Community Conversations Bios

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+ Andrew Jacoby, Esq.

Mr. Jacoby is an environmental litigator. He is experienced in protecting the rights of people in the fields of environmental and public health. This includes protecting landowners whose land is contaminated, including from oil and gas waste, water contamination from gas stations, asbestos and toxic mold, misuse of insecticides, etc. This also includes personal injury, such as when families suffer from air and water pollution from nearby industry sources, or from within a person's worksite. Mr. Jacoby works on permitting issues relating to land use, including permitting for wetlands activity, oil and gas drilling, coastal use permits, Clean Water Act permits, Clean Air Act permits, etc. Mr. Jacoby volunteers with the GreenARMY. He drafts environmental and public health legislation for the group.

+ Aria Doe

Prior to becoming the Executive Director of The Action Center, Aria Doe was an award winning journalist for local ABC affiliates and an American Express Marketing Executive.

In 2001, Aria left American Express to co-found with her husband, The Action Center for Education and Community Development Inc., a non-profit corporation geared towards helping at -risk kids and their families. In the last fifteen years, The Action Center has provided non-traditional opportunities to the improvised Rockaway community; directly serving over 65,000 families and 7,000 kids. During its fifteen year history standing as a bridge between the haves and have nots between resources and need; bringing both together.

The Action Center’s response to Sandy; coordinating provision of over a million dollars in Sandy relief services and supplies to the Rockaway community prompted visits from Governor Cuomo, Robert Kennedy Jr., Al Gore Jr., among so many others in sports, stage, screen, and the political spectrum. On July 15th, 2013 Ms. Doe received The Helping Hand Award from Mayor Bloomberg for the Action Center’s work following Sandy. She and the Action Center received nearly 6,000 of the 10,000 votes cast citywide, with the balance being spread among the remaining 9 nominees.

In February of 2015 Ms. Doe received the honor of being named an American Shero by the Storytellers institute and having her and the Action Center’s story achieved in the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institute where it can be listened to, viewed and reviewed for generations to come. In November of 2015 the Action Center’s body of work was included in a year -long exhibit at the Brooklyn Historical Society, on the critical topic of hunger in American. In 2016 Ms. Doe and the Action Center feature prominently in Academy Award nominated director, Josh Fox documentary “How to Let Go of The World and Love All the Things that Climate Can’t Change” which made its premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. It will also be shown on HBO June 27, 2016.

She and has become a source of record on many national news fronts when it comes to childhood poverty, disaster impact in indigent communities, environmental justice and mental health needs for coastal areas.
She and her husband Semeo are the proud parents of three children who are seasoned travelers, volunteers in their communities and global thinkers who speak Chinese, Swahili, Japanese and German between them.

+ Ben Yahola

A Kowasate Tribal Town citizen and from the Panther Clan and son of
Tokabutchee Wind Clan. A life of resistance to cultural genocide has taken many forms from protecting sacred places, food sovereignty to addressing water and environmental issues. As tribal language specialist, the language teaching method focuses on the spiritual and physical natural world views of the Indigenous people.

+ Cherri Foytlin

Cherri Foytlin is a journalist, speaker and mother of six who lives in south Louisiana. She is the author of "Spill It! The Truth About the Deep Water Horizon Oil Rig Explosion," and regularly contributes to, the Huffington Post, and several local newspapers. In the Spring of 2011 she walked to Washington D.C. from New Orleans (1,243 miles) to call for action to stop the BP Drilling Disaster, and has been a constant voice speaking out for the health and ecosystem of Gulf Coast communities, in countless forms of media.

+ Darryl Malek Wiley

Darryl Malek-Wiley is a veteran of the environmental justice movement. He has worked for over 30 years with communities along the Mississippi River to fight toxic pollution and protect peoples' health.

Malek-Wiley joined the Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program in June 2004 to support the efforts of Louisiana environmental justice groups on issues including toxics, pollution and environmental health. He has been dedicated to protecting Louisiana's environment and people throughout his career. He was a key organizer of the Great Toxics March from Baton Rouge to New Orleans in 1988. This march defined the problem of toxic emissions in the "cancer alley" and launched the campaign for improvement that continues today.

