Alumni Association Board

Meet the alumni volunteers who are promoting the interests of YSE alumni and the School.

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    About the Alumni Association Board

    The YSE Alumni Association promotes the interests of the Yale School of the Environment by through dynamic engagement that builds goodwill and strengthens communication among YSE faculty, students and alumni. They raise awareness of YSE’s mission of creating knowledge and leadership for a sustainable future by encouraging participation in events, volunteer involvement, and philanthropic commitment to the School.

    Projects of the AAB include:

    • Developing field-based and continued learning experiences for fellow alumni
    • Supporting alumni and student diversity-focused initiatives
    • Strengthening international alumni connections
    • Guiding both the alumni award and student scholarship programs for the board

    The AAB meets about once a month from September through June, usually by video call. Members also participate on committees addressing issues such as communications, awards planning, and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Newly elected AAB members will begin serving a three-year term each October, and most serve two three-year terms. AAB members are expected to travel twice annually — back to New Haven each fall and to either New Haven or another location in the spring.

    Alumni Association Roster

    If you would like to connect with a member of the YSE Alumni Association Board, please email the YSE Office of Development and Alumni Services for contact info.


    gary barrett


    Gary Barrett '96 M.F. (1st term ends in 2021)
    President, Member of Executive Committee, Yale Alumni Association Delegate (Ex Officio) 
    Washington D.C. Area
    Gary is a Senior Advisor in the USDA Forest Service National Partnership Office. Over the past 22 years, he has served in a variety of roles in international development and disaster assistance, including: Deputy Director of USAID’s Office of American Schools and Hospitals Abroad; Senior Program Advisor for USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives in Afghanistan; and Head of Office, UN Joint Logistics Centre, for the UN World Food Program in South Sudan. He developed a specialization in emergency management and disaster relief after spending 12 years working for the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.
    Tara Meyer

    Vice President

    Tara K. Meyer '15 M.E.Sc. (2nd term ends 2022)
    Missoula, Montana
    Vice President, Member of Executive Committee
    Tara is a Wildlife Biology Ph.D. student at the University of Montana in Missoula, where she researches wolves, elk, grizzly bears and bison in the Ya Ha Tinda area in Banff National Park. Tara has a decade of experience working in wildlife conservation and management, both in the western U.S. and internationally. She is a 2017-2018 Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders Fellow, technical advisor for the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, and founding Committee Member for the MK McCarthy-RW Worth Scholarship for Leadership in Conservation Science at YSE.
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    Hallie Metzger '75 M.F.S. (1st term ends 2021)
    Illinois and Connecticut
    Secretary, Member of Executive Committee
    Hallie calls herself an “accidental forester.” She came to YFS to learn to manage forested family property in Connecticut. She faced challenges from the start restoring highgraded woodland. Eradicating invasives and maintaining test plots for white pine and hybrid chestnut, she safeguards a critical wildlife corridor while growing the revenue stream. It’s an YSE affair including son Matthew Black 94 M.E.S. and YSE faculty and graduates. Heading the School’s first Public Information Office from 1976-1979, Hallie searched for a unique YSE image – and made Sage Boy a Yale icon! Hallie writes on forestry issues and administers the Connecticut Timber Producers Association (TIMPRO CT) scholarship program for future environmental leaders. When not in the woods, she is in a classroom teaching Latin and hieroglyphs. 

    Communications Chair

    Cathy McConnell ’85 M.F.S. (1st term ends 2021)
    West Islip, NY
    As an Emmy award-winning environmental and natural history filmmaker, Cathy has shared her love of nature and inspired audiences around the world.  At YSE she pioneered the use of video for environmental communications and researched the impact of documentaries on viewer attitudes toward conservation.  As a writer and producer for the NATURE series on PBS, she became Series Editor and then went on to produce National Geographic Specials and head Natural History Co-Productions for National Geographic TV.  Besides Emmys, her films have won the Ark Trust Genesis Award, Best Documentary at the NY Film and Television Festival and many other awards.  Deeply committed to raising public concern about climate change since her time at Yale, she produced and wrote the film that kicked off the 2019 Climate Summit at the UN.  Today she continues to work with filmmakers, write scripts, and advocate for climate legislation.
    Saleem Ali

