Staff

Janelle Orsi, Attorney at Law, SELC Co-FounderJanelle Orsi

Executive Director & SELC Co-Founder

Outside of her work with the Sustainable Economies Law Center, Janelle Orsi is an attorney and mediator focused on helping individuals and organizations share resources and create more sustainable communities. Through the Law Office of Janelle Orsi, she works with cooperatives, community gardens, cohousing communities, ecovillages, and others doing innovative work to change the world.  She attended UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law. In 2010, Janelle was profiled by the American Bar Association as a Legal Rebel, an attorney who is “remaking the legal profession through the power of innovation.” In 2012, Janelle was one of 100 people listed on The (En)Rich List, which names individuals "whose contributions enrich paths to sustainable futures." Janelle is author of the book Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy (ABA Books 2012), and co-author of The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community (Nolo 2009), a practical and legal guide to cooperating and sharing resources of all kinds. 


Jenny Kassan, Community Supported Entrepreneurship Program Director and SELC CoFounderJenny Kassan

Community-Supported Entrepreneurship Program Director & SELC Co-Founder 

Jenny Kassan is an attorney and community development consultant, specializing in environmentally friendly and socially responsible ventures. She is the managing director of K2 Law Group and C.E.O. of Cutting Edge Capital, a business that helps social enterprises raise capital from their communities. Her legal practice areas include small business start-up and financing, securities regulation, nonprofit law, business agreements, real estate development, franchising, cooperatives, and assessment districts. Jenny earned a masters degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley and earned her J.D. from Yale Law School. She worked for eleven years at the Unity Council, a nonprofit community development corporation in Oakland, where she served as staff attorney and managed community economic development projects including the formation and management of several social ventures designed to employ and create business ownership opportunities for low-income community residents. 

Christina Oatfield, Policy Director, Legal ApprenticeChristina Oatfield

Policy Director  

Christina@theSELC.org 

Christina Oatfield works with a diverse array of stakeholders to propose and advocate for laws that pave the way to more sustainable, local and resilient economies. She managed the successful grassroots campaign to enact the California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616), a cottage food law for California. Her policy work currently focuses on small food enterprises and cooperatives of many kinds. She serves on the Steering Committees of both the California Food Policy Council and Slow Money Northern California. Christina is pursuing an attorney license as part of the Law Office Study Program of the State Bar of California, which is an alternative to law school for aspiring attorneys seeking experiential learning and expertise in topics not often taught in accredited law schools. She studies corporate and securities law, among other legal topics, with support from attorneys at Kassan at Katovich & Kassan Law Group in Oakland. Christina earned her B.S. in Environmental Sciences at UC Berkeley where she wrote a thesis about student-run food cooperatives and co-founded the Berkeley Student Food Collective. Prior to working for SELC, Christina identified and counted insects in an agroecology lab, worked for a tech start-up, managed a green retail store, ran an underground restaurant, planned events and was an assistant at another nonprofit organization.

Yassi Eskandari-Qajar, Legal Apprentice, City Policies Director, Community Currencies Program DirectorYassi Eskandari-Qajar

Community Currencies Program Director & City Policies Program Director  

Yassi@theSELC.org

Yassi directs SELC’s City Policies and Community Currencies programs, identifying the legal barriers to the grassroots sharing economy, including shared transportation, shared housing, urban farming, local currencies, barter networks, and time banks. These programs also produce essential legal resources and timely policy solutions that foster localized production, ownership, and exchange.

Yassi holds a B.S. in Conservation & Resource Studies and minor in City & Regional Planning from U.C. Berkeley (’11). While a student, she received numerous leadership awards and co-founded and served on the board of Berkeley’s first student-run food collective. Today, Yassi is enrolled in the California State Bar's Law Office Study Program, which will enable her to become a lawyer without going to law school. Once a licensed attorney, Yassi intends to practice in the areas of land, farming, renewable energy, and community currencies, and continue to strengthen the grassroots sharing economy through local and regional policy change.

