RCC Staff

RCC President and CEO, Robert K. MusilDr. Robert K. Musil, President and CEO

As the CEO of the Rachel Carson Council, Dr. Musil speaks and organizes nationwide at campuses and civic organizations, is a key advocate on Capitol Hill, and has increased RCC membership, budget, and staff while developing an extensive and growing grassroots and campus network. He has designed and led RCC organizing efforts in North Carolina, spoken and organized in Florida at campus and community events to oppose the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant in collaboration with Beyond Nuclear, and is the co-author of Pork and Pollution, Fowl Matters and Blast Zone.

Musil has been a leader, activist, educator, and author in the national environmental, environmental health, peace and social justice movements for over three decades. He is one of the most respected and senior public interest advocates in Washington. He serves as the President of the Scoville Peace Fellowship; Chairman of the Board of the Council for a Livable World (C)(4) and PAC; Chairman of the Board of the Population Connection Action Fund (C)(4) and PAC; a Board member of Beyond Nuclear; and an Advisory Board member of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI). Musil is also an environmental educator who is a Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University where he teaches American environmental politics. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Mitchell College in New London, Connecticut where he is involved in reviewing a new campus master plan and college endowment investments for sustainability and social responsibility. Musil also writes on climate, nuclear and justice issues for the Huffington Post and is the author of three environmental books: Hope for a Heated Planet: How Americans Are Fighting Global Warming and Building a Better Future (Rutgers, 2009); Rachel Carson and Her Sisters: Extraordinary Women Who Have Shaped America’s Environment (Rutgers Press, 2014) and Washington in Spring: A Nature Journal for a Changing Capital (Bartleby Press, 2016)


Claudia Steiner — Director of Communications and Development

An environmental advocate around the clock, Claudia serves as the Director for Communications and Strategic Development at the Rachel Carson Council. She is a graduate of the American University where she studied International Studies and Environmental Science. As an undergraduate, Claudia organized with the university’s student-led divestment movement, helping to secure full divestment from the fossil fuel industry in 2020. She is a believer in the power of messaging and hopes to inform strong climate and environmental policy through communications. She hails from the eccentric town of Maplewood, New Jersey. Outside of work, you can find Claudia reading in Malcolm X Park, cooking vegan food, or patronizing any of DC’s many falafel shops.


Theo Daniels — Assistant Director of Policy and Programs

Theo Daniels, Assistant Director of Policy and Programs, is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a B.A. in Political Science. Theo has worked for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, the NASA Environmental Justice Research Support Team, and Sustainable Capital Advisors. He has also conducted research in La Paz, Bolivia as part of a Fulbright grant, with the Stanford University Mordecai Lab, at the University of Washington, and a myriad of climate science projects at Howard University. In his free time, Theo enjoys playing video games, watching new movies, and thrifting!


Joy Reeves — Assistant Director of Policy and Programs

Joy Reeves, Assistant Director of Policy and Programs, holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Management from the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment, as well as her undergraduate degree as a Udall scholar at Duke in Environmental Science & Policy with a minor in Visual Media Studies. Passionate about climate advocacy and scientific communication, she is the author of Growing Up in the Grassroots: Finding Unity in Climate Activism Across Generations (2020) and the winner of the 2024 Storyfest award from Planet Forward for multimedia journalism. Joy was previously an RCC Stanback Fellow and RCC Presidential Fellow and has held internships at the League of Conservation Voters, the Student Conservation Association, and the Wright Lab at Duke University, where she conducted research on the effects of saltwater intrusion and sea level rise on the coast of North Carolina.


Diego Tovar — Assistant Director of Campus and Civic Engagement

Diego Tovar, Assistant Director of Campus and Civic Engagement, holds his master’s in Global Environmental Policy from American University and an undergraduate degree as a Udall Scholar in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability with a minor in Political Communication from Colorado State University. Diego has worked for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Navajo Nation Washington Office focusing on climate justice and climate adaptation. His passion for climate advocacy and the power of storytelling has also led him to become a science fiction writer of six books related to environmentalism, the effects of climate change, and equity. Originally from Austin, Texas, outside of work you can find Diego hiking, playing basketball, or writing more books.


