Who We Are
Brionte has spent her career training activists, advancing equity and inclusion in the environmental movement, and organizing grassroots voters. She formerly served as the director of engagement at EcoDistricts, and before that, as the Georgia Sierra Club assistant director.
Brionte’s love of the Georgia environment grew from a striking moment in her childhood:
“When I was ten years old, my family and I got in our car and drove away from our military base in the hot, dry Mojave Desert to start a new life in Warner Robins Georgia. I will never forget waking up in the car after four long days of travel and being blown away by the view outside of my window of Georgia’s thick, green forests blanketing the landscape as far as the eye could see. Before that moment, I had only seen so many trees in textbooks. It was this experience that ignited a fire in me to love, explore and protect the environment.”
Lauren DiCesare is Georgia Conservation Voters’s Administrative Assistant. Previous nonprofit experiences include working with The Carter Center’s Human Rights Program as an Event Coordinator and the Damayan Garden Project in Tallahassee. Her primary responsibilities include handling the daily in-house needs of the office, with a focus on finance, development (fundraising), and board management activities.
“In high school, I was really upset about not having recycling programs because waste gives me anxiety. In college, I got interested in green spaces and environmental community work.”
Today, Lauren is a passionate environmentalist and dedicated to reducing her own carbon footprint while educating others on climate change. In the meantime, please send her environmental memes!
Civic Engagement Organizer
Gayla is the Civic Engagement Organizer for Georgia Conservation Voters Education Fund and is involved in helping Georgians get counted for the 2020 census and inform voters about conservation efforts and goals.
Gayla is a queer and trans organizer that fights for equity and justice across race, class, sexual orientation, ability status, and gender. Gayla has organized trainings, workshops, and summits to address housing injustice, mass incarceration, gender equity, reproductive justice, and obstacles in urban education.
As a native to Atlanta, Gayla’s introduction to environmental justice was in noticing air pollution in predominantly Black areas. They graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in African American Studies and wants to use their understanding of social inequality to inform ways to achieve clean air, energy, and water for all.
Abraham Park is Georgia Conservation Voters’s Communications Coordinator. He received his B.A. from Wheaton College in 2013 and an M.A. from the University of Georgia in 2017.
Growing up, Abraham was always interested in helping preserve the natural lands and habitats. Memorable childhood experiences included visits to National Parks like Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite.
As a college student, Abraham worked as a camp counselor in northern Wisconsin and was privileged with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like seeing the Aurora Borealis and canoeing through the Boundary Waters. These experiences only reinforced his determination to help preserve and maintain America’s rugged wilderness for future generations to experience.
Abraham wants to use his professional experiences alongside his personal ones to help promote conservation and equity for all.
Georgia Conservation Voters Education Fund
Jason Rooks is a Georgia native with more than a decade of experience lobbying the Georgia General Assembly and consulting on political campaigns in Georgia. He served as Director of Government Affairs for GaSEIA from 2012-2018. Mr. Rooks also directed Taxpayers for Energy Efficiency, a successful statewide ballot initiative campaign in 2010. As a well-respected voice on renewable energy and energy efficiency, he has helped create numerous clean energy incentives through legislation and regulatory actions at the Georgia PSC. From 2002 to 2008, he served as Executive Director of Georgia Conservation Voters. Prior to that, founded a start-up company in Silicon Valley, and he started his professional career as a practicing attorney in Gainesville, Georgia. Mr. Rooks received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a law degree from the University of Georgia. Mr. Rooks and his wife, Amy, have two children and live in an Earthcraft house with a 4 kW solar system on the roof.
Chandra Farley is an activist at heart and credits her parents with instilling a sense of duty to always do what she can to advance justice and fairness. With a strong connection to our land and natural resources, Chandra developed a passion for elevating the connection between environmental stewardship, strong communities and our daily lives. Following eight years in the design and construction industry, Chandra joined Southface Energy Institute in 2009. At Southface, she led energy and water efficiency initiatives in partnership with local and national nonprofits. The program goal was to improve the environmental and financial sustainability of their facilities so that more of their dollars could be directed to programs and services instead of utility and maintenance costs. Over 200 nonprofits have saved over eight million dollars that has been redirected to their mission instead of energy bills.