Ricardo Samir Nuñez, Legal Services Program Director, Cooperatives Program Director, Legal ApprenticeRicardo Samir Nuñez

Legal Services Program Director & Cooperatives Program Director 

Ricardo@theSELC.org

Ricardo coordinates the Resilient Communities Legal Cafe, a program that provides direct legal support to individuals and groups creating new solutions for resilient economies in Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, and beyond. He also manages SELC’s social media communications and community outreach initiatives. Ricardo also manages Co-opLaw.org, a collaborative legal resource library for US based cooperatives. Ricardo is also participating in the Law Office Study Program of the State Bar of California under the auspices of Janelle Orsi. The Law Office Study Program is an alternative to law school that allows would-be lawyers to obtain their attorney’s license through a four-year legal apprenticeship. Ricardo was formerly on the board of the Los Angeles Worker Ownership Resources and Cooperative Services (LAWORCS) Committee, an initiative to start a worker cooperative incubator for the greater L.A. area. Before that, Ricardo was a Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Case Manager working with low-income families to stop pending evictions and re-house homeless neighbors in southern LA County. Prior to his housing work, Ricardo was a Rural Education Development Specialist in Zambia with the U.S. Peace Corps. Ricardo led efforts in capacity building with 15 rural, up-country schools, also establishing two village based Women’s Cooperatives, and training multiple Farmer’s Cooperatives on sustainable farming practices.

coop_chris.jpgChris Tittle

Director of Organizational Resilience  

Chris@theSELC.org

Chris is passionate about cultivating more democratic and place-based models for building community resilience. In his role as Director of Organizational Resilience, he is working to build SELC’s internal resilience, diversify SELC's sources of support, and bring principles of social and economic justice into SELC’s funding strategy. Among his other roles, he contributes to SELC’s Community Currencies, Resilient Communities Legal Cafe, and Rethinking Home programs. As an advocate of self-directed (and debt-free) education, he is excited to be participating in the California Law Office Study program at the law office of Linda Alvarez. Chris recently completed an MA in Economics for Transition at Schumacher College, an international whole-person learning center near Totnes, UK. His dissertation explored permaculture and a Rights of Nature framework as more culturally-appropriate and generative responses to climate change adaptation in the Global South. Chris has previously worked as an ecological educator and outdoor guide with inner-city youth, and an environmental journalist, earning his BA in Non-Western History and Poverty Studies from Washington and Lee University. His writing can be found on Shareable.net, MNN.com, and his blog at oaktreegarden.wordpress.com.

Linda Cristal Barrera, Community Renewable Energy Program Director

Linda Cristal Barrera

Community Renewable Energy Program Advisor  

Linda@theSELC.org

Linda is a passionate advocate for solar power. She gained interest in renewable energy through her hands-on work building solar systems in communities in Nicaragua and California. At SELC, Linda keeps her finger on the pulse of local and community owned energy systems — identifying legal barriers that inform SELC’s community renewable energy policy recommendations and advocacy efforts. She also contributed to “Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy,” Janelle Orsi’s ABA bestseller.Linda earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin, and a J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School, where she also obtained a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. She previously practiced in the area of utilities regulations as an attorney for the California Public Utilities Commission. Outside of her volunteer work with SELC, Linda serves as a natural resources attorney with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

neil-thapar.jpgNeil Thapar

Staff Attorney

Neil@theSELC.org 

Neil represents clients and provides legal advice to community-based entrepreneurs and organizations, specializing in food and agriculture-related legal issues. He also advocates for policy changes that remove legal barriers to cooperative models of ownership, strengthen laws that promote urban agriculture, and support the viability of small businesses. Aside from his role at SELC, Neil maintains a small legal practice dedicated to serving the nonprofit and small-farm and food communities. In 2013, Neil researched and authored several case studies on social justice in agriculture for inclusion in the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems’ farm apprenticeship curriculum. He also holds a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture for completing the same apprenticeship in 2012. Neil earned a B.A. in Economics and International Area Studies from UCLA, and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law. 

Allison Clark, SELC Legal Intern Spring 2014Allison Clark

Legal Intern Spring 2014

Allison Clark is a second-year student at Berkeley Law, and as a SELC intern, she is contributing to SELC’s work on the California Neighborhood Food Act and farm labor advocacy. She has a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Gastronomic Sciences and Quality Products from L’Universita’ di Scienze Gastronomiche in Italy. Prior to law school, Allison worked as a Senior Organic Handler Certification & Policy Specialist at CCOF Certification Services, as well as serving on the boards of Santa Cruz NEXT and Slow Food Santa Cruz. As a law student, Allison works with new food entrepreneurs through the Community Food Enterprises Project as well as co-leading an interdisciplinary graduate student group that focuses on food policy. She has interned with Center for Food Safety, where she researched pesticides, GMOs, and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, and the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, where she worked on revisions to CEQA Guidelines. Her legal interests include local land use policy, water and property rights, and scale-sensitive regulation. In her free time, Allison cooks, brews beer, and dances.