    At-Large Member 

    Saleem H. Ali ’96 M.E.S. (2nd term ends 2023)
    Newark, DE
    Executive Committee
    Saleem H. Ali is an environmental planner whose research and practice focuses on ways of resolving ecological conflicts through technical and social mechanisms, as well as exploring novel ways of peace-building between corporations, governments, and communities. He holds the Blue and Gold Distinguished Professorship in Energy and the Environment at the University of Delaware and is a Senior Fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Sustainable Enterprise. He has also held the Chair in Sustainable Resources Development at the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute in Brisbane, Australia (where he retains professorial affiliation). His books include “Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed and a Sustainable Future” (Yale University Press). Saleem is a citizen of Australia, the U.S., and Pakistan but appreciates that the most consequential role for us all must be as planetary citizens.
    Jaime Carlson

    At-Large Member 

    Jaime Carlson ’09 M.E.M./M.B.A. (2nd term ends 2022)
    Los Angeles, CA
    Executive Committee
    Jaime focuses on innovative business models to drive capital to natural resource management. Jaime helps drive Strategy & Investments for SoftBank Energy’s 8GW clean energy portfolio.  Previously, she was COO of Cypress Creek Renewables, one of the largest private solar developers in the U.S., and Global Finance Director at TerraForm, a $2B operating company with renewable energy projects across the world. She served in President Obama’s first term as advisor to former Energy Secretary Chu, overseeing deployment of $35B in Recovery Act funds. Jaime chaired the inaugural Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit (YESS) that gathered 400 alumni and faculty from across Yale to discuss scaling solutions in sustainability. She founded Apertura Films, producer of “The Other Side,” named one of the best Latin American TV series by Rolling Stone Magazine and NY Television Festival winner.

