Home » Climate Candidate Accelerator: Class of June 2021

Climate Candidate Accelerator: Class of June 2021

The Climate Candidate Accelerator is a three day, interactive virtual workshop with fellow climate champions across the United States, speakers and trainers. The Accelerator is both geared towards future candidates and people who want to support candidates in their races.

Our Accelerator covers: Deciding to run; network weaving; climate and environmental justice locally and at the state level; building blocks of the campaign; hearing from climate candidates and connecting with a climate candidates network

Our first Accelerator took place June 4 – 6, 2021, with a diverse group of 13 participants from across the country.

Andy Pitz (he/him)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Retired Nonprofit Executive Director

Andy spent over 25 years at the National Lands Trust, and maintains professional interests in land conservation. In recent years he has been active in congressional and local political campaigns.

He participated in the Accelerator in order to promote climate policies to elected representative – both Democrats and moderate Republicans – at local, state and national level, and to enlist others to do the same.

Cristina Muñoz De La Torre  (She/Her/Ella)

Iowa City, Iowa

Community Resilience Planner, Astig Planning

Christina has 13 years experience in environmental justice leadership and research. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Iowa, where she is also serving as the Climate & Environmental Justice Director, LULAC of Iowa.

She participated in the Accelerator in order to meet other advocates across the US and learn about important climate equity issues.

Emily Chessin, she/her/hers

Brooklyn, New York

Senior Development Associate, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

Emily works to accelerate the transition to an equitable, clean energy, and resilient society and economy. She works on Build-Ready, a program advancing renewable energy on underutilized lands. Prior to joining NYSERDA she worked in clean energy consulting supporting governments with renewable energy policies and programs at the municipal, state, and national level both domestically and internationally. Earlier in her career she worked at WRI on international climate change finance, the environmental impacts of development finance, and the governance of the electricity sector in several developing countries.

She participated in the Accelerator in order to understand what it takes to run for office, learn about opportunities to support climate candidates, and expand her network.

Erica Hall  (she/her)

St. Petersburg, Florida

Chair, Florida Food Policy Council; EIJ Committee, Sierra Club Florida Chapter; Vice Chair, Suncoast Sierra Club

Erica has a multi-disciplinary background as a community economic development practitioner, project and program management, community organizer, environmental justice advocate, Board member, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) facilitator/trainer/consultant, and Senior Legal Professional with interests in intersectional environmentalism exploring the connection between sustainability, resiliency, food waste, climate change, food insecurity, the built form and placemaking, economic resilience, racial, social justice and equity, housing diversity, and affordability.

She participated in the Accelerator in order to train to get climate candidates elected at every level of office from school boards to state assembly offices, and to learn to manage and run campaigns while championing climate candidates to run for office.

Erin Lannon  (she/her)

Oakland, California

Energy Program Specialist, General Services Administration

Erin is an impact-oriented change architect and project manager with over eight years of experience, successfully leading initiatives and managing projects within the renewable energy and sustainability sector. In her current role she manages sustainability programs including DER assets such as: demand response, curtailment, renewable energy credit (RECs) sales, energy efficiency, energy management programs, advancement of electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS) and stakeholder engagement. She is also working to increase data transparency by delivering internal tracking tools to communicate results in support of GSA’s sustainability and energy goals.

She participated in the Accelerator in order to hone her skills  and elevator pitch to push forward climate policy and work on getting elected for a local seat in the Bay Area.

Ian Champ  (He/Him/His)

Chicago, Illinois

Senior Energy Analyst, AECOM Technical Services

Ian is an energy and sustainability analyst with experience working for commercial, governmental, industrial, and utility clients on energy efficiency and resource conservation programs. Currently, he supports clients with sites across these United States in community engagement, strategic analysis, and energy efficiency and sustainability project identification and implementation. In previous roles, he has provided analysis and technical support for utility emerging technology and incentive programs, as well as full service energy management for a Federal Agency.

He participated in the Accelerator in order to learn, develop skills to identify & support local candidates, and consider options for future personal local elected office pursuit. He still hopes to one day return to public service and implement climate and sustainability programs for a municipality.

