Who We Are …

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) consists of a steering committee of up to 18 individuals and an email list of over 700 addresses. We consider all those on the email list and everybody who “likes” our facebook page to be a member of CAAV.

We invite anyone interested to join one of our four standing committees or occasional ad hoc groups.

The steering committee (SC) currently consists of:

Jo Anne St. Clair, CAAV Steering Committee Chair 2019 and 2020, member of the Legislation & Election (L&E) and E&E (now CREAM) Committees, joined the Steering Committee in September 2017.


Irvin Peckham, CAAV Steering Committee Vice Chair, and Coalition & Communication Committee Chair. Irvin joined the Steering Committee in February 2019.

Now retired, he has been teaching writing at the high school and college level for forty years– in Morgan Hill, CA; the University of Nebraska, Omaha; Louisiana State University; and Drexel University. He specializes in and writes about social-class relationships, personal writing, and writing assessment. He has been involved in the anti-war movement ever since he first got a letter telling him to report for duty in Viet-Nam. He keeps a blog at personalwriting2.blogspot.com.


Joni Grady, CAAV SC Recording Secretary, SC Chair 2017 – 2018, former Chair of the Education and Events (E&E) Committee, CAAV facebook page administrator.

See Joni’s evocative letter to the Daily News-Record published May 3, 2016: Climate Skeptics Imperil Us All.

Joni delivered an eloquent and moving sermon to the Harrisonburg Unitarian Universalists congregation on October 4, 2015: Reality Check, and another on December 30, 2012: Intersecting webs of our lives Or, The Creature from the Black Lagoon.


Carl Droms, has been the CAAV treasurer since 2012. Retired from teaching math at JMU, he puts his numbers skills to good use as treasurer for several other local organizations as well.

When not crunching numbers, he is usually outside on bike rides or, come winter, on skis.


Cathy StricklerCAAV Founder, organizer of The Defenders protest against pipeline sculpture, former SC Chair, and former Chairs of the E&E and L&E Committees

Cathy’s opinion pieces in the DNR include: Our Enemy: Climate Disruption, 8/29/13; Renewable Energy Must Be Mandated, 11/18/10; Climate, Energy Real Problems, 7/12/10; Celebrate Earth Week In April, 4/7/08.

Cathy spoke at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s March 24, 2012, March to End Dominion’s Power Madness in Richmond. Find her at 1:40 in this CCAN video.


edited-headshot-1Luciano Benjamin joined the CAAV SC in August 2020. He is active on the CAAV Coalition & Communication Committee.

A recent graduate of James Madison University, Luciano was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1999. He is the son of an Argentinian immigrant and a United States Army Veteran.

Growing up in an immigrant family, Luciano understands the value of hard work and sacrifice. At the age of 18, Luciano received the highest award in Scouting, joining the ranks of the Eagle Scouts.

Luciano is committed to making a difference in this world, and holding true to the values instilled in him in Scouts, leaving it in a better condition than he found it.


Les Grady, SC Chair from 2012 through 2014, Chair of the Speakers’ Bureau, compiles a weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup

Les has authored Open Forum pieces published in the Daily News Record (DNR) on 7/29/14, Goodlatte Wrong on Climate, 4/14/14, Congress Must Tax Carbon, 2/7/13, Keystone Pipeline is a Bad Idea and 12/5/12, We Must Stop the Warming.

His engineering background gives him the credentials to speak knowledgeably on Climate Change, an Urgent Need for Action.

Les gave a talk, What Aileth Thee, on April 21, 2013, at Harrisonburg Unitarian Universalists based on the book Active Hope by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone.


Alleyn Harned, member of the Coalition Building and L&E Committees

Alleyn is the Executive Director of Virginia Clean Cities, a member of the U.S. Department of Energy-affiliated Clean Cities Coalitions program. With Virginia Clean Cities, Alleyn leads the Virginia Clean Cities coalition’s collaborative effort to assist stakeholders and the Commonwealth in programs to improve air quality, and increase American energy security and economic opportunity through the increased use of alternative fuels and vehicles.


