing to implement an ambitious Four Year Strategy. Prior to joining CJA, she served as a fundraising, events, and communications consultant for social and environmental justice organizations, the Development & Communications Director at Rose Foundation, and Interim Climate Program Director at Sierra Nevada Alliance. She holds a Masters in Environmental History and Policy from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. In her spare time, she likes to read fantasy novels, collect too many indoor plants, and play with her niece and nephew.
Resource Mobilization Co-Director
For the last decade Mark has been involved in community organizing and non-profit work ranging from front-lines direct action to education and outreach. Throughout this time he has been turned to as a storyteller within his communities, a skill often sought in response to inquiries from donors. Born and raised on occupied Suquamish land, Mark grew up exploring the surrounding land and waters with their two older siblings and parents. He was activated after joining a cross-country zero-waste campaign in 2010, which opened his eyes to the devastating impacts of the extractive economy first-hand: from physical refuse strewn across the country’s roadways to the pollution of waterways, mountain top removal coal mining, fracking, and petro-chemical fertilization. This propelled years of traveling across the country lending support to various indigenous and settler-led struggles and causes. Mark brings a philanthropic philosophy rooted in reciprocity, integrity, and decolonization to CJA’s work to Move the Money towards a regenerative economy where the people have the power.
When he isn’t contributing his skills to this work, he can be found parenting two young children, writing fiction, organizing within his community, or a combination of all those things and more.
Frontline Communications Coordinator
Meron is a communications strategist and multimedia storyteller dedicated to shifting narratives and building toward liberation and solidarity. As an organizer, she utilized photography and videography as an outlet to capturing direct actions, Black joy, and resistance. She has facilitated popular education workshops and communications training, passionate about creating solidarity economies and healing our relationship to the land. She is part of GrooveVsn a Black led branding and design cooperative. Catch her growing food and medicine, making buna, and jamming to old school Éthiopiques.
Michelle Voacolo serves as CJA’s Regional Organizer. She previously lived on the island of Guam, a US territory, and saw firsthand the compounding impacts of hyper-militarization and environmental destruction. In 2018, she helped co-found the Micronesia Climate Change Alliance (MCCA). During the years she spent at MCCA, Michelle leveraged funding to co-develop several programs which focused on a range of issues from food sovereignty, waste reduction, reproductive rights and energy democracy. She holds a BA in business administration from the University of Guam and in her free time, she loves to swim, paddle board, hike, paint, cook and play with her dog and cat.
Senior Policy Organizing Fellow
As the Senior Policy Organizing Fellow Michelle will support CJA’s Eco-Political team and ensure that Alliance members are well supported and well-resourced.
Michelle leads with intentionality and compassion, using her experience – as a Black, masculine of center, lesbian, to uplift our collective voices and to demystify the political process that often excludes our folks. She also strives to connect the dots between systems of oppression and the need for environmental justice reform with a harm reductionist approach.
Previously, Michelle has worked at the intersections of anti-Black, electoral justice, and queer advocacy as a trainer, organizer, and strategist. Most recently, she served as the National Policy and Advocacy Director for the National Harm Reduction Coalition. She was responsible for ensuring the advancement of effective harm reduction policies at the state and federal levels by working with multiple stakeholders.
As a California native, with deep-seeded roots in Oakland, Michelle has seen firsthand the devastating results of working in silos and continues her commitment to building coalitions committed to change with Black folks, LGBTQ folks, and those living at the margins.
She’s actively living out her assignment.
Monica Atkins began her journey with CJA as our Southeast Regional Organizer in 2017 through Cooperation Jackson. She then moved on to become CJA’s National Organizer and Co-Coordinator until finally in 2020 she became the Organizing Director & part of the organizations’ interim leadership structure. With the support of members, Monica has supported the Our Power Communities expansion from 7 to 34 active communities working toward a Just Transition and building regenerative economies through translocal organizing. She has also been critical to the success and operation of CJA’s Black Caucus organizing. Before joining CJA she was and continues to be an active member of Cooperation Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi and organized social and cultural events and actions including Art, Poetry, and Justice Slam; Freedom Summer March; and March on Mississippi For Workers’ Rights with artists and activists such as Common and Danny Glover. Monica also worked for several labor organizations including the United Auto Workers, American Federation of Teachers, and Communication Workers of America. She is a Chicago native and graduate of Jackson State University where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in Journalism. A poet and activist at heart, Monica’s passion for the arts has led her to organizing workers and communities through cultural organizing and base-building for more than 10 years.
Olivia is the Communications Director for the Climate Justice Alliance. She became involved with the global climate justice movement while assisting in the organization of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia in 2010. For the past two decades, she has worked in advocacy and communications to support progressive social movements and causes within the United States and abroad. Before joining CJA in 2018, she served as Director of Advocacy for the National Head Start Association. Prior to that, she led the Venezuela Information Office in Washington, D.C. and later served as an advisor to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for almost a decade.
