Bern directs the work of ELAW and develops initiatives to protect the environment through law and science. Bern was the first Staff Attorney at ELAW before assuming the position of Executive Director in 1993. His work to protect the environment has taken him to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the South Pacific, Europe, and Central and South America. Prior to joining ELAW, Bern practiced law in Seattle. He was President of the Environmental Law Society at Harvard Law School, where he graduated cum laude. Before attending law school, Bern worked on environmental issues in the U.S. Congress as a Legislative Assistant to Representative James Weaver. The Harvard Law Bulletin, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Grist, Christian Science Monitor, and E Magazine have reported on Bern's work with ELAW.
Lori helped launch ELAW in 1991. She has traveled to Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the South Pacific, and Central and South America to reach out to public interest advocates and help build cross-border collaboration to protect the planet and human rights. Currently, she is most deeply engaged with colleagues in Mexico and Central America, and focused on protecting marine and coastal biodiversity and coordinating ELAW's work to Defend Defenders - fighting back against attempts to chill civil society leaders worldwide. Lori oversees administration and finance at the ELAW Secretariat in Oregon and represents ELAW US on the ELAW Network Group, an advisory body to the global ELAW Network. Lori studied English and Theatre (B.A.) at Hollins University and business at the Katharine Gibbs School. She served 23 years as a Board member of the Western Environmental Law Center, a regional public interest law firm in the Western United States, and now serves on the Board of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, which supports resilient community design for diverse communities around the world.
Mark helps attorneys and citizens make effective use of scientific information to defend the environment. Mark received a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Johns Hopkins University. His work has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A, and the Journal of biological Chemistry. Mark received his law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in May 1993, and has worked on litigation challenging pollution from pulp mills in the Pacific Northwest. He joined ELAW in 1992. Mark's work has taken him to Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.
Dr. Melissa Garren
Scientist on Contract
Melissa is the principal at Working Ocean Strategies LLC and brings diverse experience in public interest science to our team. She provides research and strategy support to our work with partners around the world to protect coastal and marine ecosystems. Melissa earned a bachelor's degree in molecular biology from Yale, and a master's and a doctorate in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography focusing on environmental threats to the integrity of coral reefs and holds an adjunct research faculty position with California State University Monterey Bay. Melissa has worked at the intersection of ocean and coastal environmental issues that impact communities spanning an array of scientific disciplines, including engineering, water quality, microbiology and biotechnology, disease, aquaculture/fisheries and social issues.
Law Program Director
Jennifer manages ELAW's Law Program and collaborates with lawyers around the world to strengthen and enforce laws that protect the environment and human rights. She joined ELAW in 1993 after graduating from the University of Oregon School of Law with a certificate in Natural Resources Law. Jen's focus is collaborating with lawyers challenging projects that produce harmful greenhouse gases and promoting sustainable alternatives. Her current work focuses on coal, oil and gas, and plastic. Jen taught Energy and the Law at the University of Oregon School of Law for 10 years.
Karen connects with individuals and local business supporters that help ELAW work with partners around the world to protect ecosystems and communities. She graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2011 where she studied Economics and International Business. Karen has worked with locally-rooted, sustainable businesses to build a brighter future. She initially joined ELAW in 2018 to help organize the 2019 ELAW International Annual Meeting, and brings valuable new skills and ideas to our team.
Dr. Riley “Rye” Howard
Rye helps ELAW partners around the world understand the impacts of toxic substances, especially plastic pollution, on public health. Rye earned a doctorate in Environmental Health from the Boston University School of Public Health, and has held teaching positions at Northeastern University, Boston University, the Brown University School of Public Health, and Dickinson College, where they served as Chair of the Environmental Studies Department. Rye has consulted with NGOs and European government agencies to better regulate toxic substances, including polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), flame retardants, and other ubiquitous toxic chemicals. In 2019-20, Rye was based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, helping NGOs address environmental health problems, conducting environmental monitoring of PFAS in Bangladesh’s waterways, and traveling thousands of kilometers across India by bicycle.
As Project Manager, Colleen provides support to all areas of the ELAW US office. With a dedication to global environmental and social justice issues, Colleen joined ELAW in 2017. Prior to joining ELAW, Colleen worked for organizations committed to supporting communities and indigenous rights including Global Greengrants Fund, Pacific Environment, and Alaska Community Action on Toxics. Colleen has a degree in Ecological Studies and is a Certified Clinical Herbalist.
Maggie writes grants, produces ELAW publications, works with journalists, manages the ELAW Fellows Program, and helps ELAW advocates build strong organizations. She joined ELAW in 1999. Maggie holds a Master's in Professional Studies in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University. She served for three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines and worked for three years in Uganda as a consultant for the Uganda Wildlife Society, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and various USAID-funded maternal health projects. Her work at ELAW has taken her to Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ukraine, Bolivia, and Chile. Maggie was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Oregon College of Arts and Sciences, where she taught Cross Cultural Communication.
