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.
Janet Domenitz is the Executive Director of MASSPIRG Education Fund. Since 1989, Janet has coordinated policy research and public education for the largest public interest group in Massachusetts. She also serves on the board of Massachusetts Common Cause, which recognized her with its 2005 Distinguished Citizen Award, and previously served on the national governing board of Common Cause. Janet is also president of the Consumer Federation of America, and was a founding member of Earth Day Greater Boston. She joined the MASSPIRG staff in 1980 after graduating from Brandeis University. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two sons, and serves on the school committee of her synagogue.
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.
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.
Deirdre Cummings is MASSPIRG’s Legislative Director. Deirdre has led campaigns to get lead out of drinking water at schools and daycare centers, protect student loan borrowers from deceptive and predatory lending practices, improve public records law and require all state spending to be transparent, reduce costs of health insurance and prescription drugs, and more. Deirdre also oversees a Consumer Action Center in Weymouth, Mass., which has mediated 18,000 complaints and returned $5 million to Massachusetts consumers since 1989. Deirdre currently resides in Maynard, Mass. Over the years, as an organizer, she has visited all but one of the state’s 351 towns (Gosnold being the exception). She is a 1986 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
With nearly 20 years of organizing experience, Leigh-Anne is passionate about recruiting, training and supporting people who want to take action for public health, the environment and other causes. From 2008 to 2012, Leigh-Anne coordinated the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project, which helped more than 300,000 people register to vote and contacted more than 1 million people to get out and vote. Leigh-Anne started her career as a Campus Organizer with MASSPIRG, during which time she campaigned (with a coalition that included Toxics Action Center) to make the state’s “Filthy Five” power plants clean up or shut down. Leigh-Anne is a Massachusetts native and a graduate of Fordham University.
Bernadette Del Chiaro is the Executive Director of the California Solar and Storage Association. Previously, she directed Environment California’s Clean Energy Program. She has been a leader in California’s rooftop solar revolution, leading the successful Million Solar Roofs campaign and winning one of the first renewable portfolio standards, with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and of Green Corps, the nation’s most respected field school for environmental organizing. During her stint with Green Corps, Bernadette worked with Community Action Works (then called Toxics Action Center) to clean up the Sooty Six coal-fired power plants in Connecticut. After graduating from the Green Corps program, she was the Organizing Director of Toxics Action Center, helping to build the organization from a four-person, two-state operation into a program that covered all of New England. Bernadette lives with her family in Sacramento, Calif.
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.
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.
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.
Hyam Kramer is the Chief Financial Officer of Telefund and Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. (GCI), citizen outreach operations that have conducted organizing and fundraising campaigns for many of the nation’s leading social change organizations. including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Previously, Hyam was the National Telephone Outreach Director and a Regional Canvass Director for the Fund for Public Interest Research. Hyam graduated from Princeton University in 1982. He lives in Boston with his husband Tom.
Yana Kucher is the Director of Field Analytics and Planning for The Public Interest Network and Chair of the Zero Out Toxics program for the network. Yana has overseen multiple campaigns to protect the public against toxic health threats for both PIRG and Environment California. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 1997, after which she spent two years in the Peace Corps. Yana lives in Denver with her family.
Andy MacDonald is the National Organizing Director of the Student PIRGs, overseeing staff who organize students on 38 college campuses in nine states. For nearly four decades, Andy has been part of one of the most successful organizing programs in the country, involving thousands of college student volunteers and interns, maintaining a funding base to sustain the program, and serving as an “activist pipeline” for future staff and engaged citizens. The student program has also played a major part in hundreds of successful environmental and public interest projects, including the signature-gathering effort for the 1986 Hazardous Waste Cleanup Initiative in Massachusetts, which led directly to the creation of Toxics Action Center and Community Action Works. Andy is a 1983 graduate of Cornell University and he lives in Amherst, Mass.
