Our Team

Student Leadership

Clara Castronovo // State Board Chair
Clara is a 3rd year student at UCLA, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Classics. She is the State Board Chair of CALPIRG Students, as well as the Chair of CALPIRG’s UCLA Chapter. She got involved with CALPIRG in 2021, working to limit oil drilling in California by expanding buffer zones between drilling sites and homes and schools. Since then, she has worked as campaign coordinator for Beyond Plastics at UCLA, and has organized volunteers to pass local plastic reduction policies, including polystyrene bans and single-use plastic foodware limitations through the LA County Board of Supervisors, and LA City Council. Now, she is working on ocean conservation, and expanding Marine Protected Areas across California’s coastline. As Board Chair, she works to coordinate chapters across the UC system to facilitate statewide action and training.

Paige Lieblich // State Board Secretary

Paige is a third year student at UC Berkeley studying Environmental Science. She is the chapter chair at UCB, as well as the secretary on the state Executive Committee. She got her start with CALPIRG in January 2022 on the local Beyond Plastics campaign to ban plastic bags in the city of Berkeley. After becoming the campaign coordinator for this project in the fall, she managed the team that passed this local ordinance. Paige spent the summer canvassing in the Bay Area to build support for the Save the Bees campaign, and now works to increase Marine Protected Areas along California’s coast. As state secretary, she works to connect chapters across the UCs and continue to build the organization.

Byul Sak // State Board Member at Large

Byul is a second year Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience major minoring in Law and Society at UC San Diego. She is currently serving as the Chapter Chair of UCSD’s CALPIRG Board as well as Member at Large on the Statewide Executive Committee. She first got involved in activism during their winter quarter funding drive in her first year, quickly taking on leadership and helping thousands of students become pledging members of CALPIRG, as well as lobbying California Assemblymembers on several important bills to protect our environment. Since then, she has helped build the San Diego chapter, helped pass a citywide polystyrene ban, and is currently spearheading the Protect Our Oceans campaign at the local level.

Derirck Lietzow // State Board Member at Large

Derick is a 2nd year History major and a Member at Large with CALPIRG Students at UC Berkeley. He started with CALPIRG his first year in college, working on the Beyond Plastics campaign. Since joining, he has worked to pass the Better Berkeley Bag Ban—an ordinance which greatly reduces unnecessary waste from plastic bags in the city of Berkeley— and increase student voter turnout at the UCs through CALPIRG’s Get Out the Vote work. Derick is now working to get vital protections implemented in California’s marine spaces with the Protect Our Oceans campaign. As Member at Large on the Statewide Executive Committee, Derick assists in the planning and coordination of campaigns and events across the state to ensure that CALPIRG works at its best in fighting for change.

Our Staff

Veronika Michels  //  Organizing Director


Veronika Michels is the Organizing Director for CALPIRG Students, based in Los Angeles. Veronika got her start as a chapter student with her CALPIRG chapter at UC San Diego as an undergraduate before coming onto staff as a Campus Organizer in 2019. In her time on staff with CALPIRG Students, Veronika helped win campus and statewide commitments to phasing out single-use plastics and getting to 100 percent clean and renewable energy. In her spare time, Veronika enjoys hiking, surfing, and visiting friends.

Jenn Engstrom // CALPIRG Executive Director


Jenn directs CALPIRG’s advocacy efforts, and is a leading voice in Sacramento and across the state on protecting public health, consumer protections and defending our democracy. Jenn has served on the CALPIRG board for the past two years before stepping into her current role. Most recently, as the deputy national director for the Student PIRGs, she helped run our national effort to mobilize hundreds of thousands of students to vote. She led CALPIRG’s organizing team for years and managed our citizen outreach offices across the state, running campaigns to ban single-use plastic bags, stop the overuse of antibiotics, and go 100% renewable energy. Jenn lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys spending time at the beach and visiting the many amazing restaurants in her city.

Dan Xie  // National Political Director


Dan directs the national political strategy and grant fundraising for the Student PIRGs. Dan has managed successful campaigns from coast to coast to cap global warming pollution, fight the high cost of higher education, and make voting more accessible for students. She has recruited and trained hundreds of students and staff on public interest campaigns. Dan lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., where she is an avid cyclist and climber.