2023 CEEJAC Members
Click on a name below to go directly to the member's bio:
Dr. Mark Mitchell (Co-Chair) | Commissioner Katie Dykes (Co-Chair) | Terry Adams | Rev. Dr. Albert Bailey Jr. | Leticia Colon de Mejias | Yaw Darko | Xóchitl García | Robert Hotaling | Adrienne Farrar Houël | Manisha Juthani, MD | Karen Kitsis | Sharon Lewis | Brandon L. McGee Jr. | Cierra Patrick | Alex Rodriguez | Theresa Hopkins-Staten | Yolanda L. Stinson | Maisa L. Tisdale
Mark Mitchell, M.D., MPH, FACPM, is Associate Professor of Climate Change, Energy & Environmental Health Equity at George Mason University. Dr. Mitchell is Director of State Affairs for the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health and is Founder and Director of the Climate and Health Equity Fellowship, a leadership development program for physicians of color to advance equitable climate solutions. He also co-chairs the National Medical Association’s Commission on Environmental Health and co-chairs the Governor’s Connecticut Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Council (CEEJAC).
A preventive medicine physician trained in environmental health and health policy, Dr. Mitchell has spent over twenty years working in the public health sector, including as Director of the Hartford, Connecticut, Health Department and Deputy Director of the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department. He spent fifteen years working with environmental justice communities to prevent and reduce environmentally related disease as well as to change policies that are detrimental to environmental health. He is the Founder and Senior Policy Advisor of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice.
Dr. Mitchell has served on several U.S. EPA and FDA advisory committees and has received a number of awards for his community and environmental health leadership.
Dr. Mitchell earned his bachelors and medical degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and his Masters of Public Health from The Johns Hopkins University.
Co-Chair of CEEJAC, Katie Scharf Dykes is the Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP). She was nominated by Governor Ned Lamont to serve as the Commissioner of DEEP, and was confirmed on February 20, 2019. Katie previously served as Chair of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) from 2015-2018, and as Deputy Commissioner for Energy at Connecticut DEEP from 2012-2015. Katie also served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Inc. (RGGI) from 2014 to 2017. RGGI is a multi-state effort focused on reducing carbon emissions from electric generating facilities. Katie joined CT DEEP in March 2012 after prior service as Deputy General Counsel for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and as a Legal Advisor to the General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Energy. She is a graduate of Yale College and the Yale Law School.
Terry is known for his commitment to social issues (affordable housing, homeownership, and historic preservation. Consistent determination to keep open communication between the residents and the city to get a common consensus that will accommodate everyone. Terry’s fair minded leadership and dedication to his constituents has always made sure the developers and the residents work together in the transformation of the District 3 community so there is comparable co-existence.
Terry has served on many committees and boards:
- The Democratic City Committee
- Public Safety Committee
- Appointment Committee
- Transportation Committee
- Operation Committee
- State and Commerce Committee
- Banking Committee for State of Connecticut
- Human Service vice Chair for The State of Connecticut
- Public Safety and Security for The State of Connecticut
Terry Adams has lived in the City of Stamford for over 46 years and is a Stamford property owner. He was employed by Pitney Bowes which was once a major South End employer for over 42 years. Terry continues to serve actively on the Stamford Board of Representatives for over fifteen years and has shown to be an experienced community leader with the courage and ability to serve the needs of the District 3 community. Terry graduated from Bowman High School in Bowman South Carolina and later attended Norwalk Technical College. With an interest in small business Terry attended The Small Business Academy.
Rev. Dr. Bailey Jr. is the Pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Hartford. He is a product of Detroit Publics Schools and understands the importance of faith, family and community. He was licensed to preach and ordained at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, Detroit, MI. Rev. Born and raised in Detroit, MI, he currently lives in Windsor, CT.
Dr. Bailey for the past 17 years has worked in the educational field, as a teacher, contractor, intervention specialist and community advocate. He is the former Youth & Young Adult Pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist – Woodlawn. Dr. Bailey Jr., earned his Doctor of Ministry Degree from United Theological Seminary in Ohio. His degree area was Prophetic Preaching and Practice. The title of his project was “From Monument Back into Movement: Reengaging the Black Church with Its Community.” Rev. Dr. Bailey Jr, currently serves as the Director of Alumni Affairs at Wilberforce University has a wealth of experience in community development, fundraising and activism, from working with agencies that deal with individuals experiencing homelessness to other groups looking to invest in urban communities.
