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.


Cami Cartland // State Board Vice Chair

Cami is an Environmental Science and Policy major at UC Irvine with a minor in Urban and Regional Planning. She is the chapter chair at UCI, and the vice chair of CALPIRG’s Statewide Executive Committee. She first got involved with CALPIRG at the beginning of her sophomore year, working on recruiting and rebuilding her chapter’s numbers, before becoming campaign coordinator of the Beyond Plastics campaign. She has since organized volunteers and interns to increase Marine Protected Areas in California and commit the UC System to 100% clean energy. She has also lobbied elected officials in Irvine, Sacramento, and Washington D.C. to pass various environmental laws. She is now working to pass a complete plastic bag ban in California.


Paige Lieblich // State Board Treasurer

Paige is a third year student at UC Berkeley studying Environmental Science. She is the chapter chair at UCB, as well as the treasurer 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.


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.


Toby Ngo // State Board Member at Large

Toby is a 3rd year student at UC San Diego, majoring in Political Science with a specialization in public policy. As well as being on the statewide board, he also serves as the vice chair of the UCSD chapter. He got involved with CALPIRG in 2022 working to increase civic engagement among young people for the 2022 midterm elections. After that, he went on to work on increasing marine protected areas in California and advocating for the University of California system to transition to 100% fully renewable energy by 2035. Running the Protect Our Oceans campaign on a statewide basis, he was able to organize enough students to help open a petition process within the fish and game commission to continue discussing the fate of California’s marine protected areas.

Our Staff

Veronika Michels  //  Organizing Director

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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.

Kathryn Gonzalez-Valle  //  Assistant Organizing Director

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Kathryn works in California to recruit and train college students at University of California, Los Angeles, to make a difference on public interest issues. Before joining staff, Kathryn was the vice chair of the UCLA CALPIRG chapter, as well as the treasurer on the CALPIRG Students statewide board of directors. Kathryn lives in Los Angeles where she enjoys reading, coffee and playing with her cat, Nugget.

Jenn Engstrom // CALPIRG Executive Director

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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

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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.