Staff

Martha Dina Argüello

Executive Director marguello@psr-la.org

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.

 

Rose C. Apel

Administrative & Finance Associate rchhun@psr-la.org

Rose joined PSR-LA in 2021 as an Administrative and Finance Assistant. She supports the finance department by maintaining the records, producing reports, and tracking contributions. In addition, she is responsible for the administrative functions of the organization and assists with implementing new procedures and protocols within PSR-LA. Rose has 14 years of experience in operations and finance, mostly within the hospitality industry, and continued to volunteer for various nonprofit organizations. Rose’s mother instilled the idea of community and justice from a very young age and Rose has followed those ideas into her adulthood. She actively sought organizations that she could lend her skills and is passionate about environmental justice.

Prior to PSR-LA, Rose was a long-standing volunteer at Lula Washington Contemporary Dance Foundation and worked with the Executive Director who was her mentor. 

Rose grew up in Los Angeles and loved the diversity and food that Los Angeles had to offer. You can often find her running up to Griffith observatory close to sunset or in Ascot Park. She studied Philosophy and Applied mathematics at the California State University of Long Beach where she met like-minded individuals and eventually started a volunteer club. The group consisted of 14 friends who would decide where their efforts would make an impact and they traveled and worked together offering various skills.

 

Jen Carr

Director of Development jcarr@psr-la.org

As the Director of Development, Jen creates and executes plans that bring resources to PSR-LA’s work. Jen works closely with a collaborative team to oversee the implementation of fundraising, membership, communications, and health professional organizing strategies.  She also works to ensure that financial and operational activities are aligned to support our programmatic goals. 

Jen’s passion for environmental issues began as a young adult after her family’s home outside of Washington, DC was impacted by an oil spill from a nearby tank farm. Since then Jen has worked with a number of nonprofit groups and has always been active in the civic life of her local community. She was elected for two terms as President of a local Vermont school board, and recently she managed a successful political campaign that resulted in the election of a new member to the Vermont House of Representatives.

Jen earned her B.A. from Johnson State College in Vermont and her Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Marlboro College Graduate School. Her favorite place in Los Angeles is Long Beach where you are most likely to find her at the YMCA, the beach or walking in Heartwell Park. Jen loves all the LBC’s diverse local food options, as well as watching baseball and spending quality time with her family.

 

Denise Duffield

Associate Director dduffield@psr-la.org

Denise Duffield serves as PSR-LA’s administrator and directs its nuclear threats program, which advocates for health protective policies related to nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. Denise joined PSR-LA in 2004 and developed its ambassador program, which provides health professionals with issue education and advocacy skills. She leads PSR-LA’s participation in the national Back from the Brink campaign, which brings local communities together to build the public support and political will needed to fundamentally change U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

Denise also works on environmental health and justice issues, 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 full cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), 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 impacted communities with strategic policy advocacy.

Denise serves on the board of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a national network of organizations that works to address issues of nuclear weapons production and waste cleanup, and received ANA’s 2019 Bill Mitchell Grassroots Activist Award. She holds a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in theater arts from California State University Los Angeles.

 

Alex Jasset

Nuclear Threats Associate ajasset@psr-la.org

Alex Jasset joined PSR-LA in 2019 as the Nuclear Threats Associate. He supports the implementation of PSR-LA’s Nuclear program, which focuses on the risks of nuclear weapons, the health and security hazards of nuclear power, and radioactive waste and contamination. He supports this work through coalition building and organizing with the Back from the Brink campaign, research and information dissemination, and maintaining relationships with stakeholders and decision makers.

Before joining PSR-LA, Alex worked at the Civil Society Institute in Massachusetts, where he was responsible for building solidarity among frontline communities dealing with oil and gas development, mountaintop removal mining, and the legacy of nuclear waste. He co-authored several reports that examined water pollution and depletion around the country and built coalitions with several hundred environmental justice organizations to elevate these issues to the national discussion.

Alex holds a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from Boston College and a Master’s degree in International Relations & Environmental Policy from Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies. Originally from Boston, he enjoys exploring the natural beauty of the Southwest, and can be found hiking Griffith Park in his free time.

