BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment’s Board of Directors is drawn from long-time environmental justice activists, academics and sustainable business people. Each member of the Board has been active in the Environmental Justice Movement or writing about it for more than a decade.
Dai Owen currently works for renewable energy developer EDF Renewable Energy where he negotiates large-scale wind and solar power contracts with electric utilities and large commercial users and leads acquisitions of projects from smaller developers. EDF RE designs, develops, constructs, owns, and operates wind and solar farms across North America and is committed to meeting the clean energy goals of North America, including California. During his tenure with EDF-RE, Dai has led the successful negotiation of over 1000 MW of offtake agreements, and 1400 MW of project acquisitions, resulting in over 2200 MW of projects EDF-RE has constructed - enough to power over 2 million average homes with 100% renewable energy. Before EDF RE, Dai worked on renewable energy transmission policy with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a national environmental non-profit organization. Dai taught AP environmental science, oceanography, and introductory science courses at Marin Academy High School from 1999 to 2007 where he also directed the outdoor education and adventure program. Other positions have included working with youth at risk at Outward Bound, running environmental education courses at the Marin Headlands, and introducing young students to organic farming. Dai graduated magna cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa from Carleton College with a B.A. in Chemistry and enjoys many outdoor pursuits with his daughter and wife in Oakland, California.
Director, Power Marketing
EDF Renewable Energy
Mijin Cha is an Assistant Professor at Occidental College, Urban and Environmental Policy department. She is also a Fellow at Cornell University's Worker Institute. Prior to Occidental, she worked for several years on environmental justice and green economy policy issues internationally and domestically. Her work experience includes PolicyLink, Dēmos, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). She has written for various outlets including, The Hill, the American Prospect, Huffington Post, Dissent,. Mic, Grist, the Feminist Wire, the Indypendent, and the Dēmos blog PolicyShop.net.
Mijin is a graduate of Cornell University and holds a JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and LLM and PhD degrees from the University of London, SOAS. She is a member of the California Bar.
Tina Eshaghpour is the director of organizational learning and evaluation at The California Wellness Foundation where she is responsible for fostering a culture of continual learning, improvement and innovation. Prior to joining Cal Wellness, Tina directed her own philanthropic and nonprofit consulting practice, led the Women’s Foundation of California’s environmental health and justice program, and pioneered efforts to increase awareness and funding to support the health of low-income families and agricultural workers in California’s Central Valley.
Tina is a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and has a master's degree in public health from UCLA. She serves on the boards of the Center on Race Poverty and the Center for Environmental Health.
Director, Organizational Learning & Evaluation The California Wellness Foundation
“People have power when they work together”
Tom Frantz is an almond farmer, avid gardener, and retired math teacher from Wasco High School in a rural community in the San Joaquin Valley. He graduated from the school himself, having been born and raised on a farm three miles away. He is also one of the leading activists working to improve the air and environment in the San Joaquin Valley.
After spending ten years abroad working with low-income farmers in East Africa and Jamaica as a volunteer with the Mennonite Central Committee, he returned home to the Valley in 1998 to farm and teach. His decision at the time was that "we should be doing the same thing here that he had been doing overseas—helping people take more control over their lives and environment."
Before he went abroad, he had gone to meetings and written letters to help stop the Buttonwillow toxic waste dump [link], and he decided he wanted to get more involved in similar issues. When he returned to the Valley, he joined the newly formed Advisory Board in Delano. He has been active with it ever since. A few years later he was also appointed to the Executive Board of CRPE.
When the 28,000 cow Borba dairies were proposed in Bakersfield and other dairies were proposed even closer to Tom's home in Shafter, he helped form a group called Save our Shafter to stop one of the proposed dairies and to educate people about the devastating effects large-scale dairies can have on a community's health and environment. CRPE represented the organization in a lawsuit against the county and the Vanderham dairy. Tom is also the president and one of the founders of the Association of Irritated Residents (AIR), an organization dedicated to ensuring that the EPA and state and county agencies fulfill their responsibility of protecting the health and environment in the San Joaquin Valley.
Tom says he has a simple reason for his hard work on air and dairy issues in the valley: "I enjoy it, and it's a good thing to do. I think people should be active in their community one way or another and this is my way." He explains, "I don't mind being the one to make noise. Upsetting the status quo and speaking truth to power can be personally stressful, but the gain of a healthier environment is worth it. And I found, surprisingly, a lot of support among this rural conservative community, including many farmers. It keeps me going."
Currently, Tom is working to help stop a sewage sludge incinerator and a coal burning power plant, both in Kern County. He is also fighting for tighter regulations on factory dairies. The growing awareness of the damage that large dairies inflict on local communities and Central Valley air quality—an awareness that Tom and his organization has helped foster—has led the city of Wasco to be nearly unified in its opposition to any new dairies. At recent legislative hearings on some proposed dairies, a man with strong ties to the dairy industry told Tom that "all these people are here tonight because of what you've been doing these last few years." Looking back on the comment Tom reflected, "I don't know if he meant that good or bad, but I thought it was quite a compliment." But, Tom explained, "I didn't do it alone." Through AIR, the CRPE Advisory Board, and similar organizations, "people have gained their own voice and have given that skill and power to people around them in their community. I've seen it happen first hand, including to myself."
Association of Irritated Residents, Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, Central California Environmental Justice Network
Formerly with Communities for a Better Environment
Comite Progreso de Lamont
Daniela Simunovic is currently the Environmental Health and Justice Program Manager at Liberty Hill Foundation. She has an extensive background advocating for environmental justice in the San Joaquin Valley, where she worked as a community organizer for the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment (CRPE). While at CRPE, Daniela worked to develop grassroots leaders in rural, low-income, farm worker communities to advocate for health protective environmental policies. She left CRPE in 2010 to help launch Communities for A New California. Daniela moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to pursue her Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA, which she completed in 2013. While at UCLA Daniela worked as a Research Analyst with Estolano Lesar Perez Advisors, a private consulting firm where she helped develop an implementation roadmap to revitalize a 110-acre Brownfield in the City Huntington Park with green space, quality housing and economic development. Daniela received her B.A. in Sociology from St. Mary’s College of California.
Environmental Health and Justice Program Manager
Liberty Hill Foundation
Madeline Wander is Senior Data Analyst at the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) in Los Angeles where she conducts research focusing on environmental justice, regional equity, and social-movement building. She has co-authored several publications, including: A Preliminary Environmental Equity Assessment of California’s Cap-and-Trade Program (PERE report); Changing States: A Framework for Progressive Governance (PERE report); and The Have-Nots, and the Health of Everyone: The Relationship Between Social Inequality and Environmental Quality (Annual Review of Public Health article). She is the PERE staff lead on the Environmental Justice Screening Method and staffs PERE Director Manuel Pastor as an appointed member of the Strategic Growth Council, a state-level committee that allocates cap-and-trade revenue to California’s disadvantaged communities. Prior to joining the PERE team, she pursued her passion for social justice through a variety of organizing efforts, including Housing LA, a broad affordable housing coalition convened by the Southern California Association of NonProfit Housing (SCANPH), and Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign in Colorado. Madeline holds a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA and a BA degree in Urban and Environmental Policy from Occidental College.
Senior Data Analyst
USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity