Georgetown Law

Staff Bios

Vicki Arroyo

Vicki Arroyo is the Executive Director of the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown Law where she also serves as the Assistant Dean of Centers and Institutes and is a Professor from Practice. She served as the Director of the Environmental Law Program from July 2013-2015.

She oversees the Center’s work at the nexus of climate and energy policy, supervising staff and student work on climate mitigation and adaptation at the state and federal level. She teaches “experiential” environmental law courses to both law and public policy students.

She previously served at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, most recently as the Pew Center’s Vice President for Domestic Policy and General Counsel. For over a decade, she directed the Pew Center’s policy analysis, science, adaptation, economics, and domestic policy programs. She also served as Managing Editor of the Center’s book and oversaw publication of numerous reports and policy briefs.

In addition to teaching at Georgetown Law, she has taught courses on environmental policy and climate change at Catholic University, George Mason University’s graduate public policy program, and Tulane Law School. Previously, she practiced environmental law with Kilpatrick Stockton and other private firms and served in two offices at U.S. EPA: the Office of Air and Radiation and the Office of Research and Development where she reviewed development of standards under the Clean Air Act. From 1988 - 1991, she created and directed the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s policy office, and briefly served as Governor Buddy Roemer's environmental advisor.

She has recently served on California’s Economics and Allocation Advisory Committee advising California Air Resources Board on cap-and-trade design; on the Board of Trustees for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (a consortium of 77-PhD granting research universities which oversees NCAR); on the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) external advisory committee; and on a National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board Committee on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. She is serving three-year terms on the national Transportation Research Board (appointed by the National Academy of Sciences) and on an advisory committee to the National Science Foundation. She also serves on the editorial boards of the Climate Policy journal and the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review.

She holds a B.S. in biology, high honors, from Emory (double major in philosophy); a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard (top honors in program), and a J.D., Magna Cum Laude, from Georgetown Law, where she was Editor-in-Chief of The Georgetown International Environmental Law Review.

Selected Publications

“State and Local Adaptation to Climate Change,” in Adaptation to Climate Change and the Law, American Bar Assn. book  (coauthor: Terri Cruce), Sept. 2012.

“Are there Winning Strategies for Climate Policy?” Review of the book Climate Clever:  How Governments Can Tackle Climate Change (and Still Win Elections) in Climate Policy, September 2012.

“Regional Action: A U.S. Perspective,” in Regional and State Policies for Economic Competitiveness and Mitigation, Heinrich Boll Foundation Transatlantic Dialogue (fall 2011).

“Upside-down Cooperative Federalism: Climate Change Policymaking and the States.”  Virginia Environmental Law Journal, 2011 (Vivian Thomson co-author).

“US Climate Policy,” in Cerdá, E. and Labandeira, X. (eds) Climate Change Policies. Global Challenges and Future Prospects, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham (UK), 2010.

“Current Directions in the U.S. Climate Change Debate: Prospects for a Post-2012 World,” UN Development Report 2007.

“Change in the Marketplace,” in Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, 2007.
“Climate Policy Should Focus on Reducing Emissions,” in Environmental Forum, ELI, 2007.

“Addressing the Costs of Climate Change Mitigation,” and “Establishing a Domestic GHG Reduction Target,” two chapters in: Climate Change Policy Dialogue, Aspen Institute, 2004.

“US Domestic Climate Policy,” Climate Policy, 2001 (with Henry Lee and Manik Roy).

Managing Editor of  book: Climate Change: Science, Strategies, and Solutions, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Brill, 2001 and authored chapter on “Climate Change Legislation in the U.S.”

“Jefferson Hazardous Waste Negotiation Game,” Harvard Negotiation Project, 1987 (with Larry Susskind).
“Waste Wars: The Fight Over Hazardous Waste Importation,” Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, 1993.



Kathryn Zyla

Kathryn Zyla directs GCC’s analytical work as Deputy Director of the Climate Center.  Ms. Zyla oversees staff research and policy analysis and facilitates multi-state dialogues on issues such as low-carbon transportation, quantifying the benefits of clean energy policies, and more. As part of these efforts, she oversees research and analysis in support of the Transportation and Climate Initiative of the northeast and mid-Atlantic states.  Her own research includes state and federal renewable energy policies, public utility regulation and electric vehicle charging, and opportunities to link emissions trading programs.