Johanna is the senior director of Environment America’s campaign for 100% renewable energy, where she directs strategy and staff for Environment America’s energy campaigns at the local, state and national level. Johanna has spent more than 20 years on environmental organizing and public interest advocacy and in prior positions, led public health campaigns to restrict smoking in all workplaces, helped stop the construction of a new nuclear reactor on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and helped build the support necessary to pass leading energy efficiency legislation at the state level in Maryland. Today, Johanna lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she is active in local politics, enjoys growing dahlias, and spending time outside with her family.
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.
Faye Park is the President of PIRG and Executive Vice President of The Public Interest Network. As president of PIRG, Faye has been quoted in major news outlets, including CBS News and The Washington Post, about issues ranging from getting toxic chemicals out of children’s products to protecting Americans from predatory lending practices. She began her public interest career as a student volunteer with MASSPIRG Students at Williams College. After graduating in 1992, Faye began working with the Student PIRGs in California as a campus organizer and organizing director, working on campaigns to help students register to vote and to promote recycling. Faye lives in Denver, Colo., with her family.
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.
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.
Zach Polett is President of Progressive Future Network and has over 40 years of experience as a community, labor and political organizer. In his current role, he works with Accelerate Change (and PushBlack and Pulso, just two of the groups that Accelerate Change has incubated), Progress Florida and Fair Share. Zach also oversees the network’s Calling for Progress program, which has organized grassroots action and support for such efforts as DC Vote, the Giffords campaign against gun violence, and the Black Male Voter Project. Zach spent most of his career organizing with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), during which time he founded Louisiana ACORN in 1976 and also served as the Director of Political Operations and Executive Director of Project Vote. He is a graduate of Harvard University. Zach has lived in Little Rock for more than three decades in what is probably the only Cajun-Korean-Jewish household in Arkansas.
John Rumpler is Senior Attorney and Director of Environment America’s Clean Water program.
John’s areas of expertise include lead and other toxic threats to drinking water, factory farms and other sources of agribusiness pollution, algal blooms, fracking and the federal Clean Water Act. He has testified before Congress and co-authored several reports on fracking, agribusiness pollution and lead in schools’ drinking water. He previously worked as a staff attorney for Alternatives for Community & Environment and Tobacco Control Resource Center. John graduated from Tufts University and lives in Brookline, Mass.
Leslie Samuelrich is President of Green Century Capital Management, an environmentally responsible investment firm. Green Century is the first family of fossil fuel free, diversified and responsible mutual funds, allowing investors to match their support of a transition to clean energy and sustainable businesses with their investment choices. Leslie’s more than three decades of organizing experience includes her work as Executive Director of Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing, which worked on behalf of Toxics Action Center on the 1992 Make Polluters Pay ballot initiative campaign. Leslie was also previously the Chief of Staff for Corporate Accountability International. Leslie graduated from Boston College in 1985 and lives in Wakefield, Mass.
Jeff Sprague is a Senior Recruiter for Work for Progress. In his more than three decades of public interest service, Jeff has recruited, hired and trained hundreds of advocates and organizers and thousands of canvassers. As a canvass director with the Fund for the Public Interest, Jeff ran one of the social change movement’s largest-ever canvassing offices, with more than 100 canvassers knocking on doors every day. Jeff is a 1987 graduate of the University of Vermont and lives in Malden, Mass.
Tom Subak is the founder of the Re/Imagination Lab – a nonprofit organization that advances the missions of social impact organizations by providing actionable insights about consumer digital behavior.
With a thirty-year proven track record of driving social sector transformation and digital innovation, Tom has overseen everything from local, state, and national political campaigns; envisioned, launched, scaled, and sold an internet strategy consulting firm; and led transformational efforts at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, most recently as the Chief Strategy Officer and Assistant to the President.
He is known as a bold visionary and serial transformer. Cecile Richards credited Tom as the person who “made it happen” when discussing Planned Parenthood’s digital transformation in her New York Times best-selling book Make Trouble.