Rev. Dr. Bailey Jr. is a member of, among others: Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.; Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons (Pride of the Valley #95); King Solomon Consistory #20; the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He is a member and former supervisor of workshops for the Midwest Missionary Baptist Youth Conference and a proud member of the NAACP, Urban League, and Young Preachers Association and various community, religious and civil rights organizations.. He holds affiliations with the National Baptist Convention and Progressive National Baptist Convention.
Rev. Dr. Bailey Jr. is a proud graduate of Wilberforce University Class of 2005. In addition to his Doctor of Ministry Degree, he received a Master of Divinity Degree from Payne Theological Seminary in Ohio. When not nurturing and helping the people spiritually, academically and socially, Dr. Bailey enjoys going to the movies, reading a good book, listening to jazz music, watching wrestling, playing golf and basketball. Rev. Dr. Bailey Jr. and his amazing wife, Erica, are the proud parents of four children, twins Albert Bailey III & Aliyah Bailey, Amiyah Bailey and Alecia Bailey.
Leticia Colon de Mejias is the recipient of multiple awards and honors related to her Environmental work and DEI accomplishments. She is a board member for numerous local and national non-profit organizations. She is a visionary who leads with tenacity and passion. Leticia’s work has been highlighted by the US Congress, the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Education, Time Magazine, TEDx, WNPR, The Hartford Courant, Hartford Business Journal, the National Small Business Association, the National Building Performance Association, and many others.
After a successful 16-year corporate career in healthcare, research, workforce development, and community relations at Hartford Healthcare, Leticia learned about the health-related impacts of our energy demand and in response, she opened her own energy efficiency company in 2010. As the founder of Energy Efficiencies Solutions, Leticia leads one of the largest Latina and woman-owned energy demand reduction companies in the country. She has received many national awards for her work in energy conservation, environmental justice, and building science which helps Americans use building retrofits to protect the environment, improve human health, conserve energy, and reduce utility costs. Currently, Leticia aligns her work within the community to successfully implement engaging workforce development efforts and increase the clean energy industry’s diversity, inclusivity, and engagement. Leticia is an award-winning children’s book author and her works include Pesky Plastic, Dinero Learns to Save Energy, Defeating the Phantom Draw, Luis and the Giant, graphic texts, and certified Next Generation Science Standards climate action education materials. She has authored over 20 children’s books that explore the environment, pollinators, plastic waste, energy, and social emotional awareness.
Leticia and her teams focus on recruiting members who embrace the company’s “Warrior Way Culture, taking action-based approaches to solving human disparities and lowering environmental burdens. She co-created two non-profit entities–Efficiency For All and Green Eco Warriors–to support continued community engagement and community prosperity and agency, through her work in climate action, energy equity, health, environmental justice, and the interconnectedness economic success nexus.
A tireless advocate for the representation of people of color, working families, and historically underrepresented communities, Leticia believes in the inclusion of all voices and works to elevate minority-owned businesses, drive sustainable policies, protect human health, and create equitable opportunities for all. As a result, she is a highly sought-after thought leader on issues relating to minority entrepreneurship, clean energy transitions, electrification, climate education consulting, energy efficiency, workforce development, utility affordability, sustainability, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Leticia has testified for multiple US congressional committees, is a renowned public speaker, and celebrated author.
Yaw is the Senior Project Specialist for the Connecticut Land Conservation Council (CLCC), the state's umbrella organization for the land conservation community. Yaw administers CLCC's grant programs and leads the organization's Bird & Hike Program, which has the goal of engaging diverse audiences on conserved lands.
Yaw earned his B.A. in Psychology and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Connecticut (UConn). With a passion for learning, Yaw has a background in farming, personal training, tutoring/counseling, and facilities maintenance. He enjoys reading and writing poetry, gardening, lifting weights, birding, and playing soccer.
Xóchitl García is currently a community consultant at Save the Sound. Her work revolves around intersectional environmental justice and bilingual community outreach. Xóchitl believes that cultural and language representation is essential in creating equitable and inclusive environments.
Robert Hotaling was named Deputy Commissioner and Chief Investment Officer of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) in February of 2023. In this role, he drives public investment in statewide economic development efforts including commercial real estate projects, public-private partnerships, and performance-based tax incentives for employers. As CIO, he will maximize the return on the state’s investments by ensuring that public spending catalyzes private activity.