+ James Hartwell

Birthed into existence just a year before the Rio Earth Summit, James has lived through two decades of ineffectual international greenhouse-gas abatement. A volunteer with 350 Louisiana, he helps foster regional collaboration around strong climate action. He was also in France for COP21, as part of the #GulfSouthRising delegation that drew connections between the Gulf South and Global South. James earned his Master’s of Science in Public Health from Tulane University and studied previously at SUNY Geneseo, majoring in Biology and minoring in Mathematics, Environmental Studies, and Biomathematics. Visit

+ Janet MacGillivray

Janet MacGillivray, J.D., LL.M. is an environmental attorney and social change activist whose strategic legal campaigns and multi-platform grassroots storytelling initiatives have given voice to causes and communities directly impacted by global warming and the corporate domination of resources and cultures. Her work with communities impacted by the extractive fossil fuel industries follows environmental work with national and international NGOs, schools, and the US government (USEPA, DOJ). Her passion is amplifying the voices of women and girls, global Indigenous peoples, and Mother Earth.

Her expertise and interests span the interconnected issues of water rights including community water systems, animal rights and threatened species, land sovereignty, global trade, climate refugees, GMOs, integrity of Native seeds, grantmaking and environmental education. She has rooted her campaigns within story-based advocacy at Sundance, SXSW, STREAM and many others. With relationships spanning Indigenous leaderships, NGOs, policy and science experts, and social media and communications outlets, she brings vast resources and partnerships. Janet, of Muscogee (Creek) heritage, is a mother who dedicates her life work to the future of all children. In addition to her legal degrees, Janet is a Certified Jivamukti Yoga Teacher who focuses on trauma healing to women and children via her studies with Bessel Van der Volk, MD and animal rights via her teachers Sharon Gannon and David Life.

+ Jane Kleeb

Jane Kleeb is on the front lines of the pipeline fight running a group called Bold Nebraska that coordinates activities, groups, citizens and landowners in the state. Recently elected to the Hastings School Board, Jane ran on a platform of healthy school lunches. Within just a few months, under her leadership, a new lunch program was adopted. During health care reform, Jane led the largest Nebraska group of citizens pushing elected officials to vote “yes” for reform. Before moving to Nebraska, Jane ran Young Democrats of America and created a youth vote model based on peer-to-peer outreach. Over 15 years ago, Jane got her start running nonprofit organizations with AmeriCorps. Jane lives in Hastings, Nebraska with her husband Scott Kleeb and their three young girls.

+ John Barry

John M Barry is a New York Times best-selling writer whose books have won more than two dozen awards, including in 2005 when the New York Public Library named Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America (1997) one of the 50 best books of the preceding 50 years, and the National Academies of Science named The Great Influenza: The story of the deadliest pandemic in history the year’s best book on science or medicine. He serves on advisory boards at MIT's Center for Engineering System Fundamentals and at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health's Center for Refugees and Disaster Response. After Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana congressional delegation asked him to chair a bipartisan working group on flood protection, and from 2007 to 2013 he served on both the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which is responsible for statewide hurricane protection, and the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East, the levee board protecting most of metro New Orleans. He was architect of the board's controversial lawsuit seeking to require 97 oil, gas, and pipeline companies to restore coastal lands, the loss of which increased storm surge threatening New Orleans and which their operations destroyed. Barry has also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Washington Post, Fortune, Time, and such scientific journals as Nature and Journal of Infectious Disease, and he has appeared as a guest on every radio and television network in the US, on such shows as NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's World News Tonight, and NPR's All Things Considered while also serving as a consultant to Sony Pictures and on several award-winning documentaries. Currently Barry is Distinguished Scholar at the Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane University and adjunct professor at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

+ Jonathan Henderson

Jonathan Henderson JD, MBA is the Founding President of Vanishing Earth advocacy+consulting+photography. Inspired by witnessing the destruction in his hometown of New Orleans, he joined the fight for oil and gas industry accountability, against wetland destruction and contamination, and for federal climate policy. His work in the field investigating pollution incidents began in earnest just a few days after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico.Throughout 2010, he took approximately 60 trips by air, sea and land to document the environmental impacts as they were unfolding offshore at the site of the downed Deepwater Horizon platform and onshore along Gulf coast. barrier islands, beaches, bays and wetlands. To date, he has filed approximately 100 reports for pollution incidents including leaks from offshore and onshore platforms, pipelines, well-heads, tank batteries, and coal terminals. He has spent countless hours in the field with some of the world’s top experts from the scientific, academic, and environmental NGO communities; flying with the most experienced pilots in the Gulf region; and on the water with captains of charter, shrimp, and oyster boats. Proactive environmental watchdogging is sorely needed in the Gulf region. Jonathan’s reports to the NRC have led to numerous successful investigations by the USCG and other agencies. His photos and video have appeared in countless international, national, and local media stories, as well as numerous documentaries, artistic productions, and books.

