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Steering Committee Profiles

Stuart Cohen, TransForm
Stuart Cohen is the co-founder and Executive Director of TransForm, ClimatePlan’s fiscal sponsor. TransForm advocates for world-class transit and walkable communities in the Bay Area and California. TransForm’s campaigns have brought together diverse coalitions and raised over $6 billion for sustainable and socially just transportation. In addition to helping initiate the Bay Area’s Regional Smart Growth Strategy, Stuart helped conceive and launch the Great Communities Collaborative to engage Bay Area communities in planning for sustainable, equitable development near transit. Previously, Stuart worked with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability as a researcher on the climate impacts of alternative transportation policies and fuels, and at NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group) as a toxics campaign coordinator and Statewide Canvass Director. Stuart received a Master’s Degree in Public Policy (MPP) from the Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley.

Tony Dang, California Walks
Tony Dang is the Executive Director of California Walks, overseeing the organization’s policy advocacy, development, community engagement programs, technical assistance services, and operations. Tony is passionate about creating more vibrant, livable communities through the intersection of health, transportation, sustainability, and equity. Tony is a certified instructor of the Safe Routes to School National Course and also serves on the Board of Directors of the California Bicycle Coalition and the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN). Tony holds a BA from Stanford University in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity.

Chione L. Flegal, PolicyLink
Chione Flegal, Director of PolicyLink, works to ensure that infrastructure policy promotes social, economic, and environmental equity. She leads PolicyLink efforts to address infrastructure disparities in low-income unincorporated communities in California’s San Joaquin Valley and to promote equitable solutions to climate change. Prior to joining PolicyLink, Chione managed Latino Issues Forum’s Sustainable Development program and directed the organization’s environmental health and justice work. Chione advises the California Air Resources Board on the implementation of climate policy by serving on the AB 32 Environmental Justice Advisory Committee. She holds a Master’s in City Planning and a B.S. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley.

Veronica Garibay, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability
Veronica Garibay is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of LCJA.  She immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico at a young age, along with her parents and four siblings, to the City of Parlier in Fresno County. Veronica grew up in this small farmworker town and graduated from Parlier Unified District Schools. As a first-generation student, Veronica attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned a B.A. in Psychology and Law and Society. Upon graduation, Veronica joined the California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.’s Community Equity Initiative as the program’s first Community Worker. Veronica holds a Master’s of Public Administration from Fresno State.

Michele Hasson, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ)
Michele Hasson is Policy Manager for the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. Michele directs efforts that support CCAEJ’s legislative, public policy and political agenda to create safer, healthier, toxic-free places for residents of California’s Inland Valley to live, work, learn, and play. CCAEJ’s work is grounded in “place,” believing that communities are not simply groupings of buildings filled with consumers, customers, or clients whose behavior is studied, managed and manipulated by powerful outside forces. CCAEJ works alongside Environmental Justice communities to advocate for improved planning, investment, policy, and legislation around Air Quality, Land Use, Goods Movement, and Transportation. Michele was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico to expatriate parents. Seamlessly bilingual and bicultural, Michele has over 9 years of experience in policy advocacy; she began her career under the auspices of the United Nations working for equitable frameworks for Financing for Development, Control Arms and Gender Justice. Michele has a BA in Spanish Literature from the University of San Francisco and an MPP in International Development and Cooperation from Mexico’s National Council on Science and Technology at the Institute Mora. Since August of 2011 Michele has called Southern California her home, where she has put her advocacy skills to use working alongside environmental justice communities and organizations in the Inland Valley.

Lisa Hershey, Housing California
Lisa Hershey has been executive director of Housing California since November 2016, and has extensive background in leading successful teams and managing complex multi-sector initiatives leading to statewide policy change. In her previous role as Associate Director, she supervised staff, managed day-to-day activities, and continued cultivating non-traditional partnerships and nurturing connections with multi-sector coalitions, networks and agencies focused on climate change, equity, health and resident organizing. Lisa started at Housing California as Sustainable Communities Coordinator in 2014. Previously, Lisa served as the Public Health Institute (PHI) program director for California Convergence, a network of resident leaders and partners creating healthy, safe, and equitable communities. Her two decades in state and local public sector roles included managing department-wide equity and place-based initiatives, and advising the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to inform initial implementation of SB 375 and AB 32, and development of the Strategic Growth Council. She also represented CDPH’s executive team with other state departments, agencies, and diverse external partners. Lisa has helped raise millions of dollars and orchestrate inclusive policy action among multi-sector coalitions with diverse agendas in challenging political, economic, and social environments. Lisa received a B.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University and a Master’s in Public Health from Loma Linda University School of Public Health.

