Martha Dina Argüello
For the past 32 years, Martha has served in the non-profit sector as an advocate, community organizer, and coalition builder. She joined PSR-LA in 1998 to launch the environmental health programs, and became Executive Director in November 2007. She is committed to making the credible voice of physicians a powerful instrument for transforming California and our planet into a more peaceful and healthy place.
Martha grew up in the Pico-Union area of Los Angeles. At the young age of 14, she made a lifelong commitment to effect social change after seeing her friend killed by a school security guard. While working as a health educator in the 1990s, Martha had an epiphany — she realized that although early detection can prevent death from breast cancer, it does not prevent breast cancer, which has been increasingly linked to the exposure of environmental toxicants. Since that realization, Martha has dedicated her career to the environmental justice movement, and has lectured nationwide on the use of precautionary principle policies.
As a coalition builder, Martha has emphasized the need for local grassroots advocacy working in partnership with statewide policy actions. She is an active board member of numerous organizations, including Californians for Pesticide Reform, the California Environmental Rights Alliance, and Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy. She also co-founded the Los Angeles County Asthma Coalition and the Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice, and was appointed to Cal/EPA’s Environmental Justice Committee and the California Air Resources Board’s Global Warming Environmental Justice Advisory Committee.
Denise Duffield joined PSR-LA in 2004. She serves as PSR-LA’s administrator and directs its nuclear threats program, which advocates for health protective policies related to nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, and radiation regulations. Denise developed PSR-LA’s Peace and Security Ambassador program and coordinates public awareness events, physician and health professional training, legislative advocacy, and media placement related to nuclear issues. She works to develop joint strategies and initiatives with allied national and state nuclear watchdog, peace, environmental, public health, and justice organizations.
Denise also works on environmental health and justice issues, particularity on addressing the needs of local communities who are impacted by toxic contamination and the failure of regulatory agencies to protect them. Denise leads PSR-LA’s efforts to ensure a proper cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a former nuclear and rocket testing facility that is highly polluted with radiological and chemical contamination. She also participates in the Peoples Senate, a statewide collaborative that combines grassroots organizing in highly impacted communities with strategic policy advocacy.
Denise holds a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in theatre arts from California State University Los Angeles.
Director of Health & Environment Programs
Monika Shankar joined PSR-LA in March 2013, bringing with her over 10 years of professional programmatic and research experiences cultivated in both the nonprofit, academic and private sector. As the Director of Health & Environment Programs at PSR-LA, Monika Shankar oversees the organization’s Climate, Air and Toxics programs, and coordinates its Land Use work. In the Land Use program, Monika is responsible for projects and initiatives focused on reducing health disparities caused by unhealthy uses of land and increasing healthy land use options in low-income communities of color. This is accomplished by mobilizing and engaging health professionals, community groups and advocates in community development and education, and policy advocacy. Monika sits on the steering committee for the Jordan Downs Environmental Justice Coalition and ClimatePlan. She holds a MA in international urban development from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy (The New School).
Membership and Communications Coordinator
Shazia Manji joined PSR-LA in March 2014 as the Membership and Communications Associate, where she works to help organize PSR-LA’s Health Ambassador Program and support all communication needs, including social media, the production of the PSR-LA newsletter, and website management. Prior to joining PSR-LA, Shazia became engaged with social and environmental justice organizing while working with the Student Sustainability Collective at the University of California, San Diego, a commission of student government geared towards fostering a comprehensive understanding of sustainability that recognizes the political, economic, and social contexts in which environmental harm occurs. She has worked as an intern with several non-profit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Breast Cancer Action, a national grassroots organization working to end the breast cancer epidemic, where she has since stayed active as a volunteer and a member of their Community Leaders for Change program.
Shazia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from the University of California, San Diego, and hopes to one day return to school to earn a Master’s in Public Health.
Air Quality and Health Associate
Jennifer Kim joined PSR-LA in June 2015 as the Air Quality and Health Program Assistant. She provides support for the implementation of PSR-LA’s Air Pollution program, which focuses on regional pollution policies, the elimination of urban oil and gas extraction, and the rapid transition away from fossil fuels for energy. Jennifer is driven by her passion to actualize vibrant and just communities, and has previously been involved with various San Francisco-based environmental and social justice organizations. She has worked with the Center for Biological Diversity on community organizing efforts to prevent tar sands oil development and expansion in the US, and has volunteered with grassroots organizations like Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice and People Organized to Win Employment Rights (P.O.W.E.R) in Bayview Hunters Point, a neighborhood heavily burdened with toxic pollution from past and present industrialization.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Sustainability and Social Justice from San Francisco State University. She has a great interest in sustainable and inclusive community development, and plans to return to school for a master’s degree in a related field.
Raquel Mason joined PSR-LA in July 2015 as a Program Associate, where she supports PSR-LA’s Climate Change and Toxics programming and coalition initiatives. Previously, Raquel partnered with MEND – an antipoverty organization in Pacoima, California – to assist with their newly established Grow Together Program. The project works to promote good health for its participants through access to fresh produce, the exercise offered by gardening, and educational workshops. By the end of the first harvest, program participants were excited and empowered by their built environment. After witnessing this new community of urban gardeners, Raquel was inspired and committed to the power of grassroots organizing. Raquel has worked with several social justice organizations throughout Los Angeles including Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, Peer Health Exchange, and most recently with Pacoima Beautiful’s Urban Agriculture Program.
Raquel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Environmental Policy from Occidental College. In the future she plans to pursue her Master’s in Urban Planning.