Jeffrey Hoffman

Waterford, Maine

Self Employed, Editor/Writer/Consultant

Jeffrey is former journalist (15 years in mainstream print, broadcast and online media) and a former cleantech investment analyst currently working as a freelance editor and writer, as well as a longtime climate activist with experience working on political campaigns as a volunteer (Kerry, 2004, Obama, 2008, midterms, 2018).

He participated in the Accelerator because he advises candidates running for Maine legislature and wants to learn more about the process.

Joan Greene  (she/her)

Phoenix, Arizona

Founder, Greene & Associates

Joan is a 2018 and 2020 Democratic Nominee for Congress AZ District 5. An Arizona native, she received her Psychology degree from University of Arizona. She is also a proud small business owner of a marketing company specializing in promotional items that just celebrated 33 years in business. Her first clients were non-profits and she still works with that industry. In addition to her marketing company, six years ago she started another company that raises money and awareness for non-profits. 

She participated in the Accelerator because she will be running for Phoenix City Council and she wants to learn best practices other cities are using, especially for installing more solar power and for adapting to meet water needs in a desert through climate change.

Lauren Kuby  (She/Her)

Tempe, Arizona

Councilmember, City of Tempe; Sustainability Scientist, ASU

Lauren, a two-term councilmember and former vice mayor of Tempe, is a long-time advocate for consumer, environmental, and worker protections. Lauren is a recognized national champion for climate action and cities as incubators of innovation. Lauren has led Tempe’s efforts for social, economic, environmental, and racial justice, including equal pay, earned sick days, climate action plans, affordable housing, animal welfare, urban forestry, transparency, and campaign-finance reform. As manager of community outreach and events for Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, Lauren engages the ASU community, small businesses, nonprofits, and neighborhoods in sustainable solutions. As manager of ASU’s Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family, she works with cities and nonprofits to connect the dots among housing, health, food access and transportation and help craft regional integrated solutions leading to happy, healthy communities. 


She participated in the Accelerator because she was gearing up for a candidacy for the Arizona Corporation Commission, which sets utility rates and renewable energy standards.

Rev. Vernon K. Walker

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Program Manager, Communities Responding to Extreme Weather

Rev. Vernon K. Walker was born and raised in Philadelphia. He attended Penn State University for college where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Organizational Leadership and a minor in Psychology. He then earned a Master Degree in Theological Studies (M.T.S) from Boston University with a focus on community engagement. Rev. Walker is the Senior Program Manager at the Communities Responding to Extreme Weather program, a Senior Fellow at the Environmental Leadership Program and Senior Fellow at Tufts University Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life through the Institute for Nonprofit Practice, and will be a Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Boston campus Center for Collaborative Leadership starting in September 2021.

He participated in the Accelerator in order to learn all the basics of
running for office at the statewide level and to meet people who are thinking about affecting change for good. He also hoped to connect with a mentor who been through the process of running for office on a climate change platform.

Sean Donovan  (He/Him)

San Francisco, California

Carbon Market Expert, Yara International

Sean is an environmental markets practitioner with experience in various aspects of the ecosystem: from fund-raising to government-advising, from aviation to the agriculture sector. Originally from San Francisco, he’s lived in four countries, including Canada from which he recently moved back after three years of working on climate change for a U.N. agency.

He participated in the Accelerator because he has often considered running for office, and wanted to increase his political campaign skills

Tim McLaughlin  (he/him)

Brooklyn, New York

Principal, Myelinate Inc.; Instructor, Columbia University

Tim has been a teacher for almost 15 years. He recently taught a project-based learning course that covered the impact of climate change on New York City and culminated in student proposals for climate change adaptation. Born and raised in Staten Island, Tim has a B.S. in Economics from the UW-Madison. He also lived Seoul, Korea, for 6 years. He has published two books, and is the principal of a consulting company which designs learning experiences for EdTech companies and publishers.

He participated in the Accelerator in order to connect with like-minded people prioritizing climate and environmental justice in their organizing and policy-making.

Trang Trinh (she/her)

Monterey, California

Graduate Student Researcher, Port of San Diego

Trang is a recent graduate from the international environmental policy program at the Middlebury Institute. She takes a science-based approach to sustainability issues, but also seeks to incorporate art and culture into her work. She is originally from Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam but has lived in the States since 2011.

She participated in the Accelerator because she is newly interested in being involved in politics and seeking to learn more.

If this sounds like something you would want to learn more about, apply today:

From our first Accelerator