Women's Environmental Institute

Address: WEI P.O. Box 128,
North Branch, MN 55056
Contact Person:
Email: northcircle@w-e-i.org
Phone: 651-583-0705
Website: http://www.w-e-i.org/
Mission: MISSION, OBJECTIVES, STAFF and ADVISORS Mission The Women’s Environmental Institute at Amador Hill, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is an environmental research, renewal and retreat center designed to create and share knowledge about environmental issues and policies relevant to women, children and identified communities especially affected by environmental injustices; to promote organic and sustainable agriculture skill building and ecological awareness; and to promote activism that influences public policy and supports social change. Objectives WEI has six program centers dedicated: • to create knowledge, scholarship and educational materials for individuals or groups working on environmental issues related to women, children, and disproportionately impacted communities • to become an information hub that organizes current research and writing on environmental issues related to women, children, and identified communities • to demonstrate leadership in civic involvement, global responsibility and stewardship around environmental issues at both the local and global level • to provide both on-site and off-site educational outreach in seminars (and eventually distant learning courses) and experiential learning workshops on practical activities related to sustainable agriculture and environmental issues • to develop strong affiliations with local environmental and ecologically-focused groups and secondary and post-secondary institutions to create collaborative programming and projects • to create an institute that will provide a model for environmentally-friendly construction, land stewardship and conservation practices, renewable energy, resource development, and organic food production and processing. WHAT WEI CREATES: A Center for Renewal, Thought, Action A space for meetings and retreats and a renewal center for activists, educators, students, organizations, and citizens working on environmental issues that impact on women, children, and communities disproportionately affected by environmental injustice; training and workshops for social action change. A progressive Rockin' Chair Think Tank to organize and analyze information on current environmental research; provide opportunities for creating research groups on community environmental initiatives and maintain policy development networks and organizations to foster social change and inclusive enviro/feminist political action An Alternative Farm Campus to provide outreach and education on green living, sustainable development, renewable energy, organic food production and to develop environmental and eco-agricultural policies and resources. An Eco-Friendly Community Center to provide a learning space that will model practices of environmentally-friendly construction, land stewardship, environmental conservation, renewable resource development, and organic farming and gardening practices. A peaceful Retreat and Conference Center for guests to rest up and do what they need to do to carry on. WEI STAFF Karen Clark, Executive Director. A progressive Minnesota State legislator for 24 years, public-health nurse and OB-GYN nurse practitioner, community organizer, graduate of the JFK School at Harvard and ovarian cancer survivor of 5 years. Karen’s passionate dedication to environmental justice is reflected in her legislative, community and personal priorities. Karen is a part-time instructor at the U of MN and also at the College of St. Catherine’s Graduate Program of Holistic Health Studies. Jacquelyn Zita, Director of Education and Operations. Prominent women’s studies scholar and educator, Jacquelyn is the former Chair of the Department of Women’s Studies and former Director of Graduate Studies of the U of MN Feminist Studies Ph.D. program. Dr. Zita has a BS in Biology and Chemistry and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Washington University, St. Louis. Formerly President of the National Women’s Studies Association, Jacquelyn brings experience as an educator and institution builder plus her extensive knowledge of women’s biology, women’s health issues, gender and environmental studies. Jacquelyn is also Vice President of the Friends of Wild River State Park. Cecilia Martinez, EJEAC Principal Investigator and Project Coordinator. A scholar, researcher, college professor and a community activist in the Native American, foundation, nonprofit and environmental justice communities, Dr. Martinez is an informed voice on sustainable environmental strategies and practices. Cecilia is a board member and adviser for numerous organizations and foundations including Headwaters Foundation and the North American Water Office. She earned a B.S. in Political Science from Stanford Univerisity, a Masters of Public Administration from New Mexico State University, and a PHD from the University of Delaware, College