Publications and Web Consultant, Ross FeldnerRoss A. FeldnerPublications and Web Consultant

Ross Feldner is the lead, with Bob Musil, of the RCC Bird Watch and Wonder Program. Ross is a life-long birder and photographer who is the editor of the Friends of Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge newsletter. Ross also serves as a guide at the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, a frequent birding spot for Rachel Carson who first learned about the health effects of DDT at the laboratory there. He is also the owner/art director of New Age Graphics, a full-service graphic design firm in Wheaton, MD.


RCC Senior Correspondent — Stephen Shick

Stephen Shick is the author of Be the Change and Consider the Lilies (Skinner Books). Shick has taught at the Harvard Divinity School and is the former head of the SANE Education Fund, the Unitarian Universalist Peace Committee, and Consider the Alternatives radio.

 


RCC Stanback Fellows 2024

RCC Stanback Presidential Fellow – Sophie Valkenberg

Sophie Valkenberg is a Master of Environmental Management student at Duke University, concentrating in Community Engagement & Environmental Justice and Ecotoxicology & Environmental Health. She was born in the Netherlands but quickly moved to and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. Coming from a country with a very robust eco-friendly infrastructure initially sparked her interest in environmental studies and sustainable living. She hopes to work in a field that enables her to promote justice and inclusion in environmental work, particularly within communities disproportionately impacted by pollution and suffering negative health effects due to these circumstances. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and improving her (very minimal) sewing skills. Sophie is honored and eager to expand her experience and contribute to the incredible work of the RCC.


RCC Stanback Presidential Fellow – Chloe Wetzler

Chloe Wetzler is a dual Master of Environmental Management and Juris Doctor student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Law School. At Duke, she is the symposium coordinator for the Ocean Policy Working Group and a student researcher for the Nicholas Institute of Environment, Energy, and Sustainability. Chloe is also a member of EarthEcho International’s Youth Leadership Council. Before coming to Duke, she studied Environmental Thought & Practice and Spanish at the University of Virginia. Chloe grew up in Virginia Beach, so she is particularly passionate about coastal and marine ecosystems. Chloe aspires to protect marine biodiversity and make coastal communities more resilient to climate and sea-level rise threats with policy tools. Chloe is incredibly excited to be joining the RCC as a Presidential Fellow.


RCC Stanback Presidential Fellow – Rachel Weaver

Rachel Weaver is a Master of Environmental Management student at Duke University from West Jefferson, North Carolina studying Terrestrial and Freshwater Ecosystems and Environmental Economics and Policy. At Duke, she currently serves as graduate research assistant and a member of the Secretariat for the Environmental Peacebuilding Association. Prior to coming to Duke, she received a B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology and a B.S. in Environmental Sciences from North Carolina State University, along with a certificate in Renewable Energy Innovation and Sustainability from Reykjavik University. Previously, she was a 2022 Directorate Fellow for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Combating Wildlife Trafficking team and conducted research in 2023 at NC State University on the impact of climate change on ornate box turtles’ home ranges and movement patterns. Passionate about fostering interdisciplinary collaboration for biodiversity conservation and environmental policy, Rachel draws hope from Rachel Carson’s legacy to inspire others in the environmental field.


RCC Stanback Fellow – Maria Ding

Maria Ding is a rising sophomore at Duke University majoring in Financial Economics with an Energy & Environment Certificate. Passionate about energy, she aspires to promote energy transition for the world. Maria is now the Associate Director of Special Programming at the Duke Energy & Climate Club, where she helps committed young people better explore their interests in energy. She has also volunteered at the EPA-RTP office to facilitate environmental education and worked on pro bono consulting projects for 180 Degrees Consulting with companies to achieve their sustainability goals. Before coming to Duke, Maria studied Environmental Science and researched methane emissions regulations and lithium-ion battery technologies. She also popularized information on the Green Olympics as a reporter for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and organized community climate advocacy events as her high school’s Environmental Ecological Club president. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, traveling, and walking in the Duke Garden.


