Meet the Team

CHEJ Staff

Lois Marie Gibbs
Lois Marie Gibbs
Stephen Lester
Stephen Lester
Gustavo Andrade
Gustavo Andrade
Sharon Franklin
Sharon Franklin
Teresa Mills
Teresa Mills

Lois Marie Gibbs

Founder/Leadership Training Academy Director

Lois founded the Love Canal Homeowners’ Association in 1978 and CHEJ in 1981. Her vision has guided our efforts to provide critical organizing and technical assistance to communities engaged in their own environmental struggles. Lois sits on numerous Boards and Advisory Committees. She is the recipient of honorary Doctorates from SUNY at Cortland, Haverford College in May 2006, Green Mountain College 2009, Medaille College in 2010 and Tufts University in 2013. For her work over the course of her career, she has received the 1990 Goldman Environmental Prize, the 1998 Heinz Award, and the 1999 John Gardner Leadership Award from Independent Sector.

Stephen Lester

Science Director

Stephen received his first Master’s of Science, in Toxicology, from Harvard University, and his second Master’s of Science, in Environmental Health, from New York University. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from American University. Stephen has served on numerous scientific advisory and peer review committees including those of the Natural Resource Council of the National Academy of Sciences, the National institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.

Gustavo Andrade

Community Organizer

Gustavo is a community organizer, trainer, strategist and advocate for full rights for all people. Prior to joining CHEJ, Mr. Andrade worked as a labor organizer with UNITE HERE! and the Change To Win coalition, leading successful campaigns in Northern Virginia, Los Angeles and Toronto. In 2009, he became the Organizing Director at CASA, the DC region’s largest Immigrant Rights organization and led countless efforts that improved people’s lives.

A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mr. Andrade holds a Bachelor’s degree from Goucher College and is fluent in four languages.

Sharon Franklin

Chief of Operations

Sharon has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, with previous positions as Director of Corporate Relations with an international children’s organization; Executive Director of the Links Foundation, an international African American women’s organization; and Chief Operating Officer of the Montessori Accrediting Commission for Teacher Education. Sharon’s civic service includes serving as the President of the Historic Battery Heights Condominium Association and Board Member for the City of Manassas Housing Trust Fund. She is also a member of Women in Philanthropy and the Cultural Alliance of Washington, DC.

Teresa Mills

Organizer at Large/Small Grants Coordinator

For over 20 years, Teresa has worked as a grassroots leader to help communities find their voices, analyze data and develop strategic plans. She began her activism career by shutting down the Columbus Incinerator, which was polluting her neighborhood and was later defined as the largest emitter of dioxin in the country. Teresa also founded Buckeye Environmental Network, a statewide coalition of grassroots-focused groups. Today she works with CHEJ to train and assist grassroots leaders across the country. Teresa also coordinates CHEJ’s small Grants Program.

Summer ’21 Interns & Fellows

Jessica Klees

Communications Intern

Jessica Klees is an undergraduate at Tufts University studying Psychology and Political Science. In her free time, Jessica enjoys comedy writing and performance. She is interested in using psychology to communicate with others and create messaging for CHEJ’s campaigns.

Simone Lewis

Communications Intern

Simone is an undergraduate student at Tufts University studying Environmental Policy and Economics. She has a background in political and civic work, and is particularly passionate about environmental justice and equitable sustainability. She is thrilled to get to work on CHEJ’s campaigns!

Anabelle Farnham

Communications Intern

Anabelle Farnham is an undergraduate at Pomona College studying environmental analysis and anthropology. She is passionate about examining social justice topics from intersectional perspectives and is excited to learn more in a hands-on setting with CHEJ. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, swimming, and teaching & practicing yoga. She began working with CHEJ in April 2021 and is thrilled to be a part of the team.

Isabel Maternowski

Community Organizing Intern

Isabel is an undergraduate at the University of Michigan double majoring in Environmental Studies and Art and Design. Originally from Grand Rapids, Isabel is passionate about sustainability, environmental justice, and painting. Believing art can be utilized as a powerful platform to educate and inspire change, Isabel will be spearheading various video and graphic design projects for CHEJ this summer.

Benjamin Silver

Science/Technology Intern

Ben is an undergraduate student at Tufts University studying applied environmental science and political science. With CHEJ, he has conducted research for the Unequal Response, Unequal Protection project and used GIS for spatial analysis for the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. He lives in Framingham, Massachusetts with his family and cocker spaniel, Cinnamon. When he’s not working, he can be found playing guitar or adventuring with his friends. A fun fact about Ben is that he can run a mile in under five minutes. He began working as a Science and Technology Intern at CHEJ in September 2020 and is thrilled to be part of the team!

