Board & Staff

The CELDF board and staff are composed of dedicated individuals whose mission is the protection of communities and nature and the advancement of community rights.


Stacey Schmader, Administrative Director and National Democracy School Director. Stacey is a co-founder of CELDF. She administers the Democracy School program and is CELDF’s financial officer. Contact: stacey@celdf.org and 717-498-0054

Ben Price, National Organizing Director. Ben leads our organizing nationwide. Before moving into the national director position, he led our work across Pennsylvania, where over 100 communities have enacted CELDF-drafted laws. Ben is a Democracy School lecturer. Contact: benprice@celdf.org and 717-254-3233

Emelyn Lybarger, Communications and Outreach Director.  Emelyn leads our donor and foundation outreach, and coordinates CELDF communications, including our website and social media. Contact: emelyn@celdf.org.

Chad Nicholson, Pennsylvania Community Organizer. Chad joined our staff in 2010, after working with Envision Spokane. He now lives and organizes in Pennsylvania, assisting communities to engage in rights-based organizing to protect themselves from harmful corporate activities. Contact: chad@celdf.org and 207-541-3649

Kai Huschke, Northwest and Hawaii Community Organizer. Kai is a board member of Envision Spokane and is working to organize other communities in Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii. Contact: kai@celdf.org and 509-607-5034

Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer. Tish co-founded the grass-roots organization in Broadview Heights, OH, that successfully campaigned to adopt a Home Rule Charter amendment creating a Community Bill of Rights banning shale gas drilling and fracking. Contact: tish@celdf.org and 440-838-5272

Michelle Sanborn, New Hampshire Community Organizer. Michelle co-led the effort to protect her hometown of Alexandria, NH, from industrial wind turbines through a Community Bill of Rights Ordinance, which was adopted by her community in 2014. Michelle is organizing across New Hampshire and supporting the work of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network, building a statewide network of communities to expand our grassroots organizing and move our organizing framework to the state level. Contact: michelle@celdf.org and 603-524-2468


CELDF Board of Directors

Tammy Belinsky, Esq., Virginia
Attorney, The Environmental Law Group, PLLC

Fred Walls, Pennsylvania
Retired Dairy Farmer
Former Board Member of Friends and Residents of St. Thomas Township

Edward Wells, Pennsylvania
Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies, Wilson College

Board of Advisors

Kenny Ausubel, CEO & Co-Founder, Bioneers (New Mexico)

Kenny Ausubel is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author, journalist, and filmmaker.  He is the CEO and Co-Founder of Bioneers, a nationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to disseminating practical and visionary solutions for restoring Earth’s imperiled ecosystems and healing our human communities.  Ausubel launched the annual National Bioneers Conference in 1990 with his producing partner and wife, Nina Simons, Bioneers Co-Founder.

His work has been recognized by the Buckminster Fuller Institute’s Challenge Award as well as awards from the Rainforest Action Network and Global Green, among others.  He serves as executive producer and co-writer of the award-winning annual radio series, “The Bioneers: Revolution From the Heart of Nature,” which airs on 500 U.S. outlets and 60 more in 12 other nations.  He co-founded the company Seeds of Change, the first national organic seed company dedicated to “backyard biodiversity.”

Ausubel has produced several documentary films including the award-winning feature documentary filmHoxsey: How Healing Becomes a Crime.  The movie played theatrically and garnered the highest viewer response at the time it aired on HBO and later on Bravo.  The film had a special screening for members of Congress at the Kennedy Center.  He founded and operates Inner Tan Productions, a visionary film development company.  He acted as a central advisor to Leonardo DiCaprio on his feature documentaryThe 11th Hour, and appears in the film.

Ausubel has written several books – Dreaming the Future: Reimagining Civilization in the Age of Nature(2012); When Healing Becomes a Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alternative Therapies (2000); The Bioneers: Declarations of Interdependence (1995); and Seeds of Change: The Living Treasure (1994).


Spencer Beebe, Founder, Ecotrust (Oregon)

Spencer Beebe is a fourth generation Portlander with a lifetime commitment to wilderness and new approaches to conservation, social justice, and development – both domestically and internationally. Mr. Beebe spent 14 years with The Nature Conservancy before creating Conservation International with 50 others in 1987. In 1991, he founded Ecotrust to bring global perspectives on rain forest conservation to the temperate rain forest bioregion of North America. He chairs Ecotrust and Ecotrust Forest Management, Inc. In his book Cache, Mr. Beebe shares stories from a 40-year adventure exploring new ways to integrate social, economic, and ecological well being. In the Foreword to Cache, Tom Brokaw wrote, “His pilgrimage is a journey to be relished and emulated, a commitment to be encouraged and shared, a life to be honored.”