RCC Stanback Fellow – Zoe Kolenovsky

Zoe Kolenovsky is a rising junior at Duke University studying Public Policy, Environmental Science and Policy, and Journalism and Media Studies. Originally from New Orleans, she experienced the effects of the climate crisis firsthand throughout her childhood and has been engaged in climate justice work since Hurricane Ida hit her hometown in 2021. Zoe is particularly interested in the role communications media can play in improving climate literacy and uplifting the voices of frontline communities to find policy solutions to environmental problems. She serves as the news editor of The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper, and is also an executive producer of Operation Climate, a student-produced podcast about environmental issues. She was previously secretary of the Duke chapter of Amnesty International and project lead for a partnership between the Penny Pilgram George Women’s Leadership Initiative and Keep Durham Beautiful, where she worked to produce a sustainability guide for the City of Durham. Zoe is incredibly passionate about environmental justice, and she received the 2023 Chester P. Middlesworth award for her research paper that uses archival sources to examine the centuries of race- and class-based discrimination leading up to the current situation in Cancer Alley, Louisiana. She is excited to join the Rachel Carson Council, where she hopes to leverage her communications experience to promote environmental justice and advocacy.


RCC Stanback Fellow – Jackson Ronald

Jackson Ronald is a Master of Environmental Management student at Duke University studying Environmental Economics & Policy and Energy in the Environment. Deeply curious and interested in the environment, he is passionate about the intersection of environmental law, indigenous justice and the energy transition. From California, Jackson has seen first-hand the stress that droughts, fires and sea level rise can put on local communities. An active member of Duke Restore’s Eco-cultural team, he helped organize events between Duke and the local Coharie Tribe in North Carolina. Before coming to Duke, Jackson double majored in applied environmental studies and German language & culture studies at Tufts University. His interests include cooking, reading, volleyball and spending time outdoors.


RCC Stanback Fellow – Jack Sanitate

Jack Sanitate is a rising senior at Duke University double majoring in Public Policy and Theater Studies, with a minor in Environmental Sciences & Policy. Growing up in Michigan around the Great Lakes, he has always been passionate about environmental justice, especially regarding plastic pollution in our oceans and freshwater. He worked at the Duke University Marine Lab last summer researching the effects of light pollution and climate change on sea turtle nesting habits, as well as advocacy for integrating living shorelines into North Carolina coastal properties. At Duke, he is the Fundraising Chair for Alpha Phi Omega, and aims to incorporate environmental consciousness through volunteer work and service. In his spare time, he loves to perform theater and serves as the Publicity Chair of Duke’s musical theater organization, Hoof ‘N’ Horn.


RCC Stanback Fellow – Hiwot Shaw

Hiwot Shaw is a rising senior at Duke University studying environmental science and policy with an ethics and society certificate. Adopted from Ethiopia and growing up in eastern North Carolina, she is passionate about environmental justice and addressing unique challenges faced by communities domestically and internationally. She engages in environmental research and advocacy specifically on issues such as clean water, sustainability, and equity within policy. On campus she is a member of Duke Climate Coalition, Street Medicine and Defining Movement (two dance groups). In her free time, she loves dancing, reading, and exploring nature. She is looking forward to her time at the Rachel Carson Council and hopes to learn how to construct legislation that better involves minority communities in the decision-making process.


RCC Stanback Fellow – Caison Gray

Caison Gray is a first-year Master’s in Environmental Management graduate student at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and a graduate of Davidson College with degrees in Environmental Humanities and concentrations in Public Health and Spanish.

