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Board + Staff

Board of Directors

Ann Blake
Alameda, CA

Ann Blake is an independent consultant working with governments, occupational health, and 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 chemical 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.


Allison Chin
Leesburg, VA

Dr. Allison Chin is a social justice and environmental activist who developed a 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 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 years. She has been a steady advocate for creating a culture in which people of all backgrounds feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued.

Dr. Chin is a retired molecular cell biologist and earned her B.A. from the University of California in San Diego and her Ph.D. 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

Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman is the Director of Environmental Health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. Ogonnaya joined WE ACT in April 2008 as the organization’s Environmental Health and Community-Based Participatory Research Coordinator.

Prior to joining the WE ACT team, Ogonnaya worked at Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health as a research associate and instructor, teaching classes and advising students in the Health Geoinformatics program. Her research there focused on environmental health service delivery in New Mexico, where she collaborated with local tribes on preparedness, pan flu, and preparedness training for public health professionals.

Dotson-Newman earned a degree in environmental science from DePaul University, focusing on the historical implications of place and space on the South Side of Chicago. She then completed a master’s degree in public health, researching environmental health service delivery in Zambia while teaching at a local university there. She’s most passionate about using a variety of research methods to translate science for communities of color and low income people.


Betsy Hands
Evanston, IL

Betsy Hands has 20 years of nonprofit and leadership experience and currently works at Friends of the Chicago River as the director of outreach and community relations. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa, Hands has since worked on community organizing and economic development projects in Minneapolis, MN and Missoula, MT. She previously served as executive director at HomeWord, a community housing development corporation, incorporating green building principles into all housing. Before that, she worked with the Western Governors’ Association and former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer to analyze policies on renewable energy and transmission development in western states as well as the Western Environmental Law Center on clean energy issues. Hands was a three-term Montana State Representative.

Hands is most passionate about educating young adults, empowering women, and fostering civic engagement. She earned a B.A. in social sciences at the University of Michigan, with a focus on sustainable development, and her master’s of science in environmental studies from the University of Montana.

Anuja Mendiratta, M.E.S.
Berkeley, CA

Board Chair

Anuja Mendiratta is a Bay Area-based independent consultant working with foundations, donors, nonprofits, and coalitions on a range of environmental, human rights, and social justice issues. Mendiratta currently manages the Race Gender Human Rights Fund of the Women’s Foundation of California and is the Senior Strategist of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative. Prior to launching her consulting practice, Mendiratta worked at the Women’s Foundation, the Marin Community Foundation, and the San Francisco Foundation. She is a co-founder and steering committee member of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative and the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance, which advances the health, safety and rights of salon workers at the state and federal levels. Mendiratta is a committee member of Center for Environmental Health’s Justice Fund, and she serves on funding board of the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment’s Northern California Environmental Grassroots Fund.  She holds an undergraduate degree from Antioch College and an M.S. in environmental studies from York University. Mendiratta enjoys hiking, travel, reading, sharing great food, and being outdoors.

Marrya Torrez Picture WVE

Marya 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
Missoula, MT

Bio coming soon.




Jessica Welborn
Missoula, MT

In 2011, Jessica Welborn completed a Ph.D. in Perinatal Psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, with a focus on the psychological impact of donating breast milk following a perinatal loss. Dr. Welborn worked as the donor coordinator at the Mother’s Milk Bank in San Jose, CA, where she conducted her doctoral research. She is writing a toolkit based on her dissertation that provides healthcare providers with information about how to address lactation with bereaved mothers. She currently serves on the Board of Hunter Industries, a family-owned irrigation business that her grandfather started in 1981. Dr. Welborn can often be found exploring and hiking remote parts of Montana with her husband and her dog, Sam. Jessica also enjoys yoga, traveling, and cooking.


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.

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.

Alex head shot

Alexandra 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.

Jamie McConnell

Director of Programs and Policy

Jamie advances policies and strategies to reduce women’s exposure to toxic chemicals in both the home and occupational settings. She is the National Coordinator of the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance, and she serves on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics national steering committee and legislative subcommittee.

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).


Sara Close

Director of Development

Sara oversees the diversified funding strategies and programs for the organization, including those related to individual donations, major donors, community and corporate partnerships, events, and earned income. Sara began as a consultant with WVE for one year prior to joining on staff, during which time she worked on fund diversification and WVE’s Strategic Plan: our “Road Map to a Toxic Free Future.”

Sara’s past consulting clients have included the Colorado Ocean Coalition, Adventure Film Festival, Elements Mixed Media, EarthFest Boulder, Marine Fish Conservation Network, and the 5 Gyres Institute. Prior to consulting, Sara spent four years as Membership and Development Manager of the international nonprofit, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Sara graduated from Bucknell University with a B.A. in international relations, French and economics. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the American Association of University Women. Sara is a certified Dive Master, yoga teacher, and lover of all elements – especially the water.


Sarada 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.


Beth Conway

Communications & Outreach Manager

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.