Craig S. Altemose, Executive Director – Contact Craig
Craig is an experienced, award-winning social justice activist. He has served on the governing bodies of a number of different statewide and national non-profits, written and led a successful effort to pass the nation’s most ambitious call for climate action by a state legislature, and co-founded and led Students for a Just and Stable Future, a network of students dedicating to promoting climate stability. He holds a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School, a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a B.A. in International Relations and Global Affairs from Eckerd College (where he served as student body president and more recently, a visiting professor).
During his graduate studies, Craig was appointed by Harvard’s president to a commission to recommend a climate action plan for the university and was appointed as the youngest member of the Massachusetts Climate Protection and Green Economy Advisory Committee by the MA Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to assist in the state’s development of its climate action plan. He also organized over 200 individuals to participate in a principled act of civil disobedience on the Boston Common to call for 100% renewable electricity. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he was awarded an Irvin Kaufman Fellowship to launch his public service career. Over the course of his activism, he has also received awards from Clean Water Action, Massachusetts Climate Action Network, Toxics Action Center, Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Massachusetts, Alternatives for Community and Environment, and the Sierra Student Coalition. A native of Morris Plains, New Jersey, Craig’s Presbyterian faith has led him to involve himself in a wide variety of issues to advance progress and reduce human suffering, and he ranks building a better world free from fossil fuels as his foremost priority in that continuing struggle.
Marla Marcum, Director of Programs – Contact Marla
Marla is a native of the Missouri Ozarks and a graduate of Sewanee (The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee). After college, she served as an Americorps VISTA member and VISTA Leader with Utah Campus Compact, a statewide network that links and supports Utah’s colleges and universities in promoting civic engagement and preparing students for responsible citizenship. Marla is a 2003 graduate of the Boston University School of Theology, with a Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) degree in Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics. A lifelong United Methodist, Marla is a founding member of Cambridge Welcoming Ministries and currently serves as the congregation’s Lay Leader. She is also the Director of Christian Education at Lexington United Methodist Church. Marla chairs the Climate Change Task Force of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church and is co-chair of the Reconciling Ministries Committee. Marla works with other denominational leaders on the Massachusetts Council of Churches’ Eco-Justice Working Group.
Knowing that what seems impossible can be accomplished through collaborations between unlikely allies, Marla took a leave of absence from her doctoral program in Social and Ecological Ethics at Boston University School of Theology to help develop networks of people emboldened to reject subtle climate compromises and to both demand and continue to create the solutions we need and to participate in building a movement strong enough to create a better future. Marla has been with Climate Summer since June 2009, working first as mentor and Community Outreach Coordinator (particularly finding housing for the teams), and later as the Coordinator for the 2010 program. As the Director of New England Climate Summer, Marla is excited to continue working with people all over New England who are raising the clarion call for social and ecological justice.
Vanessa Rule, Director of Community Engagement – Contact Vanessa
From 2007-2011, Vanessa was the lead coordinator of Somerville Climate Action, a community network that brings people and organizations together to build a resilient, just, and sustainable community. After joining BFP, she co-founded 350 Massachusetts and is now Co-Director and Lead Organizer of Mothers Out Front, both of which are Better Future Projects. As an organizer, she focuses on building relationships across stakeholder groups to develop collaborative actions and projects at the intersection of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Among other groups, she has engaged with the local business and environmental justice communities in Somerville. Prior to fully devoting herself to climate issues, she worked on watershed management and multi-stakeholder involvement to address ecological issues across municipal boundaries in the greater Boston area. She holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and a Master of Environmental Sciences degree in Resource Management and Administration from Antioch New England University.
Beth Newhall, Director of Development and Operations – Contact Beth
A proud New Englander, Beth grew up in southern New Hampshire, attended Harvard University, and now lives in Jamaica Plain—although she did spend a year away getting her master’s degree at Trinity College Dublin. For the past eight years, she has worked as a writer and editor for a range of clients, including Sesame Workshop, the University of Kentucky, and the Navy. Over the past several years, she became increasingly active in the climate movement, joining 350MA and Boston Climate Action Network (BostonCAN). In 2013, she worked with Divest Harvard to develop the alumni branch of the fossil fuel divestment campaign and first began meeting the incredible team at BFP. In her new position, Beth is honored to support the dedicated organizers and volunteers who fight every day for our right to inhabit a livable planet, and she is proud to be sharing the message about all that they do.
Tara Escudero, Gulf Coast Coordinator – Contact Tara
Tara is from Long Island, NY and studied English and Political Science at the State University of New York at Fredonia, near Buffalo, NY. She currently lives in Houston, TX and hopes to continue her education as well as work toward a more empathetic world. Tara is an alumna of the 2011 Climate Summer program.
