Derek Walker – Professor, Head of Delegation
Professor Derek Walker is an Adjunct Professor in International Climate Change Law and the Vice President for the U.S. Region at Environmental Defense Fund, where he oversees a portfolio of policy initiatives aimed at achieving a fair transition to a net-zero U.S. economy, combatting climate change, building resilience, and promoting equity and environmental justice. In 15 years at EDF, Derek has served as the organization’s Chief of Staff and led climate and clean energy work at the global, national, and state level, including several years directing the organization’s work to shape and support implementation of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act.
Derek was the long-time chair of EDF’s Diversity Committee, helping EDF create and implement its first-ever diversity strategic plan. He co-chairs the Steering Committee of the Bluegreen Alliance and served as a member of the University of California President’s Global Climate Leadership Council. Derek is also a member of the Early Years Climate Action Task Force.
Heidi Johnson – Teaching Assistant
Heidi is a third-year law student at VLGS focusing on Environmental Law. She received her B.A. in Political Science and Political Theory from the University of California, San Diego. Her passion for protecting the environment developed during undergrad when she joined Circle K International, an organization promoting community service, leadership, and fellowship. After graduating, she joined I Love A Clean San Diego, an environmental nonprofit organization, and removed litter from parks, beaches, and mountain areas throughout San Diego.
Heidi has served as a teaching assistant for Constitutional Law and Property Law, an Academic Success Mentor, the Women’s Law Society Treasurer, an Environmental Law Society member, and as a JURIST international legal news writer, editor, researcher, and technical specialist.
Cynthia Kane – Student Delegate
Cynthia is a third-year law student at VLS. She received a B.A. in Biology from Barnard College of Columbia University in 2016. During summer 2021, she interned at the American Clean Power Association, where she focused primarily on the interaction between Federal environmental statutes and the implementation of clean energy programs. Most recently, she clerked for the Environmental Defense Center based in Santa Barbara, CA. Her work there primarily involved assisting in litigation against the Federal government and local municipalities for failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and other controlling statutes. Cynthia is a member of the Environmental Law Society and a managing editor for the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law.
She is originally from the D.C. area (Arlington, VA specifically). In her free time, she enjoys trying new foods, reading, practicing her French, and taking advantage of the numerous hiking and recreational activities in Vermont.
Emily Davis – Student Delegate
Emily is a Juris Doctor candidate at Vermont Law School, expecting to graduate in May 2023. She holds a B.S. in Environmental GeoChemistry, and an M.S. in Ecological Design.Emily is the Senior Articles Editor of Vermont Law Review, and her student Note, “Town Meeting as the Nuclear Option: How Vermont’s Values Inform the Nuclear Waste Policy Impasse” will be published in Vol. 47 of the journal.
Last summer she was an Honors Law Clerk for the Office of General Counsel at the U.S. EPA. Before that, she was a student clinician in VLS’s Environmental Justice Clinic. Prior to law school, Emily worked as a native plant propagator, a natural resources and watershed planner, and as a legislative liaison for the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. After law school, Emily intends to work as an environmental lawyer in the public sector.
Fredrick Ole Ikayo– Student Delegate
Fred Ole Ikayo is the LLM Fellow in the Environmental Justice Clinic. He is an LLM, Environmental Law ’23 candidate and holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from Tumaini University Makumira (Tanzania) and a Diploma of Law from Mount Kenya University (Kenya). He previously worked with an Arusha law firm and in ALAPA, an NGO advocating for indigenous pastoralist rights and hunter-gatherer communities. Fred is from the Maasai Tribe, an indigenous and semi-nomadic ethnic group in Tanzania. As a child, he learned the importance of ancestral land and experienced environmental degradation. He experienced and saw how his community faced serious human rights violations inflicted on them by companies and government authorities. These experiences drove Fred to pursue an LLM in environmental law to better advocate for his community and the voiceless in similar situations.
At the EJC, Fred co-teaches and works on cases addressing industrial agriculture, supports work with Environmental Justice communities in Vermont and researches state, national, and international environmental justice laws and policies. After graduation, he intends to use his degree to support participation and amplify voices of historically marginalized communities through self-determination and power shifting.
Hope McLellan-Brandt– Student Delegate
Hope is a second-year law student at Vermont Law and Graduate school, pursuing both her Juris Doctorate and a Master’s in Environmental Law and Policy. She received her B.A. in Political Science and Theatre from Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw, Michigan. She is focusing on International Environmental Law and Water Law. Her passion for Water Law stems out of her childhood growing up along a river so polluted that even playing on the banks was dangerous. She has a strong belief that every individual around the globe deserves access to clean water as a basic human right.
Hope currently serves as Co-Chair of Alliance, Teacher’s Assistant for Legislation/Regulation, a Senator for the Student Bar Association, and a Staff Editor for the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law. In her spare time, Hope likes to read, write poetry, go on walks with her dog Bruce, and go on adventures with her partner, Sam. After graduation, Hope would like to work at the international level creating policies integrated with actual community needs that supports access to clean water.
