Emira Woods (Pronouns She/her)
Emira Woods is a global justice strategist and advocate focused on people and the planet. She brings an intersectional lens to her work as an environmentalist and political activist specializing in social impact and innovation.
Emira uses her skills to advance human dignity and social justice.
As the Executive Director of Green Leadership Trust, Emira works at the nexus of race, governance, and climate justice. Green Leadership Trust strengthens environmental organizations and foundations by building more diverse, equitable, and inclusive governing boards and senior leadership across the sector. Together, we are building a more just and sustainable world.
Prior to this role, Emira served as Senior Advisor at the Shine Campaign, a community of practice with philanthropists, faith and values-driven agencies catalyzing investment in women-led, community based renewable energy initiatives around the world. Committed to feminist leadership, Emira established Shine’s Energy Access Women Leadership Council. She also worked to co-create and manage Shine’s Energy Access COVID Recovery Fund.
Emira previously worked in the private sector as Director of Social Impact at ThoughtWorks, a global technology firm. Her work forged strategic relationships linking social movements to innovative technology, funding, policymakers and other resources. Originally from Liberia, Emira led ThoughtWorks’ efforts to bring more robust technology solutions to the Ebola crisis and other global social impact initiatives.
Ms. Woods worked for 11 years as a public scholar and Director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the progressive think tank, The Institute for Policy Studies. She remains an Associate Fellow of the Institute, providing thought leadership on issues related to peace, justice, and the environment. Emira has also served as Africa Program Officer at Oxfam America and Manager of Development Policy and Practice at InterAction, the U.S. network of international development and humanitarian organizations.
Emira is a trusted advisor and Board Member to many organizations and initiatives. She is currently a Trustee of two trailblazing foundations – the Wallace Global Fund and the Janelia Fund, where she is Vice-Chair. Emira is honored to be Ambassador for Africans Rising for Justice, Peace, and Dignity, a network of African social movements working to build peace, seek justice and manifest dignity on the African continent and throughout the diaspora. In addition, she serves as a Mentor at the Fighters’ Table supporting feminist leadership in Black and Brown communities. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars and is a board committee member of ActionAid International.
Ms. Woods is an analyst on CNN’s One World with Zain Asher. She also is a regular commentator on Voice of America, BBC and National Public Radio, among others. Emira is widely published on a range of issues from climate change, trade and investment to U.S. military policy. Ms. Woods completed her undergraduate studies in Political Science at Columbia University and her graduate studies in Political Economy and Government at Harvard.
DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS
Sarah Kissel Bio
Sarah Kissel is a senior associate in The Raben Group’s Issue Campaigns and Movements practice area, where she contributes her experience in nonprofit program management, advocacy, and strategic planning.
Prior to joining Raben, Sarah was part of The Petey Greene Program team, where she trained volunteers to provide tutoring and career support for incarcerated students. She also supported the leadership team at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, developing strategic planning materials and senior staff visioning retreats.
Sarah holds a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) with a concentration in Religion, Ethics, and Politics from Harvard Divinity School, where she conducted projects that examined the influence of religion on the United States’s criminal legal system, labor market, and social welfare programs. She is particularly fascinated by the ways in which religious commitments cohere and motivate communities and institutions, and further advance narratives around responsibility, punishment, redemption, and individualism that are foundational to US society.
While at Harvard, Sarah was involved in several organizing groups that seek to address and end the harms of the prison-industrial complex. She was also a member of the MTS Curriculum Committee, where she evaluated the success of HDS’s MTS program, developing a framework of goals and assessment metrics alongside faculty and administrators.
Sarah also holds bachelor’s degrees in religious studies, political science, and English literature from Indiana University. While at IU, she completed an honors thesis on Reformation-era Protestant theology and the poetics of George Herbert, and served as the Panhellenic representative on the University’s task force to manage University-Greek relations. She also served on an advisory board to former IU President Michael A. McRobbie, where she conducted a year-long evaluation of the state of student healthcare on IU’s Bloomington campus and provided recommendations in preparation for the construction of the $557 million IU Health Bloomington Hospital. Upon graduation, Sarah received the Kate Hevner Mueller Award for leadership and service to the University.
VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAMS
Maria Beltran Bio
As a Director in our Issue Campaigns practice area, María Beltrán is a connector who believes in the power of strategic communications to ensure all communities have access to vital resources and to inform policy. She brings strong skills in communications, analytical writing, stakeholder engagement, program development, community outreach, and partnership building to The Raben Group and her clients.
