Switzer Foundation announces 2009 Fellowships and recent Leadership Grants

Posted by Erin Lloyd on Thursday, November 19 2009


August 13, 2009

CONTACT: Lissa Widoff, Executive Director, Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation
(207) 338-5654 / lissa@switzernetwork.org / www.switzernetwork.org
Erin Lloyd, Program Officer, Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation
(207) 338-5654 / erin@switzernetwork.org

Recognizing the achievements of outstanding environmental leaders with over $610,000 in fellowships and grants.

BELFAST, MAINE, June 10, 2009 –The Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, a 23-year old environmental foundation, today announced the selection of 20 new Switzer Fellows and nine new Switzer Foundation Grant recipients.


Twenty leading environmental scholars were recently chosen from universities in California and New England to receive the Switzer Fellowship, which is one of the nation’s most prestigious academic awards for early-career environmental leaders. Each year, at least 20 promising environmental leaders are awarded $15,000 each from the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation to complete masters and doctoral degrees to advance their skills and develop their expertise to address critical environmental challenges.

“The Switzer Foundation is building a network of leaders with the skills and dedication to address the most challenging environmental issues of our time” explained Lissa Widoff, Executive Director of the Foundation. ”The 2009 Fellows are talented individuals from all sectors – science, ecology, business, law, education and journalism among others. These leaders exemplify our belief that we need individuals working towards environmental improvement in all facets of our society and that to solve complex problems we need cross-sector collaboration.”

Switzer Foundation Board Chair Mark Switzer adds: “The heart of the Switzer Foundation is about supporting and recognizing environmental leadership, and there is an historical need for environmental leaders to step up and shape the future of environmental science, policy and study. Our Fellows are responding to that need. At a time when endowments are challenged, we are pleased to continue as planned with our funding cycles for grants and fellowships.”

The 2009 Switzer Fellows are:

Carolina Balazs – Ph.D, UC Berkeley – Energy and Resource Group: Carolina’s research examines the environmental justice implications of poor water quality. She has worked with the Natural Heritage Institute, and was a Fulbright scholar in Bolivia. She plans to work as a researcher and advocate for safe and affordable drinking water.

Colleen Callahan – MA, UCLA – Urban Planning: Colleen studies transportation planning and environmental policy. She is Manager of Air Quality Policy for the American Lung Association in California, and is a founding board member of the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative. Colleen will work in transportation and energy policy.

Amy Clipp – MPA., Harvard Kennedy School– Environmental Planning and Policy: Amy is a writer and policy maker. Her work focuses on sustainable restoration of Louisiana’s coast. In her program at the Kennedy School, she will concentrate on mediation in land use and public policy decisions. She wrote the 2008 Louisiana Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast that won the National Environmental Professionals’ President’s Award.

Alexa Engelman – J.D./M.P.P., UCLA – Law and Public Policy: Alexa is a joint law/policy student where she focuses on climate change and sustainability. Her background includes working for the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, and for the Natural Resources Defense Council. This fall semester, she will be in Washington, D.C., working for the Obama administration with the Council on Environmental Quality.

Catherine Hare – MS, Sonoma State University – Applied Environmental Biology: Catherine’s project studies the removal of pollutants from municipal wastewater for the City of Santa Rosa, using aquatic plants and algae. She will work to promote policies that easily and effectively purify wastewater while generating energy.

Lisa Hummon – M.EM., Yale University – Conservation Policy and Law: Lisa studies conservation policy and law, specializing in water issues in the western United States. Lisa’s past experience includes seven years with Defenders of Wildlife. She plans to work for a legislative body or a non-profit advocacy organization.

Jason Jay – Ph.D, MIT – Sloan School of Management: Jason researches the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy at the municipal level. He has consulted for the World Bank, businesses and NGOs and his goal is to be on the faculty of a management school teaching organizational change for sustainability.

