Our Team

Alicia Rivera

(she/her/ella) Policy Advocate

Alicia Rivera

Alicia is Policy Advocate based in our Merced office. She received her BA in political science from the University of California, Merced. She has experience working with youth and students, conducting outreach, and advocating for workers' rights. At Leadership Counsel, Alicia leads community engagement and policy advocacy in Merced County on numerous environmental justice issues.

Andrea Uribe

(she/her/ella) Policy Advocate

Andrea Uribe

Andrea, who grew up in Bakersfield, CA, is a Policy Advocate based in Fresno. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a BS in Society and Environment with an emphasis on US Environmental Policy and Management. She has experience working with youth and researching the intersection between labor and the environment. At Leadership Counsel, Andrea works alongside communities in Madera County to advance community needs and priorities such as septic to sewer conversion, reduced pesticide application, and access to affordable housing.

Asha Sharma

(she/her) State Policy Manager

Asha Sharma

Asha is the State Policy Manager based in the Sacramento office. With a BA major in Political Science and minor in Geology from the University of Texas at Arlington, as well as a Master of Science from UC Davis in International Agricultural Development, she has an extensive background in environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, and organizing at the state level as well as internationally. At Leadership Counsel, Asha develops and manages a variety of state policy campaigns driven by community needs and priorities, as well as works in coalition with partner organizations and conducts research and analysis.

Ashley Marie Suarez

(she/her/ella) Policy Advocate

Ashley Marie Suarez

Ashley Marie is a Policy Advocate based in our Merced office.  She received her BA in political science and philosophy from the University of California, Merced.  She has experience working with youth and students, advocating for resources to support those who were unhoused or incarcerated.  At Leadership Counsel, Ashley Marie leads community outreach and engagement in the City of Merced on multiple issues including access to parks, safe and affordable drinking water and adequate wastewater services, equitable transportation, improved air quality, and climate resilience.

Ashley Vega

(She/Her/Hers/Ella) Policy Advocate

Ashley Vega

Ashley, who grew up in Coachella, CA, is a Policy Advocate based in the Bakersfield office. She graduated with an Associate Degree in Political Science from College of the Desert, Palm Desert, and with Bachelor Degree in Political Science with a minor in Ethnic Studies from the University of California San Diego. She has experience in community outreach and engagement in Southern California, particularly relating to labor rights. Ashley works with communities in Tulare County on issues such as access to safe and affordable drinking water, wastewater services, green space, industrial siting, and air quality.

Elana Muroff

(she/her/hers) Staff Attorney

Elana Muroff

Elana is a Staff Attorney based in our Fresno office.  She received a BA with a major in political science and a minor in women’s and gender studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and received her JD from University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.  A former intern with Leadership Counsel, she currently works with communities in the San Joaquin and Eastern Coachella Valleys to ensure access to safe, affordable, and reliable drinking water and adequate wastewater services, advocating at the local, regional, and state levels.

Emma De La Rosa

(she/her/hers/ella) Regional Policy Manager

Emma De La Rosa

Emma is a Regional Policy Manager focusing on Tulare and Kern Counties. With a BA major in Sociology and minor in Spanish from UC Merced, as well as a Master of Public Policy from California Polytechnic State University, her background is in social justice programming, public and behavioral health, with a focus on environmental substance abuse prevention in Kern County. At Leadership Counsel, Emma works alongside communities throughout Tulare and Kern Counties to advocate for equity in public participation, community mobilization, and community planning.

Emmanuel Agraz-Torres

(He/Him/His) Policy Advocate

Emmanuel Agraz-Torres

Emmanuel is a Policy Advocate focusing his efforts in the City of Fresno. He has an Associates of Arts in Sociology, Psychology, and Social Sciences from Reedley College and is certified in Social Justice and Social Change, Cross Cultural Competency, and Sociological Research Methods. He will receive his BA in Sociology with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies from California State University, Fresno in spring 2024. Emmanuel brings years of experience in Fresno working with numerous organizations in the region on issues such as civic engagement, community engagement, policy advocacy, and policy research on government accountability, land use, water equity, and voter engagement.

Ivanka Saunders

(she/her/hers) Regional Policy Manager

Ivanka Saunders

Ivanka is a Regional Policy Manager, based out of the Fresno office. She grew up in beautiful Northern California, and after finishing her undergraduate studies in the Bay Area, she settled down with her family in Fresno. With an bachelor's degree in Spanish and Government from St. Mary's College of California, and an extensive history of community organizing and policy advocacy around health equity, Ivanka continues to work on holistic approaches to health and racial equity focusing on the City and County of Fresno.

