Environment 185A

The Sustainability Talks allow lecturers to speak about specialized subjects including environmental media, renewable energy, eco-entrepreneurships, environmental justice, water consumption, environmental health, and sustainable food systems. Speakers range from writers, professors, community activists, environmentalists, non- and for-profit business representatives, and government officials.

*Environment 185A is a one-unit class held on Wednesdays from 3-4:50pm. Lectures are free and open to UCLA students, faculty and staff.

Fall 2016



September 28 - Angela Sun

A UCLA Bruin alumni, Angela Sun broke boundaries in the world of sports and media as the first Asian-American female host to appear on networks such as ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, Tennis Channel, and Fox Sports. Angela has hosted the “YAHOO! SPORTS MINUTE” section and served as sideline host for NBC’s summer hit“AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR”. In addition to her career in media and athletics, Angela is an environmentalist focusing on plastic waste. She has conducted field research on the Great Barrier Reef as well as surveyed the reefs of the Andaman Sea. Angela was one of the few selected as citizen marine biologists for the Malibu Reef Check internship program in Thailand, becoming a certified EcoDiver in November 2009. In 2013, Angela directed and executive produced the independent feature documentary film called “Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”


October 5 - Melissa Manousos

Melissa Manousos joined the EcoSet team after nearly 11 years as a freelance Coordinator in the Film, TV, and Commercial Production industry. Melissa is currently the Production Coordinator, serving as the liaison between EcoSet and the various Production and Event teams with which they partner. She has lived and worked in New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles and brings a finely-honed knowledge of the production process to the materials management and landfill diversion practices at EcoSet. She is excited to consistently combine her knack for efficiency, and her Production knowledge, with a passion for sustainability and the chance to lead the push toward Zero Waste. EcoSet has provided the opportunity to delve deeper into her self-taught environmental education to learn more about sustainability best practices. A native of Oakland, CA, she enjoys spending her free time with her boyfriend, Andrew, exploring the boundless secrets of Los Angeles, cooking delectable meals, and cultivating the art of alcohol mixology.


October 12 - Damon Nagami

Damon Nagami is a Senior Attorney and director of NRDC’s Southern California Ecosystems Project, which focuses on wildlife preservation, parkland protection, and sustainable land-use planning. Most recently, he has been fighting to prevent a toll road from paving over California’s San Onofre State Beach and working with communities to evaluate potential routes for a proposed high-speed rail line through downtown Los Angeles. Nagami also codirects NRDC’s Community Fracking Defense Project, which helps local residents and elected officials across the country exercise their democratic voice to protect their communities from the harms of industrial fracking. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. He works in NRDC’s Santa Monica office.


October 19 - Michael Swords & Erica Reiner

Prior to joining LACI, Michael Swords served as the Executive Director of Strategic Research Initiatives and Global Partnerships within the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR) at UCLA. In that capacity, he was responsible for developing large, multi-disciplinary research centers and institutes. He was also responsible for developing partnerships with government agencies, foundations, industry and non-profits, both here in the United States and abroad. Mike has also served as the Board President for Cleantech Los Angeles (CLA) which, prior to merging with LACI, was a multi-institutional collaboration between UCLA, USC, Caltech, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (CRALA), Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Business Council (LABC), Central City Association (CCA) and the Los Angeles Economic Development Council (LAEDC) to establish Los Angeles as the global leader in research, commercialization, and deployment of clean technologies. He also serves on the Board of the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters (LALCV), and the Executive Advisory Committee for the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation.


October 26 - John Zinner & John Marler

John Zinner, ZC’s principal and a LEED AP since 2002, founded the firm in 1990. He brings clients a broad sustainability and environmental perspective as well as experience in policy development, project and program planning, and project management. John has developed and managed groundbreaking sustainable development and environmental mitigation programs for Playa Vista, Whole Foods, Boeing Corporation, the Cities of of Rancho Cucamonga and Long Beach, in addition to international cities, among others. His leadership has been recognized through numerous awards, he has lectured nationwide before professional, university and public audiences, and he has been interviewed on Good Morning America. In acknowledgment of John’s contributions to the field of green building and sustainability he was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council as a LEED Fellow in 2012. Prior to founding ZC, John founded and managed the Los Angeles office of an environmental consulting firm and served as both Energy Coordinator and Planning Advisor for the City of Los Angeles Office of the Mayor. He holds an MA in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Southern California and a BA in Political Science from The Colorado College.


November 2 - Tim Bevins & Purnima Subramanian

Tim Bevins works to help create a more vibrant, just and ecologically sound urban realm at a variety of scales. Through the development of urban design interventions, sustainable community recommendations, short and long-range environmental planning and LEED-ND certification guidance, he helps advance Global Green's vision of a more sustainable future. Tim holds a Bachelor's degree from UCLA as well as a Master of Urban + Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia and a Master of Urban Design from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining Global Green, he held a fellowship with the National Park Service where he worked on bicycle trail planning and design.

