Dan Apfel, Executive Director
Dan is an expert at supporting and implementing responsible investment strategies on campus. He works with allies in advocacy organizations, industry, and the university community, to learn about and stay on top of the newest strategies in responsible investing. Dan’s work on responsible investing has been covered in Institutional Investor Magazine, Forbes, Chronicle of Higher Education, and GOOD, among others. Prior to joining the REC Dan served as a Program Officer at the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, where he worked with credit unions serving diverse low- and moderate-income communities around the country. He managed a coalition of 16 credit unions running free tax-preparation sites that filed over 3,500 returns for low-income people in 200 and co-administered the New York State Coalition of Community Development Financial Institutions. While living in Rochester, NY Dan also lived in and served on the boards of two student housing cooperative.
Dan is passionate about creating democratic institutions that serve their communities. He loves the outdoors, and aside from changing the way the world invests its money, Dan dreams of sailing around the globe.
Get in touch with Dan at email@example.com or on Twitter at @danapfel.
Lauren Ressler, National Organizer
Lauren Ressler is thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as the National Organizer for the Responsible Endowments Coalition. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Lauren has been an active organizer in the region for over five years, working extensively with the Cascade Climate Network and Sierra Student Coalition to run strategic environmental campaigns. As a student, Lauren worked to enact a socially responsible investment policy at Seattle University. More recently, Lauren supported students across the country in running 99% Spring trainings for new organizers on their campuses. In addition to local and national activism, she is passionate about collaborative organizing at the international level and has worked with youth leaders from around the globe over the past three years through United Nations climate negotiation process.
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.
Rose Espinola, National Organizer
Rose Espinola began organizing around endowment issues as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. She successfully organized for her university to end investment in the hotel-management company HEI Hotels & Resorts. Beginning her first year of college, Rose also organized with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, founding the ally group Philly Fair Food and being part of Burger King, Trader Joe’s, and Aramark victories. Rose is from the South Florida suburbs/swamplands and identifies as xicana. She is a proud MEChA alumna and has also been involved in School of Americas Watch, Alta Gracia, and the Workers Rights Consortium. Rose has traveled extensively throughout Latin America, living, learning, and organizing as an ally to sibling movements.
Rose is especially interested in collective liberation, corporate campaigns, and movement messaging. Some of her other favorite things include long walks, raw veganism, and (non-raw vegan) ice cream. Contact Rose at email@example.com.
Annie McShiras, Development Director
Annie McShiras is thrilled to be on REC’s team. She works with REC staff, board, student organizers, allies, and individuals to promote the vital work of REC and direct all of REC’s fundraising initiatives. Annie has been promoting movements for corporate accountability and economic justice for the past five years. In 2007, her vision of the world shifted when she learned of the realities of modern day slavery while working with Bolivian immigrants at a community organization in Argentina. Since then, and never forgetting the struggle of the people she met in Latin America, Annie has worked in organizations on issues ranging from sustainable agriculture to homelessness prevention. She has held roles in fundraising, outreach, and communications in Vermont and New York City. Most recently, she has joined as a volunteer on the editorial team of a collective publication on economic alternatives, Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO).
In her free time, Annie loves talking food politics and dancing capoeira. She welcomes the opportunity to talk to you about your creative fundraising ideas for REC. Contact Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hannah Jones, Climate Justice Organizer
Kate is a student representative on the board who has been involved with endowment issues since her first semester at Swarthmore College. She is a member of Swarthmore Mountain Justice, a group pressuring the college to divest its holdings in the fossil fuel industry. In addition to climate justice work, Kate is an active member of the Swarthmore Labor Action Project and an intern with Movement Catalyst, a movement support group for community-based social justice organizations working primarily on housing rights. She is a History major and Political Science minor.