Ben Stumpf, Web and New Media Coordinator – Contact Ben
Ben is a high school teacher, documentary filmmaker, and web designer who has offered these skills to social justice movements for most of his adult life. He has been teaching creative technology (filmmaking, graphic and web design, animation, digital music) for over 10 years. He loves to make films that raise awareness about social causes, including time banks, local currencies, immigration policy, competition, and global warming’s effects on New England fishing. Prior to joining BFP, he was active with Somerville Climate Action and Transition Somerville, and spent 3 years at United for a Fair Economy, managing their technology and leading workshops on economic inequality.
Shea Riester, Campus Divestment Organizer – Contact Shea
Convinced that climate change is the largest looming threat to life on earth, Shea hopped on a bike to help build the climate movement with Climate Summer after graduating from Brandeis in 2012. Shea now lives in Boston and dedicates himself to supporting student fossil fuel divestment movements at as many campuses as he can muster.
Shea studied the history and theory of social movements at Brandeis, and was very involved in environmental and social justice student activism. His proudest past moments include organizing with the Occupy Wall Street movement at its inception and participating in the national mobilization to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. He is deeply passionate about building more peaceful, equitable, and sustainable communities that live in greater harmony with all life on Earth. He feels we must use non-violent social action now to prevent the potentially irreversible destruction of our planet due to climate change, and is ready to do whatever necessary for a more just and sustainable future for all.
Sophie Robinson, 350MA Assistant Coordinator – Contact Sophie
After the realization that she could no longer pursue her intended career of becoming an environmental science teacher due to the urgency of climate change, Sophie decided to dedicate her time to building the climate change grassroots movement. She graduated from Williams College in 2011 with a degree in psychology and environmental science. Her upbringing on a southern NH organic berry farm left her with a passion for sustainable agriculture, which she pursued in her studies. After graduating, she lived in Nashville, and there she interned for an author writing about the growing movement of local food, and she was also an active member of Occupy Nashville. Sophie wears a lot of hats for Better Future Project, including being the media point person, overseeing 350MA logistics, coordinating outreach for our summer internship programs, and facilitating general office organization. Her favorite part of the job is getting to talk with new members of the movement over coffee to discuss how they want to use their specific skill set to enhance the movement.
Malcolm Bliss, 350MA Coordinator – Contact Malcolm
Malcolm David Bliss is a consultant and entrepreneur with a track record of building up fast-growing organizations, developing strategy for large-scale operations, and implementing enterprise technology solutions. Malcolm’s 30 years of professional experience include awards from Inc 500, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Software 500, and academic experience from Harvard, New York, Suffolk Universities and Union College. He has served in executive roles and advised a wide range of clients including Pfizer, Ford Motor Company, AT&T, Medtronic, Liberty Mutual, and Abbott Laboratories. His written work has been published in journals such as Strategic Finance and its international affiliates. He has made video and live speaking appearances to audiences in the thousands.
As a life-long environmentalist, Malcolm became increasingly and deeply concerned with society’s lack of response to the climate crisis. His concern motivated him to become a presenter with Mass Interfaith Power and Light, affiliate with Climate Action Now, and found Fossil Fuel Divest and Boston Climate Research. In late 2012, Malcolm devoted his attention to the climate crisis full-time, and initiated volunteer work with 350MA where he became a facilitative leader. As part of his volunteer work with 350MA, Malcolm took the divestment campaign to faith organizations, governments, and pensions. He organized meetings and trainings, helped develop the organizational structure of the network, supported legislative and media activity, and built individual and organizational relationships across the state. As a member of the Better Future Project Staff, Malcolm serves as state-wide coordinator for 350MA.
Malcolm believes that although the climate crisis holds severe and unavoidable consequences for all life on earth, humanity will eventually create a just and stable future beyond fossil fuels. He is dedicated to mitigating the consequences of the climate crisis and working to achieve that future. Malcolm and his family make their home in the Porter Square area of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Dorian Williams, Campaigns Organizer – Contact Dorian
Dorian graduated from Brandeis University in May of 2013 with a major in Anthropology. She has spent the last four years helping build the climate movement in Massachusetts. This began in her first year at college when the severity of climate change really began to sink in. Dorian then found an organizing home and community with Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF). Since 2010, she has worked on a number of campaigns including 100% Clean Electricity by 2020, Weatherizing Waltham, No Coal by 2015, Tar Sands Action, Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Divest Brandeis and 350MA No Gas Mass. While daunted by the urgency with which we must tackle this issue, Dorian is also emboldened by the recent successes and momentum of the climate movement. As we stand at the threshold for change, Dorian believes grassroots groups like Better Future Project will play a pivotal role in achieving that change and is excited to be a part of the team.
