Nicole Capretz, Founder and Executive Director
Nicole Capretz is an environmental attorney with 20 years of experience as an energy, equity, and climate policy advisor for local governments and the nonprofit sector. Nicole was the primary author of the City of San Diego’s groundbreaking, legally binding 100% clean energy Climate Action Plan adopted in late 2015. Nicole has since played a pivotal role in helping other cities in the region adopt similar 100% clean energy climate plans, and is a prominent advocate for Community Choice Energy in Southern California.
Nicole was appointed to the California Strategic Growth Council, effective August 22, 2018. She was named a New York Times Top 10 Californian of 2016. She is a board member of Trees 100. Ms. Capretz received a Bachelor of Arts in in Law and Society from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master of Arts in Environmental Law, and a Juris Doctorate from Vermont Law School. She currently resides in City Heights.
Previously, Nicole served as the Associate Director for Green Energy/Green Jobs at Environmental Health Coalition, an environmental justice organization in National City. She has also worked as an environmental and energy policy advisor for the San Diego City Council. Nicole’s duties as Founder and Executive Director of CAC include overall strategic and operational responsibility for the organization’s staff, programs, expansion and execution of its mission.
Nicole’s pioneering work on climate policy has earned her numerous accolades:
- “Special Recognition Award for Climate Advocacy” by Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 (2018)
- Sullivan Solar Power - Solar Advocate of the Year (2017)
- New York Times Top 10 Californians of the Year (2016)
- “Voice of the Year” - Voice of San Diego (2016)
- “Voice of the Year” - Voice of San Diego (2015)
- “Best People of San Diego” - San Diego CityBeat (2016)
- “Bike Advocate of the Year” - San Diego County Bike Coalition (2016)
- “Leadership Award” - San Diego County Democratic Party (2016)
- Finalist for San Diego Magazine’s 2016 San Diego Woman of the Year (2016)
- Finalist for San Diego Business Journal’s 2016 “Women Who Mean Business” Awards (2016)
- Newsmaker of the Year - East County Magazine (2015)
- Sierra Club San Diego “FEAT Award” (2015)
- First San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action “Making a Difference Award (2015)
Ariana Criste, Communications Manager
Ariana graduated with from UC San Diego with a BA in Political Science and Minor in International Migration Studies. While at UCSD, she was involved in Associated Students, wrote for a student-led international affairs journal, and completed a year in the AmeriCorps JusticeCorps program.
Since graduating, she has volunteered with organizations working in the issue areas she is passionate about— civil rights, educational equity, women and children's issues, and climate action. She is an alumnus of the San Diego Leadership Alliance Institute, 2019 cohort.
She worked as a paralegal before pivoting into nonprofit development and communications, where she managed the grant process for several youth development organizations. She also assisted in community outreach, public relations, and special events. As the Communications Manager at CAC, Ariana is excited to galvanize San Diegans to take action against climate change through stories of collective impact, hope, and change.
Bertha Rodriguez graduated from San Diego State University with a Masters in Women’s Studies and an Advanced Certificate in LGBTQ+ Studies. In addition to her work at Climate Action Campaign, Bertha serves as a Youth Coordinator at Casa Familiar, where she provides programs and services for youth in San Ysidro including financial series, college applications, writing workshops, and theatre and art workshops.
Growing up in Pomona, Bertha has experienced how people in her community faced a diverse set of challenges due to the structures that perpetuate classist and racist ideologies that keep poor people and people of color at a disadvantage. She has set her path in creating different ways in promoting social justice with her position as a Lecturer at San Diego State University and programmings at Casa Familiar. She has taught courses in Women’s Studies department focusing on topics such as intersectionality, transnational feminism, environmental racism, borderlands, and queer theory. At Casa Familiar, Bertha created a small garden club at the Youth Center in order to promote organic gardening and taught youth about environmental justice. Her passion is to help empower youth to create change within their lives, communities, and future generations.
Evlyn Andrade-Heymsfield, Director of Development
Evlyn@climateactioncampaign.org - @evlynandrade
Evlyn graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Chicano Studies and not only brings fundraising, organizing and advocacy experience but also years of m
Evlyn chaired the Staff Advisory Council representing all of the school's staff members. Her work led to increased transparency and accountability of the Dean’s executive suite, improved school-wide communication, 360-degree evaluations of senior management, and improved overall satisfaction for staff. She also served on the Dean's Advisory Council and advised the Dean on budget, staffing, and resource allocation best practices. Her work was recognized with the Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award and the Sally Bellows Community-Building Award.
Evlyn has also volunteered with many organizations supporting low-income families on topics ranging from college admissions to substance abuse and addiction. She has volunteered with the Teach in Prison Program helping inmates attain their GED and now volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused or neglected children. Most recently Evlyn was a candidate for Santee City Council and has been a passionate proponent of social, economic, and environmental justice since running for office. She was recently elected to be Delegate for the California Democratic Party and has been a vocal advocate of Community Choice Energy and the San Diego Green New Deal.
Galena Robertson, Operations Manager
Galena has been involved in the fight against climate change for over ten years. She graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish, & Conservation Biology, and earned her M.A. in Biology from Miami University and the San Diego Zoo Global, with a focus on using community-based conservation to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts. She brings to CAC years of experience in administration, including human resources, budgeting, and program management.