At Davidson, Caison completed two environmentally-based study abroad programs with research in Bocas del Toro, Panama and Puerto Natales, Chile. She is deeply committed to work relating to environmental justice, environmental health, and social inequality. Having addressed these issues in Patagonia, in Panama, and her home state of North Carolina, Caison has made having a global and varied perspective on the importance of environmental health and community engagement a priority in her professional and personal life.

Caison brings honed skills in mixed-method research, writing, history, and leadership with a justice-oriented lens to the Rachel Carson Council. She was born and raised in Cary, North Carolina.


RCC Stanback Fellow – Emely Arredondo

Emely Arredondo is a rising junior at Duke University with a double major in Environmental Science and Policy and International Comparative Studies. Originally from the Caribbean and having lived in coastal communities in the U.S., Emely is driven by environmental work that focuses on coastal resiliency, post-disaster relief, and urban studies. She is particularly interested in how these topics intersect with environmental justice and building community resilience. In high school, Emely was active in two environmental nonprofits, Green Saves Green, and Citizens Climate Lobby. At Duke, she is involved with Green Devils, a student-led environmental internship program via the Sustainable Duke department. She has also worked as a fellow with the Duke Partnership for Service, as a Sarah P. Duke Gardens volunteer, and with the Mi Gente (student Latine organization) Programming Committee.

Emely loves baking (especially bread!), cooking, gardening, walking her two dogs, and listening to Spanish music.


RCC Fellows, 2024-2025

RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Landon Bishop – Yale University

Landon Bishop is a sophomore at Yale University, studying Ethics, Politics, Economics, and Urban Studies with a certificate in Education Studies. A believer in the power of digital media to tell far-reaching stories about the climate crisis, Landon is passionate about communicating environmental messages through filmmaking. In the summer before college, Landon was selected to present his environmental documentary work on the Cancer Alley region of Louisiana on behalf of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield and EPA Administrator Michael Regan. At Yale, he is leading the post-production process on a documentary for the School of Architecture’s Urban Media Project. During the summer of 2024, he will be a marine and community conservation extern with National Geographic and The Nature Conservancy.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Zoe Tseng – Barnard College

Zoe Tseng is a senior at Barnard College studying political science with a focus on international relations and the environment. Prior to transferring to Barnard, Zoe was a student at Boston University where she initiated a column interviewing professors in the Earth and Environment Department about their climate change research. At Columbia, she writes for the Science Review and Political Review on environmental policy and emerging climate solutions. She is interning at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and hopes to pursue a career addressing challenges and bridging divides in sustainability.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow – Benjamin Trost – University of Alabama

Benjamin is a senior 2024 Udall Scholar studying freshwater science and environmental humanities at the University of Alabama. He combines data science, ecology, and sociopolitical approaches to examine issues of environmental injustice in his home state of Alabama. His passion for research has led him to collaborate with the Black Warrior Riverkeeper on water quality advocacy and publish on the politics of plant conservation. Ben loves to hike, identify plants, and with his newfound interest in creative writing, explore the connections between Southern history, queer identity, and the environment.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Arianna Lawrence – Pomona College

Arianna is a third-year at Pomona College studying Public Policy Analysis with a concentration in Environmental Analysis. Born and raised in a heavily-polluted community in Brooklyn, New York, she is passionate about sustainable urban planning and the potential of the adaptive and creative reuse of the built environment in building greener cities. She is also interested in exploring nature-based solutions in climate adaptation and resilience. In her mission to advance environmental justice, Arianna has worked with Natural Resources Defense Council, the San Francisco Environment Department, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Arianna serves her college community as an Eco-Rep and runs a Rooftop Garden program to expose underserved youth to green space.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Anusha Kumar – Northwestern University

Anusha Kumar is a junior at Northwestern University, majoring in Social Policy and Environmental Policy and Culture. Central to her identity is the recognition that her experiences as a queer South Asian woman guide her perspectives. An environmental organizer at heart, Anusha aims to understand the impacts of policing and surveillance on environmental racism. Her organizing ethos is rooted in radical resistance as a means of healing from systemic violence and trauma. At Northwestern, Anusha is active in Fossil Free Northwestern, Students Organizing for Labor Rights, and The Jasmine Collective, where she collaborates with fellow students to address South Asian social justice issues.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Elizabeth Gilg – Christopher Newport University

