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Our People

Our team of science and policy experts collaborates with scientists, business and government decision makers, and NGOs for a healthier world

Watch a video on Executive Director Arlene Blum and the history of the Green Science Policy Institute.

Arlene Blum, Ph.D.

Founder and Executive Director

Arlene Blum, biophysical chemist, author, and mountaineer is the Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute and a Research Associate in Chemistry at UC Berkeley. Blum’s research and policy work with the Institute has contributed to limiting the use of flame retardant, highly fluorinated, and other harmful chemicals in children’s sleepwear, furniture, electronics, and other products worldwide.

Blum led the first American and all-women’s ascent of Annapurna I, one of the world’s most dangerous and difficult mountains; co-led the first women’s team to climb Denali; and completed the Great Himalayan Traverse. She is the author of Annapurna: A Woman’s Place and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life.

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Rebecca Fuoco, M.P.H.

Director of Science Communications

Rebecca Fuoco leads the Institute’s media and communications efforts. Rebecca previously worked as a communications strategist for nonprofit organizations and academic research centers in the health and environmental fields. She holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Cornell University and a master’s of public health degree from UC Berkeley, where she was a Center for Health Leadership Fellow.

Lydia Jahl, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

Lydia joined the Institute to work on challenging issues that directly impact both human and environmental health. Her current work focuses on reducing any harmful, unnecessary use of PFAS and flame retardants in different products. Lydia holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.S. in Chemistry from Harvey Mudd College.  

Ariana Spentzos, Ph.D.

Science and Policy Associate

Ariana received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 2022. Her doctoral work involved the synthesis of bimetallic catalysts for renewable fuel production. Additionally, she was a graduate fellow at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy researching the prevalence and effects of oil refinery fires. She also holds an Sc.B. in chemistry from Brown University. 

Anna Soehl, M.Sc.

Science and Policy Consultant

Anna Soehl holds an MSc in environmental science and policy from Central European University/Manchester University. She previously worked as an air toxics project manager at the Great Lakes Commission, managing federally funded scientific research grant program and as a natural resources planner at the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Science Services Administration.

Seth Rojello Fernández, M.S.

Science and Policy Associate

Seth Rojello Fernández received his M.S. in Environmental Toxicology from the UC, Riverside in 2019, where he assessed classes of flame retardants for their overall hazard to human and environmental health. He also holds bachelors degrees from Texas A&M University-Commerce in Political Science and in Environmental Science.

Candy Kasalo


Candy is a lifelong accountant whose career spanned 30 years at Hambrecht & Quist brokerage firm and WR Hambrecht + Co., where she served as Controller and CFO. She has a BA in Accounting from Western Michigan University.

Board of Directors

David Hochschild – Chair

David Hochschild is the Chair of the California Energy Commission, where he has served since 2013. He has been involved in the solar energy field since serving as Special Assistant to San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown in 2001 when he launched a $100 million initiative to put solar panels on public buildings. He founded the Vote Solar Initiative. He has also served as executive director of a consortium of leading solar manufacturers and as a commissioner at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Gail Bateson

Gail Bateson’s background is in workplace health and safety focusing on toxic chemical exposures and workers’ rights. She served as Executive Director of Worksafe, an advocacy and policy NGO until 2016 and co-founded the national Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP).  She also worked at the UC Berkeley Labor Occupational Health Program, the Occupational Health Branch of CDPH, and the former Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union. She received an M.S. degree from the U.C. Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group. 

Joan Blades, J.D.

Joan Blades is a co-founder of an effort to rebuild respectful discourse across ideological lines. She is also a co-founder of and She is a co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace, and The Motherhood Manifesto.  A mediator and attorney by training, she is a nature lover, artist and believer in the power of citizens and our need to rebuild respectful civil discourse.

Martha Geering – Secretary

Martha Geering served as art director and designer of SIERRA Magazine for 23 years, where she curated images for the publication’s 1.3 million readers. In that role she won several prestigious Maggie Awards from the Western Publications Association for exemplary magazine art. She trained at the San Francisco Art Institute and UCLA.

Rebecca Heald

Rebecca Heald is Professor and Co-Chair of the Molecular and Cell Biology Department at UC Berkeley. Her research uses different frog species to investigate mechanisms of cell division and size scaling. She graduated from Hamilton College with a degree in Chemistry, obtained her PhD from Harvard Medical School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg. Heald is known for postdoctoral mentoring and for promoting diversity and inclusion in the life sciences, and was awarded the Leon K. Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service at UC Berkeley in 2019. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Allen King, MBA

Allen King was the co-founder and president of Excellent Packaging & Supply, a wholesale distributor, from 2004-2020. He guided the company to its position as the premier supplier in the United States of innovative, bio-based foodservice disposable packaging that is recyclable by composting. Prior to this, he received an MBA from UC Berkeley, and worked as a senior salesperson at AC Paper & Supply from 1979-2004. He pioneered the use of biodegradable and compostable packaging products in the foodservice marketplace since their introduction in the late 1990’s.

Dean Lobovits

Dean Lobovits is a narrative therapist, author, educator, and ethicist from Berkeley, California.  He is co-author of Playful Approaches to Serious Problems  and other publications about psychotherapy and ethics and the law. Dean is the former Ethics Chairperson for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapist and has authored ethical standards and California statutes for his profession.

Susie Medak

Susie Medak is an Executive Coach for nonprofits with a focus on leadership, partnership, and governance.   Susie served as Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s managing director from 1990-2022, successfully leading the Theatre and helping create Berkeley’s Downtown Arts District. She served as president of the League of Resident Theatres and treasurer of Theatre Communications Group, representing nonprofit theatres across the nation. Susie is currently a Lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Executive Leadership Institute and Executive Coaching Institute as well as the Interim Managing Director of McCarter Theatre at Princeton.

Craig Rice, CPA – Treasurer

Craig Rice worked as an auditor for Ernst & Young before becoming a financial specialist for the insurance industry. The final 15 years of his career were as Vice President of Financial Management at Prudential Financial in Newark, NJ. In addition to his role with the Institute, he serves on the Boards of Central Works Theater Company and Grizzly Peak Cyclists. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Denver.

Arlene Blum, Ph.D.

Arlene Blum, biophysical chemist, author, and mountaineer is the Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute and a Research Associate in Chemistry at UC Berkeley.