Prior to joining DECD, Rob was Senior Managing Director Enterprise Engineering and Head of Digital Delivery at Webster Bank. His extensive background includes Founder & CEO at Verbi, Vice President of Cloud & Mobile at Kitchen Brains, Director of Mobile Solutions at Walker Digital, IT Solution and Mobile Application Architect & Managing Consultant at IBM GBS, and Chief Technology Officer at Supply Insight. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and master of community service from the University of Connecticut, and professional certifications in Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Leadership & Strategy Implementation from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Ms Farrar Houël has extensive international executive experience in France, Russia and Ireland in real estate development, construction and marketing. In 2002, she returned to the U.S. and initiated a career in community and economic development. In her most recent capacities, she has designed, funded and operated workforce development training programs; worked on curriculum design and delivery of business development courses for Resident Owned Businesses for CT housing authorities; and created GBCE with three nonprofit, sustainability enterprises under its umbrella.
GBCE uses its expertise to create economic opportunity by developing “triple bottom line” businesses featuring: environmental sustainability; social good by training and hiring disadvantaged, low-income, unemployed residents enabling them to become economically self-sufficient; and economic and community development opportunities for distressed urban neighborhoods. In June 2012, GBCE opened Park City Green, a mattress deconstruction/materials recycling division. Park City Green employs 22 persons largely from Bridgeport’s Re-Entry community in its growing enterprise, recycling more than 380,000 units since the implementation of the state’s mattress recycling law in mid-2015.
Ms Farrar Houël contributed to the City of Bridgeport’s BGreen 2020 Initiative from its inception in 2008. She chaired the City of Bridgeport’s Energy Improvement District and, in 2015, served as Chair to the Community Advisory Committee negotiating a community benefits agreement with the owner of the Bridgeport Harbor Coal plant which resulted in the closure of the last coal plan in CT in 2020 and community investments of $2M.
Ms Farrar Houël has been active in Preservation from 2003 to 2018 as a trustee and officer of Preservation Connecticut. Also, in the interest of preserving and developing an important African-American historic site in Bridgeport, she joined the founding board of the Mary and Eliza Freeman Foundation for History and Community and still serves to this day. In 2012, GBCE’s Green Team integrated deconstruction classes at the site while performing the initial phases of preserving the houses’ structures for future re-development.
For the State of CT, Ms Farrar Houël was Co-Chair of the 2013 Governor’s Task Force on Modernizing Recycling in Connecticut and served on the Green Jobs Committee, a joint committee of CT’s Department of Labor and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. More recently in 2016-2019, she served on the state’s Energy Efficiency Board named by Commissioner Dykes of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and chaired the Residential Sub-Committee of the Board. In 2020 she began service on the Governor’s Climate Change Committee contributing to the policy recommendations for Financing and Funding Climate Adaptation and Resilience through the lens of Environmental Justice. The CT Women’s Hall of Fame honored Ms Farrar Houël for her leadership in community and economic development in 2019. She has also been awarded for her environmentally focused economic and community development programs by CT League of Conservation Voters and CT Green Building Council. More recently, in March 2021, Governor Ned Lamont named Ms Farrar Houël to the board of directors of the Connecticut Green Bank.
Ms. Farrar Houël earned her BA at Antioch College and her MBA at Harvard Business School. She resides in Bridgeport, Connecticut with her husband, Christian.
Manisha Juthani, MD, is the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Commissioner Juthani came to DPH from the Yale School of Medicine, where she has served as an associate professor of medicine, and director of the Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program. Additionally, she has served as the associate program director for career development in the Internal Medicine Residency Program there since 2017.
Commissioner Juthani attended Edgemont High School in Scarsdale, NY, and received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994 and her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1998. She completed her internal medicine residency training at New-York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell where she served as an assistant chief resident. She also was a chief medical resident at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center from 2001-2002.
Commissioner Juthani came to the Yale School of Medicine as a fellow in infectious diseases in 2002. Her research focused on the diagnosis, management, and prevention of infections in older adults, specifically urinary tract infection and pneumonia in nursing home residents. She has more than 50 peer-reviewed publications in this field.