 

Jazmine Johnson

Land Use and Health Program Associate jjohnson@psr-la.org

Jazmine Johnson joined PSR-LA in March 2017 as a Land Use and Health Program Associate, where she serves as the 500 Feet Project Coordinator. In this role, she coordinates workshops involving health professionals, field experts, and community members and conducts research surrounding issues of industrial land use and health in the South and Southeast Los Angeles communities. She comes to PSR-LA from Chicago, where she worked for the City of Chicago and organized in the Southside community. In this capacity, she was instrumental in engaging with residents and community based organizations to gauge community needs and their civic engagement. She has also implemented research projects in the Dominican Republic on health, nutrition, and environmental issues and was involved in social justice campaigns and efforts through organizations on campus. Her expertise is in community engagement and organizing, health research, and public policy.

Jazmine holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences with a Specialization in Neuroscience from the University of Chicago and aspires to be a physician.

 

Maro Kakoussian

Air & Climate Justice Associate mkakoussian@psr-la.org

Maro Kakoussian is a grassroots organizer in the greater Los Angeles area where she works on issues ranging from oil and gas extraction, climate change, poverty and immigration. She’s an Organizer with the STAND-LA and LEAP-LA Coalitions and serves as VP of Legislation and Issues on the Board of Democrats of Pasadena Foothills. Maro was recently elected as Delegate to the 41st Assembly District. She’s served on UC Riverside’s Green Campus Action Plan Committee, The Life You Can Save’s UC Riverside Chapter, Sustainable UCR, R’Garden, and the San Gorgonio Chapter of Sierra Club CA. Maro studied Spanish at Universidad International in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, and speaks fluent Armenian. She double-majored and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of California, Riverside.

She’s a first generation Armenian-American and the first college graduate in her family with parents from Cairo, Egypt, and Beirut, Lebanon. Her experience includes the 2012 Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative, 2013 Sierra Club My Generation Campaign, 2016 Plastic Bag Ban Referendum, 2017 Senate Bill 424 Environmental Literacy and Science Education Act, and 2018 Climate Emergency Mobilization Department Motion. She enjoys organizing direct actions in the local community that seek to empower local organizations, campaigns, and movements to effectively collaborate and advocate on behalf of progressive causes. She believes our combined numbers make real change happen.

 

Rahel Kemal

Membership Coordinator rkemal@psr-la.org

Rahel Kemal serves as PSR-LA’s Membership Coordinator. She works closely with our internal team and physician members to ensure our members are equipped with the training and tools they need to advocate for the community they serve every day. Prior to starting this position, she was our AmeriCorps volunteer through the Public Allies program where she supported our various programmatic work. Rahel was born in Ethiopia, raised in Seattle and moved to Southern California five years ago to attend Pitzer College in Claremont where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology with a focus on Cross Cultural Health and Healing.

Rahel has been passionate about serving her community both locally and abroad since she was 16. She is committed and passionate about social justice and working towards and equitable world for those most impacted by the unjust systems of our society. Rahel identifies as a global citizen and has had the opportunity to work and study in Ethiopia, London, Jamaica, and Guatemala. She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in global public health with a social justice framework and an interdisciplinary lens.

 

Michael Rincon

Policy Researcher mrincon@psr-la.org

Michael Rincon joined PSR-LA in June 2018 as a Policy Researcher. His work involves deep document analysis, regulation compliance, regulatory failure, and policy analysis, thus giving him the ability to understand and provide key information for policy recommendations and reform. Michael is currently involved with the cleanup campaigns at the Santa Susana Field Lab to ensure full and thorough cleanup at these sites, as well as a new campaign with California Pesticide Reform.

Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies with a special focus on Environmental Law and Policy, as well as a Minor in Sustainability Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Before coming onboard with PSR-LA, Michael previously worked for Committee to Bridge the Gap, an Environmental and Nuclear Policy non-profit, doing document analysis for cleanup documents for the Santa Susana Field Lab, Exide Technologies, and Hunter’s Point. While in college, Michael also worked for the City of Santa Cruz as an Assistant Energy Projects Coordinator doing Energy Efficiency and Climate Policy work. Michael is bilingual in both English in Spanish.

Michael is a die-hard Los Angeles Dodgers and Kings fan.

