Women’s Voices Board + Staff

Our Board of Directors

AnnBlakeDr. Ann Blake / Alameda, CA

Co-Chair

Ann Blake is an independent consultant working with governments, occupational health, public health and environmental advocates to find viable alternatives to toxic chemicals in manufacturing and consumer products. Dr. Blake’s work covers toxics reduction strategies from product content screening and environmentally preferable purchasing to drafting local, national and international legislation and chemicals policies. Dr. Blake has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and a Ph.D. in molecular genetics and neural development from the University of Oregon.  Dr. Blake grew up in South East Asia, where her parents were university professors in economics and sociology. In her spare time, she and her husband like to cook with ingredients from the local farmers markets in Northern California. Ann is also studying music theory, vocal performance, and jazz improvisation, and composing.

ChinAllison Chin / Leesburg, VA

Allison Chin is a social justice and environmental activist. She developed her love and respect for the outdoors in her youth, hiking in Sequoia Kings Canyon.  She works with a variety of organizations to fight for everyone’s right to clean air, clean water, and a safe and healthy environment in which to thrive. She has led over 200 outings so others can learn to explore, enjoy, and be inspired to protect their homes, work places, communities, and special places. Allison has led numerous initiatives in both grassroots and national leadership roles within the Sierra Club, including service on its Board of Directors from 2007 – 2013 and as president for three of those years.  She has been a steady advocate for creating a culture in which people of all backgrounds feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued.  Allison joins a coalition of board members of color committed to strengthening their respective organizations with greater equity, inclusion, and diversity. Allison is a retired molecular cell biologist and earned her BA from the University of California in San Diego and her PhD at the University of Southern California.  Dr. Chin worked in biotechnology and led multidisciplinary domestic and international project teams focused on developing biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and chronic degenerative diseases.  In her free time, Allison and her husband enjoy growing their own food and cooking.  She loves exploring trails – new and old – and honing her spoon carving skills!

Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman / New York, NY

Board Secretary

Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman is the Assistant Director of Public Housing and Health and the New York City Department of Health.  Prior to that, she was the Director of Environmental Health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice based in New York city. Prior to joining the WE ACT team, Ogonnaya worked at Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health as a Research Associate and Instructor. While working in this capacity she taught classes and advised students in the Health Geoinformatics program. Her research there focused on environmental health service delivery in New Mexico, collaborating with local Tribal communities on preparedness, pan flu and preparedness training for public health professionals and understanding medical products donations in Ghana. The research in her early career focused on gaining skills to bridge the gap between qualitative and quantitative research to improve public health practice.  As an undergrad at DePaul University, Ms. Dotson Newman pursued a degree in environmental science focusing on the historical implications of place and space on the South Side of Chicago. Her desire to use a variety of research methods to translate science for communities of color and low income has remained at the center of her interest for a number of years.  After completing her degree she went on to pursue a Masters in Public Health.  As an MPH student she conducted research on environmental health service delivery in Zambia, while teaching courses and developing a curriculum in Environmental Health and Science at Zambia Adventist University.

Dr. Sally EdwardsDr. Sally Edwards / Lowell, MA

Dr. Sally Edwards is a senior research associate at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.  She directs the Sustainable Products Initiative, which promotes the development of safer and greener products through engaging stakeholders and conducting research that can spark innovative solutions.  Sally facilitates the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council’s Retailer Leadership Council.  Its mission is to promote safer chemicals, materials and products across retail supply chains.  She is a co-founder of the Chemical Footprint Project, which benchmarks corporate chemicals management systems and publicly recognizes leading companies.  Sally has over 25 years of experience in environmental health, including 14 years at the US EPA in Massachusetts and Alaska.  Sally holds a MS in Environmental Health Science from Harvard University and a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University. She completed her doctorate in Work Environment at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Her book, Beyond Child’s Play: Sustainable Product Design in the Global DollMaking Industry was published in 2009. Sally is an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and provides consulting services to businesses, NGOS, and communities to support their environmental sustainability efforts.