Additionally, Commissioner Juthani was the principal investigator of an R01-funded research project that resulted in the 2016 JAMA publication entitled, “Effect of Cranberry Capsules on Bacteriuria Plus Pyuria Among Older Women in Nursing Homes: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” This publication received widespread attention in numerous news media outlets including the New York Times and CNN. She also achieved an Almetric Attention Score that placed it in the top 5 percent of all research outputs scored by Altmetric in 2016. In December 2016, the New Yorker identified this research as one of the most notable medical findings of 2016. Additionally, in her parallel work with pneumonia prevention, she was the first author on the 2015 Clinical Infectious Diseases publication entitled, “A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial of a Multicomponent Intervention Protocol for Pneumonia Prevention Among Nursing Home Elders.” Her investigative expertise has made her a sought-after editorialist in high impact journals such as JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine, and the British Medical Journal.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Commissioner Juthani was a leader in the response at Yale. She was a voice to help educate the public and was featured on CNN, WTNH News 8, ABC's 20/20, Connecticut Public Radio/NPR, BBC's News Hour, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post to name a few. Throughout her career, she has been inspired to protect our most vulnerable citizens and advocate for the ideal of health as a human right. This vision and passion is what she now brings to the role of Commissioner of the Department of Public Health.
Karen Kitsis joins us most recently from Seattle, Washington. There she served as the Deputy Executive Director for the Office of Capital Project Development at Sound Transit. During her eleven years at the agency, her previous positions at Sound Transit included serving as South Corridor Development Director, and as Senior Planning and Project Development Manager. While at Sound Transit, she was responsible for overseeing the preliminary engineering and project development of commuter rail, light rail, bus, and bus rapid transit projects totaling over $10 billion across four of Sound Transit’s subareas. She managed the system-wide planning process known as ST3, which resulted in a successful $54 billion ballot measure. She also led the long-range planning division with staff conducting alternatives development, multi-modal corridor-level planning studies, environmental analysis, capital project development, and ridership forecasting.
Karen brings almost two decades of transportation planning and management experience to CTDOT. Prior to moving to Washington to work at Sound Transit, Karen worked as Transit Development Officer at Hampton Roads Transit, was a planner at Kimley-Horn in Tallahassee, FL, and started her career as a Project Manager at Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission in Woodbridge, Virginia. Karen has a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from UCLA.
Sharon Lewis is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ). CCEJ has worked tirelessly for more than two decades to eliminate or mitigate the environmental injustices borne by low income and communities of color and to provide a seat at the table where rules, laws, and policies regarding the environment are formulated and implemented. Sharon Lewis’ work experience spans more than 40 years, split evenly between the for-profit and non-profit business sectors. She enjoyed a 20-year career with the insurance industry, beginning with the Aetna Insurance Company as an underwriter specializing in municipal insurance coverages. From there, she transitioned to the Treaty Reinsurance sector, where she designed and underwrote reinsurance products for municipalities and Fortune 500 companies.
In 1998, she joined Hartford residents as they fought to close the North Hartford Landfill. She went on to work for Dr. Mark Mitchell, founder of the CT Coalition for Environmental Justice.
Sharon is a life-long Hartford resident and lives in an environmental justice community in the North End of Hartford. She obtained her BA and MA from Mount Holyoke College, where she majored Urban Studies/Urban Planning. She is the Recipient of the U.S. EPA Region 1 Merit Award.
Brandon L. McGee, Jr. was named Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Housing in March 2002. McGee has been actively involved in the political arena for two decades. Most recently, he served as Political Director for the second-term Governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont. Previously, he served as a Connecticut State Representative for District 5 from 2013 to 2022. Brandon is no stranger to the advocacy space. In 2021, State Representative McGee led the clarion call of declaring Racism as a public health Crisis, an essential first step to making Connecticut finally question its identity. During that same year, Brandon, alongside his colleagues, gave final passage to declaring racism a public health crisis; that would trigger an exploration of the effects racism has on public health. Understanding the power of relationships, being mentored by Dr. Marichal B. Monts and Dr. June Archer, he continues to pay it forward by offering young men of color opportunities to engage with other professional men of color through his initiative called the 50|50 Club.
Brandon has numerous community affiliations, serving in various capacities, including:
⦁ Ascend Mentoring, Board President
⦁ BSL Education Foundation, President
⦁ Hartford Behavioral Health, Board of Directors
⦁ HARC Inc., Board of Directors
⦁ The Citadel of Love, Board of Directors
Brandon was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. He holds his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Alabama State University and a Master of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership from Albertus Magnus College.
