Meet our Board of Directors and Staff

Board of Directors

Karen A Ballard, MA, RN, FAAN

Vice Chair

Karen has a BSN from Niagara University’s College of Nursing and MA in child and adolescent psychiatric-mental health nursing from New York University. She has been a consultant for the Nurses Workgroup for Health Care Without Harm (HCWH); an adjunct associate professor at PACE University, teaching courses on psychiatric-mental health nursing, health care reform and nursing leadership, and an adjunct instructor at New York University, teaching graduate-level courses in health policy and psychiatric-mental health nursing.  She served as the first Executive Director of ANA-New York, the American Nurses Association's NY constituent.

Karen has held clinical positions in both pediatric and child psychiatric nursing working primarily with children and their families coping with chronic and terminal illnesses. Additionally, she held various staff positions including Director of the Practice and Governmental Affairs Program with the New York State Nurses Association. She served as a member and chair of ANA’s Standards and Guidelines Committee and as Vice-Chairperson of its Congress on Nursing Practice and Economics. Karen is the co-author with Patricia O’Brien and Winifred Kennedy of Psychiatric Nursing – An Integration of Theory and Practice (2012). She was a contributing editor of AJN’s quarterly column – “Environments and Health”. Karen served as a President of the New York State Nurses Association, was a First Vice-President of the American Nurses Association and is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

Cecil Corbin-Mark

Treasurer

Cecil. D Corbin Mark is Deputy Director and Director of Policy Initiatives for WEACT for Environmental Justice. ​A lifelong resident of Harlem, Cecil is the former president of his neighborhood association, and former Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Committee of his Community Planning Board. He serves as a mentor through the Friends of Island Academy - a program to assist formerly incarcerated teens.

 

Cecil earned his degree in Political Science at Hunter College. His graduate work in Political Science at Oxford University focused on radical political traditions of Africans of the Diasporas of the Americas.  Cecil either serves or has served on the following boards, coalitions and committees: New York Jobs with Justice, Center for Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Conservation Urban Air Toxic Committee, NYS Cumulative Risk Assessment Work Group, NY City DEP Water Quality Citizen Advisory Committee, Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board, Clean Air Network, Association for Clean Water Action, Clean Products Clean Production, Environmental Justice Fund, Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods, NYC Environmental Education Council, and NorthEast Environmental Justice Network.

Penelope Jagessar Chaffer

Penelope Jagessar Chaffer is the multi-award winning documentary filmmaker behind Toxic Baby™, writer and children’s environmental health advocate. She is the first black female director to be nominated for a British Academy Award.

 

Born in London, of Trinidadian parentage, she started her career at the BBC before moving to Channel 4. Her first British Academy Award Nomination came for her debut film, “Me and My Dad” which followed Penelope back to Trinidad as she confronted her father, a former high-flying magistrate (the youngest magistrate in the British Commonwealth) who was sent to prison for bribery and corruption. The Times called it “a unique record of dignity and regret” and likened it to “something Tolstoy would have written.”

 

She has directed several other well-received pieces of work including “Shakespeare’s Stories” for the BBC, which was nominated for a BAFTA in 2006. She has won over 10 awards for her work with the BBC and Channel 4, including 5 gold national and international Promax awards and is a double BAFTA, Royal Television Society and Grierson (British Documentary Awards) nominee. A documentary auteur, her films display a singularly unique perspective on the world we live in, with The Observer newspaper calling her work “a joy to watch.”

 

Penelope is an author for Toxipedia (the wiki site for toxic chemicals, environmental health, and toxicology), contributes to several blogs and writes for publications around the world. She gave a TED talk at the inaugural TEDWomen conference in Washington DC, with Professor Tyrone Hayes, about Toxic Baby™ and the effects of chemicals on the health and development of children. She lives in New York City with her two children.

Patricia Jenny, MRP

Pat retired in February 2019 as Vice President for Grants at The New York Community Trust, the community foundation for New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. She managed a $50 million program and staff providing grants to nonprofits to promote healthy lives, secure promising futures, and create thriving communities for residents in this region. Pat had prior positions at The Trust directing the community development and environment grant programs; founded a now 18-year old collaborative of New York City foundations focused on employment programs; and designed a special initiative in three neighborhoods to move people from welfare to work.  

