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.


Megan Bomba

Megan is the Initiative Coordinator for the Choose Health LA Kids program at UEPI. Her work and interests involve community-focused initiatives for better nutrition, health, and economic opportunity. She holds an M.S. degree in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis, and a BA in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College. She has also worked as an account manager for small food business and farmers at Good Eggs, and as a landscape designer and owner of Heart Beet Gardening. 

(323) 341-4808


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


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


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


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


Heng Lam Foong

Heng Lam Foong joined UEPI as Program Director in 2009 and is an adjunct faculty with the College’s new Public Health minor. She’s supported various UEPI projects including Food & Transportation and the Healthy School Food Coalition, and is currently working on the Community Health Engagement and Water Works programs. Heng also represents UEPI in the campus-wide Community Engagement initiative with the Center for Community Based Learning and Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement. Prior to her time at UEPI, Heng Lam worked at various community non-profits which focus on prevention and health care access including Healthy Eating Active Communities (HEAC) South Los Angeles; Healthy Parks, Healthy Communities at the Trust for Public Land; and PALS for Health/ALAS para tu Salud. She loves the diversity of the city and when she is not on campus, you can probably find her eating at mom & pop owned restaurants, working in the garden or running through the neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

(323) 259-1457


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




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


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


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


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


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