Abigail Abrash Walton, PhD

Director, Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience; Director, Environmental Studies Master’s Degree, and Advocacy Concentration

Abigail serves as faculty in Antioch’s Department of Environmental Studies, where she directs the ES Master’s of Science program and Advocacy master’s degree concentration. Under her leadership, the New England campus developed and advanced its own climate action plan, including significant reductions in electricity usage through low-/no-cost behavior change strategies. Previously, she served as program director for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and New Hampshire Citizens Alliance and as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program.

Abigail’s publications include “Positive deviance and behavior change: A research methods approach for understanding fossil fuel divestment,” in Energy Research and Social Science: Problems of method in the social study of energy and climate change; “Fossil fuel divestment: The power of positively deviant leadership for catalyzing climate action and financing clean energy,” in Evolving Leadership for Collective Wellbeing – Lessons for Implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; “Local solutions report: Identifying and meeting the needs of local communities adapting to climate change” (with Simpson, M., Rhoades, J., & Daniels, C.); U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit road test: Bridging the data-practice divide (with Simpson, M., & Castriotta, M.); “Conservation through Different Lenses: Reflection, Responsibility and the Politics of Participation in Conservation Advocacy,” in the journal Environmental Management, “The Amungme, Kamoro and Freeport: How Indigenous Papuans Have Resisted the World’s Largest Gold and Copper Mine,” in The Globalization Reader (Lechner & Boli, eds.), and “The Victims in Indonesia’s Pursuit of Progress,” an invited New York Times op-ed.

Abigail chaired the City of Keene’s Planning Board (2011-2014) and served on the Steering Committee for the City’s Master Plan, which focuses explicitly on sustainability, climate change mitigation and adaptation. Her leadership contributed to the city’s adoption of a Hillside Protection Ordinance and Surface Water Protection Ordinance as well as updates to the Planning Board’s development standards to include Comprehensive Transportation Management and Low-Impact Development.

She has been a commentator for The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, “Democracy Now!” and the PBS NewsHour, among other media outlets. Abigail holds a M.Sc. in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and Political Science, a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.

Christa Daniels PhD, AICP

Senior Associate, Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience

Christa Daniels Ph.D., AICP specializes in climate mitigation and resiliency along with citizen engagement strategies. For the past two decades, Christa has worked with local governments to foster energy independence, reduce traffic congestion, curb local air pollution, strengthen local economies, and increase their resiliency to the changing climate. Dr. Daniels has facilitated and created innovative participatory stakeholder engagement strategies with towns and regions such as Pittsburgh PA, the Greater Portland Council of Governments, Monadnock region in New Hampshire, NY Department of Conservation, Maplewood NJ, and Bridgeport CT.

Christa’s current research relies on equitable participatory planning methods within local and regional governments to overcome barriers to implement climate resilience solutions. These ecological design solutions can be implemented within the existing urban planning infrastructure through effective landscape visualization and meaningful dialogue. Her climate resilience work utilizes a socio-ecological definition of resilience that incorporates the ability to adapt and transform in order to plan for an alternate future that improves a specific social or ecological system.

Dr. Daniels received her Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from Antioch University. She previously earned her B.A. in Political Science at Pace University and her M.S. in Resource Management and Administration at Antioch Graduate School. Christa’s past experience includes working for the United Nations, NH Department of Environmental Services, Clean Air Cool Planet, and as a city planner for Keene, NH. She also has worked for Climate Access as a research coordinator on translating social science into effective engagement strategies along with an innovative Sea Level Rise 3D visualization project in San Mateo County, Marin County and the San Francisco Bay region of California.

Brian Ambrette

Associate, Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience

Brian serves as Senior Climate Resilience Coordinator in the State of Maine Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future.  Brian brings a capacity-building approach to community resilience with a focus on small cities, towns, and rural places. With Antioch University’s Center for Climate Preparedness & Community Resilience, he launched the Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership, one of the country’s first “regional climate collaboratives” serving rural communities, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. At Maryland’s Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, he worked to generate science- and nature-based adaptation strategies for local governments. Previous posts include The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund. Brian has a masters from Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Middlebury College.

Michael Simpson, MS, MALS

Senior Associate, AUNE Professor

Michael-simpson-159Michael has been a senior environmental scientist and partner for two environmental consultant firms in the Northeast. He has also worked for both the NH Dept. of Environmental Services and the MA Dept. of Environmental Protection. He is a licensed wetlands scientist with over twenty-five years of experience in wetland and riparian corridor assessments, employing a variety of assessment approaches and data collection procedures. Much of his research has been funded by NOAA and the US EPA; it focuses on working with local stakeholders to identify potential risks from projected climate and land-use change, followed by developing an adaptation strategy for communities to build for projected impacts. Currently, he is the Chair of the Environmental Studies Department at Antioch University New England. He has graduate degrees from Dartmouth College and Antioch University New England.