Ozawa Bineshi Albert
Bineshi Albert grew up in the movement and remembers her family organizing for community and Indigenous Rights throughout her upbringing. Her work over the last 30 years has primarily focused on environmental justice and Native/Indigenous rights. She has also been part of many pivotal movement building and multicultural spaces throughout her career. She joins CJA from one of our founding member organizations, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). In fact, she was a founding board member of IEN, served on their three person Leadership Team alongside the Executive Director and was their Movement Building Coordinator and Co-Coordinator for Indigenous Feminisms. She is proud to have contributed to the work of It Takes Roots, the Rising Majority and international movement spaces. While at IEN, Bineshi supported the creation and development of both an Indigenous Feminist Organizing School and an International Feminist Organizing School. Before that, she held many positions including the Interim Co-Director at SAGE Council, one of the founders of the Native American Voters Alliance; Regional Director (West) for the Center for Community Change, Co-Director of the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), and she served as a lobbyist for a number of initiatives including Strong Families in New Mexico. Bineshi began her organizing work with the Coalition for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Native Lands’ Toxics Campaign at Greenpeace. She holds a degree in Indigenous Liberal Studies from the Institute of American Indian Art with minors in Performing Arts and Creative Writing. She is the proud mother of three: a daughter and two sons, and recently became a grandmother. She makes her home in relocated Yuchi & Muscogee territory in Oklahoma, also known as Tulsa.
Our Power Loan Fund Project Steward
Pia Desangles is one of the Project Stewards for CJA’s Our Power Loan Fund. Born in Santiago, Dominican Republic and raised in Broward County, Florida, Pia is passionate about working towards a just transition through agroecology and solidarity economics.
Before joining CJA, she pursued a certificate in ecological horticulture, worked as Technical Support staff for the Farmworker Association of Florida and several other orgs fighting for justice in Florida and the southeast. She is the co-founder of Lantana Language Collective, an aspiring language justice cooperative based in Central Florida. She holds a BA in Economics and Latin American & Latino Studies.
In the summer you can find her reading dystopian novels on the beach and in the winter you can find her hiking and learning about Florida’s beautiful ecosystems.
Shantell comes to the Climate Justice Alliance from local organizing and movement building in Charlottesville,Va where she led the Cultivate Charlottesville’s Food Justice Network, a coalition of 30 organizations and hundreds of youth and residents working across race and class differences to transform their local food system. On the local level, she’s fought and won advocacy campaigns to reallocate funds and center decision-making power in the hands of working-class people to redevelop affordable housing, protect urban agriculture, transform school meal programs, fund free transportation, and provide tenants with legal counsel in eviction cases.
Beyond policy, Shantell led her grassroot’s coalition in establishing mutual aid infrastructure to support hard-hit communities of color during the pandemic by providing wrap-around services (food, rent support, masks, medications etc.) to migrant farmworkers and low-income community members recovering from COVID19. On the regional level, Shantell worked with a diverse coalition of agriculture and environmental leaders to build the Blueprint for Community Ownership, Empowerment, and Prosperity in the Chesapeake. She’s also researched and studied internationally in post-apartheid South Africa, where she won research fellowships to understand systems of oppression, social liberation, and health outcomes in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Her work in the post-apartheid freedom struggle taught her that health, land, and labor are deeply political.
In 2015, she was awarded the Dalai Lama Fellowship for her work advancing residents’ rights to water and growing food in public housing. She is a current Castanea Fellow, joining a national cohort of leaders pushing for racial, economic, and environmental justice throughout the food system. A great-granddaughter to NC tobacco sharecroppers, she believes every person is endowed with the right to self-determination in our food system and the secrete to everlasting abundance on pachamama is caring for the soil. Shantell holds a B.A. in Global Development Studies and a Master in Public Health from the University of Virginia. In her free time, she’s an artist and gardener.
Tech and Database Coordinator
Veronica Moreno (She/ her) is CJA’s Tech and Database Coordinator. She holds a B.A. in Spanish, French and film studies and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Argentina. Passionate about information technology, Veronica strives to make new systems accessible and hassle-free for everyone. Her past position as the Communications Manager at Thousand Currents allowed her to deepen her commitment to movements and grassroots groups fighting for food, land and climate justice across the world. When possible, Veronica dreams of growing her own food, enjoys cooking for friends, learns about urban food systems, attends live music shows (pre- COVID, of course), drinks pulque and plays with her cat and dog.
Political Education Director
Yuki Kidokoro is CJA’s Political Education Director. After graduate studies in Urban Planning at UCLA, Yuki spent 15 years organizing with Communities for a Better Environment in Southeast Los Angeles. As Youth Program Coordinator, Lead Organizer and Southern California Program Director, Yuki helped build CBE’s youth program and a regional youth organizing network, developed popular education trainings, and provided leadership in many successful grassroots campaigns. Some of these victories include stopping two fossil fuel power plant projects in Southeast LA, launching a campaign against expansion of the I-710 diesel truck corridor which was ultimately defeated, and winning health protective policies at the city, regional and state levels. Raised in Southern California, Yuki helped create a 45 unit affordable housing cooperative at the Los Angeles Eco-Village in Koreatown where she lives with her partner and 2 cats. She currently serves on the Boards of the Beverly-Vermont Community Land Trust, USTU Housing Cooperative, L.A. Co-op Lab and New Economy Coalition. Trained in conflict mediation and group facilitation, Yuki enjoys gardening, graphic notetaking, board games and thinking about community governance structures.