Board of Directors
YASSI ESKANDARI is Attorney & Policy Director at the Sustainable Economies Law Center and elected by Law Center staff to serve as its staff representative on the board (learn more about worker self-directed nonprofits). Yassi uses worker-owned cooperatives as a strategy to build a more fulfilling, equitable, and ecologically resilient economic system. She led the campaign that established groundbreaking worker cooperative development policies in the City of Berkeley and has advised countless other city governments and community advocates on how to establish similar programs. Yassi also convened and coordinates the Worker Owned Recovery California policy coalition and is Co-Chair of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives Policy & Advocacy Council and legal counsel to our incubated renewable energy projects. Yassi has also co-authored several influential publications, including Regulating Short-Term Rentals: A Guidebook for Equitable Policy, and Policies for Shareable Cities, a playbook for cities seeking to embrace grassroots sharing economies in the areas of transportation, food, housing, and work. Yassi became an attorney by independently reading the law and passing the California bar exam, and also earned a B.S. in Conservation & Resource Studies from UC Berkeley. While a Cal student, she helped start Berkeley’s first student-run food collective.
HASMIK GEGHAMYAN is a community lawyer committed to social and economic justice whose solo practice primarily focuses on formation and labor compliance for nonprofits and cooperatives. Hasmik believes that a cross-functional model of activism, policy, organizing, and law can be effectively used to bring about social and ecological transformation. Hasmik also teaches Political Science at the College of Alameda.
EUNICE KWON is the Director of Asian Pacific American Student Development at UC Berkeley. Previously, she was the Director of Community Engagement at the Sustainable Economies Law Center and a Coro Fellow in San Francisco, where she worked with a range of organizations that included the Haas Sr. Foundation and the Bay Area Community College Consortium. She started her career as a communications consultant for several congressional and local political campaigns and for labor organizations such as the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and the United Food and Commercial Workers. She currently serves on the board of the Oakland Asian Cultural Center and Asian Women United, a nonprofit that spotlights the diverse experiences of Asian American Pacific Islander women through publications, digital productions, and educational materials. She received her Masters in City Planning at UC Berkeley's College of Environmental Design.
FARZANA SERANG is the Great Communities Collaborative Initiative Officer at The San Francisco Foundation, and former Executive Director of CoFED, the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive. Prior to CoFED, she worked at PolicyLink, one of the primary national advocacy organizations shaping a social and economic justice agenda for the country. She received her Masters in City Planning from MIT with a focus on community and economic development. During her studies she also worked with the Democracy Collaborative, Milk & Honey, and National Congress of American Indians.
ADRIEN SALAZAR is an environmental advocate, political ecologist, and poet receiving his Masters in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Adrien is committed to supporting communities in shaping policy and managing their resources to achieve community resilience, empowerment, and self-determination. His work focuses on land and resource rights, and engagement of frontline and marginalized communities in resource management and policy. He has supported campaigns in the San Francisco Bay Area with the Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity and the Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter. He has also supported conservation of traditional agricultural practices among indigenous farmers in the Philippines. He hails from San Jose, California and Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines. He enjoys running, yoga, mindfulness meditation, and growing heirloom vegetables.
DESEREE FONTENOT is a black organizer, farmer, and ecology nerd. She is a collective member of Movement Generation: Justice and Ecology Project (MG). MG inspires and engages in transformative action towards the liberation and restoration of land, labor, and culture. Deseree grew up between Southwest Louisiana and the Los Angeles area and has been based in the Bay Area for the last decade. Before joining MG, Deseree worked as both a farmer and educator focused on land & liberation with the People of Color Sustainable Housing Network and the Queer EcoJustice Project. As a descendant of three generations of rural Louisiana sharecroppers, Deseree is committed to strengthening movements for black land, healing and liberation. She loves to nerd out on queer botany, creole/cajun food and history, and regenerative design practices.
GREG JACKSON is an Oakland native and second-year law student at Golden Gate University. He believes that the most effective way to affect the future is through supporting our youth. In addition to interning for the Sustainable Economies Law Center, Greg also serves on the National Lawyer's Guild Board and is on the board at his school's National Black Law Students Association. In his free time, Greg makes music and produces radio shows on KPFA and KPFB.
STACEY SULLIVAN has been Sustainable Conservation’s Policy Director since 2009, during which time he has led successful legislative campaigns to enact state statutes to improve water quality (SB 346) and expedite riparian habitat restoration (AB 2193), and guided the organization’s policy initiatives in water supply and management, greenhouse gas reduction, and air and water quality. Prior to joining Sustainable Conservation, Stacey spent 12 years as a committee consultant to the California State Assembly, including eight years as Chief Consultant to the Local Government Committee. His work while with the Assembly included in-depth involvement in significant legislation and policy initiatives concerning the California Environmental Quality Act, water policy, sustainable agriculture, housing, and land use planning. Stacey has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and the Steering Committee of the Central Coast Rangeland Coalition. He was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz, University of Oxford, and King Hall School of Law at the University of California, Davis, from which he received his J.D. in 1995.