Purnima is a corporate sustainability professional currently serving Clean Agency as Research Associate and Project Manager. Purnima joined Clean after finishing her Master’s in Sustainable Systems from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. In her role at Clean, Purnima works on design and implementation of sustainability strategy and life cycle assessment and verification for established as well as emerging brands across varied industries. Some of the industries served include Technology and Communications, Processed Food, Fashion, Electronics, Construction and Packaging. In her Master’s program Purnima lead a project for leading breakfast cereal and snack maker, Kellogg’s, to make the business case for sustainable agriculture in their Asia-Pacific division. Recommendations from this successful project was then translated into Kellogg’s ambitious 2020 sustainability goals. Purnima has a Bachelor’s in Materials Science and Nanotechnology, a sound technical base that powers her contributions to sustainability grounded in scientific research. Like many others, her sustainability journey began with her love for animals and the environment, growing up she fostered a happy cluster of stray animals from the streets of India.


November 9 - Loghan Call & Tyler Watson


November 16 - Nurit Katz

UCLA’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, Nurit Katz is working to foster partnerships among academic, research, and operational departments and further the goals and initiatives of sustainability at UCLA. As Executive Officer for UCLA Facilities Management, Nurit provides strategy support to make the university more operationally efficient and coordinates with Emergency Management on resilience planning. Nurit holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, a Masters in Public Policy from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and a BA in Environmental Education from Humboldt State University.


November 30 - Eric Ellestad

Eric Ellestad is the Founder and CEO of Local Roots, an agricultural technology company pioneering modular indoor farming technologies. He is an entrepreneur and investor focused on scalable technologies that tackle some of the worlds most challenging resource scarcity driven problems. Eric is the product of a 4th generation family-owned manufacturing company that is the North American market-leader for refrigerated semi-truck trailers. After spending his early career at the family business, he became an angel investor and built a portfolio of early stage companies that are commercializing technologies around food, water and energy. He serves on the board of two companies and advises across the portfolio. Eric received his B.A. in Applied Mathematics, Economics and Pre-Medical Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and studied Supply Chain Management and Technology Commercialization at USC Marshall School of Business. He spends his free time playing soccer, surfing, hiking and camping.


Fall 2015



UCLA’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, Nurit Katz is working to foster partnerships among academic, research, and operational departments and further the goals and initiatives of sustainability at UCLA. As Executive Officer for UCLA Facilities Management, Nurit provides strategy support to make the university more operationally efficient and coordinates with Emergency Management on resilience planning. Nurit holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, a Masters in Public Policy from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and a BA in Environmental Education from Humboldt State University.




Marlene Grossman is Board President of MoveLA, a non-profit organization focusing on building a coalition for a comprehensive transportation system in Los Angeles County . Marlene co-founded Pacoima Beautiful, a non-profit organization focusing on environmental justice and environmental health in the northeast San Fernando Valley community of PacoimaMs. Grossman has degrees in Education, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning from UCLA.  She has served on the boards of TreePeople, Coro Southern California and is a former appointee to the Los Angeles City Board of Zoning Appeal.



Michael Wittman has long been an environmental activist for an ever-growing number of national grassroots movements. He brings to bear a lifetime of experience in Alternative Energy. In 1970 he was a volunteer organizer of the very first Earth Day in New York City. His highest priority has long been the defense and conservation of all natural resources. With over 30 years as a well respected entrepreneur, marketing specialist and event producer in the professional beauty industry, Michael has been instrumental in the building of international firms such as Jhirmack, Paul Mitchell Systems, Tweezerman and Colorbrites. In 1985 he was the creator and CEO of Metropolis Technology, Inc., a professional beauty manufacturing company.

His affinity for this planet's continued good health has never wavered as he has continued to advocate prudence and moderation in the environment. He is also a life-long animal rights activist. An accomplished, knowledgeable and engaging public speaker, Michael has approached American fuel reform from a refreshingly calm and reasoned perspective while broadening the public consciousness of reasonably affordable and underutilized natural resources. In 2006, Michael founded and became chief executive officer of Third Planet Energy Inc., a California biofuel company. While continuing to expand and facilitate biofuel and alternative energy interests, in 2010 he launched The Blue Sky Enterprise, an alternative energy consultation and supply company.




Strela Cervas coordinates the Energy and Climate Justice Program for CEJA. She helps communities across California chart their own vision of a clean energy future, and empower people to speak for themselves and to develop their own policies to transition off of dirty energy. Strela became an organizer with the Pilipino Workers’ Center for 8 years in LA where she worked on a broad range of issues and organized low-wage Pilipino caregivers to fight for meal breaks and wage theft, taking on intimidating attorneys. Strela also helped launch the first California Household Worker Bill of Rights campaign along with other women leaders from other organizations. Today, she is honored to sit on PWC’s Board of Directors. She joined the California Environmental Justice Alliance in 2008 determined to fight for communities who are suffering from asthma and other health issues because of environmental injustice.  Sterla is most inspired when community leaders are empowered enough to take on corporate polluters.



