August's Special Guest Speaker - Erica Peresman - Voter Protection Director of the MDP
Erica Peresman is a lawyer and voting rights activist. As a member of the Executive Committee
of Promote the Vote and chair of its Speakers Bureau, Erica helped get Ballot Proposal 3 passed
overwhelmingly by Michigan voters in 2018. She was named Voter Protection Director of the
Michigan Democratic Party in March 2019.
Erica practiced business law at Pettit & Martin in San Francisco and at Pepper Hamilton
in Detroit, where she was a partner. After a detour to Luxembourg for her husband’s job and a
stint as a stay-at-home parent, she was Director of Philanthropy at Gleaners Community Food
Bank in Detroit before deciding to focus on voting rights.
Erica has held leadership positions in several community organizations. She currently serves as
Treasurer of the Detroit Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC, mentors at-risk girls at
Eastpointe High School through Women of Tomorrow, and co-chairs the Grant Review
Committee of Impact100 Metro Detroit. She is a past president of Congregation Shir Tikvah in
Erica earned a bachelor’s degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago and a law degree
from Stanford Law School. She and her husband David Jaffe are the proud parents of two adult
The Environmental Forum will be Moderated by State Representative Kristy Pagan
Guest Speakers include:
Andrew Sarpolis - Organizing Representative, Beyond Coal Campaign, Sierra Club
Andrew Sarpolis is an advocate with the Sierra Club who strives to implement fact-based, beneficial, and effective public policies which benefit the environment, labor, and public health through the construction of grassroots movements. He has a wide gamut of experience in issues spanning from labor (Southeast Michigan Jobs Community Co-Chair) to environmental justice (NAACP North Oakland Branch Climate Co-Chair) to human rights (Vice Chair of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights).
Andrew advises organizations on grassroots strategy, with a focus on the environment. He has organized events which drew over a thousand people (the most notable were the Detroit March for Justice and the sulfur dioxide public hearings in southwestern Detroit).
Andrew's current project is mobilizing local, grassroots momentum in towns and cities to support adopting targets for 100% renewable energy. He has already recruited the municipal leaders of West Bloomfield Township, Brownstown Township, Ferndale, Royal Oak, East Lansing, Grand Grapids, Kalamazoo, Traverse City, and Ann Arbor to sign the pledge.
Sean McBrearty -- Campaign Organizer, Clean Water Action
Sean learned the importance of protecting drinking water and our environment from a young age, growing up in a community devastated by perennial droughts and poor water and air quality in California’s central valley. He worked briefly as a firefighter before leaving California to attend school at Franciscan University in Ohio, where he studied History.
Sean started out as a canvasser, became a Field Manager, then Senior Field Manager, and became the Canvass Director of the Lansing Office in July of 2013. Sean spent 2 and a half years as the Lansing Canvass Director before moving into his current role as a Program Organizer based in our Lansing office, where he leads our work on pipeline safety, infrastructure, and water issues.
Regina Strong -- Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s Environmental Justice Public Advocate
Regina is the former Michigan Director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign and brings an extensive background in advocacy and public affairs to her new role. She previously served in a variety of leadership roles, including as the executive director of Community Development Advocates of Detroit.
The executive order creating the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate also established The Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team which will include the departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Civil Rights, Health and Human Services, Natural Resources, and Transportation, as well as the Public Service Commission and Michigan Strategic Fund. As the Environmental Justice Public Advocate, Strong will serve as chair of the Response Team.
Andrew Nowicki -- Chair, MDP Environmental CaucusMichigan Democratic Party Environmental Caucus
Andrew is an environmental activist with a particular passion for Michigan wildlife. He aims to build awareness of the natural world by hosting animal presentations, nature walks, and writing about environmental issues across the state.
The MDP Environmental Caucus' mission is to develop an exchange of action between the public and the Democratic Party for the betterment of Michigan's environment and support green energy issues. We encourage our members to develop and support legislation around these issues.
Sean Hammond -- Deputy Policy Director, Michigan Environmental Council
Sean helps MEC build and maintain relationships with lawmakers, stay abreast of new bills and legislative committee activities, and keep the organization's member groups informed about developments at the Capitol. In terms of policy, Sean covers transportation, mining, recycling and solid waste and contaminated sites.
A native of Potterville, Mich., Hammond comes to MEC with experience working in the Legislature and state agencies. He held a legal externship with Michigan's Senate Majority Policy Office, where he provided Republican lawmakers with policy analysis and legal memos on proposed legislation. He also has interned with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the office of Attorney General Bill Schuette and with state Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), who was then serving in the House. Hammond is a 2014 graduate of the Michigan State University College of Law and a member of the State Bar of Michigan.
Janis Bobrin - President, Michigan League of Conservation Voters
Before stepping down in 2012, Janis served 24 years as the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner. She was re-elected to the position five times and has been applauded for advancing sustainable storm water practices and increasing public education efforts around water stewardship in the County.
As an officer with the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners, she worked to ensure that water quality protection and environmental resource management became integral parts of Drain Commissioners’ jobs in Michigan. Before becoming Water Resources Commissioner, Janis worked as an Environmental Planner and Manager of Water Quality Programs for SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments).
In addition to serving on the MLCV Board, Janis is currently serving as one of Ann Arbor’s representatives to the Huron River Watershed Council Board and Executive Committee. She is also a citizen member of Washtenaw County Parks Commission, and serves on other non-environmental nonprofit Boards. She holds a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.
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