She previously served as Senior Associate in the Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute, where she staffed the Midwest Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord’s process to design a cap-and-trade program in the Midwest, and as Senior Research Fellow for Domestic Policy at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.  She has advised the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council on opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through transportation planning, and conducted an energy efficiency study of municipal buildings for the City of New York. She has a BS in engineering from Swarthmore College, a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry, and  a JD, cum laude, from Georgetown University.


Jessica Grannis

Jessica Grannis is the Adaptation Program Manager for the Georgetown Climate Center and is a staff attorney and adjunct professor at the Harrison Institute for Public Law, at Georgetown University Law Center.  Ms. Grannis oversees staff and student research and analysis of federal, state and local adaptation efforts. Her recent publications include an Adaptation Tool Kit for Sea Level Rise (2012) and a book chapter on Coastal Retreat in the Law of Climate Change: U.S. and International Aspects (2012, with Peter Byrne). Prior to joining the Harrison Institute, she was staff counsel for the California State Coastal Conservancy and the Ocean Protection Council.  She holds a B.A. in history from the University of Chicago; a J.D. , Cum Laude, from University of California Hastings College of the Law; and a L.L.M, with honors, from Georgetown Law.

Chris Coil

Chris Coil, the Center’s Communications Director, has worked with prominent nonprofit and progressive organizations for more than a decade to develop effective branding, marketing and strategic communication plans.

Prior to joining the Georgetown Climate Center, he served as the Director of South-Southwest Communications for the Service Employees International Union where he managed communication teams and media outreach for electoral, political and policy campaigns across the country. He possesses extensive new media experience and recently developed a social networking system that is used by political candidates to increase participation in their campaigns. Early in his career, Chris worked as a political journalist in Texas and Tennessee. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of North Texas.


Gabriel Pacyniak

Gabriel Pacyniak is the climate change mitigation program manager at the Georgetown Climate Center and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law. He works closely with Deputy Director Kate Zyla to oversee the Climate Center’s work on reducing emissions from the electricity and transportation sectors. This includes the Climate Center’s work on federal carbon pollution regulations for the power sector, focused on supporting state engagement with, and implementation of, the federal standards through facilitation, convening, and analysis. It also includes the facilitation of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a collaboration among 11 northeast and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector. Along with Executive Director Vicki Arroyo, he co-teaches a yearly practicum course on the law and policy of climate change that provides students an opportunity to work on real-world legal and policy issues.

Gabe is a graduate of Georgetown Law, where he earned a J.D., cum laude. While in law school, he interned at the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change and on the environmental staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee while the committee was drafting the comprehensive bill to address climate change, the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Prior to entering law school, Gabe was a metro reporter and editor in Washington, D.C. He also holds a B.A. from the New College of Florida with a concentration in philosophy.


Cassandra Powers

Cassandra Powers is an Institute Associate at the Georgetown Climate Center, where she facilitates interaction between stakeholders and provides transportation policy analysis. Cassie works primarily with the Transportation and Climate Initiative’s sustainable communities, freight efficiency, and clean vehicles and fuels workgroups, and also provides research and analysis of electric vehicles policies and programs to states nationwide. 

She is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Urban and Environmental Planning. Prior to entering graduate school, Cassie was a Member Services Associate at the American Wind Energy Association. She also holds a B.A. from the College of William and Mary with a concentration in Environmental Policy and Government.


Aaron Ray

Aaron Ray, an Institute Associate at the Center, provides adaptation policy analysis. His past work has focused on international, federal, state, and local adaptation policy; adaptation in the water, energy, and coastal sectors; climate finance; and green infrastructure.

Aaron earned an M.P.P. in environmental and regulatory policy from the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Political Science at American University. Prior to joining the Center, Aaron worked as an environmental consultant at Stratus Consulting, and interned at the Council on Environmental Quality and the Climate Institute. He also holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Linfield College.


Lissa Lynch

Lissa Lynch, an Institute Associate at the Center, provides legal and policy analysis for both adaptation and mitigation projects. She works primarily on state and local climate change adaptation issues, particularly in the transportation sector.

Lissa is a recent graduate of Georgetown Law, where she earned a J.D., cum laude. During law school, she interned at the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Natural Resources Defense Council, participated in the Institute for Public Representation Clinic's Environmental Law Project, and was a research assistant at the Center. Prior to law school, Lissa spent several years as a contractor to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She also holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College.