Joy Loving, available to speak on local solar initiatives, member of the L&E Committee, was the local coordinator for Solarize Harrisonburg and Massanutten Regional Solar Co-op, and is involved with Renew Rocktown


aprilmooreApril Moore joined the CAAV SC in March 2020. She is on the L&E Committee and a longtime member of CAAV’s Speakers’ Bureau.

April Moore is a longtime climate activist. For many years she has been proud to serve on the board of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), which works throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC to address the climate crisis. April participates regularly in CCAN’s annual polar bear plunge, raising thousands of dollars each time, to fund CCAN’s urgent work.

April ran twice for the Virginia State Senate, with climate as her number one issue. While she did not win, she used her platform as a candidate to educate the public about the climate crisis and other important issues.

April’s writings about climate, the environment, and political issues appear from time to time in the Daily News-Record and The Northern Virginia Daily. She is the author of The Earth and You: Eating for Two, an upbeat guide to grocery shopping, setting up a kitchen, and eating out, all with the earth in mind.

April lives in Shenandoah County and is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She loves reading, hiking, and biking.


Sally Newkirk, former Chair of the L&E Committee and involved with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Sally is a local realtor specializing in environmentally-conscientious choices. She keeps a blogsite: Sally’s Healthy Homes. See her post about the benefits of LEED buildings here. She is a solar enthusiast and ran for the Shenandoah Valley Board of Directors in 2020.


Lynn Smith, founding member of CAAV, member of the L&E and E&E Committees, organized What a Wonderful World, Earth Day 2017 celebration among many other events


Charlie Strickler, founding member, member of the L&E Committee, involved with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Charlie participated in an 18 day fast in front of FERC Headquarters in September 2015.


EllySweckerElly Swecker joined the CAAV SC in August 2020. She is the founder and leader of Earth Day Every Day of Harrisonburg VA whose work is continuing through the CAAV CREAM committee.

Elly, a Harrisonburg resident since 1975, has spent most of her career in service to others, from children to seniors. She was the Executive Director of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Free Clinic during a time of significant expansion. Her career also included serving as Executive Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Director of Annual Gifts at VMRC. Through research and talking with others who have been active in environmental organizations, she is learning more every day about environmental problems and solutions. Elly is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Church and is inspired by many members past and present. Her husband, Arnie Kahn, is a big support to her, and her little dog Max is part of the family.


Wayne Teel joined the CAAV SC in May 2020. He is a professor in the Department of Integrated Science and Technology at James Madison University with special interests in biochar and agroforestry as well as permaculture and water quality issues.

He has presented at CAAV related events including about refrigerants for our series of forums around the most impactful things we can do according to the book Drawdown.


Adrie Voors, joined the CAAV SC in 2011. She created and maintains the CAAV website, and participates in CAAV’s E&E (now CREAM) committee activities. Among her favorite pastimes is helping to coordinate CAAV’s downtown Community Compost Drop-off Program which launched in 2016. The program currently collects over two tons of organic waste a month for “recycling” through Black Bear Composting.

Adrie enjoyed a career in shelter animal medicine and surgery in New Orleans, Louisiana, until moving to the Valley in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.


Matthew Wade joined the CAAV SC in January 2020. He chairs the L&E committee.

Matthew serves as Deputy Director of Virginia Clean Cities (VCC). He joined VCC in 2013 after six years in local government administration with the goal of comprehensively reducing petroleum use and harmful emissions in Virginia. As Deputy Director, he oversees the management of staff operations and VCC’s grant portfolio for alternate transportation fuels infrastructure, vehicle deployment, education, and outreach. He earned a Masters of Public Administration from James Madison University in 2007 and Masters of Business Administration in 2018. A Shenandoah Valley native, Matthew enjoys being outdoors with his wife Kelly and black Labrador Retriever, Dakota.


carriewaits.crop_Carrie Waits joined the SC in June 2020 and co-chairs CAAV’s CREAM Committee. She recently moved to the area from northern Indiana with a degree in Environmental Studies and Biology from Manchester University (Indiana).

Her passion is in water quality, conservation, and clean energy. While working in the high desert of northern California she saw firsthand how climate change and water issues are intertwined with increased periods of drought. She continues to keep herself and those around her informed on how to minimize climate impacts. She also enjoys hiking, music, creating, and watching sports.