Driven by a desire to work directly with the people that buildings shelter and serve, Chandra joined the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE) in January 2018 as the Just Energy Director. In this role, Chandra develops local and regional strategies to advance energy equity through coalition building, leadership development and community engagement around the equity impacts of the sourcing and commodification of power generation in the American South. Understanding these impacts is critical for systematically disenfranchised populations such as black, indigenous and people of color communities with limited incomes. While unfamiliar to many residents, equity-centered energy and utility policies significantly enhance household economic stability and improve the overall quality of air, water and other natural resources that affect our health and well-being.
An avid volunteer with a passion for industry excellence and community building, Chandra has served as president of the Green Meetings Industry Council – Atlanta Chapter, Regional Representative – North America for Open Architecture Collaborative and on the leadership team for Atlanta-based TEDx events. Chandra attended the University of Kentucky before moving to Atlanta and earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Interior Design from The Art Institute of Atlanta. She earned the LEED Green Associate credential and is a graduate of the EPA’s Environmental Justice Academy, United Way VIP Program, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Economic Development Program and serves on the Board of Directors for Community Movement Builders, EarthShare of Georgia and Alabama Interfaith Power & Light
She has worked as an ornithologist in Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Italy, and San Clemente Island (San Diego). Before becoming Altamaha Riverkeeper, her last decade was spent on St. Catherines Island working primarily with shorebirds.
Jen says, “For many years, even working on the front-lines of conservation, I felt I wasn’t working at a big-picture level and I wanted to accomplish more. Now, protecting the largest watershed in Georgia, working in advocacy from Atlanta and Athens, through middle Georgia and to our unique Golden Isles, I go home satisfied and exhausted.”
Policy and Legislation changes often have the most reaching impact, and Jen believes it is an honor to serve on the GCVEF and support the Executive Director, Brionté, in her execution of our mission.
Patrick grew up in an area of natural beauty in the mountains of West Virginia, but in a coal-mining region hosting industry with a voracious appetite for anything but profit, and at any cost to people, much less the sustainability of our natural resources. A formative experience to watch the destruction of the very place many people come for homes, respite, outdoor adventure, and sport. This experience drove Patrick to become a clean energy entrepreneur who enjoys laboring in renewable and efficient energy practices, the internet of things, and electric vehicles.
From democratizing data to democratizing energy, his career has included serving as a Science teacher and US Park Ranger with decades of progressive sales and alliance management experience at leading high-tech companies like EDS, Lotus, IBM, Siebel, salesforce.com, Open Text, AT&T Mobility and ChargePoint helping customers harness the business value of the IT investments used to run their organizations. Patrick has run for U.S. and State positions for a decade to represent those without a voice, such as the environment. He received a DoE Environmental Leadership Award for improving Smart Grid using wireless technology. He’s trained in NABCEP Solar PV and Solar Thermal, and EV Science. Certified in Government Contracting, Six Sigma, LEED AP, Energy Efficiency Management, and is a Lighting Efficiency Professional.
He teaches youth in Science, Sustainability, and ESL. As an Eagle Scout and Woodbadge BSA Scoutmaster for 20 years, he’s shepherded 80 young men through their Eagle leadership projects and participates in many area food banks, Citizenship workshops, and Environmental groups. He also serves on the Boards of several renewable energy startups, Co-Chairs the 159 Georgia Together Board aimed at bringing good ideas and policy to all the corners of Georgia, and is a graduate of the We Own It Fellowship – advocating for the member-owners of the 41 electric coops across the State to improve energy portfolios, reward good leadership, and transition energy efficiency practices.
He earned B.S. degrees in both Biology and Psychology from the University of Mary Washington, holds a Computer Science degree, completed Entrepreneurial Studies at Georgia Tech, completed the Kennedy School of Leadership, and earned an MBA in Sustainability from Green Mountain College in Vermont. He’s currently the VP of Sales and Alliances at CloudBank, consulting with organizations around the world on renewable energy and EV infrastructure. He’s also Executive Director of non-profit ApplesEEd Energy Transition, providing advisory services to organizations interested in increasing inclusive investment towards a clean energy economy with the velocity to transform lives thru more affordable housing, better healthcare outcomes, improved living conditions, lowered noxious emissions, energy independence, self-reliance, local workforce growth, and lower energy burdens.
