Faculty & Staff

UEPI’s faculty and professional staff represent fields of environmental and public health, housing, urban planning, law, public policy, non-profit management, and more.

Staff work closely with the professors in the UEP academic department, and also collaborate with other college departments including the Center for Community Based Learning and Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement. Staff are housed at two different locations on campus, 1541 and 1882 Campus Road.

Photo of Sharon Cech

Sharon Cech

Sharon Cech leads the CA Farm to School, Farm to WIC, and Regional Food Systems programs at UEPI. Her project work revolves around building a more equitable and sustainable food system that both supports small-scale producers and improves access to quality affordable foods in underserved communities. Sharon also represents UEPI as a member of the CA Small Farm Conference Board of Directors, the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative, the National Advisory Board for the Food Hub Management Program, the National Farm to School Network as a State Lead, Los Angeles Food Policy Council’s Good Food Economy Working Group, and Oxy’s Campus Dining Working Group. Sharon holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Bard College and an M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA.

(323) 341-4807


Photo of Mijin Cha

J. Mijin Cha

Mijin Cha's research focuses on climate change, green economy, and the intersection of race, class, and the environment. Her writing has appeared in several outlets, including The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, Grist, Dissest, Truthout, The Hill, and Policyshop. She is a graduate of Cornell Univeristy and holds a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and LL.M. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of London, SOAS. Mijin is a member of the California Bar and teaches courses on climate justice and environmental law.

(323) 341-4047


Photo of Sylvia Chico

Sylvia Chico

Sylvia Chico joined Occidental College in 1992 working in the Facilities Management Department and in 2000, transitioned to UEPI and UEP Department as the senior program coordinator. She provides primary support for the UEP faculty, students and alums, and general office support for UEP/I. She also serves as a commencement usher since 2001 and enjoys seeing the graduates move on to bigger and better endeavors. Sylvia received the Oxy Ambassador of Service Excellence Award in 2001, and several years later, she received the Sarah A. Gilman Memorial Award in recognition for her outstanding and dedicated service to Occidental. Outside of work, you will find Sylvia alongside with her husband and Oxy's Postal Operations Center Manager Victor Chico teach students the art of Karate (PHAC 149) throughout the academic year in the Alumni Dance Studio. They have two sons, Christian '18 and Lee, and a rescued boxer/pb mix Nakita.

(323) 259-2991


Christine Chuong

Christina Chuong is the Grants & Finance Manager at UEPI. Her responsibilities include financial and compliance management of grants. Other responsibilities include processing invoices and contracts, liaison with partners, assisting with financial reporting requirements, record keeping and working with the PI and Project Director to plan and execute short and long-term objectives.

(323) 259-1460


Headshot Photo of Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier has been involved in urban policy as a scholar, government official, reporter, and advocate for over 30 years. He writes widely on American politics and public policy, specializing in urban politics and policy, housing policy, community development, and community organizing. He is also a frequent speaker on these topics and a regular contributor to The Nation, American Prospect, Huffington Post, New Labor Forum, Dissent, and the Los Angeles Times, and writes occasionally for the New York Times and the Washington Post. Peter is co-author of three books about cities and urban policy, including The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City (2005) and Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century (3rd edition, 2014). He is also the author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (2012). He is also engaged in civic and political efforts at the national and local levels. Peter joined Occidental in 1993 after serving as housing director at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and senior policy advisor to Boston Mayor Ray Flynn. He received his B.A. at Syracuse University and his M.A. & Ph.D. at the University of Chicago.

(323) 259-2913


Headshot Photo of Raquel Galarza

Raquel Galarza

Raquel Galarza is the Health Education Manager for the LA Farm to School Initiative at UEPI. Her work focuses leading nutrition education initiatives in local community sites, as well as empowering community members to make changes towards healthy, active lifestyles. In her previous position at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, she worked closely with LAUSD elementary schools on school wellness, nutrition education and physical activity programs. She holds her B.S. in Health Science from Cal State Fullerton, and her Masters of Public Health in Community Health and Prevention from UCLA.

(323) 341-4809


Robert Gottlieb

Robert Gottlieb is the author and co-author of twelve books and numerous other publications, including Global Cities (MIT Press, 2017), Food Justice (MIT Press, 2013), Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City (MIT Press, 2007), and Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (Island Press, 1993). Bob is the editor of two MIT Press series, "Urban and Industrial Environments" and “Food, Health, and Environment" which include more than 60 publications, and has been recognized for his contributions to the fields of environmental studies, environmental history, food studies, and urban policy, including the Carey McWilliams Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Studies Association. As the founder of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College and the Executive Director from 1997-2015, Bob has inspired and helped develop several groundbreaking programs, research studies and events in the environmental, transportation, ports, and food systems areas. A long time environmental and social justice activist, Bob has been engaged in researching and participating in social movements for more than 50 years.

(323) 259-2712


Photo of Angelo Logan in front of the Los Angeles River

Angelo Logan

Angelo Logan is the Moving Forward Network, Policy Director out of UEPI. Angelo grew up in the City of Commerce and lives in Long Beach CA. Angelo is the co-founder of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and has worked with a wide variety of coalitions to achieve health protective policies specifically regarding goods movement and Green Zones. CurrentlyAngelo serves on several committees, such as: SCAQMD's Environmental Justice Advisory Group, I-710 Corridor Advisory Committees, Southern California Association of Governments Goods Movement Task Force and City of Commerce’s Environmental Justice Task Force and Green Zones-Policy Working Group.

