About the Team

Partner organizations meet in Montpelier to discuss the project

Dr. Bindu Panikkar, University of Vermont

Bindu is an Assistant Professor at the Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. Dr. Panikkar work at the intersections of Environmental Health, Environmental Justice, and Science, Technology & Society Studies. She has been working on environmental justice issues since 2005 starting with her doctoral research funded by an Environmental Justice grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health exploring the occupational health disparities among immigrant populations in Somerville, MA. She has coordinated multiple translational research activities for the Children’s Environmental Health Center (Brown), Superfund Research Program (Brown), Contested Illness Research Group (Brown), Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (Northeastern), Arctic Institute of North America (University of Calgary) and Tufts Community Research Center. Her work has addressed issues of governance of risks within emerging contaminants, technoscientific projects, and toxic exposures at work and in environmental justice communities. 

Shaina Kasper, Community Organizer for Toxics Action Center

Shaina has been the Vermont State Director with Toxics Action for the past five years. Since joining the staff in 2014, she has worked with nearly 20 community groups throughout Vermont to clean up hazardous waste sites, and promote clean water, safe energy, and zero waste. She has worked on campaigns for housing justice reform, raising the minimum wage, earned sick time, and fossil fuel divestment in New Mexico, Minnesota, and Massachusetts before returning to her home. Shaina is also involved with Movimento Cosecha, which fights for undocumented immigrants, My Sister’s Keeper, an intersectional feminism project of Black Lives Matter VT, and more.

Jennifer Rushlow, Associate Dean at Vermont Law School

Jennifer Rushlow is the Associate Dean for Environmental Programs and Director of the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School.  Dean Rushlow has legal expertise in a wide range of environmental issues, including climate change, agriculture, transportation, and environmental justice.  Formerly a senior partner at the Conservation Law Foundation, she has successfully litigated landmark climate law cases and has worked on clean transportation and electric vehicle policy, renewable energy policy, and land use issues throughout New England.

Kesha Ram, Senior Fellow at the Center for Whole Communities

Kesha has served eight years in the Vermont Legislature from 2008 to 2016. She brings over a decade of knowledge and relationship-building in the Northern New England environmental justice space. Her review of Vermont environmental justice concerns circa 2008 culminated in a 100-page thesis that remains one of the only comprehensive IRB-approved interview-based studies of its kind. Ram also has unique policy experience as former Vice Chair of House Natural Resources & Energy Committee. She was the Civic Engagement Specialist for the City of Burlington, working with housing and land conservation organizations to advance community-led, equitable development. Currently, she is facilitating discussions on access to capital in rural, distressed communities in Vermont and facilitating gatherings on equity in service delivery with municipalities like the City of Winooski, Vermont’s most multicultural city.

Sandrine Kibuey, Director of the Vermont Mobile Home Program

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Sandrine Kibuey is the Director of the Vermont Mobile Home and VT Tenants Programs at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO). She also manages CVOEO Asylum Seekers Assistance Program (ASAP) and supports the CVOEO New Americans Initiative that focuses on the implementation of proactive, systematic and integrated efforts to reach out to and serve New Americans.

Prior to her position at CVOEO, Sandrine was a Project Manager in Cameroon for VSO International where she provided project turn-around expertise and designed and initiated multiple projects focused on the health improvement and development of rural communities of the North region. Sandrine holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Kinshasa-DRC, and an MS in International Community Economic of Development from Southern New Hampshire University.

Partner Organizations

 The Vermont chapter of the Toxics Action Center has engaged with 100+ community groups facing pollution threats in their neighborhoods throughout Vermont over its 18-year history in the state, including lending community support to North Bennington Neighbors fighting PFAS water poisoning. This work led to an agreement between the state and the local company to provide water to many of the affected residents. 

 Center for Whole Communities has 15 years of experience convening diverse stakeholders working at the intersection of Environment and Justice. CWC’s approach was recently noted in Scientific American for its work to engage low-income and underserved communities in addressing urban heat island impacts in Phoenix, Arizona.

The CVOEO Mobile Home Program housed within the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity serves one of the most underserved communities—Vermont’s 246 mobile home parks and 7,149 lots over the span of decades.

The Environmental program at the University of Vermont is one of the oldest environmental studies programs in the country, since 1972 it has been serving as a center for innovative thinking and interdisciplinary learning on the global and local environment by advocating and inspiring environmentally and socially just sustainable activities and ways of thinking.

. The Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic of Vermont Law School (VLS) has more than a decade of experience representing EJ communities across the country, ensuring that laws protecting health and the environment are properly interpreted, implemented, and enforced to prevent and abate environmental problems.

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