BetsyBetsy Hands / Oak Park, IL

Board Treasurer

Betsy Hands currently works at Friends of the Chicago River as the Director of Outreach and Community Relations.  She has 20 years of experience in a variety of nonprofit and leadership positions.  Early in her career, Betsy worked in environmental and outdoor education and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa.  After the Peace Corps, she turned her attention to community organizing and economic development in Minneapolis and Missoula. For over five years, she worked Homeword, a non-profit community housing development corporation, as Program Manager and Executive Director, and made a strong case for incorporating green building principles into all housing. She worked with the Western Governors’ Association and Governor Brian Schweitzer to analyze policies on renewable energy and transmission development in western states and then worked with Western Environmental Law Center to further their clean energy agenda. Betsy was a three-term Montana State Representative and served on the Natural Resources, Local Government, State Administration, Water Policy and Audit Committees. She returns to her roots after living 12 years in Montana. Over the years, she has developed her passion in educating young adults, empowering women, and fostering civic engagement.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Michigan in Social Science with a focus on sustainable development and her Master’s of Science at the University of Montana in Environmental Studies. 

Karla JamesKarla James / Oakland, CA

Karla James is the Director of Finance and Operations for the National Center for Youth Law. Prior to that she was the chief financial officer and chief operating officer at the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, a nonprofit that supports organization working for public health, consumer and environmental protection. She also served as at the program director for several grantmaking funds at the Foundation including the Consumer Products Fund, the Northern California Environmental Grassroots Fund, the Consumer Privacy Fund, and oversaw fiscally sponsored projects. Her experience in small business management includes founding and managing a whitewater rafting company in Missoula, Montana. She previously taught high school and has an extensive volunteer background with grassroots social and environmental nonprofits, including Copwatch, a police accountability organization in Berkeley, California.

Ana Pardo / Raleigh, NC

Ana Pardo is the campaign and communications planner for the Workers’ Rights Project of the North Carolina Justice Center. Prior to joining the Justice Center, Ana coordinated policy and public education campaigns at Toxic Free North Carolina on subjects ranging from federal toxics reform to farmworkers’ rights. Ana has a background in community organizing and journalism, and earned a B.S. in Botany from North Carolina State University. Ana enjoys urban farming, singing with her five-piece vintage jazz combo and going on road trips with her dog.

Tamara Toles-O-LaughlinTamara Toles-O’Laughlin / Washington, DC

Tamara Toles-O’Laughlin is an environmental health and justice advocate that hails from Brooklyn, New York. Most recently, she served as the head of Energy Communications at the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) in Annapolis, Maryland. Prior to relocating to the DC Metro area she served as the Senior Law Clerk to the Honorable Douglas A. Brady, and the (retired) Senior Sitting Judge Julio A. Brady at the Superior Court of the US Virgin Islands on St. Croix. Tamara graduated from the Vermont Law School in 2009, with a Juris Doctor and Masters of Environmental Law and Policy programs. The defining characteristic of her budding career has been a desire to work in public service, with specific attention to environmentally focused community and government relations work. She has been fortunate to hold positions with the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, The Environmental Protection Agency, the Center on Race, Poverty and Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, among others. Tamara is committed to environmental advocacy work specifically for the poor and chronically underserved, and has worked for over fifteen years to promote the principles of environmental justice, with particular attention to community capacity building, mobilization, equity of enforcement, and environmental health. Her hobbies include travel, yoga, and reading boring books about politics and neuroscience, and subsequently writing diatribes about what she reads.

Marrya Torrez Picture WVEMarya Torrez / Washington, DC

Marya Torrez is an attorney based in Washington, DC. She has been a social and environmental justice advocate for more than twenty years. She has worked at a number of nonprofit organizations including most recently as a reproductive justice advocate at the National Partnership for Women & Families, where she strove to ensure comprehensive health coverage for women and girls and, before that, at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Prior to moving to Washington, DC, Marya led programs in an organization serving marginalized youth in Santa Barbara, CA. Marya is currently an attorney-advisor to the DC Office of Administrative Hearings.

Marya has published a number of law review articles on the public health, environmental, and ethical implications of using animals for food. She is a member of the Community Advisory Board of the Teen Alliance for Prepared Parenting, which serves pregnant and parenting young people and their children. She previously served on the board of DC Lawyers for Youth, an organization she co-founded that advocates for improvements in the juvenile justice system. Marya has a BA in Political Science from the University of Colorado, a JD from Georgetown University Law Center, and an LLM in Law & Government from American University Washington College of Law.

Annie_watson_webAnnie Watson / Missoula, MT

Co-Chair

Annie Watson graduated from the Montana State University School of nursing and most recently worked as a school nurse in the public school setting. Prior to that she worked at St. Patrick’s hospital in Missoula, where she served on the hospital’s sustainability committee and supported initiatives to make healthcare less toxic. Before earning her BSN, Annie worked throughout the Southwest Unites States, Alaska, and Mexico as both an educator and program manager with the National Outdoor Leadership School. Her background and passion for the environment and public health lead her to her involvement with Women’s Voices. Annie currently serves on the Board of the New Priorities Foundation and spends her days caring for her young daughter at home.