(323) 259-2759


Photo of Martha Matsuoka

Martha Matsuoka

Martha Matsuoka '83 is the Executive Director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute and an Associate Professor at Occidental College. She focuses her teaching and research on environmental justice, community-based regionalism, sustainable community development, and social movements. Her current research focuses on policy, planning, organizing, and advocacy related to ports and goods movement. She is co-author with Manuel Pastor, Jr. and Chris Benner of “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big: Regional Equity Organizing And The Future Of Metropolitan America" published by Cornell University. She currently serves on the Board of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation (currently serving as Chair) and the Human Impact Partners and is a member of the Switzer Foundation’s Fellowship Network. Martha received her Ph.D. in Urban Planning from UCLA, a Masters in City Planning from UC Berkeley, and an A.B. from Occidental College.

(323) 259-2971


Photo of Rosa Romero

Rosa Romero

Rosa Romero is the Farm to Preschool Program Director at the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI) at Occidental College. Rosa has been a social justice activist in LA for many years, working on issues such a hunger & homelessness, indigenous rights, arts & activism, HIV awareness and diversity in college admissions and is currently organizes for healthy & local food access in Los Angeles. She is the Board Co-President of the South Central Farmers Health and Education and co-founder of SOL Catering Cooperative, Guerrilla Food Not Bombs and LA Childcare Collective. She is a certified Master Gardener and received her B.A. from UCLA in Urban Education and her MEd in Early Childhood Education from the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

(323) 341-4806


Headshot Photo of Bhavna Shamasunder

Bhavna Shamasunder

Bhavna Shamasunder teaches and conducts research on issues related to environmental health and justice. She is interested in how community-based organizations can leverage science to advance their health and policy goals. Her previous research investigated how chemical biomonitoring has been leveraged by social movements to challenge widespread chemical exposures. Currently, she is working on the health impacts from unconventional oil drilling in the Los Angeles Basin. Bhavna teaches courses on environmental health, research methods in urban and environmental policy, environment & society, and the senior comprehensive research seminar.

(323) 341-4695


Jessica Tovar

Jessica helps manage day to day operations for the Moving Forward Network located at UEPI. The Network links community-based organizations, scientists, environmental, health, research, legal, media, and coalition advocates, and builds the individual and collective capacity of network participants to ensure that issues of health, environment, community, and labor are central to the transportation and goods movement planning and policy process. The Network does this by facilitating information sharing, sharing advocacy tools, funding research on emerging issues, providing technical, legal, and media support, peer to peer training, and facilitating regional and national workshops to unite network participants and attract new allies. Prior to her position at Occidental College, Jessica was Project Manager for the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma (LBACA), where they work on improving children’s asthma through a socio-ecological model that includes direct in-ome services, community/school/clinic trainings, community engagement and environmental health policy work. Jessica holds her B.A. in Sociology and Political Science from the UC, Irvine and her Master’s in Social Work from UCLA.

(323) 259-1407


Photo of Blanca Iris Verduzco in front of a fence and red car

Blanca Iris Verduzco

Iris Verduzco is the Project Coordinator for the Moving Forward Network (MFN) located at the Urban Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI) at Occidental College. As Project Coordinator, Iris will support the program staff with the Moving Forward Network campaigns, movement building, building power for a stronger Network and general support for the environmental justice work of MFN’s members. Iris is presently a board member with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and has been involved as a community member since 2012. She holds her B.A. from the University of Southern California in Law, History, and Culture and a minor in Environmental Health.

(323) 259-1420


Headshot Photo of Elena Lopez

Elena Lopez

Elena is the Project Coordinator for the food programs at UEPI. She works to support the food and health initiatives, including nutrition education activities, parent engagement around health at schools, school garden and cafeteria programs, food waste reduction and recovery projects. Elena has a long standing commitment to the good food movement through her work reducing food waste with food recovery agencies, creating events on food & culture, and outreach on composting in LA. She has worked with sustainability minded organizations such as SEE-LA, LA Kitchen, Todo Verde & LA Compost. Elena is also an Urban & Environmental Policy & Occidental College alum.

(323) 341-4808


Photo of Candice Kim in a polka dot dress

Candice Kim

Candice Kim is the Project Director of the Moving Forward Network located at UEPI. The network seeks to transform the global trade system by supporting the organizing, advocacy, education and research efforts of partners around the United States towards improving public health, quality of life, environmental integrity, labor conditions and environmental justice. Candice has spent many years supporting community-centered campaigns to reduce dirty diesel pollution from ports and freight transportation in the state of California. She draws upon her experience as a community and labor organizer to support community-led statewide and regional coalitions fighting to protect public health. In her previous position as Climate Campaign Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, she also focused on fighting pollution from oil and gas extraction. Candice received her Master of Public Health degree from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and a B.A. in fine art from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a member of the Switzer Foundation Fellowship Network.

(213) 718-5785


Head shot Photo of Seva Rodnyansky

Seva Rodnyansky

Seva Rodnyansky’s research focuses on urban policy related to housing, transportation, residential mobility and neighborhood change. His teaching interests include quantitative data analysis, urban policy and planning, housing policy, and transportation planning. Seva's current research looks at the effect of historical redlining on public health and health outcomes, the impact of natural disasters on housing affordability, rural housing subsidies, and residential mobility and transit.

(323) 341-4051