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Visiting Scholars Biographies
The Institute hosts environmental lawyers, practitioners, and scholars working on policy research projects aimed at domestic American environmental policy — national, regional or state — and at the international level and national level in other countries. Individual scholars are typically in residence at the Institute for periods of one to three months, with some staying for a year or more. The exchanges — many of which take place under the auspices of the ELI International Visiting Scholar Program — help to strengthen institutions help to strengthen institutions and stimulate intellectual activity across disciplines and borders. The program helps to build and sustain a growing network of environmental lawyers and related professionals dedicated to advancing environmental protection.
The Institute is pleased to introduce the current ELI Visiting Scholars. They are:
Ruth Greenspan Bell
Ruth Greenspan Bell joined ELI as a Visiting Scholar in June 2013. Bell is a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and the co-leader (with Elke Weber of Columbia University) of a program to harvest insights from behavioral social science research to motivate a variety of behavior changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and impact climate challenge. Her previous positions include Senior Fellow and Director of the US Climate Policy Objective at World Resources Institute (WRI); directing International Institutional Development and Environmental Assistance (IIDEA) at Resources for the Future (a program to build more effective systems of environmental protection globally, producing, for example, a highly acclaimed study of the policy process and changes –including the switch of all commercial vehicles from petrol and diesel to CNG -- that led to improvements in air quality in Delhi); Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; and before that, various domestic management positions in U.S. EPA's Office of General Counsel. Bell publishes extensively about climate change and other environmental issues, addressing a wide range of policy and environmental audiences (Foreign Affairs, Issues in Science and Technology, Environmental Forum, Environmental Law Reporter, Environment, and Harvard International Review among them). Bell is a graduate of UCLA and the School of Law of the University of California at Berkeley; serves on several boards (currently the International Senior Lawyers Project and The Mountain Institute) and is a long-standing member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Michael Curley joined ELI as a Visiting Scholar in 2013. He is a lawyer who has spent the majority of his career in project finance and the last 25 years in environmental project finance. He is the author of The Handbook of Project Finance for Water and Wastewater Systems, published by Times/Mirror and Finance Policy for Renewable Energy and a Sustainable Environment, which will be published by Taylor & Francis on March 27, 2014. He has also published over 40 articles, has contributed to the Huffington Post, and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Club, where his sits on the Book & Author Committee.
In 1990, Mr. Curley was appointed to the Environmental Financial Advisory Board at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he served for 21 years under four Presidents. Over the last 20 years, he has taught environmental finance and law at the Johns Hopkins and George Washington Universities as well as Vermont Law School. He founded the Environmental Finance Centers at the University of Maryland, Syracuse University and Cleveland State University.
In the early 1980’s, he raised the venture capital for, founded, and served as president and CEO of the third financial guaranty insurance company in the world and the first to insure economic development projects. He was also a partner in the New York City law firm of Shea & Gould.
Mr. Curley has also served in several roles in government. First, as Deputy Commissioner & General Counsel of the New York State Department of Economic Development; and then as President and CEO of the New York Job Development Authority (JDA), the State’s bank for economic development. He was also the General Counsel of the JDA and General Counsel of the New York State Science & Technology Foundation, the State’s venture capital agency. Prior to that, Mr. Curley served as Parliamentarian of the New York State Assembly and Associate Counsel to the Speaker and was also an Assistant to Congressman Richard D. McCarthy (D-NY) in Washington, DC. He also served as Adjunct Professor of Banking & Finance at New York University teaching Venture Capital and Capital Markets and was appointed to the Board of Directors of the United Nations Development Corporation by New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
For the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Curley developed national municipal bond banks for water, wastewater, district heating and other municipal infrastructure for both the Russian Federation and Ukraine, designed a revolving fund for safe drinking water for the Ministry of the Environment in the Republic of Georgia and built fifteen rural water systems and developed the national model for rural water finance in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Tracy Hester joined ELI as a Visiting Scholar in 2015. Hester teaches environmental law and statutory interpretation classes at the University of Houston Law Center, and he directs environmental speaker activities and programs for its Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Center. Hester previously worked as the partner in charge of the Houston environmental practice group at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP for over sixteen years. He recently completed serving five years on the governing Council for the American Bar Association’s Section on Environment, Energy & Resources, and he currently chairs its Special Committee on Congressional Relations. Hester is also chairman of the Texas Environmental Research Consortium, which is a non-partisan coalition of government agencies, NGOs, medical institutions and corporations dedicated to supporting innovative basic atmospheric science affecting air pollution and identifying innovative strategies to improve air quality. Hester currently serves as the vice-chair of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Environmental Policy Advisory Committee, and has previously chaired the Houston Bar Association’s Environmental Section. He was named Environmental Lawyer of the Year for Houston in 2011, and he was elected to the American Law Institute in 2004. He also serves on the boards for the Environmental Law Section and the Natural Resources Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools.