Georgia Conservation Voters
Krista Brewer is a life-long resident of Atlanta, Georgia. She grew up as the daughter of an Emory University professor, and part of the progressive South. After getting a Masters in urban planning and working briefly in that field, she turned to a career in journalism and editing before “retiring” to raise her three children.
Krista has served on PTA boards, and the boards of trustees of her children’s schools. Her other philanthropic and volunteer involvement includes women’s empowerment, civic engagement, and voter mobilization. Krista was instrumental in founding ProGeorgia, the civic engagement state table in Georgia, the first in the Deep South and reviving Georgia Conservation Voters, where she serves as President of the Board.
Laura Turner Seydel
Laura is a director of and works with the Environmental Working Group to limit the toxic chemicals in food, air, water and consumer products. In 2004, she co-founded Mothers and Others for Clean Air and is currently the chair of the board; in 1994, she and her husband co-founded Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.
Laura serves on the boards of her family’s foundations: The Turner Foundation, Jane Smith Turner Foundation, the Turner Endangered Species Fund, and Ted’s Montana Grill. She is vice chair of the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and sits on the national boards of the League of Conservation Voters, Defenders of Wildlife, Waterkeeper Alliance and the Carter Center Board of Councilors; she also serves on the advisory board for the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Downtown Atlanta.
Laura is the recipient of numerous humanitarian and environmental awards, including the League of Conservation Voters Environmental Hero Award, the SCLC Drum Major for Justice Award, the Healthy Child Healthy World’s Mom on a Mission for Service Award, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta’s Legacy Award, the YWCA Academy of Women Achievement Award, the National Garden Clubs Award of Excellence, the Andrew Young Foundation Pass on Blessings Award, and is a Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Legacy of Leadership Honoree.
Marjorie Snook specializes in scientific research, historical environmental investigations, information retrieval, strategic knowledge management, and technical writing. She retrieves and compiles data, locates rare and hard-to-find maps and documents with relevant environmental information, conducts literature searches, locates public records and reviews and assembles regulatory information. She also designs and administers web-based document management and collaboration tools for NewFields and their clients. She has extensive experience as a technical writer and has written professionally for over ten years. Ms. Snook has an M.L.S. from the University of Illinois and a B.A. from Guilford College.
Daniel is a human rights advocate and entrepreneur. He served Senator Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign as the Georgia Director of Political Operations, he was the first African-American to run for office in Forsyth County, Georgia, and was the 2014 Democratic Nominee for Georgia’s Public Service Commission accumulating 1.1 million votes.
With over 10 years of public and intergovernmental affairs experience, he has worked with the U.S. Congress, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Green Building Council, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Energy, the Green Sports Alliance, Netroots Nation, the Hip Hop Caucus, NoVo Foundation, and was honored to be appointed by retired Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears to the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Children, Marriage and Family Law. In 2015, he was honored to be 1 of 65 Emerging Global Leaders invited to a multi-faith “Climate Convergence” in Rome, Italy and Vatican City to discuss the Paris climate negotiations and the release of the papal encyclical.
Mr. Blackman was appointed by the Chairman of the National Wildlife Federation to serve on an Environmental Policy Commission co-sponsored by members of the United States Congress to address renewable energy and public health issues in disadvantaged communities throughout America; and worked with the Environmental Working Group to advance mandatory GMO labeling legislation that would preempt state labeling laws but create a national, mandatory GMO labeling standard for all GMO foods. As a business owner, he manages his company with the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, using the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems. He has supported numerous White House Initiatives, the Sports/Entertainment industries, and various philanthropies and family foundations which has given him an innovative approach to leadership development and coalition building, with a vision to transform the social conscious of the global citizenry. He is passionate about solving the sex-slavery crisis, and has devoted his time and effort to working on policy and messaging that will remove the stigma of sex-slavery and human trafficking, while raising awareness and offering solution-driven strategies to eradicate the problem.
Daniel is a Board Member at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center and on the Board of Silence the Shame, founded by Music veteran Shanti Das. He is an Alum of Clark Atlanta University.
