Board members are chosen for their expertise in developing and implementing community organizing strategies. Our Board consists of both environmental professionals and community activists. The Board meets four times per year to approve our budget, three-year annual plans, and to make major policy and program decisions.
Kirstie Pecci is a Senior Fellow at the Conservation Law Foundation. She spent her legal career focused on environmental, municipal, and real estate law, and first connected with Community Action Works when she was representing more than 300 citizens opposing the expansion of the Southbridge landfill as a volunteer leader of the community group she co-founded called Residents for Alternative Trash Solutions. Kirstie lives in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.
Linda Segal is the former chair of NED/Dow Neighbors, which worked for seven years to clean up property contaminated by Dow Chemical in Wayland, Massachusetts. She also served a term as Selectwoman for the Town of Wayland. Other Wayland civic activities included community liaison to the Raytheon hazmat cleanup for 18 years, secretary of the appointed committee that published the town’s first Wellhead Protection Plan approved by DEP in Dec. 2011, and over 20 years as Zoning Board of Appeals associate member. Linda lives in Waban, Massachusetts.
Matt Wilson is the Executive Director of MASSCreative, a Massachusetts non-profit that empowers creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice that brings the attention and resources necessary to build vibrant, creative communities. He is the former Deputy Director for Corporate Accountability International and the former Field Director for Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. Before that, Matt directed Community Action Works for 16 years, expanding the organization’s reach across New England and working on dozens of clean-water campaigns. Matt lives in Reading, Massachusetts.
Cathy Kristofferson is a founding member of StopNED, a group of citizens with the dual mission to stop Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) Pipeline and to promote clean energy solutions, and is their representative to Mass Power Forward. Cathy is also on the board of the Pipe Line Awareness Network for the Northeast, and is a member of the Conservation Commission and the New Energy Resource Committee for the Town of Ashby, MA. She is deeply knowledgeable on wetlands and our energy system region-wide, as well as respected by the movement to prevent the overbuild of our energy system. Cathy is a retired coder and has also been helpful on our digital expansion. Prior to pipeline work, she was active in queer/trans and youth homelessness issues.
Bindu Panikkar is an Assistant Professor at the Environmental Program, Rubenstein School for Environment and Natural Resources at University of Vermont. She lectures and advises students on environmental citizenship, citizen science and community-based research, and environmental justice, among other topics. She has worked with Community Action Works on a variety of campaigns including the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, PFAS drinking water contamination health studies, landfill closure mapping projects, and writing reports. Bindu lives in Burlington, Vermont.
Robert Sargent is the Energy Program Director for Environment America. He provides assistance to state Environment organizations across the country to develop and implement progressive state policies on energy and global warming. He was founder and first Director of Community Action Works in 1987. Robert lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
Cynthia Jennings was living less than a mile away from a massive landfill, located right next to a predominantly black community in Hartford, Connecticut, when she realized she needed to take action. Toxic ash, smoke from periodic fires and the stench of trash were staples in her neighborhood—and when a particularly bad fire forced her family to move entirely, she knew it was time to do something. Cynthia became a civil rights lawyer, was elected to Hartford City Council, and was instrumental in winning the closure of the landfill in 2015. Her work has had a profound impact on the environment in Harford and she has become a leader and mentor across the region. She has been a leader and ally in Community Action Works’s network for nearly two decades, serving on the leadership team for the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, a long-term grassroots partner. She is no longer on the Hartford City Council, and currently works full-time as an attorney.
Paul Burns is VPIRG’s Executive Director. He has been working as an organizer, advocate and attorney for PIRGs in New York, Massachusetts and Vermont since 1986. As Toxics Program Director for MassPIRG, Paul was instrumental in the passage of major environmental legislation aimed at rivers protection, brownfields cleanup, beach water testing and pesticide use reduction and disclosure. At VPIRG, Paul serves as the senior advocate for all programs and lead advocate for the democracy program, represents VPIRG with the media and state leaders, heads fundraising efforts and provides vision, direction and leadership for VPIRG. Paul lives in Montpelier, Vermont.
Juana “Jennie” Girona is an active community leader in Springfield, Massachusetts. Jennie first became involved with Community Action Works when she and other activists turned to the organization for support in organizing for a Healthy Gerena Middle School — a school with severe mold contamination, resulting in a student body with high asthma rates. Jennie became a leader of the North End Coalition as she has waged the decade-long battle to make the school healthy. She has also played an active role in bringing her community members for our annual conferences, and she is now on our Rebrand Committee. Jennie is on the board of ARISE for Social Justice, which has been a long-term community partner with Community Action Works, fighting an impending biomass plant, and organizing for a Climate Justice plan for the city. She serves as Vice President of the New North Citizens Council, which is the leading social service organization in the city. As a member of so many Springfield community groups, Jennie is often the glue that makes partnerships possible in the city.
Jackie Elliott first worked with Community Action Works as the leader of Citizens Leading for Environmental Action & Responsibility (CLEAR), formed to shut down the polluting Wheelabrator trash incinerator in Claremont, New Hampshire. She became a community activist after learning of the connection between endometriosis (an illness that she has suffered from for more than half a century), dioxin and incineration. Jackie is also active with the Endometriosis Association; she is a member and a charter member of their Environmental Advocates initiative. Jackie lives in Waterboro, Maine.
Harris Parnell landed in Maine following college to work with Community Action Works. After moving around Massachusetts, Manhattan, and Michigan organizing and fundraising on public interest issues, she made her way back to Maine to rejoin the staff of Toxics Action as the Maine State Director for two years. She went on to work with the Maine League of Young Voters, Maine Initiatives, and now works with a Maine philanthropist. Harris recently relocated to Washington, D.C.
Johanna Neumann is the Donor Development Director for The Public Interest Network where she works with Environment America and U.S. PIRG to help those organizations build meaningful lifelong relationships with their top supporters. Prior to moving into her current role, she was the New England Regional Director for Environment America, the State Director for the consumer advocacy group Maryland PIRG, and a community organizer with Community Action Works. Johanna lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.