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Steering Committee Profiles

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Stuart Cohen, TransForm
Stuart is co-founder and Executive Director of TransForm, ClimatePlan’s fiscal sponsor. By combining high-quality policy analysis with coalition building and strategic media efforts, TransForm has become a powerful and effective voice for world class transit and walkable communities in the Bay Area and beyond.

TransForm’s campaigns on transportation sales taxes and other funding measures have brought together diverse coalitions and helped raise over $6 billion for sustainable and socially-just transportation. Stuart has spearheaded a number of these efforts, as well as the successful effort to initiate the Bay Area’s Regional Smart Growth Strategy. Stuart has been the primary author of eight TransForm reports, including the 120-page World Class Transit for the Bay Area.

In 2005 Stuart helped conceive and launch the Great Communities Collaborative. This partnership of five non-profits, three community foundations, and 24 community partners is engaging communities around the Bay Area in planning for sustainable, equitable development near transit. He is also the co-founder and chair of ClimatePlan, a statewide network that is promoting smart land use and transportation as critical components of California’s climate strategy.

Founded in 1997, TransForm now has 30 staff based in Oakland and a regional coalition comprised of over 100 organizations. TransForm just opened a Sacramento office to focus on state transportation policy reform.

Previously, Stuart worked with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability as a researcher on the climate impacts of alternative transportation policies and fuels, and at NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group) as a toxics campaign coordinator and Statewide Canvass Director. Stuart received a Master’s Degree in Public Policy (MPP) from the Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley.

Amanda Eaken, Natural Resources Defense Council
Amanda Eaken is Deputy Director with NRDC’s Sustainable Communities program. As a New York City native, Amanda was stunned at some of the land use and transportation decisions she experienced upon moving to California. She writes, “As a pedestrian in certain areas I was prohibited from crossing the street. As a transit rider I experienced unpredictable service and extensive delays. I explored the root causes of these issues through my graduate work at UC Berkeley, and am fortunate to be working at the heart of California’s efforts to improve land use and transportation planning through the implementation of SB 375—California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act. I strongly believe that we can get it right with land use and transportation planning and solve a myriad of issues plaguing society at once. The way we’ve been building our communities for the last 60 years—assuming everyone will drive for every trip—just doesn’t make sense. I’m committed to rewriting the rules to help us make cities that work. For people and for the environment.”

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

Veronica Garibay, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability
Veronica is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of LCJA.  She immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico at a young age along with her parents and four siblings to the City of Parlier in Fresno County.  Veronica grew up in this small farmworker town and graduated from Parlier Unified District Schools.   As a first generation student, Veronica attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Law and Society in 2008. Upon graduation, Veronica joined the California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc Community Equity Initiative (CEI) as the programs first Community Worker. While at CRLA Veronica earned a Master of Public Administration from Fresno State.

Bonnie Holmes-Gen, American Lung Association in California
Bonnie has been the Senior Policy Director for the American Lung Association of California (ALAC) in Sacramento since January 2000. In her role at ALAC, Ms. Holmes-Gen is responsible for advocating the public policy concerns of ALAC and the California Thoracic Society before the California Legislature and state agencies such as the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission. In her advocacy work at the lung association, she has specialized in air quality and environmental health issues including: global warming and AB 32 (Nunez/Pavley) implementation; heavy-duty diesel pollution; alternative fuel and zero emission vehicle programs; electricity generation and air pollution; indoor air pollution; and statewide and local air pollution control programs. Ms. Holmes-Gen also provides information and resources on ALAC public policy positions and priority issues to staff and volunteers in the 10 local lung association offices throughout California.

Prior to her work with the American Lung Association of California, Ms Holmes-Gen was the Senior Legislative Representative for Sierra Club California (1/96-1/2000) in Sacramento and the Senior Consultant for the consulting firm of V. John White Associates (9/89-9/95). Ms. Holmes-Gen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from the University of California at Davis (June, 1982) and a Master of Arts degree from New College Berkeley (August, 1993).

Elyse Lowe, Move San Diego
A native San Diegan, Elyse Lowe studied Environmental Studies and Earth Science, with an emphasis on policy and planning, at UC Santa Cruz. Elyse started her career with the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Dept. managing citywide recycling programs. She then worked in the City’s Financial Management Department as a Budget Analyst.

Elyse began to see herself as an agent of change for San Diego. Her goal was to be a positive force for community improvement in her home town. After completing the Community Economic Development program at the SDSU School of Business, Elyse joined the staff of San Diego City Councilmember Jim Madaffer. During his terms in office, Elyse was his Council Representative, and was appointed as the Crossroads Redevelopment Project Area Director. She advised the Councilmember regularly on land use issues. She became the City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee Consultant, and ultimately the City Council’s Rules and Intergovernmental Relations Committee Consultant.

In December 2008, Elyse became the Executive Director of Move San Diego, the only non-profit in San Diego advocating for world-class public transit and sustainable transportation alternatives for our region. She is the only full-time employee at this time, and is excited about Move San Diego’s important contribution to the future of our region.