Elizabeth Gilg is a senior at Christopher Newport University majoring in Environmental Studies with a double minor in Leadership and Spanish. She is an active member of the Student Sustainability Commission, a club dedicated to making CNU a more sustainable campus. This includes promoting eco-friendly behaviors, educating the community about sustainability, and pursuing beneficial environmental initiatives. She recently returned home from a semester abroad in Costa Rica where she learned about the environmental conservation practices and laws their government has put in place for businesses of all sizes. Her goal is to bring back the knowledge she learned abroad and provide different perspectives on aspects of the environment to create an eco-friendly future and a stronger community. In the future, she wants to pursue a career in environmental consulting to work with businesses to lower their greenhouse gasses and develop sustainability plans.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Brianna Cunliffe – University Centre, Westfjords

Brianna (Brie) Cunliffe graduated from Bowdoin College in 2022 with majors in Government and Environmental Studies after completing an honors thesis focused on environmental injustice perpetrated by the biomass industry. She is now an MA student in Coastal Communities and Regional Development at the University Centre of the Westfjords. As an Island Institute Fellow, Brie led the town of Tremont in developing a Community Resilience Plan that prioritizes energy affordability and reliability, supporting the working waterfront through coming changes, and building a connected, thriving year-round economy. She also coordinated community-wide programming designed to empower people of all backgrounds to find their unique contribution to climate action. Brie has worked for the US National Park Service, Elected Officials to Protect America, the Dogwood Alliance, and is currently the co-chair of the Next Generation Advisory Council for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. She is also a creative writer, published poet, avid hiker, and music-maker.


RCC Environment Leadership Fellow — Elena Hsieh – UC Berkeley

Elena Hsieh is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, double majoring in English and Conservation & Resource Studies, and minoring in Politics, Philosophy, and Law. Within these spheres of interest, she is passionate about environmental litigation, ecological literature, and the preservation of biodiversity. On campus, she is affiliated with environmental and literary student publications including The Leaflet, The Perennial, and the school newspaper the Daily Cal. Additionally, Elena leads monarch conservation research at the Gill Tract Farm and is Berkeley’s Housing and Dining Sustainability Garden Coordinator, tending and harvesting crops from campus gardens to contribute over 125 lbs. of produce annually to local food pantries. In summer 2024, Elena interned with Earthday in Washington, DC. In all her environmental work, Elena explores how environmental initiatives can be pursued through literature, media, and the law. As a second-generation Taiwanese, Elena emphasizes diversity in her environmental efforts by uplifting fellow person of color voices in the interviews she weaves into her literary publications, while hosting gardening workshops that invite historically-oppressed students into green spaces


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Carson Mease Appalachian State

Carson is a senior Sustainable Development major concentrating in Environmental Studies at Appalachian State University, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Boone, North Carolina. Carson will spend the summer working as a farm hand on App State’s Sustainable Development Teaching and Research Farm, where they continue to broaden their knowledge on sustainable agricultural production and the preservation, restoration, and symbiosis of the land. During their trip to Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2024 for the Rachel Carson Council’s Environmental Justice Advocacy Days on Capitol Hill, Carson felt a strong desire to expand their efforts through the sharing of the RCC’s mission to their community in Watauga County, North Carolina.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Shreya Chaudhuri — UC Berkeley