Jonathan is a founding member of the Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative of which he served on the interim steering committee, as co-chair of the Advocacy working group, and on the Core Planning Team charged with creating the GNOWC strategic plan. A graduate of Benjamin Franklin Sr. H.S. in New Orleans, Jonathan has a Bachelor’s degree in Theater from Louisiana State University, a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and a JD from Southern University Law Center.

+ Josh Fox

Josh Fox is best known as the writer/director of GASLAND Parts I and II. He is internationally recognized as a spokesperson and leader on the issue of fracking and extreme energy development. GASLAND premiered at the Sundance film festival 2010, where it was awarded the 2010 Special Jury Prize for Documentary. The film premiered on HBO and was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary. That year, Josh won the Emmy for Best Non-Fiction Director. GASLAND Part II premiered on HBO in 2013. Part II was nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy, won the 2013 Environmental Media Association Award for Best Documentary, the Best Film at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival and was given the Hell Yeah Prize from Cinema Eye Honors. In addition, Josh is the recipient of the 2011 Ono/Lennon Grant for Peace.

+ Kim Ross

Kim Ross is the president and founder of ReThink Energy Florida, a non-profit dedicated to engaging, educating, and empowering citizens to take action and achieve energy independence in a healthier, more sustainable environment. Kim is a steering committee member of Floridians Against Fracking, one of the leaders in the recent success derailing Big Oil's move to bring fracking to Florida. As a mom to 2 teens, her love for the planet is directly tied to her love for her family.

+ (Ret.) Lieutenant General Honoré

Former Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré is a native of Lakeland, Louisiana nd the founder of the “GreenARMY”, an alliance of civic, community, and environmental groups and concerned citizens from around the state ready to effect meaningful social, political, and environmental change in Louisiana. Honore became involved in environmental issues when residents from Bayou Corne- frustrated by the lack of action in the wake of a devastating sinkhole- requested assistance. General Honoré came to recognize the barrage of environmental issues facing Louisiana, from the levee board lawsuit to clean water, and he decided something needed to change.

+ Madeleine MacGillivray Wallace

Madeleine is an environmental youth activist and second year Environmental Studies major at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She began speaking out against water issues at the age of nine, when she founded her first non-profit organization called Superheroes Needed, a national nonprofit that raised awareness about climate change and water drought in Africa and was acknowledged by Bill McKibben's national climate rally. In 2010, she witnessed the flaring Deepwater Horizon BP oil disaster from a Cessna plane and worked in Gulf Coast communities on Grand Isle whose environmental livelihood was devastated. To learn more about the impact on communities’ water sources, she traveled to Alberta, Canada for the Healing Walk with the Beaver Lake Cree Nation and other native tribes impacted by fossil fuel extraction in their home territory. The next year she worked in the remote Secoya territory of the Ecuadorian Rainforest and constructed fresh rainwater catchment systems for families. For her work, she was recruited to be a Youth Champion for the Ecuadorian Amazon, a position she continues to hold. Last Summer, she joined the 5Gyres Sea Change 2016 Expedition and sailed from the Bahamas to Bermuda collecting and researching marine plastic pollution with Jack Johnson. She is an Ambassador for 5Gyres and is currently preparing to launch a microbead ban campaign at her university.

+ Margie Vicknair-Pray

Margie Vicknair-Pray has been an active voice in the environmental community of the New Orleans area since the early 1980s, and an ongoing member of the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club. In 1981, she developed and co-directed Recycle New Orleans for the Louisiana Nature Center; from those early roots grew the “Louisiana Coastal Cleanups,” of which she was the founding coordinator and director until the program matured to a state-wide and state-sponsored program in 1989.

She lobbied successfully in Washington D.C. for the Tongass National Forest with Bart Koehler, one of the founders of “Earth First!”, and was Denis Hayes personal choice for the Director of “EarthDay1990: New Orleans.” Under Governor Buddy Roemer, she was asked to contribute to the Solid Waste Recycling and Reduction Law, the U.S.’s first state-wide recycling legislation. She also was a contributor to the state’s first educational handbook on Recycling and Waste Minimization.
Margie may be remembered by some of you as the first Recycling Director for the City of New Orleans, and as the founding Executive Director of Keep Mandeville Beautiful. She has spoken around the state on environmental ethics and waste minimization and recycling.

