Aziz Dehkan was born and raised in New York City. With a degree in Biological Sciences from Rutgers University, Aziz built an award-winning passive-solar house and started one of the first organic farms in New Jersey.
In management and development roles, Aziz has worked for social and environmental justice organizations including The Coalition for the Homeless, STRIVE, The Fortune Society, and Mother Jones. As a community organizer and Director of the NYC Community Garden Coalition, in response to structural racism, he has led the fight for land tenure and food security. Aziz served on the steering committee for the People’s Climate Movement rallies in NYC, Washington DC and #Sandy5. Dreaming of a free Iran, Aziz is tirelessly searching for progressive solutions that support justice, equality, and liberation.
“Making climate change an urgent priority across America needs a groundswell of local community support. The Covid19 pandemic has taught us that America’s structural system is fractured. The climate crisis affects everyone, but not everyone equally. We need to build roadmaps from which we can begin to create jobs with an economic policy that moves us away from nonrenewable energy. Working with unions and trades, we must adopt policies promoting job growth to ensure access to jobs for displaced fossil fuel workers. To protect the climate with just equitable solutions we must — together as a society and with coalitions — play leading roles in confronting the climate crisis. It is our moral imperative for future generations.”
Michelle Eckman has been associated with CRCJ since 2013 when she was the staff representative to the organization for an affiliate member. Her goal to work more closely with CRCJ was realized in March of 2020 when she was hired to serve on the staff. Michelle supports the organization in all areas with particular focus on organizational policies and practices including the coordination of our Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and strategic planning initiatives.
Michelle has spent her entire career in conservation and the environment. She was one of twenty-seven North American fellows in the eeCapacity Community Climate Change Fellowship program from 2014-2017 and marched with Common Ground High School in the first People’s Climate March in 2014, which happened to be organized by her future CRCJ supervisor, Aziz Dehkan!
For more than 20 years, Michelle has developed, delivered, and evaluated climate-based environmental education programs for K12 students, educators and administrators in New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. In her free time, Michelle hikes with her two dogs, Briscoe and Trixie; tends to her ridiculous amount of orchids and other indoor plants; spends a lot of time researching and implementing practices at home to reduce her carbon footprint including growing as much of her own food as possible, composting, thrift shopping when she needs something; and sharing her passion for climate justice with friends and family.
Allison Pilcher joined the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs as Research Manager in 2020 to support policy work for the Roundtable’s climate jobs initiative. One of her first projects was passing Senate Bill 999 (Public Act 21-43).
Originally from Vermont, Allison completed her master’s degree in environmental law and policy at Vermont Law School. During that time she worked as a legal clinician in Vermont Law School’s Environmental Justice Clinic, fighting on behalf of legally underserved communities that are overburdened by toxic pollution in North Carolina and Michigan.
Allison also holds a B.A. in environmental studies and sociology from St. Lawrence University, where she led student volunteer and advocacy organizations, interned with local government, and supported national research at the Institute of Marine Affairs in Trinidad and Tobago. She has a longstanding interest in climate change and climate justice and works towards solutions that simultaneously address environmental and social issues.
Sydney Barnwell joined the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs as the Communications Director in 2023. Sydney started her career in Communications as a content creator and freelance marketing consultant. Sydney is a Connecticut native, marketing professional, and proud Uconn alumni.
Sydney is responsible for strategic planning, business communications, creative marketing campaigns, content development, and promoting social, economic, and environmental justice advocacy. She enjoys event planning, hosting, and collaborating with small businesses, entrepreneurs, and community organizations.
Melissa Jimenez is a senior at the University of Connecticut studying Environmental Economics. Originally from Danbury Connecticut, She is passionate about educating others and herself about intersectionality in the climate crisis. She believes it’s crucial to understand that environmental issues disproportionately affect marginalized communities, addressing climate change requires a holistic approach that considers not just environmental factors but also social, economic, and racial dimensions.
Growing up in CT has inspired her to work for an organization that directly combats issues in her state. In her free time, she loves to spend her time outside with her Australian cattle dog named Milo, she goes on hikes all over Connecticut and that has fostered a love for the environment.