PCL Board of Directors
The PCL Board of Directors is a fundamental part of PCL’s success. Lead by chair Graham Brownstein, the Board has contributed to the funding of PCL projects, programs, and events, and has participated in PCL’s decision-making process. Our Board is made up of a diverse set of individuals, spanning many ages, ethnicities, and fields of experience.
Doug Carstens – President
Doug Carstens is an environmental attorney and an activist and advocate for the protection of the environment, natural resources, and addressing climate change. He is the managing partner of the environmental plaintiff’s law firm Chatten-Brown, Carstens & Minteer, LLP which was founded by PCL past-president and longtime board member Jan Chatten-Brown. Doug has worked closely with the Planning and Conservation League to review legislation, give guidance on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) related issues, and has been an on-the-ground advocate for an array of environmental concerns. In addition to bringing together coalitions, writing articles, and talking to the press, Doug has also facilitated CEQA workshops throughout California with the PCL Foundation to ensure communities can participate effectively in the environmental review process. Doug worked with environmental justice advocates in Los Angeles in an effort that ultimately culminated in the public acquisition of a large site in northeast Los Angeles for preservation. He is especially proud of such park advocacy and, along with Jan Chatten-Brown, his firm Chatten-Brown, Carstens & Minteer has also helped bring about the public acquisition of parklands in the Rio De Los Angeles State Park, the State Historic Park in downtown Los Angeles, and additions to the Kenneth Hahn State Park in Baldwin Hills. Doug was also a board member and President of the Sierra Nevada Alliance. Doug brings experience, effectiveness, and energy to the table. In 2011, Doug was the proud recipient of PCL’s Carla Bard Award for Individual Achievement. He looks forward to working with PCL to promote environmental protection, environmental justice, and quality of life in California in the future.
Jen McGraw – Past President
Jen McGraw is the Director of Sustainability Innovation at the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). Jen joined CNT in 1999 and leads CNT’s strategy to promote sustainable anti-poverty solutions for communities and manages CNT’s West Coast office. Jen has worked to promote urban sustainability in the areas of climate change, transportation, energy, stormwater, air pollution, and household cost of living.
Jen has conducted greenhouse gas (GHG) research for the Clinton Foundation, Chicago Climate Action Plan, National Academies, Presidential Climate Action Plan, and many communities, and she has advised the development of national and international GHG protocols. Jen was the lead staff member and manager in developing the Memphis Blueprint for Prosperity.
Jen has a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Graham Brownstein – Secretary / Past President
Graham has been a community organizer and policy advocate for 23 years, with experience on campaigns and issues relating to the environment, housing and community development, labor, public health, and infrastructure.
After receiving his BA in Environmental Studies and American Studies in 1996, Graham worked for six years as Director of Community Organizing and Outreach for The Utility Reform Network (TURN), a statewide utility consumer advocacy organization based in San Francisco. Graham left TURN in 2002 to pursue a JD at the University of California at Davis School of Law, with a focus on administrative, regulatory and environmental law and policy. Upon completing his law degree in 2005, Graham became Executive Director at ECOS, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, where he spent five years augmenting the organization’s internal and political resources and guiding ECOS efforts across the Sacramento region on land use and smart growth, transportation and air quality, habitat and agricultural conservation, and climate change.
Graham left ECOS in 2010 and became State Policy Director at TransForm. After leaving TransForm in 2012, Graham co-founded and became the Chief Operating Officer for a California corporation working to bring an environmentally friendly and cost-effective water treatment technology to market.
Graham is honored to serve on the PCL board and looks forward to helping the organization advance major policy reforms, particularly in the areas of land use and climate.
Sage Sweetwood – Treasurer, President Emeritus
Sage Sweetwood is a retired Healthcare entrepreneur who founded one of the nation’s first PPO’s and was a key executive in a five-person health care start-up that grew into a BusinessWeek Top 1000 company. Earlier in his career, he was a management consultant and a medical researcher with several published journal articles.
