Staff and Leadership

Staff Collective

 

Abby MnookinAbby@350vt.org

Abby joined the 350VT staff in 2015. She’s now a lead facilitator, spearheads fundraising efforts, and coordinates the Mother Up!: Families Rise Up for Climate Action program. She completed a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies and taught high school biology for many years before becoming a parent. She strives to integrate climate and justice into her various roles outside of 350VT, which include being an instructor at the Vermont Wilderness School, birth doula, and Vermont Public Radio commentator (2013 – 2019). Abby lives with her wife and their two kids in Brattleboro where they bicycle, upcycle, and pee-cycle.

 

Jaiel PulskampJaiel@350vt.org

From an early age, Jaiel Pulskamp, loved the outdoors. So it’s no surprise that she chose to become a farmer and works with 350Vermont as our (Re)Generate New Solutions Field Organizer. Jaiel is the owner of a small-scale organic fruit and vegetable farm, Kettlesong Farm in Worcester, VT and is excited to focus on building new alternatives to the fossil fuel industry.

 

Julie MacugaResist@350vt.org

Julie is 350VT’s fossil fuel resistance organizer, leads much of the outward communications, and does internal work supporting the staff. She has been involved with fossil fuel resistance work since 2016: everything from disrupting shareholders’ meetings, to blockading trains carrying coal, to rifling through 8,000 documents in efforts to stop F-35 fighter jets from coming to Vermont. When she’s not trying to undermine extractive industries, Julie enjoys woodcarving, wandering, and doodling. She lives and works in Burlington.

 

Lily JacobsonLily@350vt.org

Lily joined the 350VT staff in 2017. She works with 350VT’s seven local groups, along with the statewide Writing for Climate Justice group; some of the other areas of focus in her work are the internship program, organizational development, justice and values, and supporting the staff and board. With background in and affinity for whole-systems tools and movements, like permaculture, intentional communities, nonviolent communication, and earth-based spirituality, as well as current graduate work focused on social change and collective liberation, Lily was drawn to 350VT’s embrace of both solutions and resistance, and the commitment to working to dismantle systems of oppression. Lily lives with her partner in Burlington and gets to the lake and into the woods as often as she can. She loves making music and is notorious for getting people to sing.

 

Sonia SilbertTrainings@350vt.org

Sonia runs 350VT’s training programs and works internally on organizational development and finances. She is an experienced trainer, facilitator, and organizer who prioritizes using experiential and popular education techniques to train activists and organizers. She has over 15 years experience working in social justice movements, including as the Executive Director of the Washington Peace Center in DC and board member of Training for Change. Originally from New York, she now lives in Brattleboro, VT, where she supports local racial justice organizing, plays in the woods, and tries to keep up with a very energetic puppy.

 

Other Staff

Heather Buckner motherupmontpelier@350vt.org

Heather is the organizer for Mother Up! Montpelier. She grew up in Minnesota, and has since lived and worked in many places both in the U.S. and abroad, finally settling with her partner in the beautiful mountains of South Royalton. She has spent much of her career creating and managing programs for young people centered around resource conservation, permaculture, social and environmental justice and building leadership skills. Heather currently wears many hats, including youth coordinator for Voices for Vermont’s Children, permaculture designer, gardener, herbalist student, and after the birth of her first child last November, mother! She is excited for the opportunity to help families find meaningful ways to connect to each other, heal, and make collective change.

 

Sophia Bielenberg sophia@350vt.org

Sophia is the Office Manager for 350VT. She grew up in Central Vermont and moved to Boston to attend Northeastern University, where she first became involved in climate change organizing and activism. She discovered her love of agriculture while traveling in South America, and completed a degree in Ecology and Farm Systems at the University of Vermont. She has over 12 years of experience in sustainable and regenerative agriculture. In her free time, she loves growing things, canoeing, jack-jumping and hiking with her dog.

