May 2022
Leadership Changes at CPR:
Welcoming New CPR Co-Director Angel Garcia
It is with mixed emotions that we announce changes in our coalition leadership effective June 1 - excitement mixed with sadness as our organizing director Angel Garcia takes on the Co-Director role and our longtime co-director Sarah Aird steps down.

Sarah will be leaving to pursue other life goals, but has graciously agreed to stay on through the end of the year in the role of Policy Strategist, to support the coalition during the transition. We feel incredibly lucky to continue to benefit from her brilliance, her deep knowledge of pesticide issues in California, and her unwavering commitment to the communities most impacted by pesticide use.

"We are hugely thankful for Sarah's work as CPR's Co-Director the past 11 years," said CPR Steering Committee member Asha Sharma, Organizing Co-Director with Pesticide Action Network. "Under her co-directorship, we have seen our coalition grow to more than 200 organizational members with organizers in eight counties, won school buffer zone regulations for pesticide use, won bans of the carcinogenic fumigant methyl iodide and the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos, convinced state leadership to develop a pesticide notification system, and more. We will miss Sarah dearly and thank her for all of her hard work and leadership to make California agricultural systems safer and more just for all."

Anne Katten, Pesticide and Work Safety Project Director with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and CPR Steering Committee member, added "Sarah's passion, dedication, incredible store of knowledge, warmth and sense of humor will be sorely missed but it is very exciting to have Angel, with his wealth of on the ground experience in Tulare County take on this leadership role."

Angel will step into the role of co-director with Jane Sellen. Angel is a long-time community organizer based in Tulare County, one of the three San Joaquin Valley counties most impacted by chemical-intensive agriculture. A Tulare County native and the son of indigenous Mexican farmworkers, Angel returned home to the Valley after graduating from UC Santa Cruz and founded the thriving Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety.

"Sarah’s leadership and humbleness is unparalleled, and CPR stands strong because of it," said Angel. "Her imprint in the pesticide reform movement will endure for years to come. I am honored to step into the role of Co-Director. I want to thank my beautiful wife, Uris, for always supporting my community organizing work during all these years. I want to also thank every person over the years that contributed to my growth."

CPR Steering Committee member Gustavo Aguirre Sr., Organizing Director with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, has known Angel since he began as a community organizer with Lindsay-based El Quinto Sol de América in 2014. "I'm so proud of Angel, knowing he is going to be increasing his contribution to our communities as the brand new CPR Co-Director. I wish him the best and I'm looking forward to continuing to collaborate with him in his new role."
Reflections from Departing Co-Director Sarah Aird
I’m so proud of everything our wonderful coalition of community leaders, organizers, staff and allies across the state have been able to accomplish over the years. CPR is a truly unique coalition driven by love, justice, cooperation (instead of competition), transparency, and shared responsibility and pride. I am going to greatly miss the camaraderie, solidarity and nearly universal lack of ego of everyone I’ve been able to work with during my time with the coalition. There have been too many wonderful people I’ve had the privilege to work with to name everyone, but I will say a special thanks to the phenomenal people I’ve worked with most closely over the years: previous Co-Directors Tracey Brieger and Mark Weller, current CPR Co-Director Jane Sellen, and the members of CPR's Steering Committee past and present for many years of support and guidance.

I owe a special debt of gratitude to CPR's founding Director David Chatfield, who hired me back in 2010, and who passed away in December. His life of activism, mentorship and deep love of all of humanity inspired everyone who knew him. The passing of other beloved colleagues, including environmental justice advocates and anti-pesticide warriors Teresa De Anda and Isabel Arrollo, remind me of the importance of this work, as pesticides and other pollutants cut short the lives of too many Californians of color. The memory and legacy of David, Teresa and Isabel are still transforming their communities and those they knew for the better, and will continue to inspire me in the days ahead.

I couldn’t be more thrilled and excited that another inspiring leader, Angel Garcia, is succeeding me as Co-Director. I’ve learned so much from Angel over the years. He’s kind, thoughtful, an exceptional strategist and an incredible organizer. He became Organizing Director in 2020, centering his work in supporting the confidence, skills and leadership of community members to lead advocacy efforts on pesticides. Working with organizers around the state, he has helped build powerful local coalitions of community leaders, who are at the heart of our work. I am excited to see how he, working with brilliant CPR Co-Director Jane Sellen, will shape the direction and vision of the coalition going forward. 

Unfortunately, the need to reduce pesticide use and transform our agricultural system into one that nourishes all Californians and restores health to our water, air, soil and ecosystems has never been more pressing. We face not just a climate crisis but a toxics and public health crisis in part due to our industrial farming model, especially in low-income communities of color. I know CPR, under Angel's and Jane’s leadership, is going to make significant progress in addressing these longstanding inequities and will help move us toward a world rooted in love, justice, shared abundance and collective well-being.