Prior to Raben, María served as the National Director of Latino Engagement at Enroll America, the nation’s leading healthcare enrollment coalition. There, she worked to engage Latinx communities across the country to ensure their access to quality and affordable healthcare through innovative initiatives, coalitional partnerships, and diverse outreach strategies. During her tenure at Young Invincibles, María established the Spanish media department, and was featured on Univisión, La Opinión, ImpreMedia, and Telemundo both locally and nationally to discuss their national outreach and education campaigns. She has also worked at EducationUSA, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Spitfire Strategies, and the Aspen Institute.
A Los Angeles native, María is a first-generation college graduate who holds a B.A. in Global & International Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She also holds a Master’s in Intercultural & International Communication from American University, where she was elected as the Vice President of Communication for the graduate student government, representing more than 3,500 students and connecting them to resources at the school. María is a native Spanish speaker with extensive experience working in Latin America as well as with Spanish speaking populations domestically.
Maya Rosenberg is an associate in the Issue Campaigns and Movement practice area at The Raben Group, where she leverages her background in programming, logistics and communications to facilitate relationships and foster coalitions that promote positive change. Her keen eye for detail is matched by her focus on the big picture, allowing her to bring a unique perspective to the work of movement building, both at a high level and on the ground.
Prior to starting with Raben, Maya was a field organizer for several Democratic campaigns, both issue and candidate focused, including local, state, and national campaigns. This culminated in her work as a Regional Field Director for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, reaching over 300,000 voters across three counties in her home state. Maya also served as the co-Chair of JNF’s National College Summit, organizing programming about sustainability and social diversity and inclusion for 300 student leaders from across the country.
Maya graduated from THE Ohio State University in 2020, with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Leadership, Management, and Policy and specialization in Women and Gender Politics from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Since moving to DC, Maya has taken advantage of all the incredible restaurants around the city and enjoys frequenting the many museums DC has to offer.
Erik Prieto is an associate in the communications area. With a solid experience in communications and development in digital projects from his Anomi organization. From his experience, he proposes what the organization wants to project.
Before creating his own company Anomi, he was coordinator of the engineering project for the Colombian university UNILATINA from which he managed software development, augmented reality, academic programs and mobile application development.
A native of Bogota, Colombia, Erik became involved in working with youth communities and music, his work and certain social circumstances established him in 2018 in the United States.
Friends of the Earth
Arturo manages the New York Community Trust’s national and New York City environmental grantmaking program. He came to the Trust from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, where he oversaw the environmental justice grant program and chaired the State’s Sea Level Rise Task Force Community Resilience Work Group. Before that, Arturo worked with the United Nations Development Program, where he ran a global funding initiative focused on helping developing countries implement the Rio Conventions. He has also promoted sustainable development in the Americas with several nonprofits including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. Over the course of his career, Arturo has worked for Congress and for a Clinton appointee at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington D.C. He earned an undergraduate degree from the City University of New York in International Affairs and Theater, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he focused on international and environmental law.
Center for International Environmental Law
Environmentalist and Human Rights Activist, Dianne Dillon-Ridgley has worked for thirty years on issues of the environment and sustainability, and gender and CSR, both domestically and internationally. Since 1997 she has been a director at Interface, Inc., global manufacturer of modular carpet and a leader in sustainable design. She was a director at Green Mountain Energy for the first six years and still chairs the Environmental Integrity Committee for the company.
For eighteen years she was affiliated with Population Connection/ZPG, serving as both President and Board Chair ( four times). Currently she is in her second year as chair of the CIEL Board and her second term on the NWF Board. She is founding chair Emerita of PLAINS JUSTICE, an environmental law center for the Great Plains and currently ED of WNSF (the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future).
Natural Resources Defense Council & Ceres
Michel has over 25 years of experience in energy, sustainability, and social justice work in policy-making, research, advocacy, and business. He is presently working with the Packard Foundation on sparking innovation in climate policy-making, and was most recently a founder of BuildingEnergy.com, a cloud-platform for the world’s building energy data. Prior, Michel Gelobter served as the Chief Green Officer for Hara, the leading enterprise energy and environmental management software startup, and remains Chairman/Founder of Cooler (www.climatecooler.com), a company whose mission is to connect every purchase to a solution for global warming.