Julia Weil

Communications & Community Organizing Intern

Julia is a second year master’s student studying Global Environmental Health and working as a research assistant at the Milken School of Public Health. She has a particular interest in environmental inequities as exacerbated by climate change, and she is excited to learn from CHEJ and the communities involved about how to improve science communication and mobilize around environmental injustices.

 

Leija Helling

Community Organizing Intern

Leija is a student at Tufts University in Boston, MA, studying Environmental Communication and American Studies. Originally from a small town in Western Massachusetts, she is passionate about environmental and economic justice. She has been with CHEJ since September 2020 and is currently spearheading the Make Polluters Pay Campaign.

Kristen Millstein

Communications Intern

Kristen is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Davis studying Political Science. She has a background in campaign organizing and joined CHEJ as a communications intern in January 2021. She is particularly passionate about working towards racial and socioeconomic equity in the environmental movement. Outside of her work with CHEJ, she is a member of the UC Davis Club Gymnastics team and a gymnastics coach at the local gym.

Judith Eppele

Community Organizing Intern

Judith is an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis majoring in Environmental Science and Management. She has experience with community organizing, and is excited to delve more into the environmental justice side of it as a community organizing intern this spring. She joined CHEJ in January 2021. Aside from working with CHEJ, she loves to paint, visit national parks, and serve as a member of the Prytanean Women’s Honor Society at UC Davis.

Tony Aguilar

Community Organizing Intern

Tony is an graduate of UC Davis with a degree in Philosophy, an emphasis in Environmental Ethics, and a minor in Communication. He joined CHEJ in March 2021. He has experience in grassroots organizing and hopes to continue working on environmental justice issues before going on to grad school to continue studying Philosophy. In his free time he loves to play music and also hosts a radio show at KDVS, a student and community radio station at UC Davis.

Spring ’21 Interns & Fellows

Mihir Vohra

Science/Technology Intern

Mihir is a postdoctoral Research Associate in the Genetics Department at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco and has published several peer-reviewed articles on his research. Outside of the laboratory, he volunteers with local science education and racial justice organizations.

Ruth Rodriguez

Communications Intern

Ruth is a graduate from Texas State University with a degree in Geography-Resource and Environmental Studies. She has experience working with water resources and enjoys writing. In her free time she likes to draw, paint, and play with her cat. She is excited to learn more about what it takes to achieve environmental justice!

Leia Ku Cheng Yee

Communications Intern

Leia is an undergraduate student at University of California, Los Angeles majoring in Communications Studies and a minor in Digital Humanities. She is very interested in data analysis, digital marketing and graphic design. She is excited to learn more about environmental justice and work alongside the team at CHEJ!

Evelyn Zavala

Science/Technology Intern

Evelyn is a graduate student at George Mason University earning her Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology. She has experience working with underserved populations and Hispanics in Virginia. She is interested in environmental health effects on low-income populations, data visualization, and health equity. Outside of CHEJ, she loves to spend time with family and friends, practice yoga, and explore new restaurants.

Fall ’20 Interns & Fellows

Hamsavardhini “Anu” Thirunarayanan

Science/Technology Intern

Anu is a Data Science & Conservation and Resource Studies student at UC Berkeley working under Science Director Stephen Lester. Outside of school and CHEJ, Anu is a Haas Public Service Leader—working with the organization Youth on Root on a project to engage California high-schoolers in environmental justice work within their local and state communities—and a UC Berkeley Data Scholars participant.

Saraswati “Sara” Poudel

Science/Technology Intern

Sara started working with Stephen Lester on the Unequal Response, Unequal Protection project in September. She is a graduate student at George Mason Univerity, getting her MPH in Epidemiology. She is excited to join CHEJ and work alongside a great team!

Kayleigh Coughlin

Communications Intern

Kayleigh graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Global Health. She participated in UCLA’s Fall Quarter in Washington Program while interning with CHEJ and used her work to inform her research on climate change and health. Kayleigh will be pursuing a Masters in Public Health in Fall 2021 and hopes to join the US Navy as a Health Services Administrator after graduating. She is so grateful for her opportunity to intern with CHEJ and would recommend this internship to anyone!

Shaina Smith

Community Organizing Intern

Shaina is a student at Connecticut College studying International Relations. She began working at CHEJ as an organizing intern early this summer and is excited to continue learning from everybody!