Jim Gruber, PhD

Senior Associate, AUNE Professor

JGruberprofileJim is an internationally recognized academic expert and professional in the topics of Community-Based Natural Resource Management and methods for engaged and participatory research that leads to sustainable governance of ecosystems. During the past 30 years, he has consulted to national and state governments, regional non-profit organizations, universities, and local governments in Eastern Europe, Mexico, South America, Africa, and the United States on environmental policy, community-based natural resource management, social capital building, facilitating systemic change, engaged scholarship, climate adaptation and resilience, energy conservation, and solar technology. He has published numerous articles on his research. He previously served as a municipal manager for communities in Vermont and New Hampshire. During his time as co-Founder and Executive Director of Antioch New England Institute (ANEI), which provided training, programs, and resources (U.S. and international) in leadership development, community capacity building, environmental education, and environmental policy development and implementation. Finally, Jim holds a Ph.D. from the University of Zagreb in Environmental Resource Management, an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and an MS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also a professional Civil Engineer (PE).

Clara Fang, MS, MEM, MFA

Doctoral Fellow

Clara Fang is a PhD candidate in Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England. Her interests include climate change mitigation, advocacy, and communication. She is higher education outreach director at Citizens’ Climate Lobby and co-chair of the Detroit chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. She serves on the Board of Directors of Our Climate, a youth-led organization advancing science-based and equitable climate policies. She has worked as sustainability manager in higher education, and as sustainability consultant to the city of Albany, New York. She holds a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Utah. She currently lives in Detroit, Michigan.

Jason Rhoades, PhD

Researcher, Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience; International Service Program Director and Faculty, AUNE

JasonBIOpicAs a researcher for the Center, Jason Rhoades’ work focuses on providing meaningful opportunities for marginalized groups to engage in participatory planning and decision-making.   In particular, he facilitates and studies collaborative climate change adaptation planning projects with vulnerable populations.  Most recently he completed a participatory adaptation planning project with the senior citizen community of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  In addition to his work with the Center, Jason serves on the faculty in the Environmental Studies and Management Departments and directs the International Service Program at Antioch University New England.  Jason earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Studies at AUNE in 2016. Prior to joining AUNE, he held a variety of positions in the environmental field including serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Armenia.

Janine Marr, PhD

BRACE Project Coordinator

Janine began working with the CCPCR in 2018 as a graduate research assistant for the Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) project with the Greater Monadnock Public Health Network in Cheshire County. Janine assisted community partners in the creation of a pilot intervention on emergency preparedness with individuals over age 65 by conducting research, facilitating stakeholder sessions, and presenting on the application of behavior change theory to resilience-building interventions. In 2020, Janine co-presented Climate Change: Public Health with NH Department of Health and Human Services staff as part of the CCPCR Weathering Change webinar series. She co-authored the white paper How do we build community resilience to disasters in a changing climate? A review of interventions to improve and measure public health outcomes in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States, released in October, 2020. In 2021, Janine and the CCPCR will work with regional stakeholders to increase community resilience to extreme precipitation events through emergency preparedness workshops and multi- media resilience-messaging campaigns.

Dr. Marr completed her dissertation on the exotic forest disease, white pine blister rust in 2021. The disease adapted to New Hampshire’s climate during the past  century and continues to threaten the health and sustainability of the region’s white pine trees. During her research, Janine documented that climate change, represented by an earlier spring season and higher summer temperatures during the past century, have affected the development and management of this deadly forest disease.

Janine serves as chair of the Gilsum Conservation Commission, and is a NH Advanced Master Gardener. She has presented on building resilient landscapes, including the use of water gardens and native plant selection for a changing climate. For decades, Janine has been a writer, producer, and broadcaster of audio programs and is currently editing a podcast series on pilgrimage journeys for a research project at AUNE. She hopes to someday use her audio skills to produce a podcast series on climate change preparedness with the CCPCR. In her spare time, she enjoys making jams, jellies, and pickles from the fruits and vegetables on her property that she designed as an early-successional landscape and wildlife sanctuary.

Jessica Hench

Graduate Research Assistant

Jessica Hench is a Master’s student in the Environmental Studies; Advocacy concentration where she focuses her attention on equitable adaptation to climate change by considering concepts of emergence, privilege and culture. Jess is a graduate of the Climate Resilience for Professionals Certificate Program which she completed while programming resilience and sustainability for a regional council of governments in Portland, Maine. Combining her work experience and education criteria, Jess created a Municipal Guidebook for Equitable Adaptation with the intention for local governments to access the latest resources on planning for climate change equitably at the local level.

Jess joins the Center to help navigate the community engagement component of the Climate Resilience Toolkit project where the team’s charge is to integrate diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and belonging into the federal government platform. She holds a BA in the Human Dimensions of Climate Change from the University of Maine. 

Daniel Medeiros

Graduate Research Assistant

Daniel Medeiros is a Master’s student in the Environmental Studies; Conservation Biology program.

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