Hester has lectured extensively on environmental and energy law topics throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, India and Africa. He led a recent initiative within the American Law Institute to propose a Restatement for Environmental Law, and he served as the interim Director of the Submittal on Environmental Matters Unit for NAFTA’s Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Montreal during summer 2014. He has worked extensively on interface of emerging technologies and environmental law, including the governance of climate engineering techniques, nanoscale materials fabrication and distribution, genetic modification and synthetic biological scienctific techniques, and advanced renewable energy technologies. He has also authored numerous law review articles, contributed to and co-edited two textbooks on climate engineering law, and co-authored The Nanotechnology Deskbook with Lynn Bergeson in 2008.
Hester graduated from Columbia University School of Law with a J.D. In 1986, and received his B.A.degree with high honors (Phi Beta Kappa) in the Plan II liberal arts honors program at the University of Texas in Austin in 1983.
Zhang Jingjing is a leading environmental lawyer who has represented pollution victims and helped communities organize public hearings on environmental rights in China.
She is currently an Open Society Follow based in Washington, D.C. Her present work is focused on monitoring Chinese companies’ environmental performance in China and internationally, and the use of legal test cases to ensure Chinese overseas companies’ compliance with environmental laws and international human rights standards.
Between 1999 and 2008, Zhang was the first litigation director of the Beijing-based Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims, and she won several landmark cases in the Chinese courts. After a successful environmental class-action lawsuit against a chemical company in Fujian province that discharged toxic substances into rivers, international media called her China’s “Erin Brockovich.” She also worked as a senior legal consultant and assisted in the development of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) China Environmental Law Project between 2006 and 2008. From 2009 to 2012, Zhang was the Deputy China Country Director of PILnet: the Global Network for Public Interest Law, a New York-based public interest law organization working on promoting public interest litigation. In 2011, she won the SEE-TNC (The Nature Conservancy) Eco-award and a Women of Courage Award given by the US Embassy in Beijing.
Zhang earned her Master’s Degree of Public Administration from Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, and her law degrees from Wuhan University (LL.B.) and China University of Political Science and Law (LL.M). She has also been a Yale World Fellow and a visiting scholar at Yale Law School and at Harvard Law School.
Carol Adaire Jones
Carol Adaire Jones joined ELI as Visiting Scholar in September 2014, following a 30-year career as an environmental economist in both government and academia.
She is co-leading ELI’s project on Tropical Environmental Liability – her focus is on the valuation of damage claims. She is also leading ELI’s new Food Waste Initiative, conducting research to inform the design of public policies and public-private initiatives to promote food waste reduction, edible food donation, and diversion of food waste from landfills and incinerators. To complement this research, ELI is working with public and private sector organizations in local communities that seek support for developing new food waste reduction, recovery and diversion initiatives.
Across her career, two major areas of emphasis have been valuing natural resource damages for federal and state environmental litigation, and conducting research to inform the design of environmental and resource conservation policy.
At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 1990-1997, Carol oversaw valuation of the natural resource damage claims for 36 cases brought by NOAA as a trustee for coastal and marine resources, which recovered over $190 million in addition to the $1 billion Exxon Valdez settlement. As lead economist on the Oil Pollution Act regulations-writing team, she was an architect of the innovative restoration-based framework to value ecosystem services in natural resource damage claims, widely adopted by federal, state and tribal natural resource trustees and the EU. She also coordinated the "Blue Ribbon Panel on Use of Contingent Valuation in Natural Resource Damages."