Her work as an oil and gas safety professional in Houston after Katrina gives her special insight into the world of drilling and fracking, and for the past two years she has promoted the fight to stop fracking interests from industrializing and polluting St. Tammany Parish.

+ Maria Harmon

Maria Harmon is from Lake Charles, LA and a Community Organizer for the Micah Project. She grew up in a close knit community with strong family values, which influenced her to develop a passion and love for people. Maria is a graduate of Southern University A&M College and has worked on many political campaigns by educating the youth on the importance of voting and encouraging them to turn out the vote.

+ Maryellen Baker

Niiyogiizhigookwe, Maryellen Baker, an Ojibwe elder enrolled at the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. Niiyogiizhigookwe is a 3rd Degree midewin grandmother with the Three Fires Mide Lodge, a member of the Midewanikwe Society and a grandmother in the Jingle Dress Society.

Ms. Baker has spent her life working in the human service sector serving in various positions for the betterment of the Lac Courte Oreilles community, including community health, AODA Program Director at the Lac Courte Oreilles Health Center and Founder/Director of Abiinooji Aki, Inc.

In 1982, Ms. Baker formed the Lac Courte Oreilles Institute on Alcohol and Drug Abuse which provided education to mainstream providers on treating Native Americans suffering with Alcohol and Drug Abuse both on and off reservation communities. Through the Institute, Ms. Baker provided training opportunities to many Doctors, Counselors, Therapists, Administrators, Teachers and individuals across the United States. It was the first ever of its kind in providing cultural sensitivity training, education and understanding as well as providing teachings and guidance to Native individuals searching for their own spiritual path and connectedness.

During these formative years, Ms. Baker formed the non-profit organization, Abiinooji Aki, Inc. Through a dream she saw this beautiful place sitting among the trees. There was a big central building with people inside talking, a place for cooking, traditional wigwams and a long Teaching Lodge. In this place were Native people from all walks of life, happy, and working together.

This vision inspired and directed Niiyogiizhigookwe to build Abiinooji Aki, The Cultural Healing Center as a place that would provide teachings to those seeking the knowledge and bring healing to those in need. In the past 34 years, Niiyogiizhigookwe has worked alongside many Native American teachers, educators, healers and presenters in the field of AODA, Traditional Healing Practices, Mental Health and deep spiritual work. Abiinooji Aki continues to provide teachings and on site trainings to various organizations and communities.

Abiinooji Aki – Cultural Healing Center, organized the following programs and retreats. The Anishinaabe Way Conference on alcohol and drug abuse, 1984-2009. The Anishinaabe Way conference brought together Native and non-native individuals together for a week-long conference. Soon it was recognized that there was great need in providing education to our youth from Reservation programs to Inner City groups. Thus the Anishinaabe Way Youth Gathering (1986-2009) was formed, a place to provide services and education to Native Youth. The Anishinaabe Way Conference continued to be the leader in cultural sensitivity training and education as it included on site trainings and cultural gatherings to many inner city communities and organizations.

The Women’s Gathering, a retreat for women to learn, heal and rejuvenate, 1990-2009. The Women’s gathering was a four day retreat for women only. A place for them to help one another in a gentle, caring way to heal from domestic violence, AODA support, Trauma or other mental health issues. There was great need for a time and place for women where they would feel safe, secure and supported as they struggled with inflictions. This was also a time for healing, spiritual healing for many ailments and spiritual instructions needed for long-term healing and spiritual growth were provided.
In the past 12 years Niiyogiizhigookwe has focused her energy and work on the Water. Through the Midewanikwe Society, Niiyogiizhigookwe has received teachings on water and has found the direction deep in her heart to fight for the water for our future generations. This work, speaking and educating about the water and its connection to Native Women and all women, has been not only her passion but also the passion of other Mide Grandmothers, led by Grandmother Josephine Mandamin and her work with the Water Walk.

Niiyogiizhigookwe has participated in the Mother Earth Water Walks, organized Women and Water events to not only raise awareness but also to raise funds to conduct the Women and Water Symposium, a cultural gathering on women and water to be held in August 2016. The concept of the Women & Water Symposium is not only to educate women on our strong connection and responsibility to water but to empower them to stand up for our environment. Niiyogiizhigookwe believes that women can change the world.

Niiyogiizhigookwe is a mother, grandmother, grandmother, great grandmother and auntie. She currently resides on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation.

+ Meredith Dowling

Meredith holds an MS Environmental Science and an MPA from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, as well as a BA in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College. She is a 2014 Fellow of the Loyola Institute for Environmental Communication and has worked for SouthWings since 2008.