of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. Jennifer McCauley Oftelie, Executive Assistant, is a local resident new to the area, she has experience with sustainable farming, produce distribution, and community-building. Jenn attained her BS in Health Education from Western Washington University and is a certified Hatha yoga instructor. Josephine Williams, North Circle Project Coordinator supported by Americorps*VISTA. A recent graduate from Macalester College with a B.A. in Geolgoy, Jo spent her year prior to coming to WEI gaining valuable gardening and community-living experience working as a farm intern at Philadelphia Community Farm, an organic vegetable CSA in Osceola, WI, where she now serves on the Community Council. Janelle Sorensen, Children's Environmental Health Consultant, is a seasoned environmental health advocate with extensive experience in public education, communications, policy analysis, program management and strategic development. She has worked with a diverse array of stakeholder groups ranging from nonprofit organizations to school districts to government offices. She is currently working on her Master's Degree in Liberal Studies with a focus on Public Affairs, Environmental Policy and Social Change at the University of Minnesota. She is also the proud parent of two rambunctious young daughters and one lovely, teen-aged stepdaughter. Janelle represents WEI in the Healthy Legacy Collaboration and assists with the EcoAware Project. Hilary Sandall, Volunteer CSA Farm Coordinator. A native of England, Hillary was introduced to organic gardening as a child and has come out of part-time retirement as a psychiatrist to enjoy it once again. She has maintained a professional interest in the importance of good nutrition throughout her career, so the switch into organic food production has only been a step away from cooking and enjoying seasonal food. Aileen Seoane, Grant and Development Coordinator. Aileen has experience in community engagement, development and management with nonprofits, business and philanthropy. Her favorite projects in developmentment include working on start-ups, donor cultivation, corporate and foundation support, sponsorships and legacy programs. Aileen received her BA from Oberline College and is the process of initiation in th e Lukumi faith. OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS Sharon Day, WEI Board Chair, is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, an artist, musician, educator and community activist. Sharon directed the Ogitchidag Theater Project for youth and created the Manidoowahdak Odena Housing Village for families living with HIV/AIDS in Minneapolis. Sharon has years of executive director experience and is particularly skilled in creating collaborations of people from diverse backgrounds to work on social justice issues and ensuring Native American leadership opportunities. Sharon directs the Indigenous Women’s Programming at WEI. Hattie Bonds, WEI Treasurer, is Assistant Principal at Patrick Henry High School and Founding Board Member of Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota. Hattie is active in education and civil rights issues, including serving on numerous boards dedicated to educational advancement for low-income and students of color. Hattie has a B.S. in Elementary and Special Education from Lincoln University, Jefferson, Missouri; an M.A. in Educational Administration from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, Missouri; a Post-M.A. Secondary Science Certificate from the University of Missouri at Columbia, Missouri; and Doctorial courses from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Alondra Espejel, WEI Board Secretary, majored in Management, Popular Education and Chicano Studies at the University of Minnesota. She has over six years of community and academic experience with the Latino and immigrant communities, including work with the U of MN La Raza Student Cultural Center, Chicano Studies Support Group (to rebuild the Chicano Studies Department), the General College Truth Movement, La Escuelita and the Girls Getting Ahead leadership program with WomenVenture and the Page Foundation. Currently she is Board Member of the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network and she leads the Voices of Immigrants Changing and Education Society Program. Collie Graddick, Board Member and North Circle Advisory, an Agricultural Consultant with the MN Department of Agriculture(MDA) managing the MDA/ US Environmental Protection Agency’s Urban Pesticide Educational Initiative program. Formerly a regulatory advisor with MDA’ Seed, Noxious Weed and Pesticide Regulatory Program, Collie has worked with MDA for 12 years. Previously a County Extension Agent in Auburn, Alabama, and a marketing coordinator at Cargill-Nutrena, Collie earned a BS in Plant Science from Fort Valley State College in Georgia and an MS in Plant and Soil Science from Tuskegee University in Alabama. Shalini Gupta, retiring Board Member, is a Senior Energy