Summer ’20 Interns & Fellows

Kara Hoisington

Science/Technology Intern

Kara interned for CHEJ over the summer, evaluating methods used to assess community health effects of toxic exposures. She will finish her MPH in Public Health Policy at George Mason University in December 2020.

Sophie Weinberg

Science/Technology Intern

Sophie worked as a Science and Technical intern for CHEJ this past summer.  A theme of her projects was to take scientific data or concepts and present them in a more understandable way so that they could be used by community leaders.

Paolo Padova

Science/Technology Intern

Paolo worked as a Science and Technical intern under Stephen Lester during the summer of 2020. He did research for the Unequal Response/ Unequal Protection project and analyzed environmental data for the Greater Fifth Ward in Texas. Paolo is in the class of 2023 at Tufts University where he plans on majoring in Biochemistry and Civic Studies.

Monica Lee

Development & Communications Intern

Monica was the Communications and Development intern for Summer 2020. While interning for CHEJ, she produced the 2020 CHEJ Mid-Year Report, published a blog post, assisted with Living Room Leadership, and sent out a few e-blasts.

Julie Silverman

Communications Intern

Julie was a Summer Communications Intern for CHEJ in 2020, working virtually with Lois Gibbs and her co-intern, Jenna Clark, to ensure that constituents were up to date regarding CHEJ virtual events and social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, she created and executed a communications strategy to reach wider age demographics through tracking followers, content creation, and daily website and blog posts, resulting in a large increase in post engagement on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Julie is an undergraduate at Tufts University studying Environmental Studies and Biology and hopes to pursue a career in environmental policy or consulting in the future. Her favorite part about being a CHEJ intern was working directly with Lois and getting more confident interviewing grassroots environmental leaders through designing and facilitating CHEJ’s new webinar series, “Living Room Leadership.”

Jenna Clark

Communications Intern

In the Summer of 2020, Jenna Clark worked as a Communications Intern with CHEJ. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jenna assisted CHEJ in adapting their work to a virtual environment. Alongside Julie, Jenna developed, marketed, and produced CHEJ’s weekly webinar series: “Living Room Leadership.” After beginning behind the camera, Jenna hosted several episodes of Living Room Leadership. Additionally, Jenna managed CHEJ’s social media accounts, curating a strategy to increase their post engagement. She will be graduating from Tufts University in May of 2021 with a degree in Environmental Policy, International Relations, and Spanish. Jenna hopes to pursue a career at the juncture of international human rights and environmental policy, and is particularly interested in the role of conservation practices in furthering indigenous dispossession.

Winter ’20 Interns & Fellows

Oliver (Annie) Nguyen

Science/Technology Intern

Oliver began interning at CHEJ in the Winter of 2020, and is working closely with Stephen Lester and Brave Bear Analytics on the Mni Wizipan Wakan Sacred Water Bundle Project. They are creating an interactive map showing water quality data surrounding the Missouri River Bio region on tribal reservations in South Dakota. The purpose of this map is to create a better understanding of the baseline water quality in the area and for local tribes to create stronger policies that would better protect and manage the river. Oliver is a 2019 graduate from Tufts University, and has a background in GIS and spatial statistics. They value combining both art and science to create engaging data visualizations and effective science communication with the public.

Grace Anderson

Science/Technology Intern

Grace Anderson is a Junior at Tufts University studying Applied Environmental Studies with a focus in environmental communication. Grace started working for CHEJ in October of 2019. She works on the Yankton Sioux Sacred Water Bundle Project as a data science and GIS intern. She is very passionate about combining her love of data visualization with her passion for environmental justice.

Elizabeth Goodiel

Community Organizing Intern

A graduate from Clemson University with a degree in Environmental and Natural Resources, Liz Goodiel participated as a CHEJ Science and Technical Resource Fellow from the Summer of 2019 to the Spring of 2020. During her time at CHEJ, she worked with an amazing team of interns to research and create the No More Sacrifice Zones Campaign. Through the Fall and Winter of 2019, Liz organized meetings alongside Lois Gibbs with state representatives to promote the release of the 2019 Superfund report and to foster support for the NMSZ policy proposal. Additionally, she assisted  in organizing a community meeting and traveled with the CHEJ team to Houston, Texas to engage the community in conversation for the NMSZ campaign. Liz was involved in a number of additional projects including Local Leader interviews, virtual trainings and sitting in on quarterly Superfund meetings with community leaders and EPA Administrators. The experience she gained while working with CHEJ led her to the opportunity to work as an ORISE Fellow within the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Branch.