Ayana Johnson – Ph.D, UC San Diego – Scripps Institute/Marine Biology: Ayana is interested in the science, economics and policy of marine resource management. Her research focuses on the sustainable management of coral reef fisheries in Curacao. Prior to graduate school, Ayana worked as a policy analyst at the EPA in Washington, D.C. She will return to policy work upon completion of her PhD drawing on the natural and social sciences.

Derek Lemoine – Ph.D, UC Berkeley –Energy and Resources Group: Derek’s research investigates factors that influence climate policy, with a focus on low carbon transportation options and economics. Derek’s past experience includes forest mapping in Tennessee, quantifying U.S. material flows for the World Resources Institute and biological fieldwork in Costa Rica and NY.

Michael Marshall – Ph.D, UC Santa Barbara – Geography: Michael is interested in the impacts of climate change on society. His research seeks to improve rainfall forecasts for the most food-insecure regions in sub-Saharan Africa. His post-graduate work will focus on climate forecasting and decision making in developing countries. He was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania and a Fulbright Scholar working on climate change and disease at Lake Victoria.

Amanda Martinez – M.S., MIT – Science Writing, Environmental Journalism: Amanda’s master’s work centers on communicating critical marine environmental issues to a lay audience. Amanda is an award-winning journalist, having served as environment editor for a paper in Santa Cruz County, California and as a technical editor for several university projects. She will continue her journalism career upon completion of her degree.

Frances Moore – M.S., Yale University – Global Change Science and Policy: Fran studies the divergent interests of developed and developing countries for climate change, particularly concerning adaptation funding strategies. Prior to graduate school, Fran worked for the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Her career will focus on international climate policy and negotiations.

Thomas Morrison – Ph.D, Dartmouth College – Conservation Biology: Tom’s research examines the drivers of population decline in migratory wildlife in Tanzania. Tom’s past experience includes studying elephant genetics in Kenya; and giraffe, wildebeest and zebra in Tanzania where he led an Earthwatch Institute research project. He is committed to advocacy and community-based conservation in East Africa.

Matthew Orosz – Ph.D, MIT – Civil and Environmental Engineering: As an engineer with policy training, Matt’s goal is to design infrastructure that balances sustainability with the needs of developing countries. He is a founder of the non-profit, STG International, which provides training for affordable renewable energy technology. He has four years experience in Africa training partners in solar technology.

Kathryn Theiss – Ph.D, University of Connecticut – Ecology: Kathryn’s research in Madagascar focuses on the conservation of native orchids. Kathryn’s past work experience includes working for the Chicago Botanic Garden monitoring rare plants. Her career plan is to stimulate students to engage in local environmental issues in Madagascar.

Randy Turner – M.S., UC Santa Barbara – Environmental Science and Management: Randy is working with Southern California Edison to integrate water use efficiency in the commercial sector. He has worked with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a fish biologist, and is a board member of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. He will work in the water resources field implementing programs that synergize water and energy conservation.

Mehana Vaughan – Ph.D, Stanford University – Social, Cultural Geography/Env. Policy: Mehana’s research is on community-based resource governance, focusing on rural fishing communities near her home in Hawaii. Mehana is a teacher helping to create place-based education programs to cultivate students’ interest in caring for their home land.
She has taught in Massachusetts, Kenya and Zimbabwe, in addition to Hawaii.

Tierra Smiley Wilson – DVM, Tufts University – Conservation Medicine: Tierra focuses on zoo and wildlife medicine. She is researching tuberculosis transmission between elephants, humans and water buffalo in Nepal. Tierra is interested in creating sustainable tourism projects around flagship species, with a special interest in the conservation of great apes and their habitats. She previously worked for the Gorilla Foundation.

Glenn Yeck – J.D., UCLA – Environmental Law: After several years in counterdrug operations as an active duty Naval Intelligence officer, Glenn’s passion for the environment led him into wildlife law enforcement to counteract the black market trade in endangered species. Glenn will use his law degree from UCLA to prosecute wildlife crime and ultimately to influence public policy towards stricter wildlife law violations penalties.