Cierra Patrick is an economic and community developer from New London, CT. Cierra orchestrates the strategic planning, implementation, and investment for local improvements, infrastructure, community assets and amenities for the City of Groton, CT.
Cierra earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Hampton University and went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Georgetown University. Feeding her curiosity about the tools of entrepreneurs in our economy, bottom-up economic development, community revitalization and wealth creation, Cierra devises creative approaches to community engagement that encourage a variety of local stakeholders to collaborate. Cierra’s gift is her ability to engage diverse members of the City’s citizenry in developing and implementing plans/projects that support economic activity, stimulate local excitement, and enhance local quality of life.
As Climate Advocate for Save the Sound, Alex Rodriguez is responsible for youth mobilization, supporting climate-related communications, coalition building, community engagement, and legislative advocacy.
Prior to joining Save the Sound, Alex served as Community Organizer to the CT League of Conservation Voters where he planned and executed campaigns relating to climate action, voting rights, and electric school bus advancement. He has also served in roles such as Chair of the Public Participation subcommittee of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change, and Vice Chair of Hartford’s Advisory Commission on the Environment.
Theresa began her career at Eversource in the Legal Department as Senior Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary. She is currently a Co-chair of the University of Connecticut African American Alumni Council, a Board member of the iQuilt Partnership and a Trustee of the Connecticut-Rhode Island National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She previously served on the Saint Francis Foundation Board of Directors; Connecticut State Board of Education; Chair of the United Way of Connecticut Board of Directors; Chair of the Urban League of Greater Hartford Board of Directors; and the National Urban League Board of Trustees.
Theresa has received numerous recognitions and awards for her unwavering leadership and dedication to community service, including the UConn Law School’s 150th anniversary “Gallery of Pioneers” honoring alumni for their community service and professional achievements and the 2018 Connecticut Bar Association “Citizen of the Law Award”.
Theresa graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.A. in Sociology, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. In addition, she earned a JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law and received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree (PhD) from Goodwin University.
Yolanda L. Stinson was first introduced to Environmental Concerns in 1972 through the PYE (Protect Your Environment) club. Back then, we were more worried about automobile emissions, and manufacturers emitting pollution.
She is a Bridgeport resident and Lead Organizer for the Connecticut Coalition for Economic and Environment Justice (CCEEJ). Yolanda has fought to get a seat at the table for those people impacted by the environment and economic rules, regulations, and laws that determine whether they live or die. She gained the knowledge of Environmental Injustices and Climate Change and learned to effectively use her voice to begin the change in the urban communities. Yolanda aim is to learn and educate the other residents in her community that they too can “FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT” to live and breathe in a community which is NOT slowly killing them.
Maisa L. Tisdale has advocated for the preservation of the Mary & Eliza Freeman Houses since 1994, and founded the Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community in 2009 after coordinating a successful movement to save the homes from demolition. Ms. Tisdale led the Freeman Center as a volunteer until 2019, when she became the Freeman Center’s first professional staff member. Over the past ten years, Ms. Tisdale not only focused on the restoration of the Freeman houses, but also has worked to create a safer and healthier “built” environment in Bridgeport’s South End – focusing on historic preservation, community development, and climate change.
Maisa Tisdale was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Her parents, James and Loyse Tisdale, were educators and civil rights activists. Their dedication to civil and human rights – and love of history – remain Ms. Tisdale’s strongest influences. She also studied African and African American arts and culture in Bridgeport at Youthbridge, Inc.: A Theatrical Arts Workshop from the age of 10 through her early college years. Six generations of Maisa Tisdale's family were born or have lived in Bridgeport.
Ms. Tisdale strengthened her background in African American Studies during her undergraduate years at Yale University, where she earned a BA in Asian Studies. She also studied sociology and history as a postgraduate special student at Columbia University. Maisa Tisdale went on to work as a private contractor for the US Department of State’s Bureau of Education & Cultural Affairs (ECA) for many years; and has worked as: Executive Director of The Ocean Classroom (Bridgeport, CT); Assistant Director of Admissions at Fairfield University (Fairfield, CT); and Manager of Sponsorships and Grants, Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation).