Sierra Club Staff
Beyond Coal Western Regional Campaign RepresentativeRead More
Cesia is a Representative for the Sierra Club's National Beyond Coal Campaign, directing the Club's regional campaign to prevent coal exports spanning from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming, to Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. She works with our regional and national team of staff, volunteer leaders, and our partners here and abroad to address this new frontier of the US transition from coal to clean energy.
Cesia grew up in an Air Force family discovering the country and the world. She graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2004 with a B.F.A. in Sculpture and a B.S. in a multidisciplinary degree in Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, and Theatre Design. She learned the transformational power of community organizing as a state youth coordinator with Amnesty International, and during a fellowship with the Kessel Peace Institute.
Her love for environmental activism is rooted in a spiritual connection to the resources that sustain and inspire us, and the deep belief that the protection of human rights and our environment are critically interdependent. Cesia started with the Sierra Club in Minnesota on the 2004 Environmental Voter Education Campaign. She spent the next five years organizing to advance regional clean energy solutions focused on ending the "Midwest Coal Rush", including victories such as a state mercury emissions reduction standard, renewable electricity standard, global warming solutions goals, and stopping the expansion of the Big Stone II coal plant.
She came to Oregon in 2009 to help launch the Coal Free Northwest campaign, resulting in the successful retirement of Oregon's last coal-fired power plant, operated by Portland General Electric. Cesia considers it an honor to be working on this visionary journey to transform the U.S. into a world leader in creating a clean, coal-free, renewable energy economy at home and abroad. When she's not campaigning, Cesia loves exploring the outdoors, traveling abroad, tending to her stack of unread books, and reveling in the arts.
Contact Cesia at:
(503) 238-0442 x306
Conservation DirectorRead More
Rhett Lawrence is the Conservation Director for the Oregon Chapter, having started in that role in February 2013. A Sierra Club member since 1990, Rhett was deeply involved in volunteer activities and Club outings when he lived in south Georgia in the 1990s. He was the Georgia Chapter's issue leader for the Okefenokee Swamp and fought vigorously in an ultimately successful effort to stop the DuPont Corporation from building a titanium mine on the edge of the Okefenokee. Rhett was also heavily involved in the chapter's efforts around the Cumberland Island National Seashore and the conflicts with the wilderness area there.
A native of South Carolina, Rhett received a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Emory University in Atlanta and a J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens. After law school, he worked for Georgia Legal Services in Waycross, Georgia, for 5 years and had the honor of arguing one of his cases in front of the Georgia Supreme Court (he won!). Then, after several years of practicing environmental law in Savannah, Georgia, Rhett moved to Oregon in 2000 to head up the Clean Water and Toxics programs for OSPIRG. Just prior to coming to the Oregon Chapter, Rhett was a Policy Analyst for the Save Our Wild Salmon coalition for 6 years. In that capacity, he worked on a campaign to restore endangered Columbia and Snake River salmon by removing the costly and outdated lower Snake River dams in eastern Washington.
Before the birth of his daughter, Camille, in 2005, Rhett was involved in many outdoor activities, some of which he still finds time to do now, between swim classes, soccer games, and Girl Scout meetings. Rhett and his wife, LeeAnn Friedman, enjoy taking Camille out on hikes, bike rides, and the occasional paddle on the Columbia Slough in their 16-foot green Coleman canoe. And though Rhett's primary mountain climbing days seem to be behind him now, he still maintains that he will return to the summit of Mt. Hood with Camille for his 50th birthday in 2018.
Contact Rhett at:
(503) 238-0442 x304
Chapter DirectorRead More
Brian has a long history with the Sierra Club – both as a volunteer and member of the staff. He re-joined the Sierra Club's staff as the Oregon Chapter's first Director in 2008.
Prior to returning to Portland, he served as the Policy Director for the Friend of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. He also served as the Sierra Club's lobbyist in Minnesota, where he was a principal negotiator in the passage of nation-leading laws related to mercury, renewable energy, and global warming. Prior to becoming a lobbyist, Brian practiced law and, among other subjects, litigated federal Clean Air and Clean Water Act cases on behalf of private citizens and non-profit organizations.
Brian earned his bachelor's degree in 1999 from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where he graduated magna cum laude and was a triple major in environmental policy, environmental studies, and biology. While at Northland, Brian was awarded a coveted Morris K Udall scholarship for his achievement and commitments in environmental policy.