Jeremy Madsen, Greenbelt Alliance
As Executive Director, Jeremy Madsen sets and implements the organization’s strategic goals and manages its operations. He is the leader of Greenbelt Alliance’s policy and advocacy efforts to protect the Bay Area’s open spaces and promote the creation of vibrant urban places.

Jeremy comes to Greenbelt Alliance from The San Francisco Foundation, where he helped to launch the Great Communities Collaborative and supported social equity, affordable housing, and smart growth efforts around the Bay Area. From 2001 to 2005, Jeremy was Greenbelt Alliance’s Field Director, leading the organization’s policy campaigns and supervising the work of all its field offices. Previously, Jeremy served as Field Director for Washington state’s Transportation Choices Coalition, coordinated fair trade campaigns for the Washington, DC-based Citizens Trade Campaign, and ran get-out-the-vote efforts for candidate and ballot measure campaigns. B.A., George Washington University. M.S., Environmental Studies, University of Oregon.

Liz O’Donoghue, The Nature Conservancy
As Director of Infrastructure and Land Use, Liz oversees The Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter’s policy agenda on infrastructure development and land use, innovative mitigation approaches, strategic growth and integration with natural resource protection and is The Nature Conservancy’s lead on transportation policy. Liz currently serves on the California Public Infrastructure Advisory Commission and on the Executive Committee of the Bay Area Open Space Council.  From 2006 – 2009, Liz served as the Director of External Affairs, where she oversaw the California program’s engagements with government and stakeholders at the federal, state, county, and local levels. She helped develop and direct the Conservancy’s strategies on public policy, public funding, legislation, bonds, and constituency building.

From 1999 – 2006, Liz worked at the western regional headquarters of Amtrak, first as Director of Communications, Government, and Public Affairs, then as Director of Strategic Planning, where she was responsible for developing and implementing Amtrak’s strategy on developing passenger rail corridors in the West. Previously, she served for seven years as legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, specializing in transportation and natural resource policy. Before that, she worked in a public policy firm in Princeton, New Jersey, consulting with major corporate clients on environmental, health care, and transportation issues. She holds a B.A. in government from Oberlin College.

Julie Snyder, Housing California
Julie Snyder has served as Policy Director for Housing California since 2000. As director, Julie designs and implements Housing California’s legislative strategy and response for its 1,000 members across California. This includes building and maintaining strong alliances with developers (market-rate and non-profit), environmentalists, land-use reformers, local governments and labor unions.

In 2002, she helped win the Proposition 46 campaign as an Executive Committee member and Treasurer, in which 58% of voters approved a $2.1 billion bond to build places to live for people of low and moderate incomes. From 1993 – 2000, Julie held a variety of positions in California’s Assembly including assembly fellow for Assembly member Richard Katz; legislative director for former Assembly-member Hannah Beth Jackson; and consultant to the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee under former Assembly-member Tom Torlakson. Julie received her bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Occidental College in Los Angeles. She grew up in Ventura County, California.

Sam Tepperman-Gelfant, Public Advocates
Sam joined Public Advocates as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in 2007 (sponsored by Baker & McKenzie), and was promoted to staff attorney in 2009 and senior staff attorney in 2012. In his years with the firm, he has advocated for equitable development, community benefits and affordable housing throughout the Bay Area, and has led statewide policy conversations. He spearheaded and continues to lead Public Advocates’ work with the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord to bring affordable housing, quality jobs, accessible parks and healthy neighborhoods to the redevelopment of the massive Concord Naval Weapons Station.

Sam also works to promote investment without displacement in low-income, urban neighborhoods in Oakland, Richmond and other Bay Area cities. Additionally, he advocates for climate justice and equitable regional land use and housing policies, leading the “Investment Without Displacement” win network in our 6 Big Wins for Social Equity campaign. At the local level, he has increased housing opportunities for low-income people and people of color through policy advocacy and as a team member supporting breakthrough litigation such as Urban Habitat v. City of Pleasanton and Williams v. City of Antioch. Before joining Public Advocates, Sam clerked for the Hon. John P. Fullam of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and in the Staff Attorney’s Office of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. An Oakland native, Sam is also a cellist and ceramic artist.

Denny Zane, Move LA
Denny Zane is Executive Director of Move LA, an organization working to coalesce environmental, labor, business, community and student leaders and organizations to ensure sufficient funding to provide a clean, efficient, and robust transit system for Los Angeles County. Move LA played a key role in moving Measure R, which provided for a 1/2 cent sales tax increase for transportation purposes, to the Los Angeles County ballot where it was approved by 2/3 of voters on November 4, 2008. Measure R will generate nearly $40 billion in new transportation dollars over 30 years.

Zane is also formerly the Mayor and for 12 years a city council member in Santa Monica, California and formerly the Executive Director of the Coalition for Clean Air.

Denny Zane began his advocacy career as co-manager of the Santa Monica rent control campaigns of the late 1970’s. He was elected a Santa Monica City Council member in 1981 and Mayor in 1988. Click here for Denny’s full bio.

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