Paul Burns, Executive Director
(802) 223-5221 ext. 12
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.
Adam Maxwell, Field Director
(802) 595-2451
Adam directs VPIRG’s field operations, leading a team of organizers as they work with Vermonters of all walks of life to create a cleaner, greener, and more prosperous future for all.  Adam comes to VPIRG by way of Florida and more recently Seattle where he spent time earning a Masters’ Degree in Political Science at the University of Washington. After academia Adam worked in conservation politics for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, growing and managing a coalition of diverse organizations committed to habitat conservation and outdoor recreation. Early in 2016 he migrated back east to make a home in Vermont with his wife, Caroline. Adam immediately began volunteering on the Energy Independent Vermont campaign and only a few short months later was hired as Field Director.
Ben Walsh, Climate & Energy Program Director
(802) 223-5221 ext. 23
Since 2012, Ben has run VPIRG’s energy program, leading campaigns to expand Vermont’s precedent setting CLEAN Contracts and net metering programs. 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.
Christina Fornaciari, Field Organizer
(802) 595-8720
Christina is a VPIRG Field Organizer working to take action on climate change and garner the grassroots support to pass a carbon pollution tax in the state. She began her work with VPIRG in 2013 as a canvasser for the GMO labeling campaign, and was also an intern for the Stop the Fracked Gas Pipeline campaign as a student organizer on UVM’s campus. The past two summers, Christina was an Assistant Director for the canvass office, leading a team of 70 young people going door-to-door in the grassroots effort to put a price on carbon pollution.
Daniel Brown, Clean Energy Associate
Dan Christmas State House(802) 223-5221 ext. 16
Daniel is in his second year of a two-year fellowship as the Clean Energy Associate with VPIRG. 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. In addition to directing the summer canvass, Daniel will be responsible for researching, organizing support and advocating for clean energy in the state of Vermont.
Emi Cepeda, Operations and Development Associate

(802) 223-5221 ext. 14
Emi is the Operations and Development associate with VPIRG. She earned her BA in Marketing with a specialization in Graphic Design from Champlain College in May 2017. Before joining VPIRG she worked in Human Resources in the Recruitment and Placement division of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Emi is responsible for assisting with events and providing support to our VPIRG members.
Jack Hanson, Communications Associate

(802) 223-5221 ext. 10
Jack is in his second year of a two-year fellowship as Communications Associate with VPIRG. He graduated from the University of Vermont in May 2016 with a BA in Environmental Studies and a minor in Spanish. Jack interned with VPIRG during his freshman and senior years at UVM, and served on the Board of Directors throughout his senior year. Jack has been involved with environmental work since high school, working in student groups, non-profits organizations, local government, political campaigns, and in the renewable energy industry. Apart from his climate justice work, Jack is also an avid musician and chess player.
Johanna de Graffenreid, Environmental Advocate

(802) 223-5221 ext. 26
Johanna de Graffenreid serves as VPIRG’s Environmental Advocate; focusing on toxics reform, zero waste initiatives, regenerative agriculture and issues affecting air and water quality for Vermont communities. Johanna has over a decade of experience as an organizer, campaigner and advocate for social justice and environmental causes. She inherited her dedication to public service from her parents and testified at her first public hearing at the age of 11. In 2008 she graduated from UNC Greensboro with a double major in Political Science and Women’s Studies concentrating in feminist jurisprudence and policy. She earned her Master’s of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School in 2015. Johanna also serves as a board member and consultant for nonprofit and community-based organizations. During her free time she enjoys getting outdoors in the Green Mountain State, travelling, and supporting local music.
Joseph Tomlinson, Accounting and Human Resources Administrator

