10:45am | Environmental Justice Business Models

Panel Description: This panel will explore the intersection of the growing green economy and social justice enterprise. Green projects, from organic farms to solar installation companies, to folks recycling jeans into new fabric, are a booming sector. How can we as activists and entrepreneurs turn our passion into a thriving business that makes us green while preserving and protecting the greenery?



Abigail Martin (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley) is an interdisciplinary social scientist whose research focuses on low-carbon economic development. Her work emphasizes the ways in which efforts to transition from petroleum-based economies involve cultural, institutional, and epistemological conflicts. Her current book project compares two genealogies of state efforts to expand ethanol as a certifiable low-carbon, biobased commodity in the US and Brazil. She has also begun new research on the political ecology of solar energy systems in California and Brazil, looking closely at how state and non-state actors pursue notions of economic equity and environmental justice in the development of utility-scale, rooftop, and community-scale solar energy technologies. She has published numerous articles on green innovation in the chemical industry at the Energy Biosciences Institute and the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry. As Research Scholar at the UC Berkeley Labor Center, she co-authored a report outlining strategies for advancing climate equity in California.



Robert Girling is a Professor in the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University. He has taught in Brazil and Jamaica and consulted with the World Bank, USAID, the United Nations, and the International Center for Research on Women. He is a social entrepreneur who co-founded LIDERE, a school improvement program in Brazil, a co-founder of the Sustainable Enterprise Conference series and serves on the Boards of several non-profits . Prof Girling is the author of many articles and books including The Good Company: Sustainability inn Hospitality, Tourism and Wine. (Business Expert Press, 2016) Multinational Institutions and the Third World (1985); Education: Management and Participation (1990); The Participatory School (2006) The Good Company - Compassionate Companies that are Changing the World(Hill Press, 2012). He has received awards for his teaching and research and is a Fulbright Senior Scholar (2016-2021). 

Specialties: Sustainable business practices, Social Entrepreneurship, Business Start-up, Philanthropy


Jessica Mataka, Development and Communications Manager
Jessica graduated from San Francisco State University and began working at La Cocina, a nonprofit in the Mission that supports low-income entrepreneurs, primarily immigrant women and women of color, in launching food businesses, in 2015. Prior to that, she organized on behalf of Mission-based, non-profit Global Exchange and taught an original program focusing on the intersection of art and activism in Huaycan, Peru. Jessica is most interested in the power of entrepreneurship to stimulate economic development in communities that have historically been denied access to formal job markets based on their race, gender or socioeconomic status and the power of representation. 


Haleh Zandi is a co-founder and the Educational Director of Planting Justice. Her approach towards the food justice movement particularly draws connections between the United States dependence upon fossil fuels within the industrialized and globalized food system and the unjust militarization of the Middle East and South Asia. She believes the modern colonial food system is in a paradigm of war, and she is dedicated to the ways in which diverse communities may build alliances and practice strategies that collectively resist the violence of the industrial food system and structurally shift the United States towards more ecologically sustainable and socially just methods for growing and sharing our food.


She has taught over 200 workshops in our community gardens using Planting Justice's self-designed curriculum in food justice, culinary arts, and permaculture design. Haleh received her MA in Postcolonial Anthropology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Haleh is the proud mama of baby Azadeh.