The ESAL Team

Steering Committee

Arti Garg

Local government and community engagement is critical to many science- and technology-related policy issues. But there are few avenues for engineers and scientists to learn how to effectively engage locally. I founded ESAL to help address this gap.

Christopher Jackson
Treasurer & Workshops Director

I’m passionate about translating my research beyond the laboratory and making real-world impacts. ESAL is a great opportunity to do that at the local level, where technical skills can play a key role in getting things done.

Chris Spitzer
Vice Chair

I’ve always wanted to get more involved in my community. ESAL is helping me figure out how!

Laurie Chong

I joined ESAL because all politics is local, and I wanted to learn how to engage in activities closer to home and to help other scientists do the same.

Nick Anthis

After leaving Washington, DC, I wanted to get involved in my local community, but I didn’t know where to start. Getting involved with ESAL has opened my eyes to the many ways one can get engaged locally and start making a difference at home.

Erin Partlan

A researcher by training and an implementation advocate in practice, I'm very interested in the translation of scientific knowledge to everyday life. In favor of increasing sustainability and equity through data driven decision making.

Lina Zhu

Through ESAL, I hope to become better at translating both science and policy and to delve deeper into the issues affecting my community.

Emily Schafer

I love connecting scientists with their local communities to increase scientific literacy and develop strong, evidence-based policies. I joined ESAL to inspire others to do the same!

Leadership Committee

Rachel Owen
Development Director

I love connecting scientists to opportunities where they can engage locally using whatever time and skills they can give. There are so many ways that science and policy intersect and I am thrilled to help ESAL highlight these connections.

Rebecca Mandt
Events Director

It is becoming increasingly clear that we need more scientists at the table in every aspect of public life. I am excited to be involved in ESAL's mission of empowering scientists to meaningfully engage with policy issues in their own local communities.

Taylor Spicer
Managing Director

Every person has important assets that can shape their neighborhoods, cities, and states. I am humbled to support members of the ESAL network seeking ways to most effectively use their skills, knowledge, and research to engage local governments and communities.

Karthik Ilangovan
Technology & Research Director

ESAL's mission resonates with me, blending my passion for Analytics & Technology with local civic engagement. I am excited to join a community committed to meaningful, local impact, which will enable me to utilize my skills for community advancement by creating cross-disciplinary solutions at the nexus of science and policy.

Toni Kervina
Content Director

Engaging content is key to driving empowerment through civic engagement. I am inspired by ESAL’s mission and hope to amplify its diversity of voices to shape positive change in STEM discourse with the goal of building a stronger, more accountable, and inclusive society.

Courtney Lawton
Communications & Marketing Director

I am deeply inspired by our mission to empower engineers and scientists to engage in local civic affairs. ESAL's dedication to fostering a more scientifically informed community and driving impactful change resonates with my passion for leveraging technical expertise to create meaningful improvements in society."


Kendra Zamzow
Engagement Volunteer

In my job, I already work at the interface of science and policy. ESAL was a natural fit!

Gwendolyn Bogard
Workshops Team

Through volunteering with ESAL, I hope to give researchers the tools to communicate and build trust with policymakers and community members, as well as the confidence put those tools into practice.

Malvika Singhal
Website Design

ESAL is pivotal in highlighting the community-aspect of science and how interconnected local government decisions are with the research being done in the field. By getting involved, I can contribute to the goal of demystifying policy to fellow scientists and learn a lot along the way.

Nanxi Xu
Workshops Team

I'm interested in bridging academia and community. ESAL provides great resources for scientists to create real-world significance at the local level. I joined ESAL in hoping to empower scientists to collaborate with their local partners.

Henry Pitts
Workshops Team

Effective resource management requires data-driven science that informs policy, and that starts at the local level. ESAL provides policy-makers with the tools to operate within that science/policy/communication nexus, and I'm excited to play a part in that.

Tony Van Witsen
Content & Events Teams

Science alone and facts alone never change anyone's mind. People always view scientific research and form their opinions about it based on their existing beliefs, attitudes and who they feel they are.

Jake Pasner
Events Team

My life's work is in opening the lines of communication between our human communities and the data technologies that increasingly underpin them. I'm proud to support ESAL's work towards this critical mission

Joel Lesher
Content Team

I have spent my short career connecting the public to scientists and lawmakers in an effort to promote science-based civic engagement. With this in mind, ESAL was a natural fit, and one which falls under the domain of science policy – a personal hobby of mine. By working within local communities, we can observe positive change in real-time, and I am thrilled to be able to contribute.

Matt Martin
Events Team

Through ESAL, I aim to support the next generation of science leaders as they engage with their local communities. Ensuring science has a seat at every table has never been more important.

Mark DiTusa
Workshops Team

I'm passionate about showing how the Ivory Tower is a myth, how scientists are both a part of their communities and how the community influences their science. I joined ESAL because they are aiming to make that connection more overt, and I'm excited to strengthen those links!

Cherry Cheuk Lam Cheung
Communications Team

As a PhD student in Immunology, I’m hoping not only to translate science from bench to bedside but also make an impact on my local community. ESAL is a perfect platform for me to interact with the public and policymakers.

Hailey Reiss
Communications Team

Our science is stronger when we are able to connect to the public. ESAL's emphasis on acting locally allows us to uplift our communities and foster an environment where the next generation of scientists can thrive.

Dalton Stewart
Workshops Team

My Ph.D. research explores the interaction between technology and policy. By volunteering with ESAL, I hope to improve my own ability and the ability of others to use their technical knowledge and skills to engage with the political process.

Andrew Porterfield
Content Team

I've found that there's a huge gap between what scientists and engineers do daily and how they think policy and politics are involved with what they do daily. STEM professionals need to get more involved, starting on a local level, and I want to show that doing that is not as hard as it can look. As a writer, reporter and marketing communications person, I want to put my skills to use to persuade them to narrow, if not fill, this gap.

Cynthia Prieto-Diaz
Engagement Volunteer

As a biomedical engineer with a background in public health – I leaned into my training after WFH (working from home). Without actively knowing it until meeting leadership from ESAL at AAAS (March 2023) – I learned I was living out the mission of the organization through my DIY punk rock attitude and STEM perspective of bringing evidence-based solutions to my immediate community.

Ben Wolfson
Chief Editor

Evidence based policy is essential at every level of government. ESAL is a great organization and resource for helping scientists bring their knowledge and skills to their local communities.

Alex Lantrip
Graphic Design Volunteer

Our world is in a delicate place right now, and if we have any chance of turning things around, we need the scientific community to have an open line of communication with the powers that be. I am excited to use my graphic design skills to help the STEM community get civically engaged.

Vrinda Dambal
Multimedia Content

ESAL highlights the role of research in addressing the issues faced by communities, which empowers the scientists to take an active part in influencing decision-making at different levels. I want to enable the scientists to have engagement with the public and lawmakers.

William Harley
Workshops Team

I have seen many people with a passion for civic engagement but no idea where to start. ESAL's provides the inspiration and tools directly to those people.

Jessica Trinh
Content Coordinator

ESAL's mission resonates with me because I've held a longstanding belief that the work that scientists do should be shared with others to help better society. I also think a lot of change happens locally, and many people should make an effort to understand and be engaged with local politics.

Richard Tran
Development Associate

I believe scientists and engineers have a civic duty to contribute back to society, ensuring that their contributions are tangible and accessible to all.

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