Paul Burns, Executive Director
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Paul Burns is VPIRG’s executive director, a position he’s held since 2001. VPIRG is Vermont’s largest nonprofit, consumer and environmental advocacy organization. In just the past few years, VPIRG has played a major role in several landmark achievements including the nation’s first ban on fracking, tough new regulations on toxics, and the precedent-setting requirement that GMO foods be labeled. Paul’s leadership was integral to the success of those campaigns. Previously, he worked for 15 years as an attorney, advocate and organizer for PIRGs in New York and Massachusetts. He earned his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Oswego, and his law degree from the Syracuse University College of Law.
Becca Allen, Finance & Administration Coordinator
Becca Allen
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Becca is the Finance and Administration Coordinator for VPIRG. She works to keep VPIRG’s finances and office in order. In her role she ensures that all financial reporting is accurate, properly categorized, and up to date. She came to VPIRG in 2018 and feels very lucky to to use her accounting skills in an organization that is dedicated to issues she is passionate about. She grew up in a large family in rural Vermont, where conservation and environmental protection were part of daily life. She has a passion for politics and enjoys witnessing grassroots organizing up close. In her spare time she enjoys swimming, reading non-fiction, and exploring small towns in New England with her fiancee. She is proud to be a member of the VPIRG team where she can help fight for and with her fellow Vermonters.
Ben Edgerly Walsh, Climate & Energy Program Director
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Since 2012, Ben has run VPIRG’s energy program, leading campaigns on issues from establishing Vermont’s groundbreaking renewable energy standard, to expanding our net metering program, to establishing nation-leading appliance efficiency standards and defending Vermont’s energy efficiency work from attacks from the right. At VPIRG, Ben works to research, identify and advance clean energy policy solutions. Prior to taking the reins of VPIRG’s energy program, Ben was VPIRG’s Field Director, engaging and mobilizing thousands of Vermonters in support of VPIRG’s campaigns. He learned the organizing trade in Green Corps, working with National Environmental Trust, Environment America and the Oregon Natural Desert Association, and later serving as Green Corps’ recruitment director. Ben holds a BS in Environmental Studies and BA in Political Science from UVM.
Daniel Brown, Government Reform Advocate
Dan Christmas State House(802) 223-5221 x13
Daniel is VPIRG’s Government Reform Advocate. He is responsible for researching, organizing support and advocating for a transparent and open government in Vermont and combating the corrosive effects of big money in our political system. He studied Political Science and History at the University of Vermont. Prior to joining VPIRG’s full-time staff, Daniel participated in the 2016 door canvass to put a price on carbon pollution as a field manager.
Emma Huvos, Communications & Engagement Coordinator
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Emma is VPIRG’s Communications and Engagement Coordinator. Her superpower is distilling complex information and communicating it in an impactful and accessible way, a skill she’s excited to apply to amplifying VPIRG’s message and building grassroots engagement statewide. Prior to joining VPIRG, Emma worked as an educator and entrepreneur, launching a nature-based early childhood program as well as a line of mail-order educational activity kits designed to get kids outdoors and connected to nature. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in History.
Kanika Gandhi, Environmental Advocate

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Kanika is VPIRG’s Environmental Advocate. She is responsible for researching, identifying, and advocating for policies that advance solutions to a range of issues in VT and beyond. Kanika’s portfolio includes areas such as toxic chemical reform, zero waste, and single-use plastic pollution. She also works in the clean energy space to expand the adoption and use of electric vehicles in the state. Kanika joins VPIRG after spending the past few years in DC, where she worked on researching and advancing policies for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, as well as the Federal Trade Commission. Kanika holds BAs in both Public Policy and Italian Studies, as well as an MPA from Brown University.
Kate Lapp, Government Reform Associate & Project Coordinator
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Kate is VPIRG’s Government Reform Associate and Project Coordinator. As a lifelong Vermonter with nearly a decade of electoral campaign, grassroots organizing, and activism experience, she is thrilled to be for researching, organizing, and advocating for a transparent and open government in Vermont, free from the corrosive effects of big money in our political system. Prior to joining VPIRG’s full time staff, Kate served as the Office and Human Resources Administrator on the 2019 Canvass. She double-majored Economics and Political Science at the University of Vermont.
Liam O'Sullivan, Climate & Energy Associate

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Liam O’Sullivan is one of VPIRG’s Climate & Energy Associates. He is responsible for researching, organizing, and advocating for an environmentally conscious energy grid. Liam graduated from the University of Vermont with a dual-degree in political science and environmental studies. A Canvasser for the 2017 Summer Canvass, a Field Manager for the 2018 Summer Canvass, and an Assistant Director for the 2019 Summer Canvass, Liam is ready to use his skills to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in areas such as transportation and home heating. After years of canvassing for a variety of different campaigns, Liam is excited and grateful to work with the people of Vermont to make this state a leader in environmental action.