GOPAL DAYANENI has been involved in fighting for social, economic, environmental and racial justice through organizing & campaigning, teaching, writing, speaking and direct action since the late 1980’s. Gopal is an active trainer with and serves on the boards of The Ruckus Society and the Center for Story-based Strategy (formerly smartMeme). He also serves on the advisory boards of the International Accountability Project, and Catalyst Project. Gopal works at the intersection of ecology, economy and empire. Gopal has been a campaigner for Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition on human rights and environmental justice in the high-tech industry and the Oil Campaigner for Project Underground, a human rights and environmental rights organization which supported communities resisting oil and mining exploitation around the world. Gopal has been active in many people powered direct action movements, including the Global Justice/Anti-Globalization Movement, Direct Action to Stop the War, Mobilization for Climate Justice, Take Back the Land, and Occupy. Gopal is the father of two young direct action junkies, Ila Sophia and Kavi Samaka Orion, and lives in an intentional community with 9 adults, 8 kids and a bunch of chickens.
JENNY KASSAN has almost two decades of experience as an attorney for and creator of mission-driven enterprises. Jenny earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and a masters degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley. She worked for eleven years at 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. Jenny is the President of Community Ventures, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the economic and social development of communities. She also co-founded the Sustainable Economies Law Center.
LINDA SHEEHAN is the Executive Director of the Earth Law Center and has over 20 years of environmental law and policy experience. Linda holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a Concentration in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; an M.P.P. from the University of California, Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, where she was named a Berkeley Policy Fellow; and a J.D. from the University of California's Boalt Hall School of Law. She is a Research Affiliate with the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and is a member of the Commission on Environmental Law in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Linda is also Summer Faculty at Vermont Law School and Adjunct Faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where she teaches Earth Law. She is a contributing author toExploring Wild Law: The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence (Wakefield Press 2011), Rule of Law for Nature (Cambridge University Press 2013), and Wild Law in Practice (Routledge 2014).
JOHN FARRELL is the Director of Democratic Energy at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and widely known as the guru of distributed energy. He is best known for his vivid illustrations of the economic and environmental benefits of local ownership of decentralized renewable energy. John’s work appears most regularly on Energy Self-Reliant States, a blog with timely and compelling analysis of current energy discussions and policy. The posts are frequently enriched by charts, translating the complex economics of energy into tools for advancing local energy ownership and they are regularly syndicated at Grist, CleanTechnica, and Renewable Energy World. He’s also written extensively on the economic advantages of Democratizing the Electricity System, published a rich interactive map on solar grid parity, and polished the policies (like Minnesota’s solar energy standard) necessary to support locally owned renewable energy development.
MICHAEL SHUMAN is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur. He’s also an adjunct instructor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, a Fellow at Cutting Edge Capital and at the Post-Carbon Institute, and a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). He has authored, coauthored, or edited nine books. His most recent book, which will be published by Chelsea Green in May 2015, is The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing Pollinator Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and Prosperity. One of his previous books, The Small Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition (Berrett-Koehler, 2006), received as bronze prize from the Independent Publishers Association for best business book of 2006. A prolific speaker, Shuman has given an average of more than one invited talk per week, mostly to local governments and universities, for the past 30 years. He has lectured in 47 U.S. states and eight countries. He blogs regularly at www.michaelhshuman.com.
DAVID BOLLIER is an American activist, writer, and policy strategist. He is co-founder of the Commons Strategies Group, Senior Fellow at the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, and writes technology-related reports for the Aspen Institute. Bollier’s recent work has focused on developing a new vocabulary for reclaiming “the commons.” The commons refers to the diverse array of publicly owned assets, gift-economies and natural systems that are available to everyone as a civic or human right. Bollier's new book, co-edited with with Silke Helfrich, is The Wealth of the Commons, a new collection of 73 essays that investigate the rich potential of the commons in conceptualizing and building a better future. The book details how millions of people have organized to defend natural resources, re-invigorate local food systems, build useful online communities, reclaim public spaces, and even re-define the very meaning of "progress." Bollier co-founded the public interest group Public Knowledge in 2002 and served as a board member until 2010. He was awarded the 2012 Bosch Berlin Prize in Public Policy at the American Academy in Berlin.
HANK HERRERA in memoriam is President & CEO of the Center for Popular Research, Education & Policy (C-PREP), a non-profit community based organization. C-PREP serves vulnerable communities with participatory action research, training, technical assistance and policy. His work specifically focuses on food justice and building community resilience. He recently formed New Hope Farms, a network of small farms linked to a network of small corner stores selling only healthy food, using a cooperative model of ownership. The purpose of this project is to grow and sell healthy, affordable local food; to create sustainable, living wage jobs for community residents; and to develop the social, community and economic benefits of a local food enterprise network. He is co-founder and Director of the Sacred Community Land Trust, a non-profit organization devoted to conserving farmland for farming by low-income farmers and ranchers. Together these organizations provide the foundation for building equitable local food systems owned by and serving communities lacking access to fresh, healthy food. Hank has focused his work on food justice for over twenty years. Hank is a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and a Kellogg National Fellow. He practiced psychiatry long enough. He plays the alto saxophone; writes poetry and makes photographs. He lives in Pinole, California.