Jess Grady-Benson, Alumni Organizer
Jess joins the REC team to support young alumni organizing for divestment and reinvestment campaigns. Currently based in Philly, Jess organizes to develop strategic avenues for alumni participation in campaigns that maximize the unique skills and leverage of young alums. A recent graduate of Pitzer College, Jess co-founded the Claremont Colleges Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, which achieved victory at Pitzer in April, 2014. Believing deeply in the power of divestment to shift the discourse on climate change, challenge perceptions of risk and return, and mobilize youth power for climate justice, she is inspired to continue supporting the movement for divestment and reinvestment. In addition to her work with REC, Jess is a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Divestment Student Network. She also coordinates the DSN's Alumni Divestment Network, which seeks to build political community among recent alums organizing for divestment and climate justice. Jess is passionate about building a just transition to a new economy by bridging movements for climate, racial, and economic justice.
Outside of organizing work, Jess loves to play music, go on adventures, and ride her bike. You can follow her on twitter @jessgradybenson and contact her at email@example.com.
Nina Macapinlac, Coordinator of Alumni Organizing
Nina is the Coordinator of Alumni Organizing for the Responsible Endowments Coalition. She works and builds with alumni from around the country, getting them involved with divestment efforts at their alma maters and in the larger movement for responsible endowments. Born in the Philippines, she is a Rutgers University graduate and longtime New Jersey resident who has fought alongside many others for immigrant and labor rights. She is currently the Vice Chairperson for Anakbayan-NJ, a progressive Filipino youth and student organization that serves working-class Filipino communities across the state. With Anakbayan and the rest of the New Jersey Tuition Equity for Dreamers Coalition, Nina was involved in the youth-led campaign that passed the New Jersey DREAM Act in December 2013. Nina continues to support efforts to organize immigrant youth and migrant workers in New Jersey. She hopes to link and raise the connections between endowment justice and community-led grassroots movements for economic, political, and social justice.
Lauren Ressler, Director of Campus Organizing
Lauren currently supports the national student responsible investment movement as Director of Campus Organizing for the Responsible Endowments Coalition. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Lauren worked with the Cascade Climate Network and Sierra Student Coalition to oppose the development of coal export facilities along the Pacific Northwest coast. In addition to this work on coal exports, Lauren has worked on ending the student loan debt crisis and making higher education affordable for all. She currently organizes with more than 20 campuses across the U.S. campaigning for fossil fuel divestment and reinvestment and the emerging prison divestment campaign.
Lauren enjoys spending her free time creating incredible vegetarian meals, exploring new communities, and brushing up on her salsa dancing. Contact Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter at @laurenressler.
Marcie Smith, Executive Director
Marcie Smith is the Executive Director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition where she works with university students, alumni, administrators, and trustees to align endowment investments with the long-term, democratic mission of higher education. She has been organizing youth and students around climate justice, democratic economic development, and girls' and women's rights since 2006. During college, she started her campus’s first environmental organization, co-founded the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition (KSEC), and served on the Student Environmental Action Coalition’s national council. As a former co-chair of Youth for Sustainable Development (SustainUS) and an early organizer with YouNGO, she was deeply involved in international youth organizing around and within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 14, 15, and 16. She has also worked with Grand Aspirations, Energy Action Coalition, the Sustainable Economies Law Center, Carolina Common Enterprise, and the UNC Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, and is the founder of the girls' empowerment organization Full Circles Foundation. She is originally from Kentucky, received her B.A. from Transylvania University, and J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law.
Ian Trupin, Organizer
Ian works with student groups around the country who are demanding that their schools divest from private prisons and fossil fuels. As a student activist himself, Ian worked on a successful campaign that led Brown University to divest from HEI Hotels and Resorts, a hotel chain notorious for its labor rights abuses. This involvement led to an interest in endowment justice which he pursued as a student representative on Brown’s advisory committee on investor responsibility. A proud Tanzanian-American, Ian is passionate about economic justice organizing and challenging institutions to mobilize their resources in support of new economy solutions.
Ian enjoys learning about his beautiful new home of New York City, drawing, singing, and jamming on various stringed instruments.
Emily Chang, Summer Organizing Intern
Emily is a rising sophomore at Mount Holyoke College, double-majoring in English and Environmental Studies. She was introduced to REC through Mount Holyoke Climate Justice Coalition’s fossil fuel divestment campaign during her first year and looks forward to continue their collaboration for future years. Emily believes that environmental issues should be at the forefront of social justice discussions because their consequences will affect everyone. Eager to be working with REC this summer, Emily hopes to realize economic and social justice through the environmental movement and to shift the conversation surrounding environmentalism from simply “going green” to fulfilling human rights.
Emily is an avid squash player, suggests you watch Casey Neistat’s YouTube videos, loves to travel and hike, and can be contacted at email@example.com.
Elise Ferguson, Summer Organizing Intern
Elise is a rising junior at Vassar College. She is an environmental studies major focusing in sociology and earth science. She thinks it extremely important that the environmental movement does not isolate itself from other social justice movements, because environmental issues are fundamentally social justice issues. She sees climate change as an incredibly pressing issues facing her generation but also as an opportunity, as it will force us to reevaluate our most deeply held and pervasive values and practices, hopefully leading to genuine and comprehensive change. She is a co-coordinator of Vassar’s fossil fuel divestment campaign and is also on the exec board for the Vassar Greens. She is one of the founding members of Vassar Mental Health Initiative, which aims to improve mental health resources and treatment on campus. She is also involved with the Vassar Transparency Coalition, which aims to hold the administration more accountable and make information more accessible. She is interested in the corporatization of higher education. She hopes to work to transform college from an institution that benefits from and perpetuates destructive neoliberal values and oppressive systems to one that actually drives progressive change and the betterment of society, just as so many universities claim to do in their mission statements.