In 2002, Brian earned his juris doctorate from the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College, along with a certificate in environmental and natural resources law. During law school, Brian served as an associate editor of the Law Review and published research relating to national forest policy and the development of national forest management plans.
Brian is an amateur photographer, avid hiker and backpacker, and an experienced Wilderness canoeist. He, his wife, and their dog explore Oregon's wilderness as often as they have the chance. You can always view photos of their recent adventures at: http://brianpasko.com
Contact Brian at:
(503) 238-0442 x301
National Arctic CampaignRead More
Melissa has been a volunteer with the Oregon chapter since 2009, and recently joined the team as a part-time organizer for the national Arctic Campaign, seeking permanent protections from oil development in the arctic.
A native Portlander, Melissa loves everything Oregon. She attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, earning a B.S. in Chemistry, with a minor in environmental studies. After returning to Portland and working with a variety of non-profits around town she left again or the Hudson Valley of New York to complete an M.S. in Environmental Policy at Bard College.
Melissa started organizing in college, getting especially involved with student and administrative sustainability groups. Her first professional internship was in Fairbanks, Alaska at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center in 2006 where she worked closely with their Arctic Coordinator, so while she has had many different organizing experiences since then, this campaign brings it all full circle.
In her spare time Melissa enjoys playing in the sunshine as much as possible, especially if there is a body of water nearby, cooking, and pretending to be a runner.
Conservation Program CoordinatorRead More
Chris works as the Conservation Program Coordinator for the Oregon Chapter's state forest conservation effort. Focusing on the Tillamook and Clatsop forests on Oregon's north coast, the campaign's focus is on protecting clean drinking water, salmon and steelhead populations, wildlife habitat, and favorite recreation spots.
These forests, which have historically faced significant pressure from the timber industry and have been victim to human-induced fires, are in the process of recovery and their balanced management is crucial to the north coast's legacy of natural resources and natural beauty.
Growing up in the high desert of New Mexico, Chris moved to Oregon in 2005 for a radically different landscape. He received his B.A. in Religious Studies from Lewis & Clark College in 2009 and ironically moved to Greece to find work. After returning from Greece, Chris organized for the Club's voter turnout campaign in 2010 before working as a cook at Outdoor School and as an artist's assistant building a giant tree chandelier. In 2011, He moved to Chicago to enroll in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. The draw of working on a collaborative campaign, along with the outdoors opportunities that Oregon offers, brought Chris back to Portland in 2012.
Along with environmentalism, Chris is interested in the academic study of religion, literature from a variety of sociocultural contexts, grating music, embarrassing fishing tactics, low-level rec league sports, friends, and the outdoors.
Contact Chris at:
(503) 238-0442 x307
Associate Field Organizer
Beyond Coal Campaign
Laura is grateful and honored for the chance to move ourselves Beyond Coal—the issue she is most passionate about—in her favorite corner of the world—the Pacific Northwest.
Laura hails from the Maplewood neighborhood of Portland, where her solid upbringing cultivated her fondness for conifers, bike lanes, and used bookstores. She graduated from DePauw University in 2007 where she spent most of her time organizing for LEED "green" buildings and local food on campus, but also managed to get a B.A. in Biology and Spanish.
After graduating from college Laura spent four years organizing for a range of groups. With the Ecumenical Commission for Human Rights, in Ecuador, she supported subsistence farmers in their decades-long resistance against transnational copper mining companies. With the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, in Iowa, she helped unionize workers at some of our nation's largest meatpacking plants. With Toxics Action Center, in Maine, she worked to bring together dozens of communities fighting pollution threats in their backyards for a statewide legislative initiative. And with the Fund for the Public Interested she managed a summer canvass operation for Environment New Hampshire.
Laura's proudest organizing accomplishment to date occurred during her year with Green Corps, the Field School for Environmental Organizing. During that year Laura launched and led the Sierra Club Campuses Beyond Coal Campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Eight months later they won the campaign, getting a commitment from the Chancellor to switch the campus coal-fired power plant over to cleaner energy.
During her spare time, Laura loves to jog at Washington Park, hit up Powell's for a new book on homesteading, and go thrift-store shopping with her sister on Hawthorne.
Contact Laura at:
(503) 238-0442 x305