2017 COP23-CMP13 Delegation

YA photoYasin Alsaidi JD ’18

Yasin is a third-year law student. He has a BS in Business Management and received a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the University of Minnesota. Yasin decided to pursue a long-held dream of becoming an attorney after working many years in higher education. Most recently, he was the Dean of Admissions at New England College, where he still teaches courses in Leadership, International Business, and Organizational Behavior. Yasin developed an interest in global issues because of his extensive travels. He grew up in Baghdad, Iraq, and was fortunate to travel throughout Europe as a young man. After completing high school, he moved to the United States and continued to explore. His travels have given him an appreciation for nature and the environment. In his spare time, he likes to fly-fish, hike, and work on his hobby farm, which increases his love for the environment.

maria_paulaMaria Paula Gonzalez Espinel LLM’18

Maria is a lawyer from Colombia with five years of experience in one of the largest environmental law firms in her country (Macias Gomez & Asociados Abogados) who is interested in environmental matters. In 2015, she obtained a postgraduate degree in mining and oil and gas law. One year later, she was named Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year by the Fundación Probono Colombia because of her work helping vulnerable communities in social and environmental cases. Now an LLM student in Environmental Law at Vermont Law School, where she was named an Environmental Law Center Scholar, Maria seeks to develop her understanding of international environmental law. 

Renee blog photoRenee Valerie Fajardo JD/MELP ’18

Val is a third-year law student who is also pursuing a Master’s Degree in Environmental Law and Policy. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, magna cum laude, majoring in Philosophy with cognate courses in International Law. Concerned with the increasing intensity of, and damaged caused by, storms in the Philippines, Val decided to pursue studies in environmental law in the United States. Since entering Vermont Law School, Val has worked with the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic where she assisted in defending the Canada lynx from trapping in Maine. In Summer 2017, Val worked as a summer law clerk for the Environmental Integrity Project, which deepened her understanding of U.S. domestic environmental laws. After graduating from Vermont Law School, Val hopes to return to the Philippines to aid in strengthening the enforcement of Philippine environmental laws and join the effort in bolstering the cooperation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on climate change issues.

Angela JensenAngela Jensen MELP ’15, JD ’18

Angela graduated with her BA degree from Virginia Intermont College in 2002. After spending several years managing wine grape vineyards in Southern Oregon, she continued her education at Oregon State University. Concerned about the environmental consequences of industrial agriculture, she focused her studies on biology, environmental sciences, horticulture, and environmental politics and policy. Upon returning to work in viticulture to promote more sustainable management practices, she completed her Master’s degree in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School through the distance learning program. She is currently pursuing her JD degree at Vermont Law School, focusing on international law and climate change law. Angela aspires to work as an advocate for biological conservation and adaptation of human systems to the impacts of climate change. Specifically, she hopes to focus on assisting those disproportionately burdened by climate change. Angela is co-chair of the International Law Society at Vermont Law School and enjoys playing the piano, relaxing in the White River, and trying new recipes in the kitchen.

Michaela Koke MELP ’18

MKokeGreatWallMichaela is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy with an interest in negotiation and dispute resolution. She graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a Bachelors of Arts in International Affairs and Environmental Studies. Michaela’s undergraduate work focused on climate change mitigation, shared responsibility, and international diplomacy. Her interests led her to study Mandarin and she was awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in Beijing, China for a semester. She was able to pursue her interest in China’s environmental policies in one of her two senior theses. As an undergrad, she was a chair for the Environmental Affairs Symposium, worked as an editor for the International Affairs Journal, and pushed for divestment from fossil fuels at her college. Before coming to Vermont Law School, Michaela interned for the Merck Family Fund, an environmental grantmaking foundation, where she was able to explore her environmental interests further within the nonprofit realm. She also enjoys playing ultimate frisbee and relaxing on her porch.

IMG_0066 copyLuckie Milad JD ’19

Luckie is a second-year JD student from Auburn, Alabama interested in International Law. She spent last summer workings a summer associate at Richard L. Vanderslice P.C. in Business and Commercial Litigation. While at Vermont Law School, Luckie produced a documentary exploring the effects of imperialism on her fellow VLS peers. Luckie earned her Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Biology and Philosophy from the University of Alabama. During her undergraduate studies, Luckie was one the authors published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences for her research on Short-and long-term effects of prenatal exposure to iron oxide nanoparticles After undergraduate studies, Luckie spent her gap year teaching Oral English in Dejiang County, Guizhou, China.

amanda quinlan blog photoAmanda Quinlan JD ’18

Amanda is currently a third-year JD student at Vermont Law School. She received her BA from Middlebury College in International Studies. After graduating, Amanda received a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to pursue a master’s degree in Germany. Amanda earned her Masters in Political Science with a focus on International Relations from the Goethe Universität in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. While enrolled as a student in Germany, Amanda completed an ERASMUS semester abroad in France at Sciences Po Lyon. She also interned at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (HSFK) and the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders.” Amanda worked as a Research Associate at Vermont Law’s Institute for Energy and the Environment during her second year at VLS. She currently serves as the Editor in Chief of the Vermont Law Review.

