Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director | bio | contact
Denise Duffield, Associate Director| bio | contact
Angela Johnson Meszaros, General Counsel | bio | contact
Monika Shankar, Health and Environment Associate | bio | contact
Shazia Manji, Membership and Communications Associate | bio | contact
Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director
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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, Associate Director
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Denise Duffield, Associate Director, has over 15 years of development and non-profit administration experience as well as many years of social justice and peace activism. Denise serves as PSR-LA’s administrator and coordinates the organization’s fundraising efforts. She also directs PSR-LA’s peace and security program, which works to protect public health from the threat of nuclear weapons. Denise developed and coordinates PSR-LA’s physician peace and security ambassador program, which provides nuclear policy issue education and advocacy skills to physicians and health care professionals. She also 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.
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.
Angela Johnson Meszaros, General Counsel
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Angela Johnson Meszaros is General Counsel at Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles where she works to ensure that public health professionals are engaged in environmental public health policy and supporting community-based efforts to protect public health.Angela has nearly 20 years of experience working with communities and organizations on environmental justice issues in the Los Angeles region. During this time, Angela has used a range of tools to enhance the health, safety, and quality of life of low-income communities of color negatively impacted by environmental hazards including: litigation in federal and state court; filing regulatory challenges; educating state legislators and their staffs about the impact of state legislation; providing community legal education; providing community technical assistance in campaign development, strategic planning, fundraising, document analysis, and regulatory agency operations; testifying before relevant committees, boards and commissions; serving on agency policy workgroups; engaging in media advocacy; and mediating negotiations with a wide range of stakeholders. Angela’s efforts have been focused on policy development, implementation, and enforcement in a variety of environmental issues including: the impacts climate change policy on communities of color, enforcement of the provisions of the Clean Air Act, enhanced public participation in environmental decision-making, reducing childhood lead poisoning, defending against destructive freeway siting, stopping inappropriate siting of sources of air pollution, understanding land use policies and their impact on community health, reducing health impacts of air toxics from mobile and stationary sources, and air permit development and compliance.
Angela has been co-chair of the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee on the Implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32); the Chair of the Board of the Economic Roundtable, a non-profit organization that conducts research and implements programs that contribute to the economic self-sufficiency of individuals and communities; a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology, a non-profit that designs and fights for policies that promote global warming solutions and increased reliance on clean, renewable energy sources for California and the West. She is a member of the California State Bar. She holds both a degree in philosophy and a law degree from the University of Southern California.
Monika Shankar, Health and Environment Associate
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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. In her current role as Health & Environment Associate, she directs programs focusing on climate change and healthy land use by mobilizing and engaging health professionals, community groups and advocates in policy advocacy. Additionally, she is deeply committed and engaged in the social and environmental justice movements, as well as improving the conditions of low-income communities and communities of color.
Prior to joining PSR-LA, Monika worked with a team of community planners and environmental justice activists at the Ironbound Community Corporation, whose goal was to create a safe, healthy, thriving and sustainable neighborhood in a primarily immigrant section of the Newark, NJ. Through collaborations with community members, local organizations, city officials and environmental experts, the team addressed both at the local and policy level ways to resolve a multitude of issues including air pollution from incinerators and a local port, diesel exhaust from trucks, land pollution from over 50 contaminated industrial sites, and the remediation of one of the dirtiest rivers in the US; the Passaic River.
Monika holds a BA in spanish and philosophy from Loyola Marymount University, and a MA in international urban development from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy (The New School).
Shazia Manji, Membership and Communications Associate
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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.