Our Team

Student Leadership


Ria Coen Gilbert // State Board Chair

Ria Coen Gilbert is a current senior at the University of California in San Diego. She is studying Sociology, concentrated in Law and Society with a minor in Political Science. She is the Chapter Chair of UCSD’s CALPIRG board as well as the Chairperson of the Statewide Executive Committee. Her start in CALPIRG activism began at the beginning of the pandemic, when she felt called to action during the 2020 election. Within a few months, she became the Campaign Coordinator for the New Voters Project and helped UCSD place first in the Secretary of State’s Ballot Bowl among the UCs. After the election, Ria transitioned to coordinating the 100% Clean Energy by 2030 campaign where she helped lead and MC the Statewide Clean Energy Summit, the largest virtual youth climate summit on record. Currently, you can find Ria investing her time in building strong coalitions of young people fighting for a greener planet.


Radha Patel // State Board Secretary

Radha is a 4th year Sociology Major at UCLA and the CALPIRG Students State Board Secretary, as well as the Chapter Chair at UCLA. She got involved her sophomore year working to increase youth voter turnout and make textbooks affordable across the University of California. Since then, she has helped register over 10,000 students to vote, lobbied to reduce plastic wastes in California, and served as a national spokesperson countrywide. She is now continuing to address textbook affordability across different outlets alongside interns and volunteers for an equitable access to education. As the State Board Secretary, she is responsible for serving as a designated leader of the state by coordinating statewide meetings, connecting with the Organizing Director, and ensuring student voices are heard in the halls of power.


Jarred Cole // State Board Member-at-Large

Jarred Cole is a senior in Political Science: Public Policy at the University of California San Diego. He is the Vice-Chair of the UCSD Chapter and a Member-at-Large on the Statewide Executive Committee. He joined CALPIRG his freshmen year and quickly became Chapter Chair the next quarter, serving two terms building student power at our San Diego chapter. Since joining, Jarred helped commit the UC’s to phase out single-use plastic and spent most of his time on the campaign for 100% clean energy statewide by 2030 by building support from community leaders. As a member of the Statewide Executive Committee, Jarred works to help coordinate our projects statewide to create lasting change for the public interest.

Our Staff

Megan Bart  //  Organizing Director

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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

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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

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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

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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.