Steering Committee Profiles
Stuart Cohen, TransForm
Stuart Cohen is the co-founder and executive director of TransForm, ClimatePlan’s fiscal sponsor. TransForm advocates for world-class transit and walkable communities in the Bay Area and California, bringing together diverse coalitions and raising over $6 billion for sustainable and socially just transportation. In addition to helping initiate the Bay Area’s Regional Smart Growth Strategy, Stuart helped conceive and launch the Great Communities Collaborative to engage Bay Area communities in planning for sustainable, equitable development near transit. Previously, Stuart worked with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and at NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group). Stuart received a Master’s Degree in Public Policy (MPP) from the Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley.
Tony Dang, California Walks
Tony Dang is the executive director of California Walks, overseeing the organization’s policy advocacy, development, community engagement programs, technical assistance services, and operations. Tony is passionate about creating more vibrant, livable communities through the intersection of health, transportation, sustainability, and equity. Tony is a certified instructor of the Safe Routes to School National Course and also serves on the Board of Directors of the California Bicycle Coalition and the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN). Tony holds a BA from Stanford University in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity.
Chione L. Flegal, PolicyLink
Chione Flegal, director of PolicyLink, works to ensure that infrastructure policy promotes social, economic, and environmental equity. She leads PolicyLink's 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, Chione managed Latino Issues Forum’s Sustainable Development program. Chione advises the California Air Resources Board on climate policy implementation by serving on the AB 32 Environmental Justice Advisory Committee. She holds a Master’s in City Planning and a B.S. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley.
Veronica Garibay, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability
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. Veronica grew up in this small farmworker town and graduated from Parlier Unified District Schools. As a first-generation college student, Veronica attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned a B.A. in Psychology and Law and Society. Upon graduation, Veronica joined the California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.’s Community Equity Initiative as the program’s first Community Worker. Veronica holds a Master’s of Public Administration from Fresno State.
Michele Hasson, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ)
Michele Hasson is policy manager for the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. Michele directs efforts that support CCAEJ’s legislative, public policy and political agenda to create safer, healthier, toxic-free places for residents of California’s Inland Valley. CCAEJ works alongside Environmental Justice communities to advocate for improvements around air quality, land use, goods movement, and transportation. Michele was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico to expatriate parents. Seamlessly bilingual and bicultural, Michele began her career under the auspices of the United Nations working for equitable frameworks for Financing for Development, Arms Control, and Gender Justice. Michele has a BA in Spanish Literature from the University of San Francisco and an MPP in International Development and Cooperation from Mexico’s National Council on Science and Technology at the Institute Mora.
Lisa Hershey, Housing California
Lisa Hershey is executive director of Housing California, which supports everyone who needs a safe, stable place to call home. There, she heads complex multi-sector initiatives leading to statewide policy change. Previously, as associate director, she managed activities around climate change, equity, health, and resident organizing. Lisa started at Housing California in 2014 as sustainable communities coordinator. Previously, Lisa served as the Public Health Institute (PHI) program director for California Convergence, a network of residents and partners creating healthy, safe, and equitable communities. Her two decades in state and local public sector roles included managing department-wide equity and place-based initiatives, and advising the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on initial implementation of SB 375 and AB 32 and development of the Strategic Growth Council. She also represented CDPH’s executive team with other agencies and partners. Lisa received a B.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University and a Master’s in Public Health from Loma Linda University School of Public Health.
Liz O’Donoghue, The Nature Conservancy
As director of infrastructure and land use, Liz O’Donoghue oversees TNC's California policy agenda on infrastructure development and land use, mitigation, transportation policy, and integration with natural resource protection. Liz currently serves on the California Public Infrastructure Advisory Commission and on the Executive Committee of the Bay Area Open Space Council. Previously, Liz served as TNC’s director of external affairs, where she led engagement with government and stakeholders at the federal, state, county, and local levels, on public policy, public funding, legislation, bonds, and constituency building. Before that, Liz worked at Amtrak's western headquarters, first as director of communications, government, and public affairs, then as director of strategic planning. 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 at 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.
Gloria Ohland, Move LA
As policy and communications director at Move LA, Gloria Ohland works on expanding and maintaining the coalition of diverse interests that supports building out a robust public transportation system in Los Angeles County and financing to accelerate construction. Gloria seeks new revenue to help neighborhoods near transit provide homes riders can afford, with opportunities to walk and bike. She helped win the adoption of a $534 billion RTP/SCS in Southern California that directs half the plan’s funding to transit, triples funding for active transportation, and boosts housing and jobs near transit. Previously a journalist, Gloria joined the nonprofit world to work on transit and transit-oriented development. She was a founding member of the Center for Transit-Oriented Development while serving as vice president at Reconnecting America, funded by Congress to promote best practices; she worked on the H+T (housing and transportation) affordability index now used by HUD to prioritize projects for funding, and on the Location Efficient Mortgage; and has authored many publications on transit, transit-oriented development, and sustainability.
Monika Shankar, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles
Monika Shankar is PSR-LA’s health & environment associate, directing programs focusing on healthy land use by mobilizing health professionals, advocates, and community groups in policy advocacy. She is deeply committed to and engaged in the social and environmental justice movements, as well as improving the conditions of low-income communities and communities of color. Prior to joining PSR-LA, Monika worked with a team of community planners and environmental justice activists at the Ironbound Community Corporation, to resolve issues including air pollution from incinerators and a local port, diesel exhaust from trucks, land pollution from over 50 contaminated industrial sites, and the remediation of one of the dirtiest rivers in the U.S., the Passaic River. Monika holds a B.A. in Spanish and Philosophy from Loyola Marymount University, and a M.A. in International Urban Development from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy (The New School).
Sam Tepperman-Gelfant, Public Advocates
Sam is a senior staff attorney at Public Advocates, which he first joined as an Equal Justice Works fellow in 2007. There, he has advocated for equitable development, community benefits, climate justice, and affordable housing in the Bay Area and statewide. He leads PA’s 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 Concord Naval Weapons Station. Sam promotes investment without displacement in low-income, urban neighborhoods in Oakland, Richmond and other Bay Area cities, and as part of the 6 Big Wins for Social Equity campaign. He has helped increase housing opportunities for low-income people and people of color through 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.
Matt Vander Sluis, Greenbelt Alliance
Matt Vander Sluis heads Greenbelt Alliance’s Homes and Neighborhoods initiative: he leads the organization’s regional policy development and advocacy, and oversees local campaigns to ensure the right development happens in the right places. Prior to joining Greenbelt Alliance in 2010, Matt managed the climate policy program for the Planning and Conservation League, a statewide environmental non-profit in Sacramento. There, he shaped state policies to shorten commutes through better land-use planning. He’s been quoted by a variety of media outlets, including the Atlantic Monthly, the Los Angeles Times and KQED’s QUEST. He majored in American Studies at Stanford University.