Jamie Katz

(they/them) Staff Attorney

Jamie Katz

Jamie Katz is a Staff Attorney in our Fresno office. They received a BA from Kenyon College in literature with a minor in philosophy, and received a JD from UC Davis. Prior to joining Leadership Counsel, Jamie was a staff attorney at a legal aid organization, representing clients on a number of issues. They also have experience in community organizing on environmental justice issues in New Orleans and are particularly interested in food justice and sustainable agriculture.

Jasmine Robinson

(she/her/hers) Equal Justice Works Fellow Sponsored by Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Jasmine Robinson

Jasmine is an Equal Justice Works Fellow Sponsored by Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP based in our Fresno office.  She received a BS from the University of Utah with a major in psychology and minor in human development and family studies, and completed her JD from UCLA School of Law.  At Leadership Counsel, Jasmine works to ensure enforcement of California local and state agencies’ duty to affirmatively further fair housing alongside rural low-income communities of color in the San Joaquin Valley.

Jayme Jimenez

(she/her) Executive Administrative Assistant

Jayme Jimenez

Jayme is the Executive Administrative Assistant based in the Fresno office. She is from Madera and has a BA in Psychology and Business Administration from from California State University, Fresno. Jayme has years of experience working in various fields, honing her expertise on administrative support and ensuring equitable access to opportunity.

Jill Hindenach

(she/her) Director of Communications

Jill Hindenach

Jill Hindenach is the director of communications based in Fresno. She is from Michigan and attended Albion College, majoring in English with a creative writing emphasis and journalism minor. Jill has robust experience in developing creative content for nonprofits, working on issues such as public policy, health care, conservation, and scientific education. She brings a passion for advocacy on social and environmental justice issues through a lens of strategic communications on social and earned media, relationship building, and other campaigns.

Jovana Morales-Tilgren

(she/her/ella) Policy Coordinator - Housing

Jovana Morales-Tilgren

Jovana is a Policy Coordinator - Housing based out of the Fresno office. She works with communities throughout the SJV and ECV on a variety of housing issues such as access to affordable housing, siting, and fair housing practices. Jovana graduated from CSU Long Beach, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in English Literature. She also has a master's degree from Claremont Graduate University in Public Policy. Jovana has experience working with immigrant communities on issues such as equal access to opportunity and is solutions-driven.

Kaylon Hammond

(she/her) Director of Operations

Kaylon Hammond

Kaylon Hammond is the Director of Operations. She attended Southwestern University, receiving a B.A. with a double-major in mathematics and religion. She went on to complete a master’s degree at the University of Chicago Divinity School, before earning her J.D. at Emory University. Her work at Leadership Counsel involves overseeing internal operations in order to ensure equity in existing communities in the San Joaquin and Eastern Coachella Valleys.

Krystal Otworth

(she/her) Policy Advocate

Krystal Otworth

Krystal Otworth is a Policy Advocate in the Eastern Coachella Valley. She holds a BS in Marine Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as a Master of Science in Social Work with a concentration in Advanced Policy Practice, from the University of Texas at Austin. Her background is in community-led development to promote equitable communities, as well as advancing public policy to build healthy, thriving, and inclusive communities. At Leadership Counsel, Krystal works alongside communities throughout the ECV on projects and policy advocacy related to climate resilience, air quality, energy, and transportation.

Leslie Martinez

(she/her) Community Engagement Specialist

Leslie Martinez

Leslie Martinez, a former Policy Advocate with Leadership Counsel, is now a Community Engagement Specialist based in the Fresno office. From a small town in Tulare County, she is familiar with the issues facing rural SJV communities. Leslie graduated from UC Berkeley, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Public Policy. She leads community organizing throughout our service region, and her state advocacy portfolio centers around community engagement and transparency.

Madeline Harris

(she/her) Development Manager

Madeline Harris

Madeline is the Development Manager for Leadership Counsel, having previously been a Regional Policy Manager with the organization. She received her BA in Spanish and Sociology, with a minor in Latin American Studies, from Whitworth University. Her previous experience includes outreach and litigation support surrounding farmworker rights in the Southeastern United States. Before joining Leadership Counsel, Madeline spent the past several years working in the Southeast, supporting farmworkers in their fight to improve working conditions in the fields.

Mariana Alvarenga

(she/her) Policy Advocate

Mariana Alvarenga

Mariana is a Policy Advocate in Fresno County. From a small town in Fresno County, she is familiar with rural communities in the San Joaquin Valley. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a BA in Global Studies and Spanish, and has an MA from the University of San Francisco in Higher Education and Student Affairs. Mariana has experience in elevating community priorities and holding electeds accountable to their constituents, especially to disadvantaged communities.

Mariela Loera

(she/her/hers) Regional Policy Manager

Mariela Loera

Mariela is a Regional Policy Manager based in the ECV office. With a BS in Sustainability Studies from UC Riverside, as well as a Masters of Public Policy from UC Riverside, her background in environmental justice includes policy and research with a focus on climate and energy justice. At Leadership Counsel, Mariela works alongside communities to elevate climate resilience and policy solutions across the Eastern Coachella Valley at the local, regional, and state levels.