Anneke Campbell, Writer, producer, and activist (California)

Anneke Campbell has worked as a midwife, nurse, yoga teacher, college teacher of English, and writer in a number of genres. She has won awards for poetry, journalism and a television script. She writes and co-produces videos for environmental and social justice organizations, and co-wrote with Thomas Linzey a manual for activists,Be The Change: How To Get What You Want in Your Community. In 2010, she edited an anthology on women’s leadership: Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart. She works as a community activist in Los Angeles and is completing doctoral studies at the California Institute for Integral Studies, researching models for participatory leadership towards sustainability.


Leila Conners, Tree Media (California)

Leila Conners founded Tree Media Group in August 1996.  With a background in international politics, Leila set out to build a production company that creates media to support and sustain civil society by telling inspiring stories.  Currently, Leila is writing and directing We the People 2.0 about nature rights, and directing the short film on climate, Last Hours.  Her longtime project, Into Eden, is about how we can change our society and ourselves in the face of disintegrative forces that threaten everything from the biosphere to our economic system.

Leila most recently produced a documentary film on the explosion of urban farming in Detroit called Urban Roots.  Leila’s first feature-length documentary, The 11th Hour, was co-created with Leonardo DiCaprio.  The film included 54 leading thinkers and scientists about the state of the world and the state of the human condition.  She has written two short films with Leonardo DiCaprio on the environment called Global Warning and Water Planet, and a feature film script for Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions on the state of the oceans. Leila has also been published in newspapers and magazines around the world including theInternational Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Yomiuri Shimbun, and Wired Magazine, among others.  Projects over the last 10 years with Tree Media Group include work with the Council on Foreign Relations, NASA, JPL, Norman Lear, Green Cross International, Harvard University, and Hollywood studios, among others.  Her article on “Death and American Culture” was published in War, Media and Propaganda, published by Rowan and Littlefield.

Prior to Tree Media, Leila was Associate Editor of NPQ/New Perspectives Quarterly, an international journal of social and political thought, and Associate Editor of Global Viewpoint of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, an internationally distributed op-ed column that reaches 200 papers.  At NPQ, she interviewed thinkers and policy makers including: Kofi Annan, Nafis Sadik, Betty Friedan, Hans Bethe, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, and Boutros Boutros Ghali, among others.  She is now Editor-at-Large for NPQ.  In 1991, Leila translated Jacques Attali’s book from the French for Random House entitled, Millennium.  Leila is often invited to speak on issues of sustainability and the environment and has served on panels nationally and internationally.


Josh Fox, Director, Gasland (New York)

Josh Fox (born 1972) is an American film director and environmental activist, best known for his Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary, Gasland.  He followed that up with the HBO production of Gasland Part II, which premiered on July 8, 2013.  In addition to these films, he is one of the most prominent public critics of hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.”  In February 2012 he was arrested during a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on hydraulic fracturing when he attempted to videotape the proceedings.  Fox graduated from Columbia University in 1995.


Karenna Gore, Director, Center for Earth Ethics (New York)

Karenna Gore is the founding director of the Center for Earth Ethics (CEE)at Union Theological Seminary. The Center for Earth Ethics bridges the worlds of religion, academia, politics and culture as we discern and pursue the changes that are necessary to stop ecological destruction and create a society that values life. Before founding CEE, Ms. Gore worked as the director of Union Forum at Union Theological Seminary, where she helped organize Religions for the Earth, a conference of over 200 religious and spiritual leaders from around the world, with the goal to reframe climate change as a moral issue and galvanize faith-based activism to address it.

Ms. Gore’s previous experience includes work as a lawyer at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and in the legal center of Sanctuary for Families, as well as serving as director of Community Affairs for the Association to Benefit Children (ABC). She has also worked as a writer and is the author of Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America. Ms. Gore is a graduate of Harvard College, Columbia Law School and Union Theological Seminary. She lives in New York City with her three children and serves on the boards of the Association to Benefit Children (ABC) and Riverkeeper.


Jerry Greenfield, Co-Founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (Vermont)

Jerry Greenfield and his long-time friend and business partner Ben Cohen are the men behind one of the most talked about and least conventional success stories in American business.  Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., Greenfield has helped to build a store front venture into an ice cream and business marvel by making social responsibility and creative management strengths, rather than weaknesses.