Liz O’Donoghue, The Nature Conservancy
As Director of Infrastructure and Land Use, Liz O’Donoghue oversees The Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter’s policy agenda on infrastructure development and land use, mitigation, transportation policy, and integration with natural resource protection. Liz currently serves on the California Public Infrastructure Advisory Commission and on the Executive Committee of the Bay Area Open Space Council. From 2006 to 2009, Liz served as TNC’s Director of External Affairs, where she led engagement with government and stakeholders at the federal, state, county, and local levels, on public policy, public funding, legislation, bonds, and constituency building. From 1999 to 2006, Liz worked at the western regional headquarters of Amtrak, first as Director of Communications, Government, and Public Affairs, then as Director of Strategic Planning, where she was responsible for developing and implementing Amtrak’s strategy on passenger rail corridors in the West. Previously, she served for seven years as legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, specializing in transportation and natural resource policy. Before that, she worked at a public policy firm in Princeton, New Jersey, consulting with major corporate clients on environmental, health care, and transportation issues. She holds a B.A. in Government from Oberlin College.

Gloria Ohland, Move LA
As Policy and Communications Director at Move LA, Gloria Ohland works on expanding and maintaining the coalition of diverse interests that supports building out a robust public transportation system in Los Angeles County and advocates for financing strategies to accelerate construction. Gloria seeks new revenue streams to help ensure that neighborhoods near transit provide homes that transit riders can afford, with opportunities to walk and bike to transit, as well as local destinations. She worked on the victorious campaign to adopt a $534 billion RTP/SCS in Southern California that directs half the plan’s funding to transit, triples funding for active transportation, and significantly boosts the percentage of housing and jobs near transit. Previously a journalist, Gloria joined the nonprofit world to work on transit and transit-oriented development at the national and local levels. She was a founding member of the Center for Transit-Oriented Development while serving as a Vice President at the national nonprofit Reconnecting America, which was funded by Congress to promote best practices; she worked on the H+T (housing and transportation) affordability index now used by HUD to prioritize projects for funding, and on the Location Efficient Mortgage before that; and has authored many publications on transit, transit-oriented development, and sustainability.

Monika Shankar, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles
Monika Shankar is PSR-LA’s Health & Environment Associate, directing programs focusing on healthy land use by mobilizing health professionals, advocates, and community groups in policy advocacy. She is deeply committed and engaged in the social and environmental justice movements, as well as improving the conditions of low-income communities and communities of color. Prior to joining PSR-LA, Monika worked with a team of community planners and environmental justice activists at the Ironbound Community Corporation, to resolve issues including air pollution from incinerators and a local port, diesel exhaust from trucks, land pollution from over 50 contaminated industrial sites, and the remediation of one of the dirtiest rivers in the U.S., the Passaic River. Monika holds a B.A. in Spanish and Philosophy from Loyola Marymount University, and a M.A. in International Urban Development from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy (The New School).

Sam Tepperman-Gelfant, Public Advocates
Sam is a Senior Staff Attorney at Public Advocates, which he first joined as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in 2007. There, he has advocated for equitable development, community benefits and affordable housing throughout the Bay Area, and has led statewide policy conversations. He leads Public Advocates’ work with the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord to bring affordable housing, quality jobs, accessible parks, and healthy neighborhoods to the redevelopment of the massive Concord Naval Weapons Station. Sam also works to promote investment without displacement in low-income, urban neighborhoods in Oakland, Richmond and other Bay Area cities. Additionally, he advocates for climate justice and equitable regional land use and housing policies, leading the “Investment Without Displacement” win network in our 6 Big Wins for Social Equity campaign. At the local level, he has increased housing opportunities for low-income people and people of color through policy advocacy and supporting breakthrough litigation such as Urban Habitat v. City of Pleasanton and Williams v. City of Antioch. Before joining Public Advocates, Sam clerked for the Hon. John P. Fullam of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and in the Staff Attorney’s Office of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Matt Vander Sluis, Greenbelt Alliance
Matt Vander Sluis heads Greenbelt Alliance’s Homes and Neighborhoods initiative: he leads the organization’s regional policy development and advocacy, and oversees local campaigns to ensure the right development happens in the right places. Prior to joining Greenbelt Alliance in 2010, Matt managed the climate policy program for the Planning and Conservation League, a statewide environmental non-profit in Sacramento. There, he shaped state policies to shorten commutes through better land-use planning. He’s been quoted by a variety of media outlets, including the Atlantic Monthly, the Los Angeles Times and KQED’s QUEST. He majored in American Studies at Stanford University.

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