Ben Trolio, Operations and Finance Associate – Contact Ben
Ben Trolio is a native New Yorker concerned for the future of our planet. He is a recent graduate from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in natural resources. Outside of academic life at UNH, he led the Student Environmental Action Coalition(SEAC) and co-founded their divestment campaign. Ben was able to take skills from his time in the Climate Summer and Ride for the Future programs to mobilize the student base at his university. He is now excited to use fundraising as a tool to build the climate movement in his new work with Better Future Project. He believes that we need to invest our bodies, creativity, time and wallets in the movement in order to avoid a 2 degrees Celsius rise in temperature.
Ashley Anderson, Program Assistant – Contact Ashley
Ashley Anderson is a native of Colorado and an alumna of Seattle University. She is currently finishing a dual masters degree program in Divinity and Social Work at Boston University. After graduating from Seattle University, Ashley lived as a Jesuit Volunteer in the Republic of the Marshall Islands working as a 6th grade teacher and a community organizer. The Marshalls struggle as frontline countries in the wake of climate change and will likely be uninhabitable by 2100. In the face of this crisis, Ashley stands with the the Marshallese proclaiming: “We are not drowning. We are fighting.” Recognizing the interconnection of all life, she believes that our work in New England stretches across the oceans and that connecting with other communities gives birth to hope for a more just, humane, and stable future for all people and all lands. Ashley provides support for overall program operations at Better Future Project.
Emily Kirkland, Communications Coordinator – Contact Emily
Emily Kirkland is originally from San Francisco and graduated from Brown University with a degree in Economics and Environmental Studies. As a student, she published articles and photos documenting the effects of climate change in Peru, coordinated media outreach for the Brown Divest Coal Campaign, and participated in the 2011 Keystone XL sit-ins outside the White House. Emily has been amazed by the recent growth of the climate movement and is excited to work with BFP to continue building power and momentum. She oversees the organization’s web and social media presence and coordinates press outreach and email communications.
Michele Gielis, Mothers Out Front Coordinator – Contact Michele
Michele Gielis, coordinator for Mothers Out Front, graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a dual degree in communications and anthropology. Following up on those interests led to a career supporting audio-visual teams at Lotus Development Corporation, Harvard Law School, and the Museum of Science. In addition, Michele has been a part-time activist for environmental and human rights causes since childhood. Recently, she decided that working to grow the movement to address climate change needed full-time attention and changed her career trajectory to focus completely on the most crucial cause of our time.
Eli Gerzon, State Divestment Organizer – Contact Eli
Eli Gerzon was born in Boston and grew up in Arlington, MA. At the age of 18, traveling the world and writing became the center of his life. His travels included picking fruit on fjords in Norway, hiking mountains in South Korea, learning American history from Laotians, sitting in temezcal (sweat lodges) in Mexico, hiking wadis with shepherds in the West Bank, and so on. He financed his travels through his ultra-low-carbon landscaping business, where he relied on his bicycle as his main mode of transportation. After his own profound experiences, Eli began to think that travel could change the world. He started a travel tour business and led tours for teens to Mexico and twice to Japan. The travelers learned a lot, but Eli realized more direct action needed to be done to create change and alter our current course. When Eli discovered 350MA, Better Future Project, and the climate movement in late 2012, he knew he had found what he was looking for. Ever since, he has been doing all he can to organize, connect, and accomplish real change to create a better future.
James Razsa, Partnerships Coordinator - Contact James
James is from Gray, Maine. His past work has been with labor, community and worker cooperative organizing. He’s happy to be on the team.
Kristina Bergquist, Climate Legacy Campaign Intern
Kristina is a native San Franciscan who has found a wonderful second home in Boston. She moved to Boston to attend Brandeis University, where she is currently studying Environmental Studies and will be graduating in spring 2014. Kristina originally planned on pursuing a career in Wildlife Management, but after realizing the extent of the devastating impacts of climate change for both animals and humans, has decided to devote her time to fighting for climate justice. She is an active member of her campus divestment campaign and collaborates with other youth in the climate movement with Students for a Just and Stable Future. Kristina is excited to be interning with Better Future Project this semester and can’t wait to see how her role in the climate movement will continue to develop as this movement grows.
Jordan Mlsna, Climate Summer Intern
Jordan Mlsna is an MIT undergraduate with a volunteering spirit. Long having been interested in the natural world, she has more recently begun to focus on climate change as the largest factor influencing not just the pristineness of our biosphere, but the flourishing of human civilization. Currently, she acts as one of the core members of MIT’s fossil fuel divestment campaign, leads a new community gardening project out of her living group, co-hosts a poetry radio show, and works on local hunger issues in addition to classes. Jordan hails originally from Austin, Texas. When she’s not fighting the good fight or studying, you might find her hiking, two-stepping, exploring the town barefoot, obsessing over her latest music find, or making pico de gallo from fresh-picked tomatoes.