Greenfield was born four days before his future business partner in Brooklyn, New York.  He grew up and went to school in Merrick, Long Island.  It was there that he first met Cohen in junior high school.  After graduating from high school with a National Merit Scholarship under his belt, Greenfield enrolled at Oberlin College.

In 1976, he moved in with Cohen and the two decided to pursue their dream of starting a food business together.  They eventually settled on ice cream, and in May 1978, opened Ben & Jerry’s Homemade ice cream parlor in Burlington, Vermont.

Today a model for American business success, Greenfield and Cohen have been recognized for fostering their company’s commitment to social responsibility by the Council on Economic Priorities and by the U.S. Small Business Administration.  They have also received the James Beard Humanitarians of the Year and the Peace Museum’s Community Peacemakers of the Year Awards.

Today, Greenfield’s official title at the company is Co-Founder.  He is involved in promoting the social and environmental initiatives that Ben & Jerry’s undertakes.  He is also President of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.


Randy Hayes, Founder, Rainforest Action Network (Washington, D.C.)

Randy Hayes has been described in the Wall Street Journal as “an environmental pit bull.”  He is Executive Director of Foundation Earth, a new organization fostering the big rethink to help protect the planet’s life support systems.  This requires a new human order, including economic models for deep long-term sustainability, earth jurisprudence, eco-technology policy, biospheric literacy, and environmental health.  Hayes calls for a “True Cost Economy” that accounts for ecological externalities and honors carrying capacity limits.  Hayes, a former filmmaker, is a veteran of many high-visibility corporate accountability campaigns and has advocated for the rights of indigenous peoples throughout the world.  He served for five years as president of the City of San Francisco Commission on the Environment, and for two-and-a-half years as director of sustainability in the office of Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown (now governor).  Hayes founded Rainforest Action Network and is emeritus on the board of directors.  He is an advocate of general systems theory and deep ecology.  As a wilderness lover, Hayes has hiked and camped in the rainforests of the Amazon, Borneo, Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia, as well as the High Sierras and the Canadian Rockies.

Hayes has an undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University and a Master’s degree in Environmental Planning from San Francisco State University.  His master’s thesis, the award-winning filmThe Four Corners, won the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award for “Best Student Documentary” in 1983.  He contributed to Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible, published by San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., in 2004.  Not satisfied with short-term thinking, his 500-year plan offers a vision of a sustainable society and how to get there.  Randy Hayes was honored by his corporate campaign activists peers in 2008 with an Individual Achievement Award, given by the Business Ethics Network.  In 2010 he was San Francisco State University’s Alumni of the Year and inducted in the Alumni Hall Fame.  Additionally, he was one of the original set of inductees in the National Environmental Hall of Fame.


Derrick Jensen, Author, Endgame and A Language Older Than Words (California)

Hailed as the philosopher poet of the environmental movement, Derrick Jensen is author of twenty-two books, including A Language Older Than Words, The Culture of Make Believe, and Endgame. He was named one of Utne Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” His book Thought to Exist in the Wild won the Eric Hoffer Award and was second place in the Animal category of the Independent Press IPPY Awards. In 2008, he led Press Action’s “Dynamic Dozen” and in 2006 he was the Press Action Person of the Year. He writes for Orion, Audubon, and The Sun Magazine, among many others. He holds a degree in creative writing from Eastern Washington University, a degree in mineral engineering physics from the Colorado School of Mines, and has taught at Eastern Washington University and Pelican Bay State Prison. He has packed university auditoriums, conferences, and bookstores across the nation, stirring them with revolutionary spirit.


Jeremy Kagan, Filmmaker (California)