In her spare time Elise enjoys practicing banjo, making art, cooking vegan and vegetarian food, and playing with her cats.
Helen Cane, Summer Organizing Intern
Helen is a rising junior at Barnard College majoring in Political Economics. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she is a founding member of Barnard Divest from Fossil Fuels and was the co-chair of the Sustainable Initiatives Consulting Board at Barnard during the 2014-2015 academic year. Her main interests surround identifying, understanding and raising awareness about the economic systems that perpetuate environmental and labor exploitation. She hopes to pursue social justice work and advocate for policies that support human rights and environmental sustainability at REC and beyond.
In her spare time Helen enjoys watching old movies, taking road trips and reading economic theory.
She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Board of Directors
Patricia Estevez works at Change to Win, a labor federation, on corporate governance, shareholder and labor issues since November 2008. Prior to this, she worked on Wall Street as a financial analyst. Patricia has been active with NYC area organizations that empower young people from low income communities to find their paths to success. She grew up in Queens, New York.
Kristen Cox works in development and marketing for Self-Help Credit Union, the county's largest community development credit union, after 14 years as a cultural organizer, resource developer, non-profit program mana ger, and community builder working in Chicago. Finding the field of social justice finance has satisfied her quest to unite the personal and political. Kristen was an early fossil-fuel divestor and discoverer of socially responsible investing when she decided to sell her appreciated Exxon, Chevron and Ashland Oil holdings in her twenties. She used the proceeds to reinvest in a portfolio of renewable energy, healthy food, and clean water and founded the Fire This Time Fund (FTTF), a giving circle together with 11 others that between 2006 – 2010 awarded grants to small-scale creative social change projects in the Chicagoland area. Excited by peer-to-peer lending and the power of community investing, Kristen was an early investor in Spaulding Court, a 1918 series stone row houses that was condemned by the city of Detroit and bought and rehabbed by residents of Corktown in 2010. She has worked for a broad range of organizations in the arts, philanthropy, and community-based organizations. She was a contributing writer and advisor to AREA Chicago, a board member of Young Chicago Authors which produced the 2011 documentary Louder Than A Bomb, and is a graduate of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in community development. She is an alumna of Resource Generation, part family-farm owner in Central Kentucky , and loves the water.
Beth Herz is Associate Program Officer at the Surdna Foundation, a New York-based family foundation that supports sustainable and just communities in the U.S. In this role, Beth works with Surdna’s program staff and board to ensure collaboration and impact across the foundation’s three areas of work – sustainable environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures. Beth joined Surdna as a member of the Sustainable Environments team, where she contributed to grantmaking and strategy development in climate change, transportation systems, and the green economy. She previously worked in community organizing and advocacy, including at WE ACT for Environmental Justice in Manhattan.Beth received a B.A. from Wesleyan University and an M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan. In addition to the Responsible Endowments Coalition board, Beth sits on the Board of Advisors of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy.
Varshini Prakash is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she is pursuing a dual-degree in Environmental Science and Political Science. She has played an active role in the UMass Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign since its inception. A Massachusetts native and life-long resident, Varshini recognizes the importance of connecting on-campus organizing efforts to local off-campus ones. She has worked on a variety of climate-related campaigns in Massachusetts with groups like 350.org and Better Future Project.
Mary Schellentrager works at Energy Action Coalition as Divestment Campaign Coordinator, supporting students campaigning for fossil fuel divestment and sustainable reinvestment nationwide. She began working with REC in 2007 when she advocated to establish a committee on responsible investment and sustained investment in the DC community while studying at American University. She served on REC’s Student Steering Committee and as Mid-Atlantic Student Organizer from 2009-2011. While at AU, she co-coordinated the Community Action and Social Justice coalition, helped win union recognition for the university’s shuttle bus operators, and organized for affordable housing and reproductive rights in DC. She loves working in close partnership with REC at the intersection of environmental and economic justice and is honored to have contributed to the strategic growth of the organization since she joined the Board in 2010. In her free time she adores taking road trips, camping, seeing live music, and spending time with family.
Jérôme Tagger serves as Director of Membership and Operations at the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). In this role, Jérôme oversees the strategy, member services, recruitment, and programming for both the Investors’ Council and Network Membership initiatives, as well as certain GIIN operations.
Jérôme has an extensive background in non-profit management with global organizations in the fields of sustainable and responsible finance. He served as the Chief Operating Officer of the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, where he worked for five years. Prior to that, he was Head of Research at Eurosif, the European Social Investment Forum. Jérôme is a graduate of Essec Business School in France.
Molly Thomas-Jensen is an attorney with Change to Win Labor Federation. Prior to working for CtW, she worked at South Brooklyn Legal Services, where her work focused on employment discrimination against individuals with criminal records. Molly is an active member of the New York State Bar Association's Labor & Employment Law Section Executive Committee and the New York City Bar Association's Committee on Legal Issues Affecting People with Disabilities. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Brown University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Joshua Humphreys, is the President of the Croatan Institute.
Anuradha Mittal is the founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute.
Robert A. G. Monks, Founder ISS, Lens Investors, Hermes Lens, GMI.
Stephen Mulkey is the President of Unity College in Maine.