Attorney on contract
Pedro provides legal assistance to environmental advocates around the world. He worked at Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice, providing assistance on issues of human rights. He is a former case officer at the Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (MICI) of the InterAmerican Development Bank. He also served as coordinator of the Human Rights and the Environment Program at the Instituto de Derecho Ambiental (IDEA) in Guadalajara. Pedro received a law degree from the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO) in Guadalajara, where he later lectured in environmental and international human rights law. He also earned a Master's degree in International Human Rights Law from Lund University in Sweden.
Dr. Graciela M. Mercedes (Meche) Lu
Meche provides on-site support for air, water, and soil quality analysis, and expert opinion on environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and environmental health. Her work with ELAW began in Peru in 1991. She joined ELAW's U.S. office in 2003. Her work has taken her to Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, and Eastern Europe. Meche has a PhD in Geography with research interests in political ecology and extractive industries (oil, gas, metal mining) in developing countries. She also has a M.A. in International Studies from the University of Oregon, with emphasis on environment and development in Latin America, and a B.Sc. in Pharmacy and biochemistry from the National University of San Marcos. She pursued graduate studies in Ecology and Environmental Management at Cayetano Heredia University in Lima.
Anya supports the legal team in providing assistance to environmental and human rights advocates around the world. She holds a J.D. from Vanderbilt University, and has previously practiced environmental law as a clerk at the Environmental Protection Agency, and international humanitarian and human rights law with Global Rights Compliance and the Irish Centre for Human Rights respectively. While at Vanderbilt, she worked with Vanderbilt’s International Practice Lab to create an evidence collection and prosecution primer for the crime of genocide, and with the Vanderbilt Immigration Practice Clinic to obtain humanitarian relief for unaccompanied alien children. She is also a published poet.
Liz provides legal assistance to grassroots attorneys outside the U.S. who are working to protect communities and the environment. She joined ELAW in 2007. Liz holds a B.A. from Middlebury College and was a Thomas J. Watson fellow. After graduating from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1994, with a certificate in Natural Resources Law, Liz was a staff attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center. Liz has traveled to Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean to help partners protect communities and the natural environment.
Africa Law Associate
Bernard Ngalim brings many years of legal experience championing human rights in Cameroon and across Africa. His passion is protecting the rights of citizens affected by extractive industries, infrastructure development, and agribusiness. He started his public interest work with the Foundation for Environment and Development in Bamenda - Cameroon. He also worked with Forets et Developpement Rural (FODER) to challenge extractive industry abuses in Cameroon and as a pro bono human rights lawyer representing aggrieved workers. He served as a human rights consultant with Africans Rising (Kenya) and the Arch Diocese of Bertoua (Cameroon). He earned a Master of Laws (LLM) specializing in Human Rights at Northeastern University School of Law, a Master of Laws in International Law at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law (China), and a law degree (BA) at the University of Yaounde 2 (Cameroon). He is fluent in English and French.
Amanda joined ELAW in 2020 as the bookkeeper, bringing nearly a decade of nonprofit program experience focused on community health, nutritious food access, and human services. She is also a registered dietitian with a degree in Food Science and Nutrition from Colorado State University. She enjoys working directly with community members as a Community (plastic) Collector for Eugene's Community Recycle Program and a volunteer for various essential needs distribution programs and community powered events and fundraisers.
Matt manages ELAW’s websites, security, and helps ELAW partners around the world use web-based tools to protect communities and the environment. He has a wide variety of computer skills that span from server engineering to front end web development. Matt graduated from the University of Oregon in 2006 with a degree in biochemistry and in 2019 with a degree in computer science.
Alejandra Serrano Pavón
Attorney on contract
Alejandra provides legal assistance to environmental advocates around the world. She is the former director of the Southeast office of Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA) in Cancún. CEMDA protects the environment on behalf of communities and NGOs throughout Mexico. Alejandra received her law degree from the Panamericana University (Mexico City). She has been advocating on behalf of communities for more than 17 years.
Dr. Carlos Soria
Attorney on contract
Carlos has worked since 1988 to protect the environment and indigenous peoples in Latin America and around the world. Based in Peru, he has served as consultant for the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, FAO, Helvetas, CONDESAN, USAID, the International Center for Forest Research (CIFOR), among others. He worked with the REDD MOZFIP project in Mozambique (2018- 2020) and prepared the Forest Control Strategy for the National Agency for Environmental Quality Control, including an action plan to curb deforestation and illegal logging. He earned a law degree at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú PUCP, a Master in Social Sciences with a focus on Amazonian Studies from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), and a Doctor of Philosophy from Flinders University of South Australia.
Dr. Heidi Weiskel
Heidi brings expertise in marine and coastal ecology to ELAW. She has degrees from Harvard and Tufts, and a PhD in Ecology from the University of California, Davis, where she studied the effects of nutrient pollution on marine species. In addition to her field research experience, Heidi also worked on the staff of the Pew Oceans Commission to develop recommendations for Congress to improve national marine resource laws and regulations. She also worked as an environmental policy research fellow at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. She has worked with scientists in Cuba, Panama, and Argentina, and is a great addition to our science team.