Jeremy Kagan is an internationally recognized director/writer/producer of feature films and television, and a tenured professor. Some of his feature credits include the box-office hits HEROES, the political thriller THE BIG FIX, THE CHOSEN from Chaim Potok’s classic novel (2 time Grand Prize winner),and THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN  (Gold Prize Moscow Film Festival). Among his many television shows areKATHERINE: the Making of an American Revolutionary, and  HBO’s CONSPIRACY: THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 8  (ACE Award for Best Dramatic Special). His film ROSWELL,THE UFO CONSPIRACY garnered a Golden Globe nomination and he directed the pilot for the popular series DR. QUINN: MEDICINE WOMAN. Other television films include, for Showtime COLOR OF JUSTICE about racism, BOBBIE’S GIRL about a lesbian couple, and CROWN HEIGHTS about the 1991 riots in Brooklyn which won the NAACP Outstanding Television Movie Award and the Humanitas Award for “affirming the dignity of every person.” Kagan has won an EMMY for Dramatic Series Directing, and directed West Wing and Steven Spielberg’s Taken. He has made films for The Doe Fund, which is the most successful program in America helping the homeless, for The Bioneers which organizes leaders in ecology and social justice, and TreePeople. Professor Kagan teaches graduate courses at the University of Southern California in directing, and has created the Change Making Media Lab, which has made projects on cancer prevention, obesity and ADHD.  Kagan has served as the Artistic Director of Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, serves on the National Board of the Directors Guild, and is Chairperson of its Special Projects serving its 15,000 members. His books DIRECTORS CLOSE UP, Vol. 1 & 2, are published by Scarecrow Press. A Graduate Fellow of the American Film Institute, he has an M.F.A. from NYU and a B.A. from Harvard University. He has taught master seminars on filmmaking in Hong Kong, Hamburg, Hanoi, France, Lebanon, Israel, Ireland and India, and written an ebook on his near death experience called MY DEATH: A Personal Guidebook.  He and his wife Anneke Campbell have made videos for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.


Winona LaDuke, White earth reservation anishinaabe akiing

Winona LaDuke is an Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg who lives and works on the White Earth Reservations, and is the mother of three children.  She is also the Executive Director of Honor the Earth, where she works on a national level to advocate, raise public support, and create funding for frontline native environmental groups.  In 1994, Winona was nominated by Timemagazine as one of America’s fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age.  She was awarded the Thomas Merton Award in 1996, the BIHA Community Service Award in 1997, the Ann Bancroft Award for Women’s Leadership Fellowship, and the Reebok Human Rights Award with which she began the White Earth Land Recovery Project.  A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, Winona has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues.  She is a former board member of Greenpeace USA and serves as co-chair of the Indigenous Women’s Network, a North American and Pacific indigenous women’s organization.  In 1998, Ms. Magazine named her Woman of the Year for her work with Honor the Earth.  She is the author of six books, including The Militarization of Indian Country (2011), Recovering the Sacred: the Power of Naming and Claiming (2005), the non-fiction book All our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999, South End Press), and a novel – Last Standing Woman (1997, Voyager Press).


Jules Lobel, Former President, Center for Constitutional Rights

Professor Jules Lobel is the Bessie McKee Wathour Endowed Chair at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Lobel co-authored the award winning book Less Safe, Less Free: Why America is Losing the War on Terror (2007), with Professor David Cole, which won the first Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize for exemplary scholarship exploring the tension between civil liberties and national security.  He is also the author of Success without Victory: Lost Legal Battles and the Long Road to Justice in America (2003), and editor of several books on civil rights litigation as well as the U.S. Constitution.

He has authored numerous articles on international and constitutional law in publications including Yale Law Journal, Harvard International Law Journal, Cornell Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Reviewand Virginia Law Review.  Lobel’s article, Preventive Paradigm and the Perils of Ad Hoc Balancing, was selected by Oxford University Press as one of the Top Ten Global Justice Law Review Articles in 2007.

Lobel is the recipient of the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award (2002), and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award (1993).  In 2006, he received the Allegheny County Bar Foundation’s Career Achievement Award for Pro Bono Service, and in 2001 he was named by the School of Law as a Distinguished Faculty Scholar.

Lobel has also testified on various occasions before Congressional committees, most recently on the issue of the constitutional allocation of war powers before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.  He advised the Nicaraguan government on the development of its constitution, and has also advised the Burundi government on constitutional law issues.  He has participated in various human rights delegations abroad, including being named the sole U.S. participant in a delegation consisting of prominent European former diplomats and human rights scholars to Israel.

Lobel is former President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a national human and constitutional rights organization headquartered in New York City.  He has litigated numerous cases involving Constitutional and Human Rights issues in United States courts and has represented members of Congress challenging various Presidents’ – both Democrat and Republican – assertions of executive power to unilaterally initiate warfare.  Lobel has been involved in various cases challenging aspects of U.S. policy toward suspected terrorists, including Rasul v. Bush, arguing for habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo detainees, Arar v. Ashcroft, seeking damages for a Canadian citizen who alleged that he was wrongfully rendered to Syria to be tortured by high U.S. officials, and Holder v. HLP, a Supreme Court case challenging aspects of the material aid to terrorism statute as violative of the First Amendment.  In all of these cases, Lobel involved his students in the litigation, giving them firsthand exposure to the constitutional litigation of important and complex issues.


