About the Team

The REJOICE team meets every week to talk about our work. Here you can read about our leaders and the organizations who collaborate closely on the REJOICE 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. Her research career focuses on environmental health, community based research, environmental policy, natural resources, Arctic environment and health, environmental health social movements, and environmental justice.

Shaina Kasper, Community Organizer for Toxics Action Center

Shaina Kasper is the Vermont and New Hampshire State Director of Toxics Action Center, a New England-wide non-profit based in Boston that organizes with communities on the frontlines of local environmental and health threats. At Toxics Action Center, she helps local community groups to clean up hazardous waste sites and promote clean water, safe energy, and zero waste.

Marianne Engelman Lado, Visiting Professor at Vermont Law School

Marianne leads Vermont Law School and Yale School of Public Health’s Environmental Justice Clinics. She previously served as senior partner and Chair of the Environmental Health Practice Group at Earthjustice, focusing on toxics, pesticides, waste, the health impacts of industrial agriculture, civil rights enforcement, and the effects of environmental contamination on vulnerable and overburdened populations. 

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. 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.

The 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 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 Justice 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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