+ Monique Verdin

Monique Verdin is an indigenous daughter of southeast Louisiana’s Houma Nation. Her intimate documentation of the Mississippi River Delta exposes the complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, climate and change. Her interdisciplinary work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in an assortment of environmentally inspired projects, ranging from the publication of Unfathomable City : A New Orleans Atlas (UC Press, 2013) to the multi-platform/performance/eco-experience Cry You One (2012-2015). My Louisiana Love (2012), Monique’s first documentary film, premiered at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. She received her BA in Mass Communication at Loyola University in New Orleans. In December of 2015, she attended COP21 as a delegate with the Indigenous Environmental Network.

+ Paul Corbitt Brown

Paul is a photographer and educator, passionately committed to producing images that further the goals of Human Rights, Social Justice, and Environmental Responsibility. A native West Virginian (born, raised and currently living in Fayette County, West Virginia), he discovered photography at the age of 12 and through this discovery became the first male in his family to escape working as a coal miner.
For more than 30 years, he has used his camera as a vehicle to give a voice to those who are least often seen or heard. Whether this voice is an individual, a community or an ecosystem, Paul strives to use photography as a tool to educate, illuminate and to inspire. His projects serve as a remembrance, so time and history don’t diminish the true depth of the horrific injustices, and as a call to action for positive transformation. The work inspires people to ask, “How can I be a part of changing this for the better?” Paul is currently the President and Chair of the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation, an organization dedicated to protecting the Mountains, water and People of West Virginia.

+ Paul Orr

Paul grew up in the environmental movement in Louisiana and has been Riverkeeper for Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper for more than 10 years. As Riverkeeper, Paul works on improving water quality within the Mississippi River Basin in Louisiana and holding polluters accountable. He also coordinates with Waterkeeper Alliance and other Waterkeeper organizations.

+ Paula Horne-Mullen

Paula Horne-Mullen is an accomplished traditional Dakota singer and artist. Her musical credits include opening for the Indigo Girls, touring Europe with Keith Secola and other notable Native artists, and composing and producing her own album, the Songs of a Black Hills Woman. She has been involved within the heart of the Indigenous rights movement for over 20 years, organizing the Run to Pipestone, the Thanksgiving Feast and is one of the original graduates of Red Schoolhouse and a subsequent board member. She brought her dedication as a community organizer to World Peace and Prayer Day since 1996 and has been a moving force creating cultural gatherings around the world at sites throughout South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Costa Rica, New Zealand and the United States. To this day, Paula continues as an international spokesperson and performer on behalf of World Peace and Prayer Day, environmental conferences, spiritual gatherings, university, schools and youth conferences. She continually meets with Tribal Nation’s Councils and Chairmen to encourage Youth and Elder participation in honoring their local sacred sites. She has led outreach and communications with world-renowned peace leaders. As a mother of 8 children and 3 adopted children and 9 grandchildren, she leads a full and active life. Her passion continues to be working with Youth and teaching them the importance of their participation in creating a better future and environment. She feels by teaching these responsibilities, they will become enlightened by their own contribution in spirituality, self-identity, and self-esteem.

+ Riki Ott

Riki Ott, PhD, is a marine toxicologist and former commercial fisherma’m who experienced the trauma and devastation of the Exxon Valdez oil spill firsthand. This became a vehicle for personal growth and her work in front-line communities to enhance public awareness of the enormous socio-economic costs of our oil dependency. She blogs for The Huffington Post, has written several books on the socio-economic impacts of oil disasters, and appeared in award-winning documentaries ('Black Wave' and 'Dirty Energy'). In 2015, she received the Grace Lee Boggs Award from the Make It Safe Coalition for her work empowering people to have a voice in energy choices in their own backyard. She directs two projects for the Earth Island Institute: towards a healthy democracy; and towards a healthy energy future.

+ Scott Eustis

With a background in wetlands and fisheries research from the University of New Orleans, Scott supports Gulf Restoration Network's Science and Water Policy team by analyzing wetlands restoration projects, providing scientific arguments in comments against bad developments and wetlands destruction, and by representing GRN in many public forums. Scott has a bachelor's of science in Ecology from UGA's Odum School of Ecology, as well as a degree in English from UGA. He spends a lot of his time flying kites for Public Lab and learning about our natural world with the Louisiana Master Naturalists

Scott will discuss five cases when Gulf Monitoring Consortium reported on oil leaks or spills, and what he's been able to learn about the government's process for holding polluters accountable as members of the public.