Sage has been active in community affairs for over 40 years. He has served as a mayor, a California Coastal Commissioner, and a regional council of governments board member. Sage also chaired a California Assembly Blue Ribbon Task force on Regional Government. He founded COOL, a business and community alliance, that stopped attempts to drill near shore oil wells off the coast of San Diego. Sage has been a long time board member of the Planning and Conservation League.
Sage received his BA degree in Engineering from University of California at San Diego and his MS degree in Management from MIT.
Stephanie Cadena, Vice President
Stephanie is a regional environmental planner working with the Gateway Cities Council of Governments in her home of Southeast Los Angeles. Stephanie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She began her career and interest in sustainability and environmental planning in the central coast, completing a sustainability assessment of her local community. Upon graduation, she enrolled in the Local Government Commission’s CivicSpark Program where she served 11-months as a Climate Fellow for various municipalities in the southeast L.A. region, working to build capacity for energy projects and climate planning initiatives in disadvantaged communities. Her aspirations include planning for a sustainable nexus of urban land use & transportation and engaging in regional conservation planning for California’s most impacted wildlife and natural habitat areas. Stephanie is the youngest member of the Planning and Conservation League. She is continuing her work in the L.A. region, advancing capacity and resources for communities most in need and helping cities fill gaps in their environmental planning efforts.
Kevin Johnson – Vice President
Kevin Johnson is a CEQA Attorney and civil litigator with law offices in Carlsbad, California. He has been a member of the PCL Board of Directors since 1987 and serves on a number of PCL Board Committees. He is a 1980 graduate of the University of California, Davis Law School and holds the coveted “AV” Professional Rating from Martindale Hubbell. Mr. Johnson’s law practice emphasizes representation of national, state, regional and local environmental organizations and citizens groups.
David Mogavero – Vice President, President Emeritus
David Mogavero is one of the most experienced practitioners and advocates of ecological building, planning, and infill development, and land use/ transportation policy.
His commitment to human-based architecture, the revitalization of existing neighborhoods, economic and ecological sustainability of communities, and participation in the planning and design process by end-users is well-known and recognized within professional and citizen communities.
Mr. Mogavero has actively lectured, written and advocated for environmentally sound urban development, including infill and higher density, transit and pedestrian-oriented development. Through his professional practice and tenure as a board member and President of the Environmental Council of Sacramento and The Planning and Conservation League, he has facilitated the widespread adoption of these principles in many projects and communities throughout California.
Elisabeth M. Brown, PhD is a biologist and science writer on the Laguna Greenbelt Board in Orange County. An embryologist by training, her thesis topic at UCI explored coordinated hatching behavior in California Quail. Elisabeth created the public access program in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, and still teaches the Naturalist Training course at Saddleback College for would-be park docents. She has written trail guides, an OC field guide, and educational brochures for wilderness-adjacent neighborhoods. Her monthly nature columns ran in local newspapers for 20 years. Elisabeth’s involvement in managing local wildlands has included founding roles in the Nature Reserve of OC and the Coastal Greenbelt Authority.
Judith Corbett is the co-developer of Village Homes, a model for sustainable development created in the late seventies. She went on to found the Local Government Commission, and served as its Executive Director — for 35 years helping local elected officials implement forward-thinking transportation, land use, water, air quality, solid waste, public health, economic, and equity programs and policies in their communities. She has authored or co-authored three books on sustainable development and written or edited multiple guidebooks and fact sheets for local governments on sustainability issues. Her leadership toward the creation of the nationally-recognized Ahwahnee Principles forsaw the development of the Smart Growth movement.
Caroline Farrell is the Executive Director of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment based out of CRPE’s Delano office. For over 14 years she has assisted low income communities and communities of color in the south San Joaquin Valley and throughout the country in their struggle for environmental justice. She quickly established a reputation as one of the Valley’s foremost environmental justice advocates, going toe-to-toe with agricultural polluters from Fresno to Bakersfield. Caroline has represented low income communities and communities of color on issues related to dairy development in the Central Valley, hazardous waste facilities, land application of biosolids, and land use planning issues.