Jiayu Deng– Student Delegate
Jiayu is an MELP student at Vermont Law and Graduate School focusing on Environmental Law, Public Participation and Environmental Policy Advocacy. She received her B.A. in Philanthropy Management and Cultural Industry Management from Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai (BNUZ)and was a Program of Non-profit Organization Management Master’s Degree student at Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan. Her passion for protecting the environment stems from her childhood, and it developed during undergrad when she joined Environmental Protection Student Association, an organization promoting enhance students’ awareness of environmental protection, leadership and reduce campus waste. After graduating, she worked five years for Fujian Green Home Environmental Friendly Center, an environmental nonprofit organization in her hometown, and initiated campaigns to raise the environmental awareness of urban residents, cooperated with lawyers to conduct environmental research in rural areas, sued enterprises for environmental pollution (by stopping pollution and planting trees to promote ecological compensation), and wrote research reports to promote government policy updates.
In 2018, she joined the Environmental Mission Scholars initiated by VLGS and China Environmental Research Institute, as the first cohort of EMS to systematically learn the framework of China’s environmental law. She then decided to pursue her Master at Vermont to study environmental matters systematically at the law level. After graduation, she intends to pursue work in the Climate Change field in China and to promote the development of China’s Environmental Law. In her free time, Jiayu enjoys cooking and photography.
Kaitlin Bernhardt – Student Delegate
Kaitlin is a second-year law student pursuing a Juris Doctorate degree in Environmental Law. Originally from Eagle River, Alaska, she received her Bachelors of Arts in English at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Kaitlin is passionate about international environmental law and environmental justice, and spent the summer after her first year working at the Municipality of Anchorage’s Civil Legal Division.
In Vermont, Kaitlin is an active member of the Latinx American & Caribbean Law Student Association. She hopes to use her law degree to work for an environmental nonprofit on the West Coast, representing underprivileged communities affected by climate change, before immigrating to Canada to continue her nonprofit work.
Logan Keen – Student Delegate
Logan is a second-year student at Vermont Law & Graduate School pursuing Juris Doctorate and Master of Environmental Law & Policy degrees. He received a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As a native of southern Louisiana, Logan grew up witnessing firsthand the environmental degradation resulting from unchecked exploitation of natural resources in his home state. His desire to work on climate change issues can be traced back to two events: the 2005 devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which opened his eyes both to the immediacy of climate change impacts and the inherent risks of continued reliance on dirty fossil fuels.
Logan currently serves as a Teaching Assistant for Civil Procedure and Legal Research & Writing I, a mentor with the Academic Success Program, Vice President of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, and a Staff Editor with the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law. In his spare time, Logan enjoys cooking, reading, and exploring the Vermont outdoors. He hopes one day to work in the international legal space facilitating dialogues like those surrounding climate finance and loss & damage, with a focus on nature-based solutions and adaptation for coastal communities.
Megna Murali– Student Delegate
Megna is pursuing a Juris Doctor in Environmental Law at Vermont Law School and continues to work for Sapphos Environmental, Inc., as a ProjectManager and Environmental Regulatory Compliance Consultant. Ms. Murali’s extensive project experience ranges in scale and scope, providing environmental planning and policy consulting services involving California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation. Her project experience includes preparing technical studies; conducting quality data review/audits, legal research, and emissions modeling; coordinating field inspections for regulatory compliance; and developing construction scenarios to implement sustainability management for a variety of projects.
Ms. Murali also served as a legal intern for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assisted in legal issues related to grant programs, emergency response adaptation and mitigation programs, legislative proposals, and equity challenges. Ms. Murali serves on the board of the Los Angeles chapter of the Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP), which coordinates networking programs and educational workshops for students and working professionals.
Rebecca Kimmel – Student Delegate
Becky Kimmel is a third-year law student at VLGS with interests in international climate change, land use, and animal law. She is currently working as a legal intern in Conservation Law Foundation’s Montpelier office, where she works on both policy and strategic litigation issues. Becky is Co-Chair of VLGS’s Animal Law Society. Becky has an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Politics and came to law school to pursue both her interest in government and passion for environmental protection. Before coming to VLGS, she worked for the Jane Goodall Institute, where she focused on Endangered Species Act and CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) work.
Becky has also lived in Thailand while volunteering at a well-regarded sanctuary and rehabilitation center for animals used in the tourism industry. Since coming to VLGS, she has enjoyed working on issues involving renewable energy development, the Endangered Species Act, and sustainable finance. She also spends time advocating for animal issues, like Dangerous Dog Law reform and Breed-Specific Legislation. In her free time, Becky enjoys skiing, camping, wildlife sightings, comedy, traveling, and any time spent with her own dogs. Following graduation, Becky would like to work in environmental law in either the New England or Washington, DC legal communities.
Wenfang Liang– Student Delegate
Wenfang is an LLM in Environmental Law student at Vermont Law and Graduate School. She is from China and works as an LLM fellow with the U.S.-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law (PEL). Wenfang was a member of the first cohort of Chinese Environmental Mission Scholars, and has more than three years of experience in Chinese grassroots environmental protection non-profit organizations covering environmental public interest litigation, policy, advocacy, and sustainable fishery issues. She is also an environmental lawyer in China.
Wenfang is currently studying climate change law and carbon pricing, focusing on the interaction between the environment and economy. After graduation, she intends to pursue work in environmental governance research on global and transnational issues. Wenfang enjoys watching drama, reading fiction, and chatting with friends in her leisure time.