 

She served on several boards of philanthropic associations including Neighborhood Funders Group, Environmental Grantmakers Association, and Health and Environment Funders Group during her career, Currently she is a member of the steering committee of an emerging coalition focused on creating a more sustainable agriculture industry, leading to healthier diets and reduced contributions to climate change, and will join the Pro Bono and Legal Services Committee of the New York City Bar Association in  the fall. Pat is a graduate of Brown University and has a Masters of Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

Gavin McIntyre

Gavin McIntyre is the co-founder and Chief Scientist of Ecovative Design. Since founding the company in 2007, he has led all material and biological process development in the company’s strides to replace the fossil fuel derived chemicals in plastics and resins. Gavin co-invented Ecovative’s patent-pending technology that uses a fungal mycelium to transform agricultural waste into strong biological composite materials. These materials are 100% compostable and made with a fraction of the energy of conventional plastics. Gavin received a dual B.S. In Mechanical Engineering and Product Design from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and has a number of utility patents to his name.

Alexandra McPherson

At Niagara Share, Alexandra McPherson works to foster a globally connected place-based regenerative economy strategy to leverage environmental entrepreneurship by working with private and public sector leaders on new opportunities and possibilities that account for emerging mega trends like climate change, resource degradation, poverty, loss of biodiversity and access to resources.

 

Prior to her work at Niagara Share, Alexandra launched an innovative start up – Clean Production Action – that successfully worked globally to scale environmental solutions through dynamic partnerships across businesses, unions, governments, academics, and nonprofit organizations. Alexandra served on the national advisory board of EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool).

In addition, Alexandra assisted Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper in the launch of a Blue Economy initiative and diversified their budget with new investments from national foundations and major corporations like HSBC and Patagonia. She serves on the board of the Western New York Environmental Alliance; is a trustee for the Nichols School and an ambassador for the Girls Education Collaborative. Alexandra earned her BA in Communication from the University of New Hampshire.

Jon Whelan, MBA

Jon Whelan got his MBA while dabbling in Virtual Reality. He is the director of Stink!, an off-beat documentary about Whelan's tenacious quest to uncover the source of a chemical scent in a pair of his daughter's pajamas. Like most Americans, Whelan believed that if a product was on the store shelf then it must be safe. Through his investigation, Whelan discovers a culture of secrecy surrounding carcinogens in everyday consumer products that begins in corporate board rooms and extends all the way to the halls of Congress.

Formerly co-CEO of Afternic.com, internet/media start-up advisor, and a founding member of the New York Angels; Whelan currently advocates for truthful product labeling and is a full-time parent of two young daughters.

Penny Fujiko Wilgerodt

Chair

Penny Fujiko Willgerodt is Executive Director of The Prospect Hill Foundation. In 1987, Penny started working at Ms. Foundation for Women; joined the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation as program officer in 1990; and the Rockefeller Family Office in 1999. She was part of the start-up team to create Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, where she was Vice President until 2008.  Among many other boards, she served as president and trustee of the Weeksville Heritage Center.

Currently, she is an advisory board member of Prison Watch Sierra Leone and a member of the funder network, New York Youth Justice Initiative. Penny graduated cum laude from Yale College with a B.A. in East Asian Studies, and holds an M.A. in secondary school education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Alexandra Zissu

Secretary

Alexandra Zissu is a writer and an editorial consultant. She’s the author of The Conscious Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, March 2010)—a Books for a Better Life Awards finalist—and co-author of Get on Top (Touchstone, March 2018), Planet Home (Clarkson Potter, December 2010), The Complete Organic Pregnancy (Collins, September 2006), and The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat (Clarkson Potter, May 2011).

As a journalist, Alexandra has written extensively about food, chefs, fashion, trends, pregnancy, parenting, and green living for The New York Times, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Bon Appétit, Health, New York, Vogue, Refinery29, Child, and Details, among many other publications. The majority of her consulting work is editorial. Her office directs, manages, advises, and/or reviews content for organizations, brands, and other companies to help them translate their eco-efforts into consumer English. She also speaks often about all things eco-friendly at private firms, mothers' groups, schools, non-profits, and industry expos and consults about green living for individuals and organizations.

Alexandra has been actively involved in promoting her books as well as her green living platform on radio and television, including several appearances on the Today show. She has been called a “green culinary queen” by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, a “green guru” by New York Family Magazine, and a “green goddess” by DailyCandy.

A native New Yorker, Alexandra recently relocated to the Hudson Valley with her family to be close to the farms that feed them. She is obsessive about family meal and finds pure magic in growing a small raised bed of peas, lettuces, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and herbs with her two young girls. 

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Staff

Executive Director

Kathleen Curtis, LPN, Executive Director, has 30 years of experience in the environmental health movement and is a widely recognized national leader whose policy expertise is in high demand. She is Clean and Healthy New York’s chief lobbyist and organizer, responsible for CHNY’s relationship with allies and policymakers. Her leadership has guided enactment of several local, state and federal policies regulating toxic chemicals. She co-coordinates the JustGreen Partnership and the Policy and Advocacy Workgroup of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. She was Senior Development Consultant at Healthy Building Network, co-leader of the Coming Clean Collaborative’s Policy Workgroup, and Executive Director at Citizens' Environmental Coalition, where she was an author of Building Green without Going in the Red. Previously, she was Outreach Director at Environmental Planning Lobby (now Environmental Advocates of NY) and worked as a nurse.

