Ethan Saunders, Author at Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

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So far Ethan Saunders has created 4 blog entries.

Chispa Maryland Rallies Advocates in Baltimore County and Baltimore City

Eliseo (front row, second from left) and Morena (front row, third from left) at a recent meeting of Chispa Maryland volunteers in Baltimore.

Every day, more than 650,000 children in Maryland ride to school on a school bus powered by diesel fuel, which exposes children to toxic exhaust that increases their lifetime risk of respiratory illnesses and even cancer. Approximately one in 10 of these young bus riders suffer from asthma — a leading cause of school absenteeism — and this asthma rate is higher among minority groups.

In Baltimore City and Baltimore County, parents are increasingly rallying in support of both their children and cleaner air, thanks to Chispa Maryland. Chispa, which means “spark” in Spanish, is a program launched in 2014 by Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. Chispa Maryland ensures that Maryland Latino families and community leaders are a powerful voice for protecting our air, land, water, public health, and future.

The Chispa Maryland team has been engaging and connecting with concerned mothers through canvassing, community house meetings, tabling at events, and PTA meetings. The immediate goal, says Morena Zelaya, the organizing manager for Chispa Maryland, is to encourage these new advocates to push their school boards to commit to transitioning their school bus fleets to zero-emission electric school buses that will protect the health of children and their communities.

The response has been extremely encouraging, says Morena. She and her partner, Chispa Maryland Community Organizer Elíseo Magos González, are now training a new group of 20 Baltimore County volunteer promoters – or “promotores to be leaders on environmental issues that are important to the community, and several of these promotores have already reached out to their school boards about the advantages of electric school buses. Through their work in the Baltimore region, Morena and Eliseo have also established a strong partnership with another Latino-outreach group, Comité Latino de Baltimore.

Health concerns are a driving theme for much of their Latino audience, says Morena. “Several of our new promotores are mothers whose children have asthma. They care about the electric school bus issue and about climate justice because they want better health outcomes for their children, and a better future.”

“Many of the community members we support haven’t had the same education or opportunities that Morena and I have,” says Eliseo. “But they are eager to learn and advocate. I’m confident they will continue to pass the information along and soon we will have a better environment.”

Although the bulk of Chispa Maryland’s work is with Maryland’s Latino communities, the group welcomes support from anyone in Maryland who is interested in advocating for environmental justice locally and statewide. In fact, says Morena, Chispa’s efforts just received a significant boost from a non-Latino PTA president, Rachel Lemus, who offered to advocate for electric school buses at an upcoming Board of Education meeting, and another community leader who is using her Facebook page to promote Chispa and electric school buses.

“We plan to continue to expand the program to communities throughout Maryland, and everyone is welcome,” says Morena. “We need all the help we can get!”

To learn more or to get involved with Chispa Maryland, please contact Eliseo via email at or via phone at 240-705-6865.


2023-06-21T16:08:39-04:00May 30th, 2023|Categories: CHISPA|

Surili Sutaria Patel Joins Board

Public Health Expert Surili Sutaria Patel Joins Governing Board of Maryland LCV Education Fund

Annapolis, MD – Surili Sutaria Patel, who has extensive experience working at the intersection of climate change and public health, has been newly elected to the Board of Directors of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (Maryland LCVEF). She will serve a three-year term beginning May 2023.

Patel is a vice president with the Metropolitan Group. She previously held a visionary leadership position at the American Public Health Association, where she drove strategic development to bridge the gap between public health practice and sound policies. She elevated the association’s climate change portfolio to the national stage by creating the Center for Climate, Health and Equity. As the director of the Center, she inspired action by public health professionals and advanced policy agendas that address health at the nexus of climate and equity.

“Surili Sutaria Patel is a leading voice in public health in Maryland who champions diversity and works to advance health equity and environmental justice,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “Surili approaches health and the environment through thoughtful coalition building and innovative strategies that work to advance equity and improve access. She will be a tremendous asset both to the work of Maryland LCVEF and to our board.”

Patel currently serves with a number of organizations, including Aawaz4Climate (which she co-founded with Seema Wadhwa), Physicians for Social Responsibility Board of Directors, Environmental Health Matters Initiative at the National Academies, Yale Center on Climate Change and Health – Advisory Board, and RESOLVE advisory board.

“I am honored to join the Maryland LCV Board of Directors,” said Surili Sutaria Patel. “I am impressed by their work both at the state house and in local communities across Maryland. I am particularly interested in helping to advance the organization’s focus on addressing climate change and its disproportionate health impacts on communities across Maryland.”

Patel enjoys painting, hiking and cooking international cuisines. As a former semi-professional Bharatanatyam dancer, she seeks opportunities to learn about arts and cultures from around the world.

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The Maryland LCV Education strengthens the environmental community by building diverse, effective coalitions and growing a base of conservation-minded voters across the state.

2023-06-21T16:10:31-04:00May 11th, 2023|Categories: Press Release|

Sen. Cardin Makes the Case for Climate Urgency

Sen. Cardin Makes the Case for Climate Urgency

By Marisa Olszewski,

On Tuesday, April 19, Maryland League of Conservation Voters (MD LCV), in partnership with the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College hosted a public conversation with Senator Ben Cardin on climate and the environment. The event was open to the public and featured three Goucher students majoring in political science who facilitated the conversation with questions for Senator Cardin about climate change, the Chesapeake Bay and how he is approaching these issues from his position in the US Senate. 

During the program, Senator Cardin detailed the climate positive policies and funding that were included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in the fall. He also spoke of the urgency for further federal action on climate, stating “the stakes could not be higher and we need your engagement.” Senator Cardin highlighted how climate change is particularly affecting communities in Maryland – through flooding and sea level rise, and the disparate health impacts our overburdened communities face. With a final question from MD LCV Director, Kim Coble, Senator Cardin ended on a hopeful note, remarking how far we have come on restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and how that reminds him that while collective action to restore our environment is difficult and takes time, it is achievable. “Don’t give up. We can’t afford to.”

The program was live streamed and is still available for viewing. To watch the program in its entirety, visit the Maryland LCV YouTube Channel or find it in our past live videos on Facebook

Would you like to receive emails and stay up to date on events like this one? Sign up for updates from MD LCV here:

2023-01-03T14:54:45-05:00April 22nd, 2022|Categories: MDLCV|