    Board Members

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    James Albis '16 M.E.M. (1st term ends Oct. 2021)
    East Haven, CT
    James is the Senior Advisor to the Commissioner at Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, where he works on the Department’s policy agenda and special projects. He is also a former State Representative from East Haven, Connecticut. He previously served as co-chairman of the Environment Committee and chairman of the Shoreline Preservation Task Force, which investigated coastal resilience strategies for the state of Connecticut. James wrote the law that led to the creation of the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA), which provides technical and financial assistance to municipalities embarking on adaptation projects.
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    Paloma Caro '16 M.E.M. (1st term ends 2023)
    Santiago, Chile
    Paloma is a consultant landscapes and forest policy issues in international development, and has experience in different countries, sectors, and topics of Latin America. As a consultant, she has worked with teams researching, and supporting environmental projects on capacity building, rural development, and global environmental policy and governance. Currently, Paloma works at the World Bank, and prior joining the organization, she worked for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WWF at their Chile offices. Paloma studied Agronomy in the Universidad Católica de Chile, and holds a Master of Environmental Management from YSE.
    While at Yale, she supported several efforts to create platforms that foster broader connections and dialogue, including the Conference on Sustainable Development in LAC and the Graduate Latinx Network.
    Sue Ely
    Sue Ely ’07 M.E.Sc. (2nd term ends 2023)
    Portland, ME
    Sue is the Clean Energy Policy Advocate and Staff Attorney for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). Prior to joining NRCM, Sue worked as an Attorney-Advisor in the Office of the Solicitor at the United States Department of the Interior where she advised the Department on matters related to environmental, natural resource, and administrative law. Sue has also worked for several environmental nonprofit organizations in Alaska on grassroots organizing and environmental and energy policy. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Mount Holyoke College and a Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law. 
    Alex Finkral
    Alex Finkral '97 M.F., '05 Ph.D. (2nd term ends Oct. 2021)
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Alex is Chief Forester of The Forestland Group, a timberland investment manager (TIMO) that specializes in naturally regenerating hardwood forests. Prior to joining The Forestland Group, Alex was an assistant Professor of Forest Management at Northern Arizona University’s School of Forestry. Currently Alex is also an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech and serves on the USDA Forestry Research Advisory Council. He lives with his wife and kids in Chapel Hill, NC.
    Genora Givens '18 M.E.M. (1st term ends 2022)
    Oakland, CA 
    Genora is a Program Research Analyst at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. She supports the Climate and Land Use strategy teams on monitoring, evaluation, and learning and leads efforts to incorporate principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice into grantmaking. Prior to joining the Foundation, Genora was an Environmental Grantmakers Association Fellow at Clean Water Action researching the impact of oil and gas production on U.S. water quality and quantity. Her interests include land use law and watershed protection, as well as the development of methods to incorporate understandings of social vulnerability and inequity into analysis of geographic risk and watershed management and planning. 
    Shafqat Hussain '02 M.E.M., '05 M.Phil., '09 Ph.D. (1st term ends 2023)
    New Haven, CT
    Shafqat is a professor at Trinity College where he teaches environmental anthropology. Most of his work is focused on understanding the social dimensions of conservation, specifically snow leopard conservation in northern Pakistan. A resident of New Have, he has been active in the Environmental Leadership Mentoring Program and have participated in the annual YSE Reunion Weekend. During his time on the board Shafqat intends to support efforts to increase the diversity of representation at YSE at every level, as well as opportunities for collaboration between the YSE Alumni. 
    Cilla Kellert
    Cilla Leavitt ’74 B.A., ’81 M.F.S. (2nd term ends 2023)
    New Haven, CT
    Yale Alumni Association Delegate
    Cilla is the Program Director of the wilderness orientation at Yale for undergraduates known as FOOT, or First-Year Outdoor Orientation Trips. Created with Jamie Williams ’86 B.A., ’89 M.E.S. 33 years ago, she now puts over 500 students in the woods every August. During the year she oversees the training of 140 FOOT Leaders. At the Hopkins School in New Haven, Cilla initiated, developed, and taught environmental science, wrote the environmental plan for the school, and headed its sustainability committee. In addition, Cilla taught a seminar at Yale on environmental education. While at YSE, she interned at the Weyerhaeuser Company in Oregon. Cilla began her career in outdoor environmental education at Hollins College in Virginia, where she created the Hollins Outdoor Program, and was an Outward Bound instructor in North Carolina. Working with Yale University Press, she completed her late husband Professor Stephen Kellert’s (’71 Ph.D.) last book, Nature by Design, on biophilic design.
    Jessica Leung ’17 M.E.M. (2nd term ends 2024)
    Washington, D.C.
    Jessica is a Program Manager of Early Talent Diversity Programs at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) where she manages WWF’s internship program and leads engagement with academic institutions and programs to create pipelines of diverse talent for the environmental and conservation field. Previously, she was at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions where she published papers and worked with companies to reduce their GHG impact in the electricity, thermal energy, transportation, and buildings sectors.
    Prior to YSE, she worked at Calpine, a natural gas and geothermal energy company. She supported environmental compliance and permitting, implemented the California cap and trade program, and analyzed water-energy nexus issues. At YSE, she discovered a love for service to her community as a Fresh and Salty SIG leader, EQUID member, Peer Mentor, GPSS Senator, and mentor to New Haven students interested in STEM. In Washington, D.C., she is a co-leader for the YSE in D.C. alumni network and a mentor for BEST Kids, an organization empowering youth in foster care. She holds a B.S. in Managerial Economics from University of California, Davis.
    Luisa Lema Velez
    Luisa Lema Velez ’06 M.E.M. (2nd term ends 2023)
    Bogota, Colombia