Caroline Farrell is the Executive Director of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, otherwise called CRPE. For the last fifteen years, Caroline has been working with low income communities and communities of color primarily in the south San Joaquin Valley on issues related to dairy development, hazardous waste facilities, land application of biosolids, and other industrial sources of pollution. She served as Vice-Chair of the Steering Committee for the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, as a Member of the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee on AB 32 for the California Air Resources Board from 2008 to 2010.  She sits on the Board of Directors for Communities for a Better Environment, the Planning and Conservation League, and Act for Women and Girls.  In addition, she co-authored with Luke Cole Structural Racism, Structural Pollution and the Need for a New Paradigm for the Washington University Journal of Law & Policy and authored, SB 115: California’s Response to Environmental Justice- Process over Substance, for the Golden Gate Environmental Law Journal and A Just Transition: Lessons Learned from the Environmental Justice Movement for the Duke Forum for Law & Social Change.  Caroline received the 2007 Dr. Zweig Community Health Advocate Award from the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice and OMB Watch’s Rising Star in Public Interest award in 2008.



Melissa Lin Perrella is a Senior Attorney and Director of Western Air Quality and Environmental Justice in NRDC’s Santa Monica office. Melissa specializes in representing communities adversely affected by our nation’s freight transportation system. She is an expert on the health effects of diesel emissions and on solutions for reducing air pollution from port and rail yard operations. Melissa has litigated to enforce the National Environmental Policy Act and California Environmental Quality Act, and has helped develop and defend landmark state and local clean air initiatives against federal preemption claims. Melissa joined NRDC in 2004 after working in private practice at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in Los Angeles, CA as a general litigation associate. She received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, and bachelor’s degrees in Ethnic Studies and Social Welfare from U.C. Berkeley. Melissa is also a mother and proud finisher of the Boston Marathon.




Katherine Pease is the watershed scientist at Heal the Bay, a local non-profit environmental organization focused on protecting and improving southern California’s ocean, streams, and watersheds. Katherine is responsible for protecting and monitoring watershed health in the greater Los Angeles area. She leads volunteer monitoring efforts, represents Heal the Bay in watershed stakeholder groups, and assists in policy recommendations. Katherine completed her undergraduate degree at Barnard College and received her PhD from UCLA, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.


Michael Feinstein is a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Council-member.  In elected office, Feinstein made his mark on affordable housing, and tenant protection, environmental health and sustainability, parks and open space, public transit and human-scale development, and civil liberties, living wages and supporting small local business. Feinstein's political goals are to elect more Greens, green public policy and transform the electoral system to a system of proportional representation with public financing, fair ballot access and debate inclusion for all ballot qualified candidates.



UCLA’s Dr. Ryan Harrigan works at the intersection of biology, climatology and socioeconomics. His research focuses on how disease vectors can change under the influence of both natural and man-made factors. Dr. Harrigan is currently developing weighting ensemble techniques that capture the most predictive features of a suite of species distribution models to accurately assess risk for various vector-borne disease in various regions of the world. His latest efforts have focused on predicting West Nile virus in North America and malaria in Africa and South America. Dr. Harrigan is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He earned his BA in Biology and Archaeology, his MA in Biology and his Ph.D. in Biology, all from Boston University.


John Benson has pursued a wide range of basic and applied questions in wildlife ecology.  For his PhD, he studied wolves and coyotes in Ontario, Canada to identify behavioral and demographic mechanisms and consequences of Canis hybridization.  He has also worked as a research biologist studying the highly endangered Florida panther and predator-prey dynamics between moose, wolves, and bears in interior Alaska.  For his Master’s research, he reintroduced federally threatened Louisiana black bears to portions of their former range and studied their ecology in remnant and reintroduced populations.  John has also worked capturing polar bears on the sea ice north of Alaska and tracking Canada lynx in northern Maine.  John is currently modeling population dynamics and behavior of mountain lions and bobcats in the Santa Monica Mountains as part of a collaborative study with the National Park Service and UCLA.



Kathleen Talbot joined Reformation in 2014 to help further the brand’s mission to lead and inspire a sustainable way to be fashionable, and challenge the status quo in the fashion industry. Reformation designs and manufactures limited-edition collections in its Los Angeles factory - the first sustainable sewing factory in the U.S. Kathleen directs sustainability programs that range from fabric sourcing, supply chain compliance, and operational efficiencies to make beautiful styles at a fraction of the environmental impact generated by most fashion brands.  Kathleen also works on customer-facing campaigns and services to raise awareness around the impact fashion has on the environment, and how Reformation offers sustainable solutions. 

 Prior to joining Reformation, Kathleen worked as a Sustainability Officer for a liberal arts university and as a National Science Foundation consultant for public school districts to design and implement sustainability programs across curriculum, campus operations, and community-engagement. Kathleen holds bachelor’s degrees in Global Development, Latin American Studies, and Economics from Seattle Pacific University, and received her MA in Sustainability from Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability.



