Most of Mothers Out Front’s work is done by our wonderful, committed volunteers who participate in our Community Teams, our functional teams (Communications, Outreach, etc.), our affinity groups and our Leadership Teams, and so many partners working in their communities and beyond to help further our goals. Mothers Out Front exists because of all of their hard work and dedication.
Betsy Ericksen, Massachusetts Community Organizing Fellowbetsy.email@example.com
Michele Gielis, Online Organizer
Michele graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a dual degree in communications and anthropology, followed by a career supporting audio-visual teams at Lotus Development Corporation, Harvard Law School, and the Museum of Science. Since childhood, Michele has been a part-time activist for the environment and human rights. Recently, she decided that working to grow the movement to address climate change needed full-time attention and changed her trajectory to focus completely on what she sees as the most crucial cause of our time. Known as “Mish” by the Mothers Out Front community, she likes to learn how people make meaning.
Shameika Hanson, NYS Community Organizer (Long Island, NY)
Shameika Hanson grew up in Huntington Station, Long Island, NY. She obtained an Associate’s degree from Nassau Community College in Communications, with a focus on interpersonal relationship skills, in 2010. Subsequently, she attended Stony Brook University, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Humanities in May 2014. Shameika has worked in various fields since the age of 16, and has interned for former Town of Huntington councilwoman, Glenda A. Jackson; Huntington’s director of sustainability, Terese M. Kinsley; and Suffolk County 18th District legislator, Dr. William R. Spencer. She has volunteered as an organizer for the Town of Huntington’s Annual Black History Month show, Target’s National Night Out in Huntington and Dr. William R. Spencer’s Annual Food Drive. When she is not coordinating volunteers, music and events for the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc., a non-profit organization based in Beacon, NY she is more than likely tucked away reading or in the kitchen cooking.
Neely Kelley, New York State Lead Organizer
Neely’s first active involvement with the climate movement was to lead the fossil fuel divestment campaign of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. She has a B.S. in Animal and Poultry Sciences, and a B.A. in French Languages and Literature from Virginia Tech as well as an M.S. in Animal and Avian Sciences from the University of Maryland and an M.S. in Accounting from the University of Rochester. Neely has committed to full time organizing because of the urgency of the climate crisis. For two years, she volunteered with the Peace Corps in Gabon, Central Africa, but now lives in Rochester, NY with her husband Doug and their two daughters.
Izzy Leo, Massachusetts Community Organizer (Worcester, MA)
Izzy was raised in Western Massachusetts, where she fell in love with the natural beauty of New England. Spending her summers working on an organic farm and going to college in Iowa, she saw how climate change was already impacting the daily lives of American farmers. She received her B.A. in Anthropology and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies from Grinnell College, where she was an active member of various human rights groups on campus. Izzy completed her M.Phil. in Public History and Cultural Heritage at Trinity College Dublin before moving back to Massachusetts. As a student of history, she knows the power of women to drive change and is especially excited to harness the passion of mothers and grandmothers across Massachusetts in the fight against climate change. If she’s not watching, playing, or coaching soccer, you will probably find her exploring old cemeteries, reading nonfiction, or doing crossword puzzles.
Alicia Levey, Operations Manager (Astoria, NY)
Alicia comes to Mothers Out Front with a professional background in non profit operations and finance, a passion for environmentalism, and tons of enthusiasm for grassroots organization and activism! She holds her BA from University of Maryland University College, AAS from Herkimer SUNY, and certificate in Not-For-Profit Finance and Governance Reporting from NYU. Based in New York City, she loves to travel and is usually involved in a couple volunteer projects. She spends most of her free time checking out new vegan restaurants, planning her next adventure, and spending time with her niece and nephew.
Lisa Marshall, New York State Community Organizer (Southern Tier, NY)
Before working with Mothers Out Front, Lisa was dedicated to empowering mothers in childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting, homemaking and homeschooling while also raising and homeschooling her own three children. She has also worked as a middle school science teacher and a fiber arts teacher in a variety of educational settings. Lisa holds an M.S. in earth science from Dartmouth College and a B.A. in geology from Claremont McKenna College. In her free time she enjoys reading, knitting, quilting, doll-making, felting, yoga and walking her dogs. She and her family live in the town of Horseheads in New York's Southern Tier.
Aimee Maruyama, Director of Fundraising
Aimee is a seasoned fundraiser and organizer who believes firmly in the power of connecting donors to the causes they care about. Inspired by an article about the Amazon she read as a teen, Aimee developed a deep passion for environmental advocacy. This resolve stuck with her through graduate school, leading her to get her BS in Environmental Science from Antioch College and a Masters in Environmental Management from Duke University. Aimee lives in Ohio with her husband, son, and daughter.
