Our Team

Student Leadership

Nic Riani // State Board Chair

Nic is a 4th year Public Affairs Major at UCLA and the CALPIRG Students State Board Chair, as well as a member at large for the UCLA chapter. He got involved his freshman year working to secure commitments from California and the University of California for 100% clean electricity. Since then, he has helped win campaigns to make UCLA a certified bee-friendly campus and help 1,300 UCLA students register to vote. He also works with reporters and coalition partners as a spokesperson for our New Voters Project. As Board Chair, he is responsible for coordinating the statewide student leadership team, working with the Organizing Director and students to make campaign and organizational decisions, and representing the organization at conferences and meetings across the country.

Handri Harris Handoyo // State Board Vice Chair

Handri is a 4th year Environmental Studies. B.S. major at UCSB, and the Vice Chair of both the UCSB chapter and the state board. He got started his freshman year working to secure commitments from the state of California and the UC system for 100% clean electricity. Since then, he worked on various campaigns to turn out the youth vote, tackled college affordability by advocating for Open-Education-Resources by building strong relationships with the campus library and pushing for a fossil fuel free future. As Vice Chair of the Board he is working to build the skills of student leaders throughout the state, develop relationships with key decision makers and work on novel campaign tactics that will engage student activist and community members.

Valerie Nguyen // Executive Committee Member at Large, Board of Directors

Valerie is a 3rd year Society & Environment major at UC Berkeley and the chair of the UC Berkeley chapter. She got started on the Zero Hunger campaign to combat student food insecurity and now coordinates the Basic Needs and Affordable Textbooks campaign. She has lobbied in Sacramento to reduce single-use plastics and in Washington, D.C. to make college more affordable. As Member at Large, she plans to help chapters run successful recruitment drives.

Ori Liwanag // Executive Committee Member at Large, Board of Directors

Ori is a 4th year at UC Riverside, the Vice Chair for the UCR Chapter, and a Member at Large for the State Board. He started organizing with Environment California where he worked to organize Ocean Day to protect our oceans. He then joined CALPIRG Students as an intern and led voter registration efforts at UCR through the New Voters Project. UCR ended up with the highest percentage of students registered to vote out of all the UCs! Now, Ori is working to accelerate California’s commitment to clean electricity and get UCR to make a commitment to clean energy sector wide. As a member of the statewide board, Ori plans to facilitate leadership development and collaboration by setting up meetings between leaders of different campuses.

Our Staff

Megan Bart  //  Organizing Director


Megan Bart is the Deputy Director for CALPIRG Students, based in Los Angeles. Megan got her start as a campus organizer for NJPIRG Students at Rutgers Camden in the fall of 2015 before moving to the CALPIRG team as the campus organizer at UC San Diego. Megan graduated from Allegheny College in 2015 with degrees in Communication and Media Studies. In New Jersey, Megan worked closely with student government and faculty to build statewide support for a grant-funded affordable textbook program for the Rutgers system that has saved students over $1 million since its launch in 2016. And in San Diego, Megan worked with UCSD students to pass a resolution in favor of banning bee-killing pesticides in La Jolla, CA. Megan works with our campuses in Southern California.

Veronika Michels  //  Assistant Organizing Director


Veronika Michels is the Assistant Organizing Director for CALPIRG Students, based in San Diego. 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 spare time, Veronika enjoys hiking, surfing, and visiting friends.

Emily Rusch // CALPIRG Executive Director


CALPIRG Citizens State Director Emily Rusch has worked with U.S.PIRG, the federation of state PIRGs, since 2001. She’s represented CALPIRG on numerous issues in the legislature and co-authored research reports on transportation, energy, and tax and budget policies. Prior to joining CALPIRG’s staff, Emily worked for four years as New Jersey PIRG’s Energy Advocate, where she ran successful campaigns to require New Jersey’s power companies to increase clean, renewable energy like wind and solar power, and to pass legislation to set minimum energy efficiency standards for common products like air conditioners and traffic lights. Emily was born in San Gabriel and grew up in Culver City, California. She graduated from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, in 2001. She’s based in our Oakland office.

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.