Michael Claiborne

(he/his) Directing Attorney

Michael Claiborne

Born in Chico but raised in Boise, Idaho, Michael is a directing attorney based in the Sacramento office. He attended Boise State University, where he received a B.A. in philosophy, and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where he received a J.D. with great distinction. Before joining the LCJA team, Michael worked at a private law firm in Fresno where he practiced insurance coverage litigation. He works to find solutions to water issues affecting California’s most vulnerable communities, along with the myriad of environmental justice issues plaguing low-income communities of color in California.

Nataly Escobedo Garcia

(she/her/hers) Policy Coordinator - Water Programs

Nataly Escobedo Garcia

Nataly is a Policy Coordinator - Water Programs based in the Coachella office. She was born in Mexicali and raised in Oxnard, CA. She has a BA from University of California, Santa Cruz, in Latin American and Latina/o Studies, as well as an MA in Anthropology fromCalifornia State University - Los Angeles. She received her Ph.D. in Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine. She is particularly interested in how issues of water injustice, water rights, and water governance impact people of color, low-income people, and farmworker communities in California.

Nicola Steelnack

(she/her) University of California President’s Public Service Law Fellow

Nicola Steelnack

Nicola is a University of California President’s Public Service Law Fellow based in our Fresno office.  She received a BS from the University of Florida with a major in Environmental Engineering Sciences and completed her JD from UCLA School of Law.  At Leadership Counsel, Nicola researches recently established federal programs and advocates for implementation that benefits communities with whom we work.

Olivia Faz

(she/her) Office Manager and Legal Assistant

Olivia Faz

Olivia Faz is Leadership Counsel's office manager. Olivia grew up in the small agricultural town of King City located in Monterey County, California. She has received both a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from California State University, Fresno, and an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies from Fresno City College. She previously worked as a Legal Secretary/Administrative Assistant with California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.'s Community Equity Initiative. Olivia has over 25 years of experience working in legal and office administration in both the private and government sectors.

Paola Perez Curiel

(she/her) Senior Administrative Associate

Paola Perez Curiel

Paola Perez Curiel is the Senior Administrative Associate based in the Fresno office. Paola was born in Mexico and raised in Fresno. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, with a minor in Spanish from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining Leadership Counsel, Paola finished her studies abroad in Spain. Due to her immigrant background, Paola has devoted her time to working with low-income, system-impacted communities of color, and hopes to continue this work in the future.

Perry Elerts

(he/him) Staff Attorney

Perry Elerts

Perry Elerts is a Staff Attorney in our Coachella office. He received a BA from Notre Dame de Namur University with a double major in Interdisciplinary Issues of Social Justice and Psychology, and received a JD with a concentration in environmental law from UC Hastings. Prior to joining Leadership Counsel, Perry was a visiting associate professor at George Washington University Law School focusing on environmental law and policy. He also has experience in sustainable agriculture, the Clean Air Act, pesticide law, climate change, and energy justice.

Phoebe Seaton

(she/her) Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director

Phoebe Seaton

Phoebe, a native Californian, attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her B.A. She then spent time in Guatemala, working to address human rights violations, and went on to complete her J.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles. Phoebe joined CRLA, Inc. following law school and worked at the organization’s Delano office prior to launching the Community Equity Initiative, a program designed to address critical infrastructure and service deficits in low income, unincorporated communities in California. In 2013, Phoebe co-founded Leadership Counsel with Veronica Garibay. Phoebe is based in Sacramento and leads Leadership Counsel’s state-level policy work.

Sandra Plascencia-Rodriguez

(she/her/ella) Policy Advocate

Sandra Plascencia-Rodriguez

Sandra is a Policy Advocate based in the Bakersfield office. She grew up in Tulare County, and went to CSU Stanislaus in the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley, majoring in Political Science and Ethnic Studies. She further delved into environmental justice issues faced by San Joaquin Valley communities, ensuring residents had access to local resources, including eviction prevention resources, during the pandemic. Sandra builds upon her work to advance a healthy and just California by leading community outreach and policy advocacy in Kern County.

Veronica Garibay

(she/her) Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director

Veronica Garibay

Veronica Garibay immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico, at a young age with her family. She grew up in the small farmworker city of Parlier in Fresno County. As a first-generation college student, Veronica attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in both Psychology, and Law and Society. Upon graduation, Veronica joined the California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.’s Community Equity Initiative as the program’s first Community Worker. Veronica earned a Master of Public Administration from Fresno State. As co-founder and co-director of Leadership Counsel, Veronica leads the team in advocating for sound policy to ensure equal access to opportunity for all Californians.

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