Vonda Brusting is the Director of the Capital Stewardship Program at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Ben Collins, Treasurer
Ben first discovered responsible investment issues as an undergraduate at Harvard College as a co-founder and student leader of a Sudan divestment campaign at Harvard University. As part of the campaign, he worked with student groups, alumni, faculty, and Harvard’s Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility to secure Harvard’s divestment from the PetroChina Company in 2005. Ben has previously worked with the microfinance organization, FINCA in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Since 2006, he has conducted Sudan divestment research and analyzed corporate social responsibility issues at KLD Research & Analytics (recently acquired by the Riskmetrics Group in November 2009), an investment research firm based in Boston that focuses on the environmental, social, and governance practices of publicly-traded companies. Ben is also involved as a board member of the Investor Suffrage Movement, which works towards improving corporate accountability through shareholder proxy voting.
Sarah Pralle, Secretary
Sarah Pralle is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. Her research and teaching interests are in the areas of public policy processes and environmental politics. In particular, she studies the strategies and tactics of environmental advocacy groups, including market-based tactics like shareholder activism. She is the author of Branching Out, Digging In: Environmental Advocacy and Agenda-setting (Georgetown University Press, 2006) as well as several articles on environmental policy processes. Before attending graduate school at the University of Washington, Sarah worked for Greenpeace USA as a fundraiser and activist. She has continued to be active in campus environmental groups as well as community groups in central New York.
Maura Rendes, Chair
Maura began working with REC as a freshman at Seattle University when she led the formation of the Committee on Responsible Investment (CRI). She served as the REC Northwest Student Organizer and a Steering Committee member from 2008-2010 and started a community investment program and a revolving fund for energy-saving sustainability projects at Seattle U. After living, working and studying in Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, Maura returned to Seattle where she now works for PCC Farmland Trust– a non-profit land conservation organization that preserves and stewards organic farmland throughout WA state. Outside of her local food/economy passions, Maura loves experimenting in the kitchen, capturing moments with her trusty Nikon, running around and climbing things, traveling to meet new people and places – anything that involves adventure. Maura is delighted to have served on the board since late 2010, and is honored to help guide the organization that was so integral to her commitment to the movement.
Mary Schellentrager began working with REC at American University in 2007, advocating to establish a committee on responsible investment and sustained investment in the Washington, DC community. She served on REC’s Student Steering Committee and worked as the Mid-Atlantic Student Organizer from 2009-2010. 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 currently works at Energy Action Coalition as Divestment Campaign Coordinator, supporting student organizers campaigning for coal and fossil fuel divestment nationwide. She loves that she still gets to work in close partnership with REC at the intersection of environmental and economic justice. In her free time she adores taking road trips and seeing live music.
Sam Wohns is a student at Harvard University, where he studies political economy. As a sophomore in college, Sam Wohns founded the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition with the goal of making his university’s endowment the most responsibly managed in the country. The Coalition launched the Fair Harvard Fund as a mechanism for students and alumni to support the creation of a Social Choice Fund within the endowment by donating to a responsibly managed escrow fund.
Sam’s commitment to social justice has led him to organize rural residents to protect the Tangle Lakes in Alaska from large-scale development, train volunteers to empower youth living with diabetes in Ecuador, and co-found a student think-and-action-tank called Economy Futures. Although he is usually down to Earth, Sam is on cloud nine when eating wood-fired pizza, listening to street musicians, or backpacking between snow-capped peaks.
Kristina is currently studying at Columbia University for the fall semester. She will return to Middlebury College in the spring as a junior studying Political Science and Sociology. Kristina grew up in London, Stockholm, and Barcelona. She has spent three summers volunteering to develop food sustainability at an orphanage in Ghana. Kristina is dedicated to the social justice movement and has had the privilege to work with the Social Justice Coalition and the Socially Responsible Investment club at Middlebury. She is committed to understanding what it means to strive for social and economic justice, and believes one of the key steps is through changing the way our endowments and colleges do business. Nothing puts a bigger smile on Kristina’s face than spending time with dogs. She also loves hiking, scuba diving, and anything to do with animals. Kristina worked with REC as a summer intern and is now a Student Organizing Intern at REC this fall.