Zachary Rynew joined LACBC as Volunteer and Education Coordinator in June 2015. For years, he helped visualize many of the city’s major projects (LA Live, Hollywood Blvd., Metro Rail, UCLA) at the Urban Simulation Team at UCLA and had his work featured at the Getty. He has always traveled the city by bike and comments about Los Angeles through Cicla Valley, the LA Post Examiner and We Like LA. He was a winner at the LA Improv Comedy Festival and ran in five LA Marathons.

Zachary holds a B.A. in Architecture and minored in City Planning at the University of California. After working at Autodesk, Zachary continued his graduate studies at UCLA before working at the Urban Simulation Team. Previously, he also served as Education Director for Finish the Ride. Zachary races for the Bicycle.net Racing Team and you'll find him rolling across the San Fernando Valley mainly on his road or cyclocross bike.



Dan Allen, an Iowa native, is proud to practice a much different sort of agriculture than his home state is known for. As Farmscape's CEO, he oversees a multiple bottom-line approach that seeks to maximize the venture's social and environmental impact as well as its financial well-being. Dan is a Master Gardener and a member of the LA Food Policy Council's Working Group on Urban Agriculture. He is also a periodic contributor to The Huffington Post and Seedstock.



Robert Egger is the Founder and President of L.A. Kitchen, which recovers fresh fruits and vegetables to fuel a culinary arts job training program for men and women coming out of foster care and older men and women returning from incarceration. L.A. Kitchen is currently holding a pilot program. Robert pioneered this model during this 24 year tenure as the President of the DC Central Kitchen, the country’s first “community kitchen” where food donated by hospitality businesses and farms is used to fuel a nationally recognized culinary arts job training program. Since opening in 1989, the kitchen has produced over 26 million meals and helped 1,000 men and women gain full time employment. The Kitchen operates its own revenue generating business, Fresh Start Catering, as well as the Campus Kitchens Project, which coordinates similar recycling/meal programs in over 40 colleges or high school based kitchens.

Robert was included in the Non-Profit Times list of the “50 Most Powerful and Influential Nonprofit Leaders” from 2006-2009. He was the recipient of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s 2007 “Lifetime Achievement” award and the 2004 James Beard Foundation “Humanitarian of the Year” award.  He has been named an Oprah Angel and Washingtonian of the Year and one of the Ten Most Caring People in America by the Catering Institute. 


Fall 2014

Photo Credit: Beth Doane Team

Photo Credit: Beth Doane Team


Beth Doane, author, founder of Raintees, and social entrepreneur founded her first company when she was 22. She continued to launched exclusive European fashion across the United States. It seemed like a dream job at first but Beth soon saw the human rights violations, environmental pollution and child labor prevalent in the industry. Determined to show that fashion could be produced ethically, Beth created her own apparel line called Raintees in 2008. By donating school supplies to children living in severely endangered tropical forests and featuring their artwork on every Raintee, Beth produced the brand in sustainable fabrics and paid her factory workers a living wage while planting a tree for every item sold. Today, Raintees has planted thousands of trees around the world and helped provide an education for youth in over 28 countries. While donating supplies to remote areas of Central and South America, Beth collected an array of inspirational stories that became her award-winning children’s book, From the Jungle. Her remarkable journey has captivated audiences at TEDx, the United Nations, Google, and the National Mall in Washington, DC. With features in National Geographic, Glamour, In Style and other top tier publications, Beth was also selected as an ambassador for skincare brand Kiehl’s and featured in celebrity photographer John Russo’s book 100 Making a Difference alongside Michelle Obama and Prince Edward. Beth also owns the consulting firm Andira Creative.


Photo Credit: Lauren Lilly Team

Photo Credit: Lauren Lilly Team


Lauren Lilly is the owner & co-founder of clothing line Yellow 108.  She launched in Nov. 2010, but she has been in this industry for about 8 years. Lilly does many things from creative visual content, accounting, sales, marketing, and connecting the dots between departments.  Some days she's a therapist, other days a public speaker, but mostly they just call her The Boss.  When coming up with the initial concept for Yellow 108 the core values of the company along with the foundation for their mission were the most important pieces to the puzzle. Lilly wanted to create a lifestyle brand that inspired happiness and faith in people.

"Yellow 108 is a lifestyle brand that is built on a foundation driven by sustainability. The bigger picture of sustainable is the focus of our talk. From manufacturing, operations, and financial structure to creativity, grass roots marketing, and the core belief that happiness is a choice and maintaining the ability to change is very important. Everything is relative to the ingredients in your idea. The focus of the talk is to support the ideas of the students by telling our story and the environmental impact we have made."


Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times


Jonathan Gold is the restaurant and food critic for the Los Angeles Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2007 and was a finalist again in 2011. A Los Angeles native, he began writing the Counter Intelligence column for the L.A. Weekly in 1986, wrote about death metal and gangsta rap for Rolling Stone and Spin among other places, and is delighted that he has managed to forge a career out of the professional eating of tacos.


Photo Credit: Joseph Martinus

Photo Credit: Joseph Martinus


Cliff Gladstein is the President of Gladstein, Neandross & Associates. Since founding GNA in 1993, Cliff has been instrumental in the development of environmental programs and policies that have improved air quality, increased the use of clean fuels and advanced technologies in transportation, and that have spurred the creation of innovative public-private partnerships in a variety of sectors.  It is for these reasons that he has become one of the most sought after leaders within the environmental and energy communities—he offers unparalleled experience, insight, and perspective on critical issues at the very heart of our transportation and energy systems. Cliff works on both coasts, spending time in both the New York and Santa Monica offices of GNA.

Joe Lou, President of Coalition for Clean Air, Governor's Appointee 


Photo Credit: Michael S. Hanrahan Team

Photo Credit: Michael S. Hanrahan Team


Ellen Lomonico & Danh Lai, ESLP Action Research Team Directors

Michael Scott Hanrahan, Educator, Filmmaker, Founder of Earth Media Labwho teaches environmental media storytelling at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Carsey-Wolf Center for Film, TV, and New Media. Born in New York City, he studied marine science and film at the University of Miami. For the past twenty years, he’s told stories about the natural world for clients like the Discovery Channel, The Nature Conservancy, and NOAA. The Last Extinction is the first in his series of ‘environmental thrillers.

Photo Credit: Devon Deming Team

Photo Credit: Devon Deming Team

NOVEMBER 12, 2014 - "Moving LAX: Mobility for a Greener Future"

Devon Deming has been the Rideshare Program Manager for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), since 2003.  She directs all of LAWA’s Employee Transportation Benefits Programs, including mass transit, vanpool, carpool, biking and walking programs at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Los Angeles/Ontario Airport (LA/ONT) and Van Nuys Airport (VNY) and takes an active role in regional transportation planning and implementation through her involvement on the Metro South Bay Governance Council, the Metro ExpressLanes Community Advisory Committee, and the board of the South Bay / Westside Transportation Management Association (SBW TMA). She has also served as the President of the Southern California Chapter of the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), from 2007 to present, is a Certified Member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), an AQMD-certified Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC) and a regular transit rider. She graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a B.A. in English Literature and was an Administrative Assistant for the UCLA Institute of the Environment (IoE), from 1997 to 1999.


NOVEMBER 19, 2014 –  "WATER"

Kimberly O’Cain, Sustainability Analyst for the City of Santa Monica.


NOVEMBER 26, 2014 –  TBD


DECEMBER 3, 2014 –  "Conservation, Activism, and Sustainable Food"

Photo Credit: Kian Schulman Team

Photo Credit: Kian Schulman Team

"Rescuing Wildlife from Rat Poison"

Kian Schulman, RN, MSN, founded Poison Free Malibu in 2012 when she learned of the deaths from rat poison of mountain lions and other wildlife in the Santa Monica Mountains. She started a campaign of informing local Malibu stores that were selling rodent poisons of the damage that was happening, and all six pulled the poisons from their shelves. She then set up a meeting with City of Malibu officials with presentations from the National Park Service and the California Wildlife Center. Subsequently, the City passed a Resolution discouraging the purchase and use of rodent poisons and banning its use on city property. Seven other southern California cities have followed suit, with more in the works. Poison Free Malibu provided critical input to the recently implemented Santa Monica Mountains Local Coastal Plan, via Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's office, for a provision banning anticoagulant rodent poisons in the Coastal Zone. Also, a bill submitted by Assemblyman Richard Bloom with input from Poison Free Malibu bans certain kinds of rodent poisons from State wildlife areas. It was signed by Governor Brown in September.

Photo Credit: LA Weekly

Photo Credit: LA Weekly

"Living with Lava: Back to the Future Choices for a Flowing World"

Paula Daniels is Senior Fellow on Food Systems, Water and Climate at the Office of Governor Jerry Brown.  She is also the Founder and Chair Emeritus  of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, a policy based collective impact initiative of food system leaders working toward an environmentally sustainable, equitable and regionally based food system. The Council and its staff serve as the backbone of over 100 active and 500 connected individuals and organizations.  Its key initiatives are: a coordinated healthy foods strategy, with a focus on neighborhood market conversions; and a Good Food Purchasing Policy, a multi-faceted and comprehensive policy with metrics and guidelines for large institutional food purchasers.



Chancee Martorell, Founder of Thai Community Development Center

D’Artagnan Scorza, Executive Director of Social Justice Learning Institute

Fall 2013






Mark Kitchell is an academy award-winning filmmaker. We will begin the class by screening parts of his most recent film: A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet. This film provides a big-picture exploration of the environmental movement – grassroots and global activism spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change.   We will watch three of the five acts of the film (Act 2: 1970’s environmental movement in response to pollution, Act 3: alternatives and environmental activism, Act 5: climate change). Discussion/Q&A with the director following screening. 