    Luisa is a consultant in international cooperation and policy for conservation and sustainable development. She has worked for multilaterals, NGOs and government on diverse issues, including sustainable tourism, protected areas, mining, the policy process and the relation between environment and peacebuilding. Her career includes working for the United Nations Environment Programme, the U.N. Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank. She also served as Secretary of Environment of Antioquia, and directed a Master’s in Development Practice at the Universidad de Los Andes. Luisa is a Forest Engineer (U. Nacional de Colombia) and a Biologist (U. Antioquia), with a graduate degree in Environmental Law (U. Externado).
    Michelle Lewis
    Michelle Lewis '13 MDiv, M.E.Sc. (1st term ends 2022)
    New York and North Carolina
    Yale Alumni Association Delegate
    Michelle holds a M.E.Sc. from YSE and a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and a certificate from Yale Institute of Sacred Music. She's very interested in the intersectionality between justice issues and spirituality. Her doctoral work focused on food justice, faith, and creating healthy communities on micro and macro scales. Michelle has worked in New Rochelle, NY as part of the city's energy and sustainability Commission and is currently the executive director of a non-profit that she founded called the Peace Garden Project, which has three gardens in NY with another two set to open in NC this year. Michelle is passionate about equity and inclusion and has worked with communities in NY and NC to create more equitable systems.
    Monica Nunez Salas
    Monica Nuñez Salas '18 M.E.M. (1st term ends 2022)
    Lima, Peru
    Monica is a professor and clinician at Universidad del Pacifico. Trained as a lawyer, Monica has worked in environmental law and has expertise in environmental economics. Fluent in multiple languages, Monica looks forward to connecting our international community of alumni, and assisting in the ongoing diversification of the YSE student population.
    Toral Patel-Weynand '92 M.F.S., '01 D.F.E.S. (1st term ends 2023)
    Washington, D.C.
    As a senior scientist and administrator of a broad research program, Dr. Patel-Weynand spearheads scientific research and champions diversity within the public sector. Dr. Patel-Weynand believes that the YSE can be a leading advocate in forestry and natural resources management by producing talented professionals in areas where there is significant need in government.  As a member of the Alumni Association Board, she will engage in and advocate for the expansion of the diversity and inclusion work underway at the school, and help build the profile of public service work among students and alumni.
    Anne Peters
    Anne Peters '76 M.F.S. (1st term ends 2022)
    New Haven, CT
    Anne is an environmental attorney and partner at the firm of Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP in New Haven, where she advises clients in the remediation of contaminated properties, environmental aspects of business transactions and environmental compliance. After YSE, she worked as a research assistant at Brown University, using pollen data to study climate and vegetation changes since the last glacial maximum. She is the immediate past chair of the Environmental Section of the Connecticut Bar Association. In addition to representing the regulated community, she has served on Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection workgroups on environmental use restrictions, spill reporting and DEEP’s Comprehensive Evaluation and Transformation of Connecticut’s Cleanup Laws.
    Morgan Pierce '20 M.E.M. (1st term ends 2023)
    Chiacgo, IL
    Morgan is a sustainability professional whose work focuses on helping multi-national consumer brands reach their environmental goals by improving the supply chain and product development process. Utilizing her background in marketing and brand communications, Morgan conveys sophisticated environmental topics to build consensus among stakeholders. Additionally, Morgan serves as a consultant for Karen Karp & Partners working with a variety of food based organizations on supply chain improvement. While at YSE, Morgan served as co-chair for the Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit, was named a social justice fellow at Dwight Hall, and chaired ROOTS.
    Maclovia Quintana
    Maclovia Quintana ’11 B.A., ’14 M.E.Sc. (2nd term ends 2023)
    San Francisco, CA
    Maclovia is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program Director at Earthjustice in San Francisco. After graduating from YSE, Maclovia worked for the School for two years. She spent most of that time as the Diversity & Sustainability Fellow, working in the Dean’s Office to advance diversity and equity initiatives for the School. She then served as the Assistant Director of La Casa Cultural, the Latino Cultural Center at Yale, where she worked to provide academic, social, and cultural resources to Yale’s Latino students. Maclovia grew up in rural northern New Mexico.  
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    Sara Smiley Smith ’07 M.E.Sc./M.P.H., ’16 Ph.D. (2nd term ends 2020)
    New Haven, CT
    Sara is the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, Research and Sustainability at the Yale School of the Environment where she works to cultivate a community of engaged problem solvers seeking solutions to a diverse set of environmental challenges. She received her Ph.D. from YSE in 2016, and completed the joint master’s degree program between the School of Epidemiology and Public Health and YSE in 2007  Her doctoral work explored the process of envisioning and instituting complex changes motivated by sustainability within institutions, exploring both accelerators and barriers. Sara holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Political Science from Middlebury College (2004). She spent her childhood on the remnants of her family’s dairy farm in the small town of Winslow, Maine.
    Mona Wang
    Mona Wang '13 M.E.M. (1st term ends 2022)
    San Francisco Bay Area, CA
    Mona is a Program Officer at Low Income Investment Fund, where she leads the operations management of a cross-organizational initiative focused on advancing investment policies for sustainable and equitable regional development in low-income communities and communities of color in various cities across the U.S. for racially equitable, healthy, and climate-resilient communities. She is also a member of the Board for the Charles Koiner Center for Urban Farming where she applies her love for growing vegetables with youth and fellow neighbors to create a network of urban farms in Montgomery County, MD for the next generation of sustainable food innovators.  She has a background in sustainable development, specifically on issues related to reducing commodity-driven deforestation and sustainable land-use planning. In her years with the World Wildlife Fund, she managed several programs in various tropical countries, including Colombia, DRC, Guyana, Indonesia, and Peru, on reducing commodity-driven deforestation and advancing land-use policies and practices centered on empowering local and indigenous communities. As a member to the YSE Alumni Association Board, Mona’s priorities are to establish and expand on programs to increase support to current students and recent graduates of YSE from first-generation, low-income backgrounds.  Her favorite memory of YSE is, of course, all the dance parties (there’s always a theme) and … THRILLER! 