Shreya Chaudhuri is a senior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Environmental Science and Geography and minoring in Global Poverty & Practice and Data Science. Her family is from India, so she grew up seeing inequity in environmental impacts which motivated her at an early age to become involved in environmental justice. Shreya is passionate about supporting Indigenous sovereignty across the world, studying the revival of Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and building equitable climate solutions. She runs a 501c(3) non-profit called Project Planet that carries out decolonial environmental education. One of its main projects is a course at Berkeley called Decolonizing Environmentalism. She also works as a Climate Action Fellow at the Student Environmental Resource Center, where she creates projects on student engagement and equity within UC Climate Policy. On campus, she is also involved with the Students of Color Environmental Collective and a Conservation+Tech Fellowship. This summer, Shreya conducted her senior thesis on her family’s ancestral tea farm in India, studying the Indigenous ecological knowledge present there and modes of climate resilience. Her current work is at the intersection of scientific research, policy, education, and advocacy for climate solutions and uplifting Black and Brown communities globally.


RCC National Environment Fellow — Keira Nakamura – Stanford University

Keira Nakamura is a junior at Stanford University. She is a Biology major and works in the Lab of Organismal Biology, studying the behavioral and neural functions of poison frogs. At Stanford, she is a core member of Fossil Free Stanford, a student-led organization trying to convince Stanford to divest its fossil fuel holdings. She is also a Zero Waste Intern with Stanford’s Office of Sustainability, where she works to accomplish Stanford’s goal of Zero Waste by 2030. In her free time, Keira enjoys crocheting, reading, gardening, and spending time outdoors with her tortoise, Thunder.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow: Shovik Saha

Shovik was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida, and is a third-year student at Florida State University. He is majoring in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with concentrations in Public Administration and Geography. Driven by his desire to foster tangible change, Shovik aspires to attend law school after graduation to become an environmental attorney. With a passion for environmental justice and conservation, Shovik is dedicated to addressing environmental issues through policy and advocacy.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Chiara Grimes – George Mason University

Chiara Grimes is a graduate of Georgetown University earning her Master of Public Administration at George Mason University with a concentration in Environmental Science and Public Policy and has served as an intern for the Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA) Global Programs. Chiara believes we must cultivate and reimagine a culture that respects and finds immense value in our environment simply because it exists; not because of any resource or economic goods it can provide. She has a deep interest in eco-feminist studies and research focusing on Black womanhood, Indigenous autonomy, and their connection to violent colonialist efforts to control land and the environment. Chiara believes a path to gender-equity and justice lies in creating a culture that actively seeks to live in peace with our environment and nurture (not profit from) its life-sustaining qualities. In the future, Chiara wants to continue her work researching how to improve our culture’s relationship with our Earth and its correlation to the creation of progressive, feminist environmentalist policy.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Cassie Varrige – University of Illinois Chicago

Cassie is a second-year graduate student in the University of Illinois Chicago’s Master of Urban Planning and Policy Program, concentrating in environmental planning and spatial planning. She is a proud Midwesterner and passionate about planning cities that support the well-being of people and the planet. Cassie is a teaching assistant with UIC’s Urban Data Visualization Lab, supporting undergraduate and graduate-level courses in GIS and spatial analysis. She is also a research assistant with the Institute of Environmental Science and Policy, supporting a technical assistance project to reduce PFAS contamination in food contact materials at Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and BIPOC-owned businesses. Outside of school, Cassie volunteers with tree equity nonprofits and enjoys spending time in Chicago’s many natural spaces.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Ana Young – Duke University

Ana is a senior at Duke University studying Public Policy with a focus on clean energy and environmental justice, a minor in Journalism and Media, and a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, concentrating on clean and climate tech. Born and raised in Chicago, which has faced its fair share of environmental superstorms, Ana has long understood the importance of adapting our world for climate resilience while supporting and uplifting the voices and opportunities of those who are disproportionately affected by environmental problems. Ana is, passionate about climate resilience and mitigation, and, as a 2023 RCC Stanback Fellow, co-authored the RCC report, Tides Up, about coastal resilience for sea-level rise and a second, Greenwashing, about misleading public relations and lobbying in the biomass industry. In 2024, she has been a Stanback Policy Fellow at Earthjustice advocating for the passing of landmark environmental legislation in New York State and researching the environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining. In her senior year at Duke, Ana is joining a research team focusing on the design and innovation of a clean energy prototype.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Madison Maxwell – North Carolina A&T State University

