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 Innovation on Climate Change: Reducing Emissions from Key Sectors while Preparing for a “New Normal”," Harvard L. & Policy R. [Forthcoming] (coauthors: Vicki Arroyo, Kathryn Zyla, Gabriel Pacyniak, Melissa Deas).

"Transportation Policy,” in Climate Change and Public Health, Cambridge University Press (Barry Levy & Jonathan Patz eds., 2015). (coauthor: Kathryn Zyla).

“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

Kate Zyla serves as Deputy Director where she oversees the Georgetown Climate Center's analytical work on climate change, energy, and transportation policies at the state and national levels. She also facilitates many dialogues of leading states on related issues and has done extensive research and writing on subjects such as the linking of subnational emissions trading programs, the concept of “trading ready” or “opt in” approaches for the Clean Power Plan, opportunities to reduce emissions from transportation, legal and policy barriers to clean energy and electric vehicle deployment, and much more. Prior to becoming Deputy Director in 2013, Kate served as the Policy and Research Director for the Georgetown Climate Center since 2009, and she continues to oversee all research and publications of the center in addition to her other responsibilities. 

She previously served as Senior Associate in the Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute 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.


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.


Melissa Deas

Melissa Deas, an Institute Associate at the Georgetown Climate Center, provides policy analysis on adaptation projects. Her work focuses on the usability of online tools, facilitating the implementation of adaptation and resilience goals, fostering better networks and linkages to ensure climate progress, and incorporating principles of equity into adaptation. 

Melissa is a graduate of MIT, where she earned a Master’s in City Planning. During graduate school, she was the Lawrence Susskind Fellow at the Consensus Building Institute, served as the Lead on Cal-Adapt Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement for the California Energy Commission, and interned with the City of Boston’s Department of Environmental and Energy Services assisting with their Climate Action Plan. Prior to joining the Climate Center, Melissa worked with the Union of Concerned Scientists as a Climate Preparedness Research Associate. Melissa holds a B.A. in Sociology from Harvard College, summa cum laude.


Benjamin VanGessel

Benjamin VanGessel is an Institute Associate at the Georgetown Climate Center. He conducts quantitative and policy analysis related to reducing GHG emissions in the transportation sector and helps facilitate the Transportation and Climate Initiative. 

Benjamin is a graduate of the University of Michigan where he earned a Master’s in Urban Planning. During graduate school, he worked with the Graham Sustainability Institute’s Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities (GLAA-C) program to develop effective climate adaptation policies for Great Lakes cities. Benjamin previously worked for the U.S. EPA Office of Transportation Air Quality developing the Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES), EPA’s model for estimating air pollution emissions from the transportation sector. Benjamin also developed technical guidance and procedures for using the MOVES emission model for estimating state and local inventories of on-road GHG emissions for use in state and local greenhouse gas planning.

Matthew Goetz

Matthew Goetz is an Institute Associate at the Georgetown Climate Center. He conducts legal and policy analysis for the transportation-sector climate change mitigation team and coordinates the Climate Center’s electric vehicle initiatives. Matthew also researches innovative financing strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects, and monitors climate agreements and initiatives by sub-national governments.

Matthew previously worked in environmental compliance and corporate governance at the AES Corporation, an energy generation and distribution company. He completed legal internships at the U.S. EPA Office of Enforcement and U.S. EPA Office of Wastewater Management. Matthew earned a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in political science (magna cum laude) from Wake Forest 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).