Serving in several positions at USDA’s Economic Research Service from 1999-2014, Carol provided leadership for award-winning USDA research that has made timely contributions to policy debates on farm, agri-conservation, climate change, environmental markets, R&D and technology, water quality, and rural health policies. She also served on the faculty of the international business school INCAE in Costa Rica during 1998-1999, and the University of Michigan (Economics Department and the School of Natural Resources) during 1984-1990, and as a Gilbert White Fellow at Resources for the Future (1988-1989).
Carol received her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, her M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She has published extensively on various topics, including climate change mitigation in the agriculture/forestry sector, food, resource recovery and the environment; environmental trading, valuation of natural resources and ecosystem services, and design of regulatory policies and enforcement. See her profile on ResearchGate to access her publications.
Renee Martin-Nagle joined ELI as a Visiting Scholar in April 2011 after a 25-year career in aviation, and in March 2015 she moved to Glasgow, Scotland, to matriculate at the University of Strathclyde as a PhD Researcher focusing on transboundary aquifers. In January 2011 she retired from Airbus Americas after more than 20 years, having served as Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, Head of Environmental Affairs, Corporate Secretary and a member of the board of directors. From 1986 to 1990 she served as General Counsel of both Aerospatiale Helicopter Corporation (now American Eurocopter) and Aerospatiale General Aviation (SOCATA).
During her career in aviation, Renee was active in industry and women's organizations, speaking frequently at conferences and serving on the boards of directors of Women in Aviation, the International Aviation Women's Association, the Aero Club of Washington and the American Bar Association Forum on Air and Space Law, which she also chaired from 2009 to 2011. The birth of her first grandson in April 2007 inspired her to dedicate the rest of her life to environmental causes, and that year she enrolled in the LL.M. program at George Washington University Law School, graduating in May 2010 with highest honors. Her thesis, which proposes that water in fossil aquifers be viewed as the common heritage of mankind, received the 2011 Jamie Grodsky Prize for Environmental Law Scholarship and was published by the Journal of Energy and Environmental Law.
During her time with ELI, Renee has published a number of articles on environmental issues in aviation and on global water issues, and has spoken frequently on both topics. In addition, she has taught international environmental law and policy at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and will teach the same course at the University of Strathclyde. In recent years she served on the boards of directors of the Chesapeake Legal Alliance and Omega Institute, and in 2014 and 2015 she has co-chaired the International Environmental Law Committee of the ABA’s Section of International Law.
Cassie Phillips leads the Private Environmental Governance Initiative, a new ELI project focusing on the biggest opportunities and most pressing challenges facing the use of voluntary standards, eco-labels, and other market mechanisms to promote environmental stewardship. Cassie has negotiated a number of complex, multi-stakeholder environmental agreements, implemented through regulatory as well as voluntary means, and is an expert on the law and policy issues associated with voluntary standards. Prior to joining ELI, Cassie was Vice President of Sustainable Forestry at Weyerhaeuser Company. Cassie also practiced business and natural resources law at Perkins Coie in Seattle and worked in the U.S. Senate, as legislative assistant to Senator Slade Gorton and as chief counsel of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space. She has served in leadership positions in trade associations and environmental organizations, including the board of the Keystone Center, The Nature Conservancy’s business council, the steering committee of The Forests Dialogue, and the Forest Solutions Group of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. She earned a J.D. in 1982 and a B.S. in Forest Sciences in 1976, both from the University of Washington.
Bruce Rich is an attorney who has published extensively on the environment in developing countries and development in general. He is the author of a major critique and history of the World Bank (Mortgaging the Earth: The World Bank, Environmental Impoverishment, and the Crisis of Development, Beacon Press, 1994,1995) and was awarded the United Nations Global 500 Award for environmental achievement for his research and advocacy concerning international financial institutions. He worked for two and a half decades as an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund, and has testified in numerous Congressional hearings on U.S. participation in international financial institutions. He has written numerous articles and opeds in publications such as The Nation, The Financial Times, The Ecologist, and The Environmental Forum, the policy journal of the Environmental Law Institute in Washington. His most recent book is "To Uphold the World: A Call for a New Global Ethic from Ancient India," with a Forward by Amartya Sen and an Afterword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Beacon Press, April, 2010. His professional focus on finance and ethics, as well as numerous visits to South Asia, helped inspire the writing of To Uphold the World. His current professional interests include climate finance and addressing corruption in international lending. He is also working on a new book on the World Bank (to be published by Beacon Press in 2012) and the environment.