Annie Bennett

Annie Bennett, an Institute Associate at the Georgetown Climate Center, provides legal and policy analysis on adaptation projects. Her work has focused on state and local adaptation policy, adaptation and resilience in the transportation sector, and cross-jurisdictional governance issues.

Annie received her J.D. from Georgetown Law in 2013.  During law school, she participated in the Harrison Institute for Public Law's policy clinic, working on legal and policy questions related to urban heat adaptation. She also interned at the U.S. Department of Justice in the Environment and Natural Resources Division, working on Fifth Amendment takings cases. Annie holds a B.A. in Chemistry and Neuroscience from Dartmouth College.


Matthew Goetz

Matthew Goetz, a Fellow at the Climate Center, provides policy analysis with a focus on transportation and infrastructure financing.  He works on both climate mitigation and adaptation projects.

Matthew is a recent graduate of Georgetown Law Center. During law school, he interned at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and participated in the Institute for Public Representation Environmental Law clinic.  Prior to attending law school, Matthew worked in environmental compliance and corporate governance at energy generation and distribution company the AES Corporation.  Matthew has a B.A. in Political Science from Wake Forest University.


Myriam Alexander-Kearns

Myriam Alexander-Kearns, an Institute Associate at the Center, provides policy analysis for both adaptation and mitigation projects. Prior to joining full time, she worked at the Center as a Research Assistant and interned at the White House Council on Environmental Quality on the Climate Adaptation team. Myriam earned an M.P.P. from the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Barnard College. 


Tsinu Tesfaye

Tsinu Tesfaye, the Center's Administrative and Grant Coordinator, manages all financial, HR, and administrative activities for the Center, coordinates and manages the Center’s grants, organizes all Climate Center events and maintains the Center’s offices at the Law Center and the Hall of States.

Prior to joining the Climate Center, Tsinu interned and worked in the High Commissioner for Human Rights office at the United Nations Headquarters, where she served as research assistant with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Most recently, she worked as United Nations Liaison and Middle East/North Africa Liaison for Equality Now, an international human rights organization for women and girls. She holds a bachelor's degree from Yale University.


Research Assistants

Georgetown Law students work with the Georgetown Climate Center every semester, producing important research for both the Center and states that are engaged in developing climate and energy policies.   To learn more about the work of Georgetown Law students, click here.


Harrison Institute Staff

The Georgetown Climate Center works in partnership with a team of attorneys and students from Georgetown Law's Harrison Institute.  For more information about the Institute, click here.  Below are a few of the key staff that work with the Georgetown Climate Center on adaptation issues.

Robert Stumberg

Robert Stumberg is a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center, where he is also the director of the Harrison Institute for Public Law.  His past positions include policy director at the Center for Policy Alternatives and legislative counsel for Montgomery County, MD.   He has 30 years of experience in legislation, economic development, community lending and housing policy.  Most recently, he has studied the impact of trade agreements on state and local government, including energy, water services, prescription drugs, foreign investor rights and agricultural subsidies.  His publications include:  GATS & Electricity (2005); Trade Policy & Prescription Drugs (2005); Federalism & Political Accountability Under Global Trade Rules, Publius – The Journal of Federalism (2001 with Matthew Porterfield); Preemption & Human Rights, Law & Policy in International Business (2000); and Sovereignty by Subtraction:  The Multilateral Agreement on Investment, Cornell Journal of International Law (1998).

Sara Pollock Hoverter

Sara P. Hoverter is a senior fellow and adjunct professor at the Harrison Institute for Public Law, Georgetown University Law Center.   Her area of concentration is health policy, including climate change and public health, Medicaid, state and federal health reform, and the use of community health workers to reach vulnerable populations.  Her past positions have included law clerk at the National Partnership for Women and Families, research assistant for the Center for Law and the Public’s Health, and program associate at the DC Appleseed Center.

Matthew Porterfield

Matthew Porterfield is a senior fellow and adjunct professor of law at the Harrison Institute for Public Law, Georgetown University Law Center, where he leads projects on agriculture, investment and constitutional law.  Before coming to Georgetown, he practiced environmental law in Washington, DC.  His publications include:  An International Common Law of Investor Rights?, University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law (2006); International Expropriation Rules and Federalism, Stanford Journal of Environmental Law (January 2004); Who Preempted the Massachusetts Burma Law?, Publius – The Journal of Federalism (2002 with Robert Stumberg); and State & Local Foreign Policy Initiatives & Free Speech:  The First Amendment as an Instrument of Federalism, Stanford Journal of International Law (1999).