Caroline serves on the Steering Committee for the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, the Steering Committee for the California Environmental Justice Alliance, on the Impact Fund’s Grant Advisory Committee and on the Board of Directors for Communities for a Better Environment, the Act for Women and Girls in Visalia, as well as the Planning and Conservation League.
Chanell Fletcher is the Associate Director of ClimatePlan, Chanell leads campaign and research efforts to achieve the ClimatePlan network’s shared policy goals. Previously, as Senior California Policy Manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Chanell worked with state agencies and the state legislature to support safe walking and bicycling for children and families, especially in lower-income communities throughout California. Prior to that, Chanell was ClimatePlan’s Policy and Engagement Manager, supporting their statewide network and helping lead state and regional campaigns on transportation funding and regional planning. Chanell began her career as an intern in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, analyzing the federal transportation bill, MAP-21, connecting it to states’ performance and funding needs. Chanell received her Masters in Public Administration from San Francisco State University and studied history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Ellison Folk is a partner with Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, a law firm that specializes in land use and environmental law. Ellison represents community groups, public agencies, and environmental organizations on a wide range of environmental and land use issues, including strategies for building decarbonization, CEQA, the California Coastal Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and general plan and zoning law. Ellison represented the City of
Oxnard before the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission its successful effort to oppose the location of a natural gas fired power plant on the beach in Oxnard. She has also developed successful legal strategies for phasing out natural gas infrastructure in new and existing development. Ellison graduated from Princeton University and received her JD and Masters in City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.
The research of urban sociologist Dr. Jesus Hernandez is dedicated to understanding social problems that affect community cohesion, neighborhood development, and quality of life. His research places a priority on the dynamics between urban governance, private enterprise and the practice of community economic development. His primary focus is on how these associations can either create safe, sustainable communities or produce problems of disparate impact and uneven economic growth that interrupt local efforts towards neighborhood stabilization. The urgency to connect neighborhoods to policy, planning and funding resources resulted in JCH Research, a consulting firm he created to provide flexibility in meshing academic research and macro-scale urban policy to the on-the-ground practice of sustainability and climate change at the neighborhood scale. His research approach prioritizes the neighborhood as an important unit of analysis and emphasizes neighborhood-scale economic development and revitalization in ways that directly address racial/spatial wealth gaps and disparate public investment patterns.
David Keller brings his love for social and environmental justice, public engagement and political activism to his work. He is currently the Bay Area Director for Friends of the Eel River, working on dam removal, salmonid fisheries and watershed restoration, resolving inter-basin water transfer conflicts, and helping to transform the defunct North Coast Railroad’s rail line to the Great Redwood Trail. He’s been a Board member of Sonoma County Conservation Action, a regional environmental advocacy, voter engagement and canvassing organization, and the founder and director of the Petaluma River Council.
David was an elected member of the Petaluma City Council, pioneering the first adoption of form-based building codes (Smart Codes) for downtown redevelopment. He led the defeat of the first full privatization of a municipal wastewater treatment plant, resulting in a city-owned, created wetlands treatment facility instead. He advocated for ratepayer protections during the formation of an early community choice aggregation (SCP). He’s also been a member of the Bolinas Fire Protection District Board of Directors, a community mediator and trainer for Marin County, and a member of the Bolinas Lagoon Technical Advisory Committee.
He is a manufacturer of specialized woodworking tools (the Keller Dovetail System) and was a furniture maker and carpenter. He holds a BA in Psychology and Sociology, cum laude, from the City College of New York, and did his graduate studies in Social Psychology at the University of Michigan.
Sharmila is a senior planning and environment manager for WSP with nearly two decades of progressive urban transportation and environmental planning experience, based in the firm’s San Francisco office. She managed and led a number of environmental reviews for the region’s key transportation efforts. Her background is in urban and regional planning and she is passionate about transit and sustainability.