Brenda Zollitsch – Ph.D, U. of Southern Maine – Environmental Policy: Brenda researches the issue of nonpoint source water pollution and the trend towards collaborative implementation of stormwater policy in the U.S. She will pursue a career in higher education teaching environmental policy and guiding practitioners on water pollution issues.

More information on the 2009 class of Switzer Fellows, and the Fellowship program, is available on the Foundation website at http://www.switzernetwork.org/fellowships.taf.


As a complement to the Fellowship program, the Switzer Leadership Grant program provides grants of up to $40,000 to organizations which partner with a Switzer Fellow on a project that aims to directly improve environmental quality. The 2009 Leadership Grantees are:

Children & Nature Network, Santa Fe, NM – $30,000 to hire Switzer Fellow Sara St. Antoine to develop educational content and web resources to further this national effort to connect families with nature and outdoor activities.

Environmental Investigation Agency, Inc., Washington, D.C. - $30,000 continued support for Switzer Fellow Andrea Johnson in her new role as Director of Forest Campaigns, having primary responsibility for the organization’s worldwide campaign against illegal logging.

Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, San Jose, CA - $25,000 to hire Switzer Fellow Dustin Mulvaney to research and document the hazards from production and disposal of solar photovoltaic cells with the goal of shaping public policy for this growing industry.

Solar Energy International, Carbondale, CO - $30,500 to provide capacity-building funds for its partner organization in Mexico, the International Renewable Resources Institute (IRRI), and to provide funds for IRRI to hire Switzer Fellow Alex Eaton as its Director.

UC Berkeley Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, Berkeley, CA - $40,000 to support Switzer Fellow Mike Wilson as Co-Director of the Program in Green Chemistry and Chemicals Policy.

Pinchot Institute for Conservation, Washington, D.C. - $20,000 for continued support of Switzer Fellow Amy Rogers as Research Fellow working on reforestation and community forest-based economic development in Esmeraldas Province, Ecuador.

Maine Department of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Lands, Augusta, ME - $40,000 to hire Switzer Fellow Misha Mytar as a Senior Planner to enhance the community economic development potential of state conservation lands in this rural region of Maine and promoting nature-based tourism as an economic driver.

Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, Hanover, NH - $11,600 to continue support for Switzer Fellow Will Yandik in his role in policy and outreach for the Science Links Carbon Project.

American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY - $40,000 to hire Switzer Fellow Jennifer O’Leary as a consultant to work with the Kenyan Wildlife Service in Mombasa, Kenya to develop management plans for its Marine Protected Areas.

More information on the Switzer Leadership Grant program is available on the Foundation website at http://www.switzernetwork.org/leadership-overview.html.

In addition, the Foundation gave two grants totaling $45,000 under its Collaborative Initiatives Fund. This program provides funds to facilitate collaboration among Switzer Fellows who are working on similar issues in order to leverage their individual and organizational resources to advance progress on an environmental problem. The 2009 Collaborative Initiatives projects are:

UC Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA and Switzer Fellows Dr. Myra Finkelstein (Research Associate, UC Santa Cruz, Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology) and Dr. Katherine Smith (Assistant Professor, Brown University and Senior Research Scientist, Consortium for Conservation Medicine) - $40,000 to develop the PetWatch program, the first science-based educational campaign and consumer’s guide that identifies “Best,” “Worst,” and “Good Alternative” pets from among those animals legally imported in to the U.S.

Aurora Lights, Morgantown, WV and Switzer Fellows Jennifer Osha (Founder and President, Aurora Lights) and Evan Hansen (President, Downstream Strategies) - $5,000 seed grant to produce a Coal River Wind multimedia web site and community guide to organize local wind campaigns.

The Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation is a results-driven family foundation that invests in individuals and organizations that drive positive environmental change. Founded in 1986 the Foundation is a grantmaking organization that mobilizes leaders from diverse disciplines who focus on integrated solutions to environmental problems. Through the Switzer Environmental Fellowship Program and related grants, the Foundation supports a network of 450 Fellows who are leaders in nonprofit, public policy, business, academic and government sectors working to solve today’s environmental challenges.

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