Interns

Cailan O’Leary – events@350vt.org

Cailan is one of our Mobilization Interns this Fall where she’ll be working on 350VT’s solutions campaign with the Rewild VT project and workshop series. Her connection to the environment began when she traveled to Zimbabwe as a child and visited her grandparent’s farm. Growing up, her father furthered her connection to the environment back home in New England taking her on fishing trips and hiking trips with her family. Cailan is a senior at the University of Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies. While at UVM, Cailan has explored her passion for intersectional environmentalism and environmental justice by serving as one of the trip leaders/executive board members for a club called People of Color Outdoors (POCO) which seeks to connect people of color to nature through outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and skiing. Outside of work, she enjoys skateboarding, music, and saying hi to every dog she sees.

 

Joe Scrimenti – solutions@350vt.org

Joe is joining us this fall to focus on mobilizing for local climate solutions. Growing up on the shores of Lake Erie, Joe acquired a keen sense of appreciation for nature and ecosystem services at a young age. This appreciation became a dedication when Joe spent his high school summers working as an educator for the Yosemite Conservancy in Yosemite National Park. While pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont, Joe has become a vivacious organizer and activist. He was brought on to be the Campus Outreach Coordinator by the Burlington Sunrise hub in its infancy and then moved through the ranks while working on city council campaigns for young, climate-focused candidates. Outside of work, Joe is an avid hiker, musician, and sports fan.

Hannah Acemedia@350vt.org

Hannah is joining us this fall as a Communications and Fundraising Intern. She is originally from Baltimore, MD but is currently living in Burlington, VT where she is a senior physics major at the University of Vermont. She has always had a deep appreciation for and connection to nature and discovered her passion for activism and climate justice in high school. She is excited to bring these passions to do meaningful work with 350VT this semester. In her free time she enjoys painting, running in the woods, and playing music on her bass, piano, and saw.

 

A screenshot from our Staff and Board Retreat, May 2020.

Board

KC Whiteley, Co-Chair

KC is a long time resident of the Northeast Kingdom, now currently residing in Montpelier. After a long career working with child development and family support programs – like Head Start – KC is currently self-employed as a writer/editor/researcher and music columnist for Vermont Woman. She enjoys contributing her skills to projects and advocacy organizations that she cares deeply about and after a year of working tirelessly on the tar sands campaign has recently joined the board of 350VT.

 

Alex Messinger, Secretary

Alex lives in Burlington with his wonderful wife and two fantastic children. He feels incredibly lucky to be able to commute by bicycle to his job in information technology at the University of Vermont. His perfect weekend includes a pre-dawn hike in Vermont’s mountains. The high point of his climate change activism (thus far) was joining the crowd of 400,000 at the People’s Climate March in 2015, where he dressed up as a displaced penguin.

 

Brian Tokar

Brian is an activist and author, director of the Plainfield-based Institute for Social Ecology, and a lecturer in Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont.  He is the author of The Green Alternative, Earth for Sale, and Toward Climate Justice, edited two books on the politics of biotechnology (Redesigning Life? and Gene Traders) and co-edited a recent collection, Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Resistance and Renewal. He has been involved in a variety of energy and climate-related issues since the late 1970s and written widely on the politics of energy in the US.

 

Danielle Laberge, Co-Chair

Danielle is Technical Designer and Head of Sales for Grassroots Solar, specializing in solar and battery installation for grid-tied and off-grid systems. Her background is in ecosystem restoration biology. After two terms with the Student Conservation Association and AmeriCorps restoring Grand Canyon National Park and Hudson River Estuary flora to reduce impacts, she is using her environmental education and volunteer coordinating skills every day in her solar job and in her climate organizing work. Born in and recently returned to Vermont, she is happy to strengthen her connection to the home that instilled place-based values in her at an early age.

 

Andrea Stander

Andrea grew up in a family that was active in the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements so grassroots organizing is in her blood. In the past 25+ years she has worked with The Canyonlands Field Institute educating visitors about the fragility of the high desert in Utah; with The Northern Plains Resource Council in Montana organizing farmers and ranchers to resist the negative impacts on their communities and water quality caused by international mining companies; with the Vermont Arts Council advocating for the artists who power Vermont’s creative economy; as a regional field organizer for Bernie Sanders’ first Senate campaign in 2006; with VPIRG on energy and consumer protection issues; and for the past seven years for Rural Vermont, first as Executive Director and now as part-time policy consultant. Rural Vermont advocates for a just transition to regenerative agriculture in support of family farms and food sovereignty and security.  She lives in Montpelier.