Rich is an honors graduate of Yale College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
As the principal of an independent consulting service, a Senior Advisor on Governance for the World Bank, and a part time executive at a foundation, Kirk Talbott provides advisory support as well as research, writing and training in law, development, environment and governance. His career spans over 30 years in a diverse range of settings including a law firm, multi-donor regional environmental initiatives, policy think tanks, host government ministries and corporations.
A decade at the World Resources Institute, concentrating on Africa and Asia, led to senior positions at The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and a satellite radio non-profit enterprise, First Voice International (FVI). Recent experience focuses on executive support and legal services with Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) for the new Land and Forest Tenure Facility and the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR).
As Scholar-in-Residence and Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) since 2010, Talbott has concentrated on natural resource management and environmental security in Burma /Myanmar and Southeast Asia. He has published several articles and conducted research and training in land tenure and natural resource governance. In 2014, Talbott led a workshop on property rights and resource management for Parliamentarians from Myanmar funded by the National Endowment for Democracy and International Republican Institute.
Kirk currently serves as Senior Advisor for the World Bank and African government’s Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET). He earned a JD and MSFS from Georgetown University and is a member of the D.C. Bar.
Kirk Talbott published pieces while at ELI 2012 – 2016
1. Talbott, Kirk, “Are We Hard Wired For Violence”, Washington Post, Letter to the Editor, Washington Post, March 29, 2016.
2. Talbott, Kirk, Thoumi, G., “Common Ground: Balancing Rights and Responsibilities for Natural Resource Investments and Community Development, http://news.mongabay.com/2015/0403-thoumi-talbott-common-ground-rps.html, Mongabay.com, April 3, 2015.
3. Talbott, Kirk, “What Gave Rise to Boko Haram,” Letter to Editor, Washington Post, January 27, 2015.
4. Talbott, Kirk, “Linking Knowledge: Returned Volunteers on the Front Lines of Environmental Peacebuilding,” Worldview Magazine, National Peace Corps Association, Summer 2012.
Burma / Myanmar Specific:
5. Talbott, Kirk, Akimoto, Y, et. al, “Burma’s Cease Fire Regime” in Bruch et al., Governance, Natural Resources and Peace-Building, Earth Scan Publication, ELI and UNEP, 2015 (2015).
6. Talbott, Kirk, “Which Way Myanmar?” International Republican Institute “Democracy Speaks”, http://www.democracyspeaks.org/2014/05/which-way-myanmar.html, April, 2014.
7. Talbott, Kirk, Batson, D, and Waugh, J., “A U.S. Asian-Pacific Pivot Point: Burma’s Natural Resources”, PRISM, Journal of the Center for Complex Operations, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 111-126, October, 2013.
8. Talbott, Kirk, John Waugh and Douglas Batson, “Sharing the Wealth: Burma’s Post-Military Rule and Natural Resources Governance,”Small Wars Journal, November 26, 2012.
9. Talbott, Kirk, “Burma at a Crossroads”, Columbia University / Earth Institute, Guest Blogger, June 13, 2014.
Judge Merideth Wright joined ELI as a Distinguished Judicial Scholar in February 2012. Judge Wright serves as a critically important addition to ELI’s judicial education program and, more broadly, to its rule of law efforts.