About the Principals and People Featured in the Film

Director/Producer/Writer Mark Kitchell’s Berkeley in the Sixties – one of the defining films about the protest movements that shook America during the 1960s – received the Sundance Audience Award and was nominated for an Academy Award. Executive Producer Marc Weiss is the creator and former Executive Producer of P.O.V., the award-winning series now in its 26th season on PBS. Interviews were shot by Vicente Franco. It was edited by Ken Schneider, Veronica Selver, Jon Beckhardt and Gary Weimberg. Original music is by George Michalski and Dave Denny, Garth Stevenson, Randall Wallace and Todd Boekelheide. Narrators include: Robert Redford; Ashley Judd; activist Van Jones; author Isabel Allende; and Meryl Streep.

Featured in the film are: the incomparable Lois Gibbs, leader of Love Canal; Paul “I work for whales” Watson; Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org; Paul Hawken and Stewart Brand, alternative ecology visionaries; Martin Litton, at 92 thundering, “If you haven’t got any hatred in your heart, what are you living on?”; Carl Pope and John Adams, longtime heads of the Sierra Club and NRDC; and Bob Bullard, who closes the film on a universal note: “There’s no Hispanic air. There’s no African-American air. There’s air! And if you breathe air – and most people I know do breathe air – then I would consider you an environmentalist.”





Christopher Cannon is the director of environmental management for the Port of Los Angeles, a position he has held since October 2010. Cannon has worked at the Port of Los Angeles as a consultant since 2004, most recently helping to manage the implementation and daily operation of the highly successful Clean Truck Program.

In his new role, Cannon will be responsible for balancing commerce and growth with ecological sustainability at the nation’s busiest container port. The division assesses environmental impacts of development projects and determines appropriate mitigation measures. It also prepares and distributes any environmental documentation mandated by state and federal law.

Before his work on the Clean Truck Program, Cannon worked with the Port Environmental Management Division’s Air Quality and CEQA groups, supporting the development of key air projects such as the Clean Air Action Plan and its efforts to complete critical environmental impact reports for Port-related projects. He has 21 years of experience in the environmental services industry, working on a range of projects while employed by ENVIRON International Corporation and TRC Environmental Solutions.

Cannon also spent two years as a legislative assistant for environmental policy on the Washington, D.C. staff of U.S. Representative Martin Sabo of Minnesota. He received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Dartmouth College and a law degree from University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. Cannon currently lives in Los Angeles. 


David Helvarg is an author and Executive Director of Blue Frontier Campaign. He has written: Bue Frontier, The War Against the Greens, 50 Ways to Save the Ocean, Rescue Warriors, Saved by the Sea, and The Golden Shore - California's Love Affair with the Sea.

In addition to his books, Helvarg is editor of the Ocean and Coastal Conservation Guide, organizer of the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards and Blue Vision Summits for ocean activists. He is the winner of Coastal Living Magazine’s 2005 Leadership Award and the 2007 Herman Melville Literary Award. Helvarg worked as a war correspondent in Northern Ireland and Central America, covered a range of issues from military science to the AIDS epidemic, and reported from every continent including Antarctica. An award-winning journalist, he has produced more than 40 broadcast documentaries for PBS, The Discovery Channel, and others. His print work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, LA Times, Smithsonian, Popular Science, Sierra, and Parade. He has done radio work for Marketplace, AP radio, and Pacifica. He has led workshops for journalists in Poland, Turkey, Tunisia, Slovakia and Washington, D.C. Helvarg is a licensed private investigator, body-surfer and scuba diver. 




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.  Garibay grew up in the small farmworker town and graduated from Parlier Unified District Schools.  As a first generation student, she attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and law and society in 2008. Upon graduation, she joined the California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc Community Equity Initiative (CEI) as the programs first community worker. While at CRLA, Garibay earned a Master of Public Administration from Fresno State.   

Phoebe Seaton is the co-founder and co-director of LCJA.  Prior to launching Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, she directed the Community Equity Initiative (CEI) at California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. and was the policy coordinator for issues related to water and land use at California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.  Seaton initiated the CEI  to address critical infrastructure and service deficits in low income, unincorporated communities in California. At CRLA, she also directed the organization's Delano office and engaged in legal advocacy on housing and employment claims. She received her JD from UCLA and her BA in history from UC Berkeley.  Prior to and during law school, Seaton worked in Guatemala, addressing human rights violations.  


Allan Jones is Chief Development Officer, Energy and Climate Change of the City of Sydney. Allan is also a Board member of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility. Prior to his appointment, Allan was Chief Executive Officer of the London Climate Change Agency and prior to that worked as Woking Borough Council’s Director of Thameswey Limited.

