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

Patricia Gouveia, Foundation & Donor Outreach Director. Pattie leads our donor and foundation outreach programs, including grant proposals, annual fundraisers, and outreach content. Contact: pattie@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


Board of Advisors

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.”

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.