Judge Wright retired in 2011 as one of the two environmental judges for the State of Vermont. She had presided over the Vermont Environmental Court ( now known as the Environmental Division of the Vermont Superior Court)since its creation in 1990. A specialized court with jurisdiction over environmental enforcement cases as well as those involving state and local environmental and land use permitting decisions, the Court is the only judicial branch environmental court with state-wide jurisdiction in the country. Before her appointment to the bench, Judge Wright worked for nine years in the Environmental section of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, and as a staff attorney for the Vermont Supreme Court. Before moving to Vermont in 1978, she worked for the U.S. EPA, for a small Washington, D.C. law firm, and for a prosecutor’s office. Judge Wright earned her J.D. degree in 1974 from the University of Chicago and her B.A. degree in 1971, magna cum laude, from Yale University, in an independent Environmental Studies major.
She has taught courses at the Vermont Law School, the University of Vermont, and Pace University School of Law, and has given presentations on judicial and environmental topics at international and U.S. conferences.
Most recently, she has worked with the U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law, together with U.S and Chinese judges and professors, on developing a curriculum for Chinese judicial education on environmental topics, and presented on specialized environmental courts at an international conference on environmental enforcement and compliance and at an international working symposium on environmental adjudication. She has been working internationally with judges and other environmental law scholars and professionals towards the development of a global institute for judges and the environment. Since 2003, Judge Wright has consulted with and given presentations to judges, lawyers, government officials, and legal scholars on topics relating to environmental judicial work and the rule of law, including in Jamaica, China, Australia, England, Scotland, Sweden, and France.
Tatiana R. Zaharchenko
Tatiana R. Zaharchenko was a Senior Staff Attorney and Advisor on the Eastern European Program at ELI in 1994-1995 and now splits her time between the US, Europe and Ukraine. Zaharchenko received her Ph.D. from the All-Union Research Institute of Comparative Law in Moscow (1988) and holds two other law degrees from Ukraine and the US. For twelve years, she was a tenured law professor at the Ukrainian Law Academy in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Concurrently, she served as Legal Counsel for the Ecological Commission of the Kharkiv Municipality. During perestroika, Dr. Zaharchenko became an outspoken academic introducing right to know, access to information and public participation into policy debate, legal writing and law drafting. In 1989, she was in the first group of 17 Soviet lawyers invited by the Soros Foundation and the American Bar Association for professional internships in the US. Upon her return to Ukraine, she published law reviews and newspaper articles and prepared course materials on US, comparative and international environmental law.
Since 1992, Dr. Zaharchenko has worked on the reform of legal systems, laws and polices in the post-socialist world. Transparency and accountability in environmental governance remain her primarily focus both as a scholar and a practitioner. Her areas of expertise also include regional seas, particularly the Caspian and the Black Sea, implementation of multilateral agreements, and approximation with EU environmental legislation.
In 1994, while with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Zaharchenko wrote the Russian-language Citizen Guide for Environmental Democracy in Russia, the first such publication in the post-Soviet region. In 1996-1999, as a senior program officer for the World Wildlife Fund (US), she was in charge of a USAID-financed project to promote biodiversity conservation in Ukraine. The resulting dual language book, Priority-Setting in Conservation: A New Approach for Crimea, documented a broad participatory policy shaping exercise and years later it continues to guide conservation efforts for this region. In 2009, her paper, On the Way to Transparency: a Comparative Study on Post-Soviet States and the Aarhus Convention, was published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where she was a Fellow.
Zaharchenko has assisted national governments, the European Commission, other multilateral and bilateral agencies such as UNECE, UNEP, the World Bank and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency on environmental projects and multilateral agreements. In 2007-2009, she was team leader for the EU-funded project "Environmental Collaboration for the Black Sea: Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine," helping to bring environmental laws and policies of participating countries closer to EU standards, improving regional cooperation and amending the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (the Bucharest Convention). Besides delivering 21 major regional and national policy documents developed through participatory processes, it brought the voices of the Black Sea region’s civil society to the attention of an international audience and national governments. In 2011-2012, Zaharchenko was key legal expert for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency on convergence of Ukrainian legislation with EU environmental laws in preparation for the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
Dr. Zaharchenko is the author of and/or contributor to over 60 publications and reports, and is a frequent public speaker and invited guest lecturer internationally. She volunteers on boards of international environmental organizations and national NGOs in Europe and currently is a trustee for the Center of International Environmental Law (CIEL).