Kathy is the recipient of Health Care Without Harm's 2015 Charlotte Brody Award and a 2018 Children's Environmental Health Champion Award from the NYS Children's Environmental Health Centers. She is an author of numerous CHNY reports, including Is It In Us? Toxic Trespass, Regulatory Failure, and Opportunities for Action. She is on the steering committees of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition, SAFERStates, and Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. Kathy also serves on ANHE’s Board of Directors, the Advisory Board of the Occupational and Environmental Health Clinic of Eastern NY, Rotterdam Steering Committee, and Rotterdam Conservation Advisory Council.

Contact: (518) 641-1552 ex. 5

kathy <at> cleanhealthyny.org

Bobbi Wilding, MS, Deputy Director, has two decades of experience as an environmental health advocate. She directs the national Getting Ready for Baby coalition and CHNY's Reducing Toxics in Child Care Program.  Bobbi is an author and co-author of numerous reports and guides, including most recently New York State's Environmental Health Leadership: A Roadmap to a Nontoxic, Just, Sustainable Circular Economy, and the Getting Ready for Baby campaign's Safe Baby Products Guide. Her past writing includes Selling Safer Products, about retailers to the child care community, The Mattress Matters: Protecting Babies and Toddlers While They Sleep; No Silver Lining, and Hazardous Chemicals in Health Care

 

She has trained hundreds of child care providers to avoid chemicals of concern, and organized the NYS Healthy Economy and Environment conference of 2011. She is a NYS Pollution Prevention Institute Advisory Board member, and serves on numerous workgroups as Supporting Member of the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse.  She has co-led the Coming Clean coalition's Emerging Technologies and Fenceline Action Workgroups, and served as the coalitions' BPA Coordinator. She is the recipient of a 2018 Children's Environmental Health Champion Award from the NYS Children's Environmental Health Centers.

Contact: (518) 641-1552 ex. 2

bobbi <at> cleanhealthyny.org

Greg Campbell-Cohen, MA

Greg Campbell-Cohen, MA, is the Outreach Coordinator for Clean and Healthy New York. Before coming to Albany, Greg served a term with AmeriCorps as the Program Coordinator at the University of Knoxville's Office of Sustainability, where he specialized in volunteer coordination, database management, and internal policy. There, he also served on the steering committee of the Knoxville EarthFest and as a voting member of the Student Environmental Initiatives Committee. In Virginia, Greg conducted historical research and taught outdoors for the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park. His writing has appeared in the Financial Times' fDi magazine.

Greg is passionate about corporate accountability and consumer protection. He holds a Master of Arts with Honours in History & Politics from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. In his spare time, Greg volunteers with Homeward Bound Dog Rescue.

Contact: (518) 641-1552 ex. 4

greg <at> cleanhealthyny.org

Shawn Charniga

Program Associate

Shawn Charniga is a Hudson Valley native who was born in Albany and grew up in a family of scientists and environmentalists. The Charnigas were part of a successful effort to stop a burn plant from being sited in Greene County during the early 1980s, which provided young Shawn with his first exposure to the power of advocacy. 

 

He arrived at CHNY in the fall of 2019 having worked by turns as a musician, public-affairs journalist and legislative aide in the New York State Capitol. As Program Associate, Shawn's responsibilities include policy and budget analysis and certain CHNY messaging work, duties which draw on his more than two decades of diverse professional experiences.

Contact: (518) 641-1552 ex. 6

shawn <at> cleanhealthyny.org

Siobhan Burke

Siobhan has been active in environmental and social justice organizing in the Capital District for over a decade. Before joining Clean and Healthy New York, she worked in outreach and sales promoting wind power for Community Energy, and as a canvasser and administrative assistant with NYPIRG's community outreach office in Albany.

She co-founded the grassroots volunteer group Capital District Against Fracking, which pushed successfully for a local fracking ban in Albany; and has been active with local and regional groups in organizing to ban rail transport of crude oil. Siobhan is currently a Steering Committee member of ICE-Free Capital District and a volunteer with the Troy Sanctuary Campaign, which organize resistance to racism and xenophobia and advocate for sanctuary communities in the Capital District. 

Contact: (518) 641-1552 ex. 1

siobhan <at> cleanhealthyny.org

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518-641-1552

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