John Olivas, Environmental Activist/Organizer; Executive Director, Collaborative Visions (New Mexico)

John Olivas is the Executive Director of Collaborative Visions in Mora, New Mexico.  He organizes cooperatives to establish local sustainable economic development entrepreneurs in his community.  He also spends some of his time as a grassroots organizer/activist working to conserve federally owned public land as Wilderness or other conservation measure.  In 2013 he was part of a coalition that led the effort to create the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument which includes the Rio Grande Gorge in Taos County, New Mexico. John is currently working with a coalition to expand the Pecos Wilderness in north central New Mexico within the Santa Fe and Carson national Forests.

From January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2014 John sat on the board of the Mora County Commission.  As Chairman, John Championed the first county wide fracking ban.  At the time, it was the first countywide fracking ban in the United States banning industry from oil gas extraction within its borders. In late 2014 the ordinance was challenged in federal district court and ruled invalid.  A new county commission came in and repealed the ordinance in early 2015.


Jim Sheehan, Founder, Center for Justice (Spokane, Washington)

Jim Sheehan graduated from Santa Clara University in 1966.  He then served for three years as an officer in the United States Army, attended Gonzaga Law School, and worked for more than twenty years as a public defender in Eastern and Western Washington until he received a windfall inheritance.  He decided that, in this next unexpected chapter of his life, he would put his money to work for the greater good.  In 1999, he founded the Center for Justice, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to protecting human rights, alleviating poverty, preserving the earth, and holding the government accountable to the principles of democracy.  In addition, he also restored the old Saranac Hotel in downtown Spokane, which became the first LEED Platinum certified building in the region.  Additionally, he renovated the Community Building, the Main Market Co-op, and the Saranac Commons in order to provide affordable, beautiful homes for area nonprofit offices and small businesses in downtown Spokane.  Despite all these accomplishments, Jim feels most lucky to have a healthy, supportive family, including his daughter Katy, his son Joe, and his partner Mary.


Douglas Shields, President & Member, Pittsburgh City Council (2004-2011)

During his tenure on Pittsburgh’s City Council as a staffer and Member (1992-2011), he was recognized for his expertise on government financing, land use and zoning, legislative writing ability, and taking on social issues few others would.

He introduced and enacted laws on matters such as domestic violence within the city police force, prevailing wages for service workers on city funded projects, protection from harassment at women’s reproductive health facilities, reporting of lost/stolen firearms, and an LGBT registry to help facilitate same-sex benefits for the private sector.

In August 2010, he introduced a CELDF-drafted Community Rights Ordinance in the Council. On November 16, 2010, with a unanimous 9-0 vote, it became law, banning shale gas drilling in Pittsburgh – the first place in the world to do so.
Today, Doug is a consultant, an adjunct professor, and a dedicated activist in the fight to move away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy.  He’s also appeared in Josh Fox’s films, The Sky Is Pink and Gasland Part II.


John Stauber, Founder, Center for Media and Democracy (Wisconsin)

John Stauber has worked for over forty years as an independent organizer, investigative writer, author, and democracy activist.  In 1993, Stauber created the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) to expose the business of organized propaganda.  He ran CMD for 16 years raising funding for the organization, hiring and managing staff, editing and writing hundreds of articles, and co-authoring six books.  John now lives off-the-grid in Wisconsin’s sublime Driftless Region clinging to his Green Bay Packer tickets and passport, addicted to his digital devices, and enjoying his chainsaw, sauna, and sea kayak.


Bill Twist, President, The Pachamama Alliance (California)

Bill Twist is a co-founder of The Pachamama Alliance (TPA) and its President since TPA’s inception in 1996.  TPA is a non-profit organization based in San Francisco, USA, that works on rainforest preservation and indigenous rights in the western Amazon basin and also on global social transformation.  TPA is the creator of the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium and the UP to US Initiative, both global efforts to bring about a socially just, environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilled human presence on this planet.  Bill has also been active in international efforts to build a Rights of Nature movement and currently serves on the steering council of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.

Bill has a background in business, having worked in management consulting and later in the financial services and investment banking fields from 1969 until 1995.  Bill has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Stanford University and a Master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University.