ESAL Expands Steering Committee, Welcoming Three New Members

By: Taylor Spicer
February 15, 2024
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In December 2023, Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL) elected three new members-at-large to its Steering Committee: Erin Partlan, Emily Schafer, and Lina Zhu. They are joining returning Steering Committee members Arti Garg, chair; Chris Spitzer, vice-chair; Chris Jackson, treasurer; Nick Anthis, secretary; and Laurie Chong, member-at-large.

Erin Partlan joined ESAL’s Events Team in August 2021 and has developed virtual events informed by her training in environmental engineering and non-profit experience fostering conversations about local government strategies for environmental protection and workforce development. Erin lives in Northern Virginia.

Erin: “ESAL is a unique organization that focuses on showing anyone, especially STEM-minded people, the myriad ways that we can engage with our local communities. I am a firm believer that healthy environments lead to healthy communities, a goal that takes the efforts of many to achieve. I look forward to sharing my perspectives as part of ESAL’s steering committee.”

Emily Schafer joined ESAL in September 2021. As a member of the Events Team, she has moderated conversations at the intersection of public health and local policymaking and has represented ESAL in conference sessions. She is currently a biomedical engineering Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.

Emily: “I’ve always believed strongly in the importance of scientists taking an active role in communicating science to the public for the purpose of improving scientific literacy, especially through local engagement. I’m looking forward to taking a leadership position in ESAL to increase our reach and include as many scientists as possible in this mission.”

Lina Zhu joined ESAL’s Content Team in 2019 and is the writer and publisher of ESAL’s monthly newsletter, as well as a contributing author to ESAL articles. Lina holds a M.S. in chemical engineering and works as a research scientist in San Francisco, California. 

Lina: “Too often, folks in STEM become siloed in their field and do not feel empowered to take on causes outside of their expertise. ESAL believes that not only should we make our voices heard, but that we can bring a unique set of skills and perspectives to our communities. I’ve enjoyed learning from my fellow volunteers over the past several years and am excited to now take on a larger role in ESAL.” 

Steering Committee members serve two-year terms and set ESAL’s strategy, legal and ethical oversight, organizational sustainability, and fiscal responsibility priorities. The Committee is ESAL’s highest governing board, and is currently overseeing the completion of ESAL’s first institutional strategic plan and accompanying fundraising strategy. 

ESAL is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to increasing local civic engagement by people with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. ESAL's work is guided by core beliefs.

  • Communities thrive when all members participate and meet challenges together.
  • Civic engagement is compatible with a successful career.
  • Effective civic engagement starts with listening to community needs and concerns.
  • People with STEM backgrounds bring inquiry-driven and evidence-based problem-solving approaches that can benefit their local communities. Specific subject-matter expertise is not a prerequisite to making a difference.

For more information about ESAL, visit or reach out to

Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL) is a non-advocacy, non-political organization. The information in this post is for general informational purposes and does not imply an endorsement by ESAL for any political candidates, businesses, or organizations mentioned herein.
Published: 02/15/24
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