Eileen is an attorney and environmental advocate in the San Francisco Bay Area with a lifelong passion for protection and conservation of the natural world. Eileen studied environmental and public interest law at University of San Francisco School of Law, and spent the early days of her legal career working with San Francisco BayKeeper, Earthjustice’s International Program, and representing local and indigenous communities in their CEQA, NEPA, and Clean Water Act challenges to industrial pollution and land use decisions. She was appointed appellate counsel for indigent youth and adult offenders in the Fifth, Second, and Sixth District Courts of Appeal and before the California Supreme Court. In her current practice, Eileen litigates employment discrimination and labor suits, and advises small and large organizations on compliance with employment laws. She is an avid trail runner and hiker, certified yoga instructor, and a Rescue and Response Volunteer with the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.
Phoebe Seaton is the Co-Founder, Co-Director, and the Legal Director of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.
Phoebe, a native Californian, attended the University of California at Berkeley, where she received her B.A. She then spent time in Guatemala, working to address human rights violations, and went on to complete her J.D. at the University of California at Los Angeles. Phoebe joined CRLA, Inc. following law school and worked at the organization’s Delano office prior to launching the Community Equity Initiative, a program designed to address critical infrastructure and service deficits in low income, unincorporated communities in California. In 2013, Phoebe co-founded Leadership Counsel with Veronica Garibay also on PCL’s Board. Phoebe is based in Sacramento and leads Leadership Counsel’s state-level policy work.
Denny created Move LA in 2007 to bring together business, labor and environmental leaders and organizations with the goal of raising significant new funding for LA County’s transit system. This coalition helped lead the campaign for the Measure R sales tax, and proved to be a powerful force in getting Measure R on the 2008 ballot and winning its passage, with the result that LA has embarked on an ambitious build-out of its transportation system. Previously Denny served on the Santa Monica City Council, including one term as mayor, during which time he initiated the revitalization of the Third Street Promenade. He wrote much of the land use policy for Santa Monica’s downtown, emphasizing pedestrian amenities, mixed-use development, and effective transit access — before these policies became known as “smart growth.” Denny was also executive director of the Coalition for Clean Air, and began his career by founding Santa Monicans for Renters Rights in the late ’70s, a progressive community coalition that has held a city council majority in Santa Monica for 24 of the last 30 years.
Beth Pratt – NWF
Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, the California Director for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), has worked in environmental leadership roles for over twenty-five years, and in two of the country’s largest national parks: Yosemite and Yellowstone. Before joining NWF in 2011, she worked on sustainability and climate change programs for Xanterra Parks & Resorts in Yellowstone as its Director of Environmental Affairs. Prior to her role in Yellowstone, for nine years Beth served as the Vice President/CFO for the non-profit Yosemite Association (now Yosemite Conservancy) in Yosemite National Park. Beth graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Boston with bachelor’s degrees in management and biological anthropology, and a minor in marketing. She also obtained an MBA from Regis University in Denver, and earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED AP credential.
Beth serves on the board of the non-profits Outdoor Afro and Save the Frogs, and she has trained with Vice President Al Gore as a member of his Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps. Her conservation work has been featured by The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, BBC World Service, CBS This Morning, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and NPR. Her new book, When Mountain Lions are Neighbors: People and Wildlife Working It Out In California, was published by Heyday Books in 2016.
Les Welsh – NWF
Les Welsh is the Regional Representative for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Les grew up among the hardwood forests of the Great Lakes and began his career in conservation advocacy by co-founding the regional office of Greenpeace USA in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His leadership at Greenpeace resulted in establishing long-lasting working relationships with Mohawk, Lakota and other First Nations tribal leaders struggling to protect intact ecosystems on ancestral sacred lands. Prior to joining NWF in 2010, Les served as Conservation Director and then Executive Director at LightHawk in Seattle, WA, and as Executive Director at Pacific Whale Foundation in Kehei, Maui. As Regional Representative, Les works with each of our regional affiliate organizations: the Association of Northwest Steelheaders in Oregon, the Planning and Conservation League in California, the Renewable Resources Coalition in Alaska, and the Conservation Council for Hawai’i to build capacity, effectiveness and collaborative state power.