Our Staff

beth_head_reducedBeth Conway

Communications Director

Beth spent the last decade spearheading marketing, communications and multi-media programs in the adventure and sustainable travel industry. During those ten years, she had the opportunity to travel the globe and connect with diverse communities across the world. Beth holds degrees in history, English and political science and has her MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana, Missoula. She brings her love of language — the power of message — to Women’s Voices for the Earth. She knows the potency voices have to strengthen like-minded communities, ignite action and invite conversations with the most seemingly surprising allies.

Jean Claire Duncan

Director of Finances & Administration

Jean Claire Duncan has an MBA from the University of Montana and a B.S. from University of Kentucky. Jean oversees the financial, human resource, and technical systems management of the organization. She brings eight years of experience with business and financial management, office systems and other entrepreneurial endeavors.

Most recently, Jean spent six years working with Montana-based Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) as an interim executive director and a board member. Before that, she served three years as the business manager for the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center in Missoula, executive director of the Montana Hunger Coalition, and as general manager of a California-based food cooperative. Jean is happiest in the great outdoors, eating fresh local organic food, and being with her wonderful children, all but one of whom are grown ups now.

robyn_heglandRobyn Hegland

Director of Development

Robyn has a background in feminist organizing and fundraising, and is excited to connect with WVE’s donors. She comes to us from Youth Homes, where she led fundraising efforts for the Linda Massa Youth Home. Previously, Robyn served two Americorps VISTA terms at Women’s Opportunity & Resource Development (WORD) as their Development and Communications Coordinator. She holds a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Montana, where she also directed her campus Women’s Center. A born-and-raised Montanan, Robyn spends her off-hours hiking, biking, skiing, cooking, reading, and enjoying Missoula’s microbreweries.

Jamie McConnell

Director of Programs and Policy

Jamie has worked in the environmental health field for nearly decade and oversees the organization’s programmatic work.  In addition, she devises policy strategies on the state and federal level that will increase disclosure of ingredients and reduce the use of harmful chemicals in consumer and salon products. She is a co-convener of the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance and a former steering committee member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Montana Women Vote. Prior to working in the field of environmental health Jamie worked in Yellowstone as a park ranger keeping tourists away from grizzly bears.

Jamie has a master’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Montana and a B.A. from UCLA.  While attending the University of Montana, Jamie was named a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (2005-2006).

Alex head shotAlexandra Scranton

Director of Science and Research

Alexandra Scranton is the Director of Science and Research at Women’s Voices for the Earth. Alex authors WVE’s scientific reports and provides scientific review for the organization’s programs. Prior to working at WVE, she worked in the epidemiology and statistics unit at the American Lung Association headquarters in New York. She currently sits on the Research Advisory Committee for the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative and on the Institutional Biosafety Committee for Rocky Mountain Laboratories (a National Institutes of Health facility). She has a master’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and a B.A. from Amherst College. Alex lives and works from Missoula, MT, with her husband and two beautiful daughters.

Erin Switalski

Executive Director

Before joining Women’s Voices for the Earth in 2005, Erin worked in a variety of fields, including affordable, green-built housing and human rights. At WVE, Erin has led statewide initiatives to reduce women’s exposure to mercury from mercury-containing products and introduced comprehensive legislation to ban the sale of mercury products in the state of Montana. She was also responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the national Safe Cleaning Products Initiative, which has garnered international media attention and moved major corporations to make unprecedented policy changes, resulting in the introduction of federal legislation that, when passed, will reduce women’s exposure to cleaning product chemicals.

Erin has given numerous presentations about the unique role women play as advocates to diverse audiences across the Unites States. In 2010, she won the New Leaders Council’s “40 Under 40” leadership award for advocacy. Erin has traveled to Colombia twice to act as a human rights observer and holds a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Montana.

sarada_headshotSarada Tangirala

National Campaigns Manager

Sarada has a deep background in environmental justice and corporate accountability campaigning. Previously she led market-based change efforts at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Her experience also includes coordinating Project Underground’s Chevron Nigeria campaign and conducting strategic corporate research for environmental justice campaigns at the Data Center. Sarada holds an MPP from Oregon State University and a BA in Sociology from UC Davis.