 

Eric Romann

STAND-LA Coalition Coordinator eromann@psr-la.org

Eric Romann joined PSR-LA in 2017 as the Coordinator for STAND-LA (Standing Together Against Neighborhood Drilling), an LA-based coalition of which PSR-LA is co-founder and co-chair. He helps manage all aspects of STAND’s work, from policy advocacy with the City of Los Angeles to research, analysis, coalition-building and grassroots organizing.

He brings to PSR-LA and STAND a deep commitment to and nearly 20 years of experience in movements and organizations working for racial, economic, environmental, gender and immigrant justice. For seven years, he helped lead grassroots campaigns and form coalitions addressing public transportation policy at the intersection of civil rights, public health, climate and environmental justice with the LA-based Labor/Community Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union. He has also organized parents and educators with United Teachers Los Angeles, LA’s largest teachers’ union. He has a history of working on international campaigns for human rights and corporate accountability.

Eric is a graduate of the Strategy Center’s National School for Strategic Organizing and holds a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College. Eric is bilingual in English and Spanish. He is a member of an urban sustainability-focused non-profit housing cooperative in LA’s Koreatown neighborhood, where he lives with his partner and son.

 

Maki Tohmon

Development Associate mtohmon@psr-la.org

Maki joined PSR-LA in 2021 as the Development Associate to support the organization in areas such as fundraising, donor relations, and grants management. She brings experience from the various administrative and customer service positions she has held in the past. While these positions were mainly with large corporate, financial institutions, Maki became interested in the nonprofit sector after interning at the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance and being immersed in the impactful work that nonprofits engage in.

Maki was born in Japan and moved to the United States at a young age, spending a few years in Pennsylvania before moving to the Bay Area with her family. Although she grew up mostly in the U.S., she is fluent in Japanese thanks to her parents, who tirelessly drove her and her siblings to Japanese School every Saturday. She started her college education as a biology major at Pomona College, but transferred to UC Irvine and graduated with a B.S. in Public Health Science. She hopes to continue her public health education and obtain a Master’s degree in the future to better equip herself for the ongoing fight against various health inequities and disparities.

Maki is grateful for the countless ramen shops in LA and aspires to try all of them. She also has a Maltese-Yorkie named Katsu who thinks she is his personal pillow.

 

Paula Torrado

Air and Toxic Policy Analyst ptorrado@psr-la.org

Paula joined PSR-LA in 2018. As Air and Toxic Policy analyst, she helps coordinate the Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE) Steering Committee, Californians for Pesticide Reform and emerging coalitions addressing issues of toxics and a just transition to a non-toxic economy. Additionally, she will help PSR-LA implement its Community Air Protection Grant by the California Air Resources Board through the implementation of bill AB 617. Through this grant and with community organizations partners, Paula will engage in building community residents’ capacity to understand and identify sources of air pollution in South Central Los Angeles while collecting air quality data and conducting ground-truthing that will inform strategies to implement or community reduction emissions plans.

Prior to joining PSR-LA, Paula worked as an Air Quality Community Outreach Coordinator at Air Alliance Houston (AAH), where she managed projects focused on improving air quality and public health in the Houston-Galveston area by building air quality educational curriculums, leading community air quality monitoring, and creating opportunities for ground-truthing among Houston’s frontline communities. Paula is a graduate of the University of Houston with an Earth and Atmospheric Sciences degree.

 

Emily Jo Wharry

Communications Associate ejwharry@psr-la.org

Emily Jo joined PSR-LA in 2021 as the Communications Associate. She supports the staff’s internal and external communications strategies by creating digital content to promote PSR-LA’s advocacy, building relationships with media partners, and brainstorming new approaches to messaging. Her professional experience spans nonprofit newsrooms, corporate communications, and academic publishing.

Raised in and around Los Angeles by two nurses, Emily Jo grew up entrenched in the world of medical professionals, and her interest in advancing change through policy was sparked from watching her father’s labor organizing work. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Occidental College, where she double-majored in politics and history and was active in restorative justice community-building initiatives. For her, meaningful environmental justice and social equity must be intersectional. She is a proud Filipina American and, in her free time, enjoys experiencing live music, museums, and the outdoors with her loved ones.