Madison Maxwell is a senior at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where she studies Biological Engineering with a concentration in natural resources. Born and raised in Greensboro, NC—a major city significantly impacted by food insecurity—Madison has developed a deep passion for environmental justice and food policy. At North Carolina A&T, Madison has initiated numerous community projects including Green Week within the Earth and Environmental Science Club (EESC), an initiative dedicated to educating her peers and community members on the importance of adopting sustainable habits and fostering environmental change through informative and engaging programs. Madison’s commitment to environmental justice began with her volunteering at Peaceful Seeds Farm of Warnersville. There, she assists in growing fresh produce for local families, works on regenerative land projects such as constructing compost systems, and helps the farm transition towards a permaculture-based system. After completing her undergraduate degree, Madison plans to become a Public Policy Advocate in Environmental Justice, supporting black and brown communities in the Southern United States and, eventually, the global South.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Brian Vogt – Miami University

Brian Vogt attends Miami University in the Western Program majoring in Creative Writing and Individualized Studies with a focus on Found Object Art, with an Art Therapy co-major. Brian specializes in transforming trash, waste, secondhand objects, and discarded material into works of art in an effort to destabilize both categories: “waste” and “art.” Driving this creative process is the belief that “trash” and “waste” are words used when an individual or society cannot or refuses to imagine any potential for a given person, place, thing, or action. Brian started creating found object art after his great uncle died, preserving his memory by transforming his possessions into works of art. At Miami, seeing trash littering the campus that Robert Frost once called the “most beautiful campus that ever there was” inspired Brian to create a six foot tall sculpture made almost entirely of litter. Brian has also worked with internationally acclaimed artist Ron Fondaw to build a sculpture out of adobe clay at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and has participated in the Altman Program on Environmental Justice through community advocacy in neighborhoods adjacent to the Chem-Dyne Superfund site in Hamilton, Ohio.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Anna Hyslop – University of Oklahoma

Anna is a junior at the University of Oklahoma studying Economics and Global Energy, Environment, and Resources, with a minor in the Arabic language. During her freshman year, she founded Students for Local Action (SLA), the university’s first organization dedicated to providing students with real-world experience in sustainable policy creation. In the summer of 2024, she interned in the Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions. When not thinking or talking about energy justice, Anna can be found training for her next endurance event, giving unwanted stand-up comedy performances for her friends, or watching the latest free movie on YouTube.


RCC National Environment Leadership Fellow — Dae Borg – Appalachian State

Dae Borg is a sophomore at Appalachian State University studying Sustainable Development with a concentration in Community, Regional, and Global Development with a minor in Journalism. Dae was the founder and President of the Enloe Marine Conservation Club which has hosted stream cleanups in Raleigh, NC. She is an active member of several other environmental organizations in the city and volunteers with Raleigh Parks for invasive species removal and stream cleanups.


RCC National Environment Leadership Presidential Fellow – Molly Herring – University of Santa Cruz

RCC Presidential Fellow Molly Herring is pursuing a Masters in Science Communications from UC Santa Cruz. She graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with a double major in Biology and Global Studies and a minor in Creative Nonfiction. Molly was born in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains and raised between Richmond and the beaches of Sandbridge, Virginia, but has journaled from the kitchen tables and living room floors of host families all over the world. She has been published in Oceanographic MagazineCoastal ReviewThe Marine Diaries, and Cellar Door.


RCC National Environment Leadership Presidential Fellow – Sophie Valkenberg

Sophie Valkenberg is a Master of Environmental Management student at Duke University, concentrating in Community Engagement & Environmental Justice and Ecotoxicology & Environmental Health. A graduate of Loyola College Maryland, she was born in the Netherlands but quickly moved to and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. Coming from a country with a very robust eco-friendly infrastructure initially sparked her interest in environmental studies and sustainable living. She hopes to work in a field that enables her to promote justice and inclusion in environmental work, particularly within communities disproportionately impacted by pollution and suffering negative health effects. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and improving her (very minimal) sewing skills.