Kim Miller, Hampton Roads Organizer
Born and raised in Hampton Roads, Kim has a strong connection to the beauty, culture and heartbeat of Southern Virginia. She is passionate about empowering people and bringing them together in purpose through organizing volunteer opportunities and hosting special events. Kim was the Special Events and Volunteer Coordinator at First Landing State Park and oversaw the commemorative production of the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of America’s first English colony as well as many special events and volunteer projects that helped encourage stewardship and enjoyment at Virginia State Parks. She has four beautiful daughters, a grandpuppy and is an active member of her church. Kim is an unapologetic lover of family, fun and hats. Kim currently lives in Virginia Beach.
Maura Ramsey, Massachusetts State Organizer
Maura's first memories of walks through the woods with her parents continue to inspire her work with Mothers Out Front. The beauty and complexity of the flora and fauna instilled in her a deep appreciation for her connection to the natural world. For the past 15 years, Maura has explored how that interconnection extends to social justice. She spent eight of those years developing a small community program into a multifaceted place of support for youth focused on leadership development and organizing in public housing. She believes the key to developing successful organizational models lies in applying racial justice, economic justice, and climate issues to leadership and systems development. Originally from Cleveland, Maura graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati with a B.A. in social work with a concentration in biology. She loves drinking tea, dancing like no one is watching, and curling up with a good novel.
Virginia Ribot, Climate Justice Organizer - El Puente
Virginia is a native New Yorker, born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY (Los Sures), and has an accounting degree from the University of Puerto Rico. Before joining Mothers Out Front, Virginia worked as a Property Manager for a non-profit organization in the family housing department. Being involved with El Puente for many years, first as a volunteer, and then as an employee in the Green Light District program, Virginia was recruited as an organizer for the El Puente partnership with Mothers Out Front.
Virginia is an active member of her church in Williamsburg, where she serves as the Youth Coordinator. Her children are the fourth generation of her family attending this congregation. Virginia also insists on singing in the church choir although she cannot hold a tune! As she says,” We all know I can’t sing but would they take my membership away? I don’t think so! I would go back and sing on Sunday!” Working as the Climate Justice Organizer with El Puente and Mothers Out Front brings out Virginia’s passion for children and the world.
Anne Roach, Communications Organizer and Manager
Anne has spent over ten years in communications in political campaigns and governmental organizations such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Through her work, she has seen first hand how even the smallest action can have enormous impact on a community. Anne was drawn to Mothers Out Front’s emphasis on empowering individuals to create change within their own communities to address the crisis of climate change. Anne graduated Boston College with a B.A. in Communications. A Boston resident, she enjoys walks along the Harbor, public libraries and movies with wisecracking sidekicks.
Vanessa Rule, Co-Founder and Director of Learning and Next States Expansion
Vanessa began working to address the climate crisis in the fall of 2006 as the lead organizer for Somerville Climate Action and as a board member of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network. She focused on helping residents, businesses, and municipalities reduce their carbon emissions through conservation, energy efficiency, and the use of renewables. Witnessing the relative lack of climate action at the state and federal levels, she co-founded Better Future Project, where she established 350 Massachusetts, then co-founded Mothers Out Front. Vanessa seeks to empower people—to give them the tools they need to build a movement powerful enough to re-align our political and economic decisions with the scientific and moral imperative to act on climate. She holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and an M.S. from Antioch University New England. She splits her time between Somerville, Massachusetts and Strafford, Vermont where she lives with her two children, Isabelle and Cedric.
Electa Sevier, Executive Director
Electa Sevier comes to Mothers Out Front with deep experience in non-profit management and a passion for community organizing. She is the co-founder of Case Associates, a consulting group that provides management assistance to nonprofit organizations, and has worked with numerous non-profits across many issues to develop strategic plans, manage critical projects and provide interim leadership. As a community organizer, she worked to create the City’s first official dog park, founded Neighborhood Parents for the Hurley School, and participated in numerous political campaigns and on community boards. Her concern about climate has always run deep, but has become more intense as her children have grown aware of the issue. Electa graduated from Harvard College and the Yale School of Management. She lives in Boston with her husband Jos Nicholas, their children Price and Nanneke, and too many pets.
The Founding Leadership Team worked tirelessly, along with many other volunteer leaders, to establish Mothers Out Front over the last three years.