    Student Representatives

    Aymane Eddahmani SM
    Aymane Eddahmani ’21 M.E.SC. Student
    New Haven, CT/ Morocco
    Second Year Student Representative
    Aymane is a Fulbright scholar and a first year MESc student from Morocco, working on the relationship between energy, climate change, and development. Aymane holds a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering with a concentration on renewable energy from Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane (AUI). As a Fulbright scholar, he is committed to bringing a different perspective, focus on diversity and inclusion, and ensure adequate representation of the international community and students from developing countries.  At AUI, he researched vertical axis wind turbines for decentralized small scale energy generation. He is passionate about the environment, enjoys running, and never misses a chance to explore the great outdoors.
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    Ben Christensen ’20 M.E.M. Student
    New Haven, CT/ New Mexico, US
    Second Year Student Representative
    Ben is a M.E.M. candidate from New Mexico specializing in Business and the Environment and Climate Change Solutions. He holds a BS in Environmental Management with concentrations in Climate Change Science and Statistics from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He works as a TA for Graduate Environmental Statistics and on carbon and energy projects with the Environmental Stewardship Committee. At Cal Poly he started the Climate Change Action Research Group dedicated to understanding how young people understand and interact with climate change, was a green campus team manager, conducted research on carbon neutral building systems, and led wilderness backpacking trips. His passion is leading carbon removal implementation.
    Lav Kanoi
    Lav Kanoi, ’24 Ph.D. Student
    New Haven, CT
    Ph.D.  Student Representative
    Lav is a joint Anthropology and Yale School of the Environment doctoral student whose subject of study is water and the socio-political, historical and cultural aspects of water management in Indian cities. He holds an MA in English Literature from Jadavpur University, and was a Young India Fellow at Ashoka University. In addition to his previous work in teaching and in research, he has experience working in government policy and implementation with the Government of Himachal Pradesh, India, and in management consulting with the Boston Consulting Group.
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    Alexandra Wisner, ’23 M.E.M.
    New Haven, CT
    Masters Student Representative
    Alexandra Wisner is a first-year M.E.M. candidate from rural North Carolina focusing on environmental justice and international environmental diplomacy. At Yale, Alexandra is a research assistant for the Yale Center for Environmental Policy and a member of the Forestry Club and Wellness Committee.  Before Yale, Alexandra was the Associate Director of the Rachel Carson Council working on federal energy and forestry policy and Southeastern US environmental justice.  She holds a B.A. from Duke University with degrees in Environmental Policy and Human Rights.  She is dedicated to ensuring that the strength of the YSE community is sustained during and post-COVID times.

    Faculty Representatives

    Mark Ashton
    Mark Ashton '85 M.F., '90 Ph.D.

    Mark is the Morris K. Jesup Professor of Silviculture and Forest Ecology and Director of School Forests. He conducts research on the biological and physical processes governing the regeneration of natural forests and on the creation of their agroforestry analogs.
    Wargo Small
    John Wargo '81 M.Phil., '84 Ph.D.
    John is a Professor of Environmental Health and Political Science at Yale University and chairs the Yale College Environmental Studies Major. He has been a Visiting Professor at Yale-NUS College in Singapore and the Universitat Basel graduate school of Law, Economics, and Policy, in Switzerland. John’s research focuses on threats to human health posed by environmental hazards. He has been an advisor to the Senate Committee on Health, U.S. Vice President’s office, several EPA administrators, Senators and Representatives, the Secretary of Agriculture, the U.N.’s World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization. He has been a member of EPA’s Scientific Advisory Panel/Board on Pesticides and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientific panels. His books include Green Intelligence (Independent Publishers Gold Medal Award in Environment, Ecology and Nature; Connecticut Book Award for Non-Fiction; and one of Scientific American’s Favorite Science Books of the year), Our Children’s Toxic Legacy (winner of the Association of American Publishers Annual Award in Government and Political Science), and Ecosystems: Balancing Science and Management (co-author). 
    If you would like to connect with a member of the YSE Alumni Association Board, please email the YSE Office of Development and Alumni Services for contact info.

    Office of Development and Alumni Services

    205 Prospect Street, 2nd Floor, Room 20
    New Haven, CT 06511
    +1 203-432-5697

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