RCC National Environment Leadership Presidential Fellow – Chloe Wetzler – Duke University

Chloe Wetzler is a dual Master of Environmental Management and Juris Doctor student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Law School and was a 2024 Stanback Presidential Fellow at the RCC. At Duke, she is the symposium coordinator for the Ocean Policy Working Group and a student researcher for the Nicholas Institute of Environment, Energy, and Sustainability. Chloe is also a member of EarthEcho International’s Youth Leadership Council. Before coming to Duke, she studied Environmental Thought & Practice and Spanish at the University of Virginia. Chloe grew up in Virginia Beach, so she is particularly passionate about coastal and marine ecosystems. Chloe aspires to protect marine biodiversity and make coastal communities more resilient to climate and sea-level rise threats with policy tools.


RCC National Environment Leadership Presidential Fellow – Zoe Kolenovsky – Duke University

Zoe Kolenovsky was a 2024 Stanback Fellow at the RCC and is a junior at Duke University studying Public Policy, Environmental Science and Policy, and Journalism and Media Studies. Originally from New Orleans, she experienced the effects of the climate crisis firsthand throughout her childhood and has been engaged in climate justice work since Hurricane Ida hit her hometown in 2021. Zoe is particularly interested in the role communications media can play in improving climate literacy and uplifting the voices of frontline communities to find policy solutions to environmental problems. She serves as the news editor of The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper, and is also an executive producer of Operation Climate, a student-produced environmental podcast. She was secretary of the Duke chapter of Amnesty International and project lead for a partnership between the Penny Pilgram George Women’s Leadership Initiative and Keep Durham Beautiful, where she worked to produce a sustainability guide for the City of Durham. Zoe received the 2023 Chester P. Middlesworth award for her research paper using archival sources to examine the centuries of race- and class-based discrimination leading up to today’s Cancer Alley in Louisiana.


RCC National Environment Leadership Presidential Fellow – Jackson Ronald – Duke University

Jackson Ronald is a Master of Environmental Management student at Duke University studying Environmental Economics & Policy and Energy in the Environment. He was a 2024 Stanback Fellow at the RCC. Before coming to Duke, Jackson double majored in applied environmental studies and German language & culture studies at Tufts University. Deeply curious and interested in the environment, he is passionate about the intersection of environmental law, indigenous justice and the energy transition. From California, Jackson has seen first-hand the stress that droughts, fires and sea level rise can put on local communities. An active member of Duke Restore’s Eco-cultural team, he helped organize events between Duke and the local Coharie Tribe in North Carolina. His interests include cooking, reading, volleyball and spending time outdoors.


RCC National Environment Leadership Presidential Fellow – Clarissa Casper – Utah State University

Clarissa Casper is studying English Creative Writing as a master’s student at Utah State University. She was born and raised between the Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake in Northern Utah. While living there, she grew to love the stories nature told by observing the flowers, mountain goats, and waterfalls decorating the green slopes near her home. Clarissa has loved birds all her life and enjoys writing about ecosystems through their lens. She is a recent graduate of Utah State with a degree in Journalism and minors in Environmental Studies and English. As an undergraduate, she worked as a reporter for her local newspaper and was published in Salt Lake Magazine.


RCC National Environment Leadership Presidential Fellow – Sabrina Kianni – Duke University

RCC Presidential Fellow Sabrina Kianni is a senior at Duke University studying Psychology on the pre-health track. Born in Washington D.C. and raised in nearby McLean, VA, Sabrina’s passion for environmental health and advocacy sprouted during a middle school trip to Iran, where she noticed the disproportionate effects of climate change. Sabrina has attended climate conferences in Paris, Washington D.C., and Milan, where she spoke one-on-one with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.