Eliza is a Bay Area native who was drawn to climate change and environmental justice work as a child. Her interest in these topics intensified in college and led to her current work, conducting economic analysis related to climate and energy policy. In 2008 Eliza moved to Somerville, where she was energized by local activists taking a lead in local and state climate justice work. She began volunteering with Somerville Climate Action, which led to her involvement in Mothers Out Front. In addition to her work with Mothers Out Front, Eliza has sat on the Somerville Mayor’s Commission for Energy Use and Climate Change for the past 8 years. Eliza has a B.A in Geography from Middlebury College and M.A. in Urban Economics from U.C. Berkeley. Eliza lives in Somerville with her wife and two children, Izzy and Julian.
Susan is a grandmother of five. She has been actively involved in women's issues as well as issues of peace and justice since the 1960’s and is deeply committed to community organizing. From 2001 to 2009, she helped to sustain a network of community peace and justice groups in the Boston area. Recently, she led efforts to "fund our communities, not war," working with Massachusetts Peace Action and the statewide Fund Our Communities Coalition. Susan has also led many support groups for women and peace activists over the years. She lives in Arlington, MA.
Ellen Nelson van Bever
Ellen has held a variety of leadership roles in higher education administration at Dartmouth College and Georgetown University. Her most recent position was as Director of Special Programs in the Office of the Provost at Georgetown. She has served on the boards of the Perry School Community Services Center in Washington, DC and the Giving Circle in Alexandria, VA. In addition to her work with Mothers Out Front, Ellen chairs the parent group at her children’s school. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she has made her home on the East Coast since 1987. She lives in Cambridge, MA and Brooklin, ME with her husband Derek and their three children, Grace, Owen and Graham.
Kelsey Wirth, Co-Founder and Chair of the Board
Kelsey was inspired to start Mothers Out Front after becoming a mother and feeling despair about how climate change will impact her children's lives. Struck by how few opportunities people had to meaningfully engage in addressing the problem, she set out to change this under the guidance of veteran organizer and social movement scholar Marshall Ganz. Kelsey is co-founder and former president of Align Technology, Inc., maker of Invisalign. She has served on the boards of the Environmental Working Group and Grist Magazine, and currently serves on the board of the Winslow Foundation and Convergent Dental. A native of both Colorado and Washington DC, Kelsey graduated from Harvard College and received her M.B.A. from Stanford University. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Sam Myers, and their two daughters, Sophie and Lucy. Her favorite place to spend time with her family is in the mountains around Crested Butte, CO.
Mothers Out Front Board Members
Kelsey Wirth, Chair
Bonnie Cockman, Treasurer
Bonnie has spent her career leading the finance and operations of entrepreneurial nonprofit organizations whose missions align with her passions. Most recently, she served as managing director here at Mothers Out Front, helping establish our organization. Prior to that, she was senior vice president of finance & operations at Root Capital, an agricultural impact investor that grows rural prosperity in poor, environmentally vulnerable places in Africa and Latin America by lending capital, delivering financial training, and strengthening market connections. Earlier, she served as vice president of finance at Conservation International and director of finance at Georgetown University’s Center for Intercultural Education and Development. In addition to her role at Mothers Out Front, Bonnie is on the board of Better Future Project and is treasurer of the board of Foundations of Success. She is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a B.A. in business from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Laura DeBonis works as a consultant to education companies and non-profits. In addition to the Digital Public Library of America (DP.LA), she also serves on the Public Interest Declassification Board at the National Archives. Laura previously worked at Google in a variety of positions, including Director of Library Partnerships for Book Search. Laura started her career in documentary film and multimedia, and in strategy consulting for internet businesses. She is a graduate of Harvard College and has a MBA from Harvard Business School. She and her family live in Washington, DC.
Kristen Grimm is the founder and president of Spitfire Strategies, one of the country’s leading public relations firms dedicated to working exclusively with nonprofits and foundations to create positive social change. She has developed numerous resources for the field including Smart Chart 3.0, Discovering the Activation Point, Just Enough Planning Guide, and Big Ideas to Big Change. Prior to launching Spitfire, Kristen worked as a fellow at the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and as President and Chief Operating Officer of Fenton Communications where she wrote NOW HEAR THIS: The Nine Laws of Successful Advocacy Communications. Kristen has a B.A. from Smith College. She serves on the boards of the National Academy for State Health Policy and Grist.org.
(profile above - Founding Leadership Team)
Ellen Nelson van Bever
(profile above - Founding Leadership Team)