Serena blog photoSerena Tang JD ’19

Serena grew up in Arlington, Texas and earned her Bachelor’s degree at American University. Serena majored in International Relations and focused in International Environmental Politics. Her studies at American University broadened her interests to international trade policy and sustainable agriculture. After graduating from AU, Serena worked in New York City as a local food advocate and cheesemonger. After contemplating the power of the law and policy, Serena enrolled in Vermont Law School to pursue a career in law that focuses on international food policy and the environment. At Vermont Law School, Serena was awarded a Schweitzer fellowship to work with her partner to promote early childhood nutritional education in Vermont. Serena is a Global Mission Scholar, a staff editor of Law Review, a TA for torts law, an Academic Success mentor, and a research assistant for the food and agriculture clinic. This past summer Serena worked as a research assistant for the U.S.- Asia Partnerships in Environmental Law at VLS. In the Spring of 2018, Serena plans to study abroad in Trento, Italy to focus on attaining a civil law education.

Version 2Simonne Valcour JD, MELP ’19

Simonne is currently pursuing a JD and Masters in Environmental Law and Policy with a certificate in international law. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont where she majored in Biology and Political Science. While pursuing her degree, she became particularly interested in international environmental law from studying the effects of global temperature rise on nutrient cycling in temperate ecosystems. Her passion for law and policy developed when she served as a member on the Board of Trustees for Vermont Public Research Interest Group focusing on climate change for two years. This work inspired her to pursue a law degree to find international and domestic solutions for climate change. After graduation, She intends to use her degree to engage in international environmental trade and conservation efforts.

Nicole Webbert blog photoNicole Webbert JD ’19

Nicole is a second-year JD student at Vermont Law School focusing on environmental and ocean law. She received a BSc. in Biology from Salisbury University and a BSc. in Environmental and Marine Science from University of Maryland. After spending much of her childhood traveling with her military family, Nicole acquired a passion for travel, the environment, and how the two worked together. Currently, she is working within Vermont Law School’s U.S – Asia Partnerships in Environmental Law as a Joint Research Fellow to pursue her passion in Chinese environmental issues. This past summer, Nicole worked as a legal clerk for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Office of General Counsel for Natural Resources. While there she worked alongside NOAA lawyers assessing damages from oil spills and CERCLA sites as well as pursing charges under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Magnuson-Steven’s Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Teaching Assistants

Rebecca Davidson MELP ’15

Rebecca Davidson is the Director of the Southern Rockies Field Program for the National Forest Foundation (NFF). She has over 15 years of experience working on natural resource issues, including in multi-stakeholder collaborative and partnership endeavors. Prior to joining NFF, Rebecca worked on protection of water rights at the Salt River Project (SRP), a water and power utility in Phoenix Arizona. At SRP, Rebecca focused on water policy and management, strategic watershed initiatives, and the development of projects to protect water supplies while also promoting watershed restoration and stream conservation activities. In her post-college years (in the not so far distant past), Rebecca worked for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and gained experience in federal land planning, natural resource and wildlife management, environmental regulations, and endangered species biology and monitoring. Rebecca has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Northern Arizona University, and a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School (VLS).  After having participated in COP20 as a VLS delegate, Rebecca continues to fancy herself a ‘climate geek’ and in her spare time, serves as a Teaching Assistant to the VLS International Climate Law and Policy class, travelling with students to wherever the UNFCCC climate negotiations might take her.

Bonnie Smith blog photoBonnie Smith JD ’17, UCP ’18

Bonnie L. Smith received her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her JD from Vermont Law School. Having been a member of the VLS Observer Delegation at COP21 delegation, Bonnie is delighted to serve as a teaching assistant for the COP23 Observer Delegation. While at VLS, Bonnie was a notes editor for the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (VJEL). She has published climate change related articles with VJEL and with the national Environmental Law Review Syndicate. She also worked as a research assistant for Professor Tracy Bach and interned with the Environmental and National Resource Law Clinic at VLS and the Grameen Foundation in Washington, D.C. Bonnie is currently finishing a dual degree in corporate law at the University of Cergy-Pontoise in France. Through her legal studies, Bonnie aspires to reach a greater understanding of the role corporations can play in advancing human development and climate change issues.