Jones' role at the City is to deliver its Green Infrastructure Plan and major energy and climate change projects, including trigeneration, renewable energy, advanced waste treatment, automated waste collection and decentralized water. Since his appointment three years ago, the City has reduced Council’s overall greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and is well on the way to reducing Council’s overall emissions 70% by 2030, as well as setting in place the green infrastructure to reduce emissions in its local government area 70% by 2030.

The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility is a national facility based at Griffith University studying how Australia can adapt to the impacts of climate change such as more frequent and severe droughts, floods and sea level rise.

During his time in London Jones set up and ran the London Climate Change Agency, developed the energy and climate change elements of the London Plan, Mayor’s Climate Change Action Plan and the Mayoral Climate Change Statutory Duty as well as developing and implementing decentralized energy and renewable energy projects in London.

During his time at Woking, Allan reduced CO2 emissions by 77.5% from 1990 levels to 2004 and undertook groundbreaking work on energy efficiency, trigeneration, renewable gases from waste, alternative fuels for transport, renewable energy and fuel cells. Under Allan, Woking installed 81 private wire decentralized energy systems, nearly 10% of the UK’s total installed solar energy photovoltaics and the first fuel cell CHP in the UK.

Jones was appointed a Member of the British Empire in 1999 for services to energy and water efficiency and was instrumental in Woking Borough Council gaining the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development 2001 in the development of Local Sustainable Community Energy Systems, the only local authority ever to receive a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.




Derek Steele, the civic engagement program director of the Social Justice Learning Institute, is responsible for the community’s awareness of, and participation in, SJLI’s social justice programs.  He trains youth and community members through SJLI's healthy eating, gardening and tree care workshops while providing policy and advocacy leadership articulating community priorities.  Steele worked as an engineer after graduating from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.  After three years of working in his field at Northrop Grumman Corporation, Steele left the company and joined SJLI's team.  A major contributor and builder of the 100 Seeds of Change food system initiative, Steele has been working to advance urban agriculture, reduce diet-related diseases and improve the livelihood of his fellow community members since 2010.


Kabira Stokes is the founder and CEO of Isidore Electronics Recycling, an e-waste recycling social enterprise that trains and hires previously incarcerated people in Los Angeles. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Southern California with a focus in prison re-entry policy and environmental governance. She has consulted for the non-profit Green For All, worked for the City of Los Angeles as Senior Field Deputy for then-city council President Eric Garcetti, focusing on public safety and youth development issues, and was the co-founder and vice-president of the Young Progressive Majority (YPM) of Los Angeles, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing young voter participation in local and state elections. Stokes is a graduate of Vassar College with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and Spanish. In 2010, Stokes was the recipient of the Emerging Giant of Justice Award from CLUE Los Angeles, and in 2013, named a "Social Innovation Rockstar" by Yoxi.





Andy Shrader advises council member Paul Koretz on issues related to the environment and sustainability, working to ensure the city can meet its present economic, environmental and sociopolitical needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 

Shrader was elected in 2003 as a founding member of the Mar Vista Community Council, where his most notable resolution instituted the popular Mar Vista Farmer’s Market.  He holds both a masters in screenwriting and a certificate in global sustainability from UCLA, wrote the celebrity speeches for 10 years for the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women in support of cancer research, treatment and support, and was awarded Heal the Bay’s “2011 Super Healer Award” for his activist work on marine debris plastic waste issues. 


Anna Cummins has over 10 years of experience in environmental non-profit work, education, writing, and campaign development. She has worked in marine conservation, coastal watershed management, sustainability education, and high school ecology instruction. Cummins received her Bachelor of Arts in history from Stanford University, and her masters in international environmental policy from the Monterey Institute for International Studies. In 2001, she received a fellowship from the Sustainable Communities Leadership Program, to work with Santa Cruz based non-profit Save Our Shores, coordinating bilingual outreach education and community relations.

In 2007, Cummins joined the Algalita Marine Research Foundation as an education adviser, conducting school outreach and giving public presentations on plastic marine pollution. With Algalita, she completed a month long, 4,000-mile research expedition studying plastic debris in the North Pacific Gyre, and a 2,000 mile cycling/speaking tour from Vancouver to Mexico, giving talks about plastic pollution. Cummins and her husband, Marcus Eriksen recently co-founded 5 Gyres, in collaboration with Algalita and Pangaea Explorations, to research and communicate plastic pollution in the worlds oceans. Anna was elected a National Fellow of the Explorers Club in 2010.





Christian McGuigan is currently Director of Social Action Film Campaigns at Participant Media, a Los Angeles-based global entertainment company specializing in socially-relevant documentary and narrative feature films, television, publishing and digital media.  At Participant, McGuigan is responsible for developing and executing social action campaigns associated with each film with the express goal of driving impact through meaningful social change.  Recent campaigns have addressed issues including mandatory minimum drug laws, freedom of political expression, civic action in the digital age, fair sentencing of youth, and hunger in America.  As part of his work for Social Action, he writes and produces original video content for each campaign.