Liz Edsell, Associate Director
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Liz Edsell, VPIRG’s Associate Director, has over 15 years of experience in grassroots organizing, environmental advocacy, fundraising and non-profit management. Liz directs all internal operations and oversees the canvass and communications and engagement teams that engage thousands of members and Vermonters across the state in efforts to protect the public interest. Since joining the VPIRG team in 2011, she has supervised and trained dozens of budding organizers and canvass directors, helped to triple VPIRG’s membership and is currently leading a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative. Before coming to VPIRG, Liz served as Associate Director of The Conservation Campaign an advocacy affiliate of The Trust for Public Land, and kicked off her organizing career in Green Corps’ Field School for Environmental Organizing. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2002 with honors in Environmental Studies.
Maeve Power, Climate & Energy Associate
Maeve Power
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Maeve is a second-year fellow with VPIRG working to research and promote clean energy solutions that make sense for Vermonters across the state. As a 2017 graduate of Saint Michael’s College with a degree in International Relations and minors in Environmental Studies and Spanish, Maeve is excited to put her skills to work on behalf of the Vermont people and be a part of real climate change solutions. As a native New Yorker, she loves to complain about the lack of a good slice of pizza this close to the Canadian border, but nevertheless, she is so grateful to the Vermont people for giving her the joys of a maple creemee and the warmth of a new home. Formerly the Office and Human Resource Administrator for the 2018 Summer Canvass, she looks forward to putting her boots on the ground as a Canvass Director next summer and getting to know the amazing people of Vermont who make VPIRG what it is.
Marcie Gallagher, Environmental Associate
Marcie Gallagher
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Marcie is a first-year Fellow focusing on environmental health and zero-waste policies. She recently graduated from UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources with a degree in Environmental Studies. Marcie worked with VPIRG’s summer canvass 2016-2019 as a Canvasser, Field Manager, and Canvass Director and looks forward to returning to the canvass in Summer 2020.
Meg Root, Membership Coordinator
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Meg Root joined VPIRG in 2018 as the Membership Coordinator. In this role, she works in all areas of Development, including member communications and engagement, fundraising and donor prospecting. Meg attained a B.S. from Appalachian State University in Sustainable Development with a concentration in Community, Regional and Global Development. She is extremely passionate about sustainability and protecting people and the planet.
Sebbi Wu, Climate Organizing Fellow
Sebbi Wu
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Sebbi is a first-year Fellow working to organize Vermonters around climate action to keep our state as healthy as it can be. He is a native Vermonter who has lived in Lamoille, Windham, Windsor, and Chittenden counties and is always glad to recommend a fun hike or swim spot. He was a Canvasser on the VPIRG summer canvass in 2017 and 2018 and was the Recruitment Director in the 2019 summer canvass. He graduated with honors from the University of Vermont College of Arts and Sciences in 2019 with degrees in Political Science, Community and International Development, and Spanish. Sebbi is thrilled to continue putting his skills, knowledge, and experience to the test while pushing for smart, strong environmental action in Vermont.
Tom Hughes, Energy Independent Vermont Campaign Director
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Tom is an accomplished entrepreneur and administrator that comes to VPIRG after more than 25 years of politics, business and nonprofit work. He’ll use all of these varied experiences to coordinate the Energy Independent Vermont coalition and manage our campaign to put a price on carbon pollution in Vermont. Tom’s leadership skills were honed in his prior roles in executive leadership as CEO of Sunward Systems, a Vermont-based solar thermal business, and as Executive Director of Democracy for America. For two decades Tom held various roles on political campaigns at both the state and national levels. He also spent time as Advance Team Lead in the White House during the Clinton Administration. Tom has volunteered in support of clean energy in Vermont serving as a board member and officer for both the Energy Co-op of Vermont and Renewable Energy Vermont. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from UVM in Political Science and is a graduate of American University’s Campaign Management Institute.
Zach Tomanelli, Communications & Engagement Director
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Zach is VPIRG’s Communications & Engagement Director. Before joining VPIRG, Zach was an Online Organizer and Community Director at the progressive news and activism website Firedoglake where he worked on everything from environmental protection to drug policy reform. He’s also spent time at the American Civil Liberties Union, Democracy Now!, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and National Public Radio. Zach is a 2011 graduate of Ithaca College with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. In his role at VPIRG, Zach manages all of VPIRG’s advocacy and outreach communications including emails, web posts, social media, mailings and publications. He’s also leads VPIRG advocacy efforts on digital consumer protection issues – fighting for data privacy/security, net neutrality and affordable high-speed internet access for all Vermonters. Zach also oversees VPIRG’s data, information and internal technology operations.