(802) 223-5221 ext. 28
Joseph serves as the Accounting and Human Resources Administrator at VPIRG. Joseph graduated in 2015 from the University of Vermont with a Bachelor of Science in Community Entrepreneurship. After graduating, Joseph spent a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Washington State expanding K-12 access to educational resources by connecting community partners with university resources and programs. Joseph provides administrative and bookkeeping support to the Director of Finance and Administration, and serves as an office manager during the summer canvass.
Liston Tatum, Data Manager
(802) 223-5221 ext. 27
As a database architect at My Web Grocer, Liston helped assemble a trans-national group of integrated database servers; it was a fun, challenging; nice place to work. But in recent years Liston has become increasingly convinced climate change was not only real (that’s obvious), but constitutes an existential threat to civilization – leading him to come to work for VPIRG. He’s grateful to our supporters for the opportunity to do his part, and make at least a living wage fighting to protect our planet.
Liz Edsell, Associate Director
(802) 223-5221 ext. 15
Liz Edsell, VPIRG’s Associate Director, has over a decade of experience in grassroots organizing and environmental advocacy. Liz directs field operations for all VPIRG campaigns and is responsible for engaging members and citizens across Vermont in efforts to protect the public interest, including coordinating coalition organizing for the successful GMO labeling campaign and now the Energy Independent Vermont campaign to put a price on carbon pollution. 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.
Nellie Marvel, Development Manager
(802) 223-5221
Nellie serves as the Development Manager. In this role, she coordinates all fundraising aspects for VPIRG to keep up the fight for Vermont’s environment, democracy, and people. Prior to joining VPIRG in 2017, Nellie worked as the Development Associate for Democracy for America in Burlington, and in Washington, DC as a Legislative Fellow for the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She holds an M.S. from Antioch University New England in Environmental Studies, concentrating in Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability. When not raising money to protect the public interest, Nellie can be found playing roller derby, hiking, or crafting something.
Nicholas Esposito, Director of Finance and Administration
(802) 223-5221 ext. 25
Nick serves as VPIRG’s Director of Finance & Administration. In that role he leads the Finance team’s responsibilities in the areas of accounting and internal control, financial reporting and budgeting, cash flow management, human resources administration, risk management, and general business administration. He graduated from the University at Albany with a B.S. in Business Administration in 2014. He also holds a certificate in accounting from Siena College and has completed graduate coursework in nonprofit strategic planning and fund development at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy. Prior to joining VPIRG, Nick worked for ten years as an accountant and finance manager for small businesses and nonprofits. He also formerly served as a volunteer, board member, and treasurer for nonprofit human service agencies and arts organizations.
Nick Wahlers, Field Organizer

(802) 793-0713
Nick Wahlers, originally from the Western Fingerlakes region of New York, graduated from Champlain College with an BA in Business and Event Management. Since then he has worked with VPIRG on a number of different campaigns (the Toxic Free Families Act, campaign finance reform, stopping the fracked gas pipeline, and carbon pricing). He also spent 6 months travelling around the country, working as a field organizer for the Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and playing guitar.
Sam Hurt, Environmental Health Associate
Sam_Hurt(802) 223-5221 ext. 16
Sam is in her first year of a two-year fellowship as the Environmental Health Associate with VPIRG. She graduated in May of 2017 with a degree in Global Studies and a minor in Psychology at the University of Vermont. She started her career with VPIRG as a field manager on the 2016 canvass to put a price on carbon pollution, and continued on the 2017 canvass before beginning her fellowship. As the Environmental Health Associate, Sam will be doing research regarding issues such as toxics, zero waste initiatives, regenerative agriculture, and other problems surrounding air and water quality within the state of Vermont.
Sarah Wolfe, Clean Energy Advocate
Sarah_Wolfe(802) 223-5221 ext. 17
Sarah Wolfe, VPIRG’s Clean Energy Advocate, is a native Vermonter who recently returned to the state after spending four years in California. Most recently she managed the National Campaigns team in the Public Policy department for a national residential solar company, leading grassroots advocacy for residential solar policy across the country. At VPIRG she will be responsible for advancing clean energy development and policy across the state. She graduated with high honors from Wesleyan University in 2012.
Tom Hughes, Energy Independent Vermont Campaign Director
(802) 223-5221 ext. 22
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 Berger, Field Organizer
(802) 793-5651
Zach is in the first of a two-year fellowship as a Field Organizer with VPIRG. He began his work with VPIRG as a canvasser in the summer of 2014, working to get big money out of politics in the state of Vermont. Zach earned his BS in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont in May 2015, focusing in environmental policy and development. As a Field Organizer, Zach is responsible for organizing citizens around climate change action, and building the necessary grassroots support to pass the carbon pollution tax. During the summer, Zach serves as an Assistant Director for the summer canvass office.
Zach Tomanelli, Communications & Technology Director
(802) 223-5221 ext. 21
Zach is VPIRG’s Communications & Technology 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 also oversees data, information and internal technology operations.