Prior to joining Participant, McGuigan worked as an independent producer for film, television and commercial projects in New York and Los Angeles and has handled business and legal affairs on numerous feature films. Most recently, he produced the short film, Rez, winner of the 2011 NYU Spike Lee Production Fund Award.  McGuigan earned a Bachelor of Arts in english literature from the University of Dallas and a J.D. from Chapman University School of Law.

Paul Burgis is the general manager of Golden Road Brewery, based in Santa Monica.  He graduated from UCSB with a Bachelor of Arts in business/economics and a minor in philosophy, and received his MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management.  Previously, Burgis has worked for Fortune 500 company, Anheuser-Busch.  





 Zak Zaidman is the co-founder and CEO of Kopali Organics, a brand of pure dark chocolate and fruit treats crafted entirely at the point-of-origin of the cacao. Certified organic and fair trade, Kopali’s chocolates are every bit as important as they are delicious. Motivated by a deep purpose and guided by a clear strategy, Kopali’s chocolate sweetness has already managed to reach, delight and inspire millions of fans while helping to support thousands of farmers who in turn care for ecosystems that support all life. This is a dream come true for Zak whose ultimate vision is harnessing the power of enlightened commerce to help create a more just, compassionate, and sustainable world for all.

Raised in Mexico City, Zak’s fascination with philosophy and science led him first to a Cognitive NSF fellowship at UC Berkeley. Zak’s experience with cancer in his mid twenties led him to seek a more purpose-driven and sustainable life. He left academia to start Gravity, a virtual reality software company with clients including IBM, Disney, and Intel. After selling Gravity to Frog Design in 2001, Zak started leading meditation groups in its conference rooms before leading international interfaith delegations to India and the Middle East. Bringing it all back down to earth, Zak then drove a vegetable-oil-powered bus from the Bioneers conference in Richmond, California to the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, promoting sustainability to millions. Zak founded Kopali with his partners while living and farming on their off-the-grid educational farm and sustainability center there in the rainforest, where he also studied permaculture. Although often still on the move, from NYC to California, and down to Kopali Chocolates’ point of origin in South America, these days you will mostly spot Zak sharing Kopali goodness all around Los Angeles, California where he lives with his wife Monica. Zak still teaches meditation and also loves writing songs, hiking, surfing, and finding reasons to be optimistic about humanity’s future.

Mary Baldwin, Farmers Market Recovery Program Manager, joins the Food Forward team from GOOD Worldwide, a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward, where she focused on aligning business strategy with social impact. Mary’s interest in gleaning began at an early age: growing up her family had two over-yielding apple trees which caused great angst to her 8-year old self. Continuous rotten apple clean up was standing between her and playtime. She decided to turn the family garden into a community co-op and sold the excess. When she isn’t cleaning up apples, she is volunteering with the Garden Science Program at Carthay Center Elementary School and at Thomas King Starr Middle School, and also works with Silver Lake Farms growing, arranging, and selling bouquets.





Katy Delaney is a National Park Service ecologist at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.  She completed her undergraduate education at UCSD, and received her PhD from UCLA’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department.  Her past research has involved studying the impacts of urbanization and habitat fragmentation on the genetics of lizards and birds in the Santa Monica Mountains, and developing a conservation plan to protect biodiversity in Southern California.  


Shaily Mahendra is an assistant professor within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.  Her research interests lie in the area of microbial interactions with chemical contaminants and nanoparticles for applications ranging from ecotoxicology to biodegradation to disinfection. Bacteria and fungi serve as useful indicators of potential toxicity to higher organisms and ecosystem health, but they can also detoxify a variety of environmental pollutants. Conversely, antimicrobial materials can be used for disinfection applications. 

Mahendra's laboratory pursues research projects employing microbiological, molecular biological, and isotopic tools to characterize microbial communities in engineered and natural environments, optimize biological processes to improve the performance of wastewater treatment or bioremediation systems, explore production of biofuels from industrial wastewater, and investigate mechanisms of transformation, toxicity, and trophic transfer of nanoparticles. Thus, a comprehensive study of the implications and applications of the biotechnology and nanotechnology revolutions will enable us to use their benefits without environmental and public health liabilities.





Kenneth R. Weiss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, focuses on topics at the intersection of science, environment and public health. He is now working on a book that draws the connections between women’s rights and reproductive health with hunger, poverty, national security and environmental decline. The book was inspired by his series, Beyond 7 Billion, published last year in the Los Angeles Times on the causes and consequences of human population growth. He was the lead reporter for the Altered Oceans series, which showed how the slow creep of environmental decay often has a more profound impact than cataclysmic natural disasters. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting, Weiss has won the George Polk Award, the Grantham Prize, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Howard Foundation’s National Journalism Award and many others. He holds a bachelor’s degree in folklore from UC Berkeley and lives in Carpinteria, California. Like way too many Californians, he prefers to conduct his own ocean research from his surfboard. 

*For speakers from past years, click here.