Michel also has a long history in research and teaching, policy, and advocacy. He is a lecturer at U.C. Berkeley and presently serves on the Boards of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Ceres, as well as the Advisory Board of Vice-President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection. He led Redefining Progress in designing the world’s most aggressive climate legislation (AB32 — signed into California law in August of 2006 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), was a Congressional Black Caucus Fellow with the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee; Director of Environmental Quality for the City of New York, and founder and director of the Environmental Policy Program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He also served as Issues Director for Mayor Dinkins’ first and successful bid for Mayor of New York.
Clean Water Fund – Transition Berkeley – Common Vision – Mycelium Youth Network.
Aya serves on the Boards of Common Vision, which installs school gardens across California; Transition Berkeley, a local Transition Town initiative to bring neighbors together to build a more equitable, sustainable, resilient future for Berkeley; Clean Water Fund, to develop strong grassroots environmental leadership and to bring together diverse constituencies to work cooperatively while focused on health, consumer, environmental and community challenges; and the Mycelium Youth Network, empowering youth with skills in the age of climate change. In 2019, Aya was appointed as council member to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC). Aya is a graduate of UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Legal Studies, received a J.D. from Fordham Law School, and a L.L.M. in Tax from Golden Gate University. She is licensed to practice law in CA and NY, and is Managing Attorney at Midori Law Group, P.C.
Pallavi Phartiyal serves as the Deputy Executive Director at Rainforest Action Network (RAN), a nonprofit organization that seeks to preserve forests, protect the climate and uphold human rights. RAN achieves its mission by challenging corporate power and systemic injustice through frontline partnerships and strategic corporate campaigns including research and public pressure. Pallavi oversees the overall management of the organization and guide RAN’s racial equity and justice commitment in its operations, programs and campaigns.
Prior to joining RAN, Pallavi helped launch the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), where she advocated for science-based decision-making in the democratic system. Earlier, she was the project director and senior program associate at the Research Competitiveness Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) where she worked with research and policy professionals to provide review and guidance for higher
education academic institutions and federal agencies.
Pallavi holds a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.S. in agronomy from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a B.S. in agriculture from G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in India. Pallavi has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and spoken on issues concerning science policy and diversity in the environmental movement at national and international conferences. She serves on the steering committee of the Center for Science and Democracy and on the board of American Rivers.
Sierra Club Foundation
Allison Chin (she/her, they/them) is based in Los Angeles, CA. They are a retired biologist and, since 2008, have been immersed in non-profit governance, and organizational development. Allison is particularly excited about working with organizers, activists, change makers and non-profit boards to facilitate the deep individual and group work that is transformational and long-lasting. Past experience includes service as director and board chair for both Sierra Club and Sierra Club Foundation. They are currently serving on the Training for Change Board and Women in Conservation Leadership Advisory Committee. Allison is nourished by being outdoors, gardening, and carving wooden spoons.
Wyncote Audubon Society
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Center for Environmental Health, Michigan Environmental Council, and Sunrise Movement
FRANCISCO “PACO” OLLERVIDES
Francisco Ollervides is better known as “Paco,” a common nickname in Mexico where he was born and raised. For over 18 years, Paco has enjoyed helping nonprofit organizations think and act strategically by improving their efficiency and efficacy. He served as Green Leadership Trust’s first Executive Director (2019-2021) and now serves an advisor during this leadership transition. He focuses his work on building power in the environmental arena. He leads capacity building and development support to people of color and indigenous people serving boards of environmental groups across the country. Paco’s main interest is to strengthen these leaders to ensure organizations’ continuity and success.
Prior to joining Green Leadership Trust, Paco advised groups in the areas of strategic planning, fundraising, board development and succession planning as Leadership Development Manager with River Network. He served as Senior Field Coordinator with the Waterkeeper Alliance advising nonprofit advocacy groups throughout Latin America. He directed the School for Field Studies in San Carlos, Mexico and was a resident lecturer and adviser in the areas of Economic and Ethical Issues in Sustainable Development, Coastal Ecology, and Resource Ecology and Management. Paco is a biochemical engineer and a bioacoustician by training. He assessed the impacts of boat noise on gray whale behavior. Paco holds both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Department at Texas A&M University. Paco is based near Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he likes to go on long walks in the woods with his entire family, travel, and savor local cuisine and history.