Associate with the Izaak Walton League of America. She conducts Midwest regional policy research and advocacy on renewable energy, energy-efficiency and climate neutral energy strategies. She previously served as the Community Energy Project Manager for The Green Institute in Minneapolis. Shalini has a Master’s of Environmental Policy and Management from Yale University and a BS in Geology and Geophysical Sciences from the University of Chicago. She is on the boards of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice and Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota and is a 2006-2008 National Environmental Leadership Program Fellow. Robert Lilligren, Board member, is serving his second term as the Council Member representing three inner-city neighborhoods (Phillips, Whittier, and Stevens Square) on the Minneapolis City Council, where he chairs the Committee on the Whole. Robert serves on numerous boards including the Empowerment Zone Board, Minneapolis Convention Center Board, Midtown Community Works Partnership, Minneapolis American Indian Center Capital Campaign Committee, Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, OutFront Minnesota Board Member, Native Amercan Community Development Institute (Charter Member) and is a founding Board member of bikeon.org. An avid environmentalist and bicyclist, Robert is a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and is the first American Indian to serve in the Minneapolis City Council. Becky Lourey, Board Member, is a retired Minnesota Senator now working as a farmer, writer, and small business owner. Senator Lourey provided 16 years of leadership in the Minnesota State Legislature, first in the House and then in the Senate where she was an effective champion for numerous economic and social justice issues including affordable health care, sustainable agriculture, civil rights for all, disability issues, affordable housing, Native American rights and the environment. The mother of 12 children, Becky Lourey is known for her articulate grasp of many issues and her ability to forge alliances with diverse groups. She and her husband are owners of a small rural business that provides child care and living wages for their 50 employees. Currently, she is working on a book about global sustainability and world peace. Fardin Oliaei, Board Member, has a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences, MS in Biology and BS in Chemistry. She is currently the Lead Scientist and Coordinator of Emerging Contaminants at the MN Pollution Control Agency. Fardin is respected nationally and internationally for her scientific research, her writings and lectures on air pollutants, persistent bioaccumulative toxic pollutants, PBDEs, flame-retardants, dioxin, plus other newly identified environmental contaminants. Her emphasis includes their impact on human health and ecological risks associated with toxic exposure. Fardin has taught at several Minnesota Colleges and Universities and currently serves on the Board of the Forum of Women in the Environmental Field and on the Advisory Group on Fate and Exposure Modeling for the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). Chela Vasquez, Board Member, has a Ph.D. in Environmental Science. Currently, Chela works as Campaign Coordinator at Pesticide Action Network North America. In her recent job as Development Coordinator with Centro Campesino she wrote grants and organized farmworkers on human, civil, and workers' rights in South Central Minnesota. At Centro Campesino she helped pass state legislation strengthening labor law enforcement for migrant workers in Minnesota. Her previous work at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy focused on international genetic resources; and at Minnesota Water Alliance she worked on preventing water privatization in Minnesota. WEI ADVISORS Barbra Wiener, WEI Development Committee Advisor. Barbara is the founder of the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which provides support, information, referral, and advocacy to women with cancer and their caregivers. Barbra also serves on numerous foundation and community boards. Ms. Wiener earned her M.A. in Child Development, Pacific Oaks College, Pasadena, California. Peg Thomas, Finance and Budget Advisor: a partner with Strategeries: Nonprofit Business Directions, has years of Executive Director and CFO experience with nonprofits and foundations. Peg has helped build many national and local initiatives and was a Founding Board Member of WEI and it’s first Board Chair. Ms. Thomas earned her M.P.A. from Harvard University. Steven Lassiter, Chief Financial Officer at Greater Minneapolis Day Care Association, Open Cities Health Clinic and also a partner with Strategeries: Nonprofit Business Directions, has many years of CFO experience and community service, including being the former CFO of Open Cities Health Clinic; Steven is a graduate of Yale University and has a Masters Degree from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business.