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Leadership

Leadership

Our President: Erich Pica

 Friends of the Earth Action President Erich Pica is a nationally recognized environmental and progressive leader, and an economics expert on energy subsidies. For more than a decade, Erich has worked to reform U.S. tax and budget policy to reduce pollution and increase clean energy. His core belief that the solution to climate change rests at the intersection of justice and the environment has developed Friends of the Earth Action’s strategy to include racial justice and just transition in its work, with particular focus on indigenous and grassroots advocacy. Under Erich’s tenure, Friends of the Earth’s membership has grown to one million people, in all 50 states, most recently realigning priority resources to support Trump defense work.

Erich and civil rights leader Judith Browne Dianis recently co-authored an Op-Ed about how Trump Attorney General Sessions is a looming threat to people of color and the planet. Erich and other environmental leaders stood in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, arguing that the right to protest also means freedom from militarized police.  And, in September 2016, Erich was arrested at a civil disobedience action at the Department of the Interior (DOI), during which frontline, Indigenous and grassroots leaders renewed their call for executive action to keep fossil fuels in the ground and stop dirty infrastructure like the Dakota Access pipeline.

Erich spends much of his time building capacity in the fight for climate justice, through an extensive and varied network of coalition partners. Friends of the Earth Action aligned with Sen. Bernie Sanders for President at the onset of his campaign, and continues to work closely with Our Revolution.

Erich serves as the chair of the board of the Partnership Project and Partnership Project Action Fund, is a former board member of the Safe Energy Communication Council and former chair of the Green Group.  He also sits on the executive committee of the Citizens Trade Campaign and the advisory committee of the District of Columbia Environmental Network.

Prior to becoming Friends of the Earth Action’s president in 2009, Erich served as the organization’s director of domestic programs. In that role, he designed and launched many campaigns to bring emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and synthetic biology under greater public and regulatory control and to reform how the federal government manages and invests in our transportation system.

The Washingtonian called Erich one of Washington, D.C.’s “40 Under 40: K Street’s New Generation of Lobbyists.” He was named by Washington Life Magazine as one of Washington’s “Green City Leaders” and as one of the “Capital Region’s Most Influential Under 40 Residents.”  He also appears in Washington Life’s “Power 100” special report. He has testified before Congress and appeared extensively in the media.

Erich lives in Silver Spring, MD with his wife and son.

Follow Erich on Twitter: @erichpica


Our Board

Brent Blackwelder, Chair

Brent was most recently president of Friends of the Earth and Friends of the Earth Action, from 1994 to 2009. In his 40-plus years of environmental advocacy, he has been active in campaigns to reform foreign aid, save forests, protect rivers and advance human rights. He was an architect of significant legislation to protect natural resources and clean up pollution. Brent is a leader in the effort to save rivers — he helped expand the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System from eight rivers in 1973 to more than 250 today and helped eliminate more than 200 dams and stream dredging projects, which would have destroyed rivers, wetlands, wildlife and areas of significant scientific value. He founded American Rivers, the Environmental Policy Center, and Environmental Policy Institute, and was the chairman of the board of directors of the League of Conservation Voters. Brent holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a master’s from Yale University in mathematics and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Maryland.

Bunny Gabel, Vice Chair

Arturo Garcia-Costas

Arturo manages the New York Community Trust’s national and New York City environmental grantmaking program. He came to the Trust from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, where he oversaw the environmental justice grant program and chaired the State’s Sea Level Rise Task Force Community Resilience Work Group. Before that, Arturo worked with the United Nations Development Program, where he ran a global funding initiative focused on helping developing countries implement the Rio Conventions. He has also promoted sustainable development in the Americas with several nonprofits including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. Over the course of his career, Arturo has worked for Congress and for a Clinton appointee at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. He earned an undergraduate degree from the City University of New York in International Affairs and Theater, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he focused on international and environmental law.

Michael J. Herz

A research scientist and environmental activist for more than 30 years, Mike was an associate professor in residence at the University of California at San Francisco & has published numerous books and papers on the effects of toxics on the brain & behavior. He co-founded and was Executive Director of the San Francisco chapter of the Oceanic Society & Executive Vice President of the national organization. He was a member of the Alaska Oil Spill Commission following the Exxon Valdez oil spill & has served on numerous technical review committees for the National Research Council, Department of Interior & State of California. He is past-President of the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association, a Maine land trust that also protects endangered Atlantic salmon, a current board member of Maine Rivers & the Putney School & a former commodore of the Singlehanded Sailing Society. Mike received a Master’s degree from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

Ann Hoffman, Secretary

Arlie Schardt 

Arlie covered the 1960s civil rights campaigns for TIME magazine, was a staff writer for Sports Illustrated, Associate Legislative Director for the ACLU (where he co-chaired a national campaign to impeach Richard Nixon, one year before Watergate), executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund, News Media editor at Newsweek, chief of the News Service at Sports Illustrated, National Press Secretary for Al Gore’s 1987-88 presidential campaign, and editor of Foundation News magazine. He has written features and op-ed pieces in numerous national magazines and leading dailies. He has also contributed to three books on politics and national issues, including “Investigating the FBI.” His book, “Amnesty, the Unsettled Question of Vietnam,” went through three printings and was a factor in President Jimmy Carter’s granting amnesty to hundreds of thousands of Vietnam war resisters. 

Soroush Shehabi

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