Prior to her time at CAC, Galena worked for non-profit organizations dedicated to delivering environmental science curriculum to youth in Southern California, empowering the next generation of environmental stewards. As a San Diego native, she feels especially privileged to support climate action in her home community.
José Trinidad Castañeda III, Climate Justice Advocate and Organizer
José Trinidad Castañeda III is a community leader and lifelong climate organizer. As a resident who grew up with asthma and bronchitis, José advocated for air quality sensors in Orange County to benefit freeway communities impacted by respiratory diseases. José serves on the South Coast Air Quality Management District Youth Leaders Council, and is a former member of the Fullerton Parks and Recreation Commission. José has received awards for his public service and environmental leadership from Fullerton City Council, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, and Senator Josh Newman.
Before his work with Climate Action Campaign, José worked for non-profit organizations in Los Angeles, where he engaged with Spanish-speaking communities to promote Census outreach, civic engagement, and policies such as the Los Angeles County Sustainability Master Plan and Los Angeles County Safe, Clean Water Measure W.
José Trinidad Castañeda earned his Associate’s degrees in Anthropology and Biology from Fullerton College, and Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from California State University, Los Angeles with a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. He is a 2019 Fellow of the New Leaders Council Los Angeles Institute.
José created after-school aquaponics & food justice programs for middle and elementary school students, as well as foster youth. When he isn’t empowering youth, you can find José tending to his native permaculture garden or volunteering in his community.
Maleeka Marsden, Co-Director of Policy
Maleeka Marsden is Co-Director of Policy at Climate Action Campaign, San Diego’s leading climate watchdog organization. At CAC, Maleeka works with cities in the region to develop, pass, and implement strong Climate Action Plans. She also authors the annual Climate Action Plan Report Card to keep cities transparent to the public and accountable to meeting their climate commitments.
Maleeka is also leading CAC’s efforts to bring a local Green New Deal to the region--a San Diego Green New Deal--by coordinating grassroots efforts and a growing alliance of organizations. Maleeka is passionate about growing the people power to fight the climate crisis and believes that empowering communities to engage in our political systems are key to achieving that end.
She has a B.A. from Colorado College.
Matthew Vasilakis, Co-Director of Policy
Matthew Vasilakis is a proven advocate and leader, bringing a broad range of experience including work with various state, local and national non-profits and educational institutions, businesses and corporations, and elected officials. He is dedicated to ensuring all communities are uplifted by meaningful policies that address our climate crisis, such as Community Choice Energy, sustainable infill development, and multi-modal transportation.
The son of Greek and Mexican immigrants who steadfastly encouraged education, Matthew earned both his B.A. and M.A. degrees in history at San Diego State University. His B.A. focused on LGBTQ Studies, while his M.A. focused on San Diego economic and development history. Teaching and education are important to him, and post-graduation, Matthew continues to use knowledge-based strategies to help foster a more just and knowledgeable society as an adjunct history professor at San Diego City College.
Matthew currently sits on the boards of Lambda Archives – San Diego’s LGBTQ historical society, and the YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County – a progressive, pro-housing Democratic club. Matthew is also an alumnus of the San Diego Leadership Alliance Institute, 2018 cohort, and the San Diego and Imperial County Community College Association, 2014 cohort.
Noah Harris, Transportation Policy Advocate
Noah@climateactioncampaign.org - @noahllharris
As a Transportation Policy Advocate, Noah conducts transportation policy research and advocates for a more connected, equitable, and sustainable San Diego transportation system. Noah grew up in Los Angeles, and is thrilled to be back in Southern California fighting for a livable, thriving, and just future for San Diego communities.
Noah graduated from Tufts University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies. Through the American Studies department, he designed his own major concentration, “The Environment and Environmental Justice in an American Context,” which allowed him to dive deeply into a wide range of environmental and social justice subjects.
Before joining Climate Action Campaign, Noah advocated for increased access to healthcare and mental healthcare for incarcerated individuals with Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts. He also taught farm skills and environmental justice lessons to local youth with Groundwork Somerville, and led youth groups on outdoor adventure trips throughout New England with Apogee Adventures.
Throughout his time at Tufts, Noah was involved with labor organizing and was a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. He managed an on-campus coffee shop and led backpacking trips through a pre-orientation program for incoming students. In his free time, Noah likes to jog, cook, and spend time outside.
Taylor Vierra, Events & Office Manager
Taylor graduated from San Diego State University in 2015 with a BA in Communication and a minor in Sociology. After graduating, Taylor worked as an Environmental Educator with I Love A Clean San Diego, where she educated various groups of students and community members throughout the county regarding ways to reduce environmental impact. Taylor's presentations taught thousands of San Diegans how to reduce their waste and live a zero-waste lifestyle. Taylor also worked as an educator at Sweetwater Union High School District.
In addition to her experience in education, Taylor has successfully executed a number of events as a Weddings and Events Planner at Hannah Smith Events. As a lifelong San Diego resident, she is excited to combine her experience in event planning and education with her passion for sustainability to make an impact in her hometown and advocate for environmental justice on behalf of underrepresented communities.