Chandra is a seasoned advocate, activist, and communications strategist. With over two decades of working in the trenches on conservation and environmental policy, she knows what makes decision-makers and activists tick. As a Riverkeeper in rural Georgia for nearly 10 years, she connected people and policy. In 2011, she began consulting for an array of conservationists, public interest law firms, and foundations. She helps her clients develop strategies to influence policy and shape public discourse. Chandra uses a mix of technological savvy, research skills, and good old-fashioned ground-truthing to develop and implement winning advocacy campaigns.
Megan and Alice Keyes founded One Hundred Miles in 2013. In an effort to elevate the Georgia coast as a recognized place of historical, cultural, and biological significance, Megan spends her time working in local Megan Desrosierscommunities and on regional collaboration projects. She serves on the leadership team of the Georgia Water Coalition. She is currently the chair of the Savannah River Clean Water Fund Advisory Board, and she serves on the Steering Committee for the Dogwood Alliance’s Wetland Forests initiative. Locally, she serves on the Spaceport Camden Environmental Subcommittee.
Before becoming the founding executive director of One Hundred Miles, Megan spent 10 years at the Coastal Conservation League (CCL) in South Carolina. She was instrumental in efforts to conserve land in the Ashley River Historic Corridor and on Johns Island. She also worked to establish the organization’s first climate and energy and agriculture program agendas.
Megan has worked through the years to help start-up organizations form and become sustainable coastal advocacy partners in Georgia and South Carolina. In addition to forming One Hundred Miles, she worked with a team to start South Carolina’s first local food hub and collaborated with a group of diverse leaders to initiate Charleston County’s Greenbelt Program. Megan has also served on the founding boards of the South Carolina Outdoor Education Program (SCOEP) and Charleston Moves, a bicycle/pedestrian advocacy organization.
Megan is a graduate of Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Since finishing her degrees, Megan has attended multiple training programs in business development, non-profit leadership, and public speaking. Specifically, she has completed professional development programs at the Harvard Business School, Institute for Conservation Leadership, and the Buckley School for Public Speaking, as well as many other esteemed programs. Megan lives in Old Town Brunswick with her husband, Michael, and two sons, Luca and Kellen.
Oprah and Gayle. Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett. Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin. Beside every strong woman is an equally strong woman supporting her, and building with her. For former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and founder of Fair Fight Action, Stacey Abrams, Chelsey Hall is that woman.
Chelsey’s social media accounts are the visual representation of her motto, “Get it done.” You’ll find flicks of President Obama, Oprah, Former Secretary Hilary Clinton, Sen. Kamala Harris and a hilarious pic of Sen. Corey Booker photobombing. However, Chelsey’s work is about much more than rubbing shoulders with our country’s most recognizable leaders. This budding political powerhouse writes words that have impacted our nation, leads hundreds of volunteer organizers and does pro-bono consulting to help other women of color kick off campaigns around the country.
INACTIVE WHILE RUNNING FOR U.S. SENATE
Thomas Jonathan Ossoff is a documentary filmmaker and politician. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He was a finalist in the 2017 special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district.
Jon was born in Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital. He grew up in the Northlake area. Both of Jon’s grandfathers served in World War II. His father’s dad was an American bombardier on B-24 Liberators in the Pacific. His mother’s dad was a twice-captured Australian infantryman who fought Nazis in the Mediterranean.
Jon held a Top Secret security clearance while working with our military and intelligence community on counterterrorism, naval, air, and cybersecurity programs. Jon played third base for the South London Pirates in the British Baseball Federation while earning his Master’s degree at the London School of Economics. While he worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jon sang Bass in performances with the National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center.
Jon’s company is renowned for supporting and partnering with local investigative journalists around the world.
Last year, Jon led a team that exposed more than 30 corrupt judges in the West African nation of Ghana. This year, one of Jon’s teams uncovered mass killings and sexual slavery by ISIS on the front line in Iraq while producing a documentary for the BBC. Jon’s company has targeted quack doctors who put women’s lives at risk in poor and remote parts of the world.
Jon studied under Madeleine Albright and former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren as an undergraduate at Georgetown University. Jon wrote his Master’s thesis at the London School of Economics on trade relations between the U.S. and China.