 

Christine Hallquist

In 2005, Christine went to Quebec to listen to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report where she learned that the fate of the planet is at risk. Christine recognized that the electric grid would be key to creating a carbon-free energy world. Christine then became CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC), Vermont’s second largest electric utility. Five years later the company was recognized as the most innovative in the country and cut its outages by more than 1⁄2. On January 20, 2018, Christine listened to four high school seniors doing slam poetry about the harassment they faced as Muslim girls in Vermont. Christine then made the decision to run for governor. She was the first major party candidate in the nation who is transgender, and was endorsed by an impressive list of organizations and people. Today, Christine is the CEO of a new company Cross Border Power located in Quebec. Cross Border Power provides enabling technology for micro-grids within the context of a North American solution to climate change.

 

Rick Barstow

I have been an off and on again activist since the late 60’s when I became aware of the insanity of the Vietnam war and knew it had to be resisted. Then 9/11 happened and W was preparing to attack Iraq so my wife and our two young people went down to D.C. to register our displeasure. It soon became clear that something was going on with our climate.  A sugar maker since the early 70’s, I had been able to observe how the season was beginning and ending earlier and earlier as well as the more erratic weather that made sugaring increasingly difficult. I heard about Bill McKibben’s walk from Middlebury to Burlington, action that would draw attention to the growing crisis. A friend and I heard that he (Bill) and Naomi Klein would be giving a talk in Boston in Dec. of 2012 what we needed to do as far as keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Before long I began to hear about a gas pipeline going through Addison county to Middlebury that needed to be stopped.  This is also when I heard about CVCA and its involvement as part of 350 VT in doing what it could to put a stop to this insanity. At this point, as I move deeper into my 70’s and the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, I see I need and want to find ways to scale back my physical work life on the land in order focus to the issues of climate justice.

 

Jesse Scarlato

Jesse lives in Montpelier and works in agriculture and food distribution. She has volunteered with 350VT since 2015, when she became a leader in the Montpelier node, Central Vermont Climate Action. Since 2019, Jesse has also actively volunteered and organized with Sunrise, a national organization of young people working for climate justice, and is the Montpelier Sunrise Hub coordinator and a member of the Sunrise Mobile Trainer Network. Jesse has also worked in an advocacy role at the Vermont Statehouse with an all-volunteer liaison team on behalf of the LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont, and recently helped launch Citizens for Climate Action.

 

Vanessa Rule

Vanessa has been organizing for climate justice since the fall of 2006 when she saw An Inconvenient Truth and decided to find people in her community of Somerville, MA who also wanted to do something about the problem. Since that time, she has connected with many passionate and dedicated people and worked with them to catalyze a just transition off fossil fuels. Her journey has included co-founding and co-leading Better Future Project and 350 Massachusetts and Mothers Out Front, a national organization focused on building the power of moms to address the climate crisis. She moved from Somerville to Strafford, VT 9 years ago with her two children Isabelle and Cedric.  She has a passion for ensuring all voices are at the decision-making table and for developing the leadership of others so we can build the collective power we need to create the change we want.

 

Divya Gudur

Divya is a senior at Middlebury College studying Environmental Chemistry and Global Health. She is passionate about the intersections of health, chemistry, social justice, and the environment, with a particular focus on combining toxicology into community organizing. At Middlebury she is involved in organizing around youth empowerment in issues of climate justice, inclusive environmental activism and education, and was a member of Divest Middlebury. She was first drawn into climate justice organizing in Vermont when she was on the organizing team for the Next Steps Climate Solutions Walk and now enjoys working with youth organizers across the state to advocate for just systems changes.

 

Jessica Van Oortphoto + bio coming soon