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.

 

 

Denise Duffield

Associate Director dduffield@psr-la.org

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 theater arts from California State University Los Angeles.

 

 

Lizette Hernandez

Director of Health & Environment Programs lhernandez@psr-la.org

Lizette Hernandez serves as the Director of Health & Environment Programs at Physicians for Social Responsibility LA, where she leads multiple policy efforts within several program areas including, Air Quality and Climate Justice, Land Use & Health, and Toxics & Water. She brings a unique technical skill set as a trained civil & environmental engineer and urban planner along with extensive organizing and popular education skills.  As someone who grew up in South Central Los Angeles and is a mother to an asthmatic child, she is fully aware of the cumulative impact of living near numerous polluting sources. She has almost two decades of work experience throughout California but mostly in South Los Angeles at key base building organizations including CDTech, Community Coalition, Strategic Actions for A Just Economy, LAANE and the Sierra Club. Lizette has worked on a variety of issues ranging from community benefit agreements, living wage, community land trusts, brownfields, clean energy, and community health based campaigns. Lizette graduated from UCLA for a B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering Degree and from UCBerkeley with a Master’s in City and Regional Planning.

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

Monika Shankar

Senior Project Manager mshankar@psr-la.org

Monika joined PSR-LA in March 2013, bringing with her over 10 years of professional programmatic and research experiences cultivated in the nonprofit, academic and private sectors. As the Senior Project Manager at PSR-LA, Monika is responsible for strategically guiding the organization’s work on air quality and health, focusing especially on the implementation of the AB 617 Air Quality Project. Additionally, Monika provides tactical support to PSR-LA’s other environmental health programs including the Land Use and Toxics programs. Monika enjoys exploring art, culture and food. She recently returned from a 6 month journey to Berlin, where she had the unique opportunity to explore socialist experiments in housing and urban development, play soccer with a progressive women’s club, and eat too many doner kebabs. She holds a Master of Art in International Affairs from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy (The New School), and a Bachelor of Art in Spanish and Philosophy.

 

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.

 

Donte Woods

Field Organizer dwoods@psr-la.org

Donte L. Woods joined the Watts Clean Air & Energy Committee in August 2018. He currently is the Field Organizer for PSR-LA where he started working in May of 2018. His principle work is as S.T.A.N.D.-LA’s Field Organizer where his duties are to guide the grassroots efforts of S.T.A.N.D.-LA’s Campaign for a 2500ft. Setback Ordinance. Previously, Donte has worked on a myriad of Social Justice issues like Education Reform-eliminating the two tier educational system one being a pipeline to prison or vocational careers and the other a pipeline to higher education. Donte has also worked as a Union Rep for the Homecare Workers Union travelling up and down the state ensuring that workers are not excluded from entering a collective bargaining agreement with nursing home employers.

Shortly after the riots in 1992 riots, Donte became a resident of Watts. He has been committed to improving the quality of life for people who live in historically disenfranchised communities. The LA Dept. of Mental Health has a program that is geared to address the lack of access to mental and medical health services. Donte served as a Peer Advocate of which his duties were to facilitate enrolled clients’ treatment plans and serve as a health navigator.

Donte studied at Tuskegee University and Los Angeles Southwest Community College where he earned an A.A. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2002.