Grassroots Change
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How We Got Started

When we founded Grassroots Change in 2009, we were moved by the need to nurture authentic grassroots public health movements. We also recognized the growing threat of preemption to grassroots movements on issues such as nutrition, tobacco control, agriculture, gun violence, and environmental justice. Since then, we’ve worked at the intersection of grassroots power and preemption by providing deep experience and understanding about how opponents undermine local control and how grassroots leaders can overcome these obstacles to build effective movements for change.

What We Do

Grassroots Change empowers grassroots leaders to successfully build and sustain movements that improve health and safety at the community, state, and national levels.

How We Help You

We connect dedicated leaders with the training, research, and tools they need to advance their efforts on diverse public health issues, such as healthy families, violence prevention, and sustainability. Through our e-communications and partner network, we share the latest information about successful movement strategies and threats.

Grassroots Movement Building

Grassroots Change provides movement leaders with evidence-based research and technical assistance, as well as customized training to help advance authentic and effective movements.

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Preemption Watch

Preemption Watch helps advocates better understand and counter preemption. We provide tools, research, and case studies to help grassroots leaders develop informed strategies and tactics to further their goals. Our bi-weekly Preemption Watch newsletter provides timely coverage of federal and state preemption threats.

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Who We Are

Mark Pertschuk

Mark is the former President & Executive Director of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (1986–2007). In 1995, Mark co-founded Californians for Responsible Gun Laws to mobilize grassroots support for 40 local gun control ordinances and three statewide gun laws. Today, California has the strongest gun laws in the nation.

Michael G. Bare
Program Manager & Policy Analyst

Prior to joining Grassroots Change, Michael worked in HIV and LGBT health programs. Michael has extensive experience in research, policy analysis, strategic communications, and grassroots engagement. Michael received his graduate training at New York Medical College.

Michael is the current policy chair for the American Public Health Association LGBT Caucus of Public Health Professionals.

Patty Sullivan
Senior Strategy & Planning Consultant

Patricia (Patty) Sullivan has over three decades of experience in executive management, sales, operations, solutions, and marketing with IBM. During her time with IBM, Sullivan developed extensive knowledge of business and technical solutions for the education industry globally. While serving as solutions executive of IBM’s Global Education Industry, she oversaw a portfolio of academic, administrative and research solutions that generated over $1B in revenues. Since retiring from IBM in 2013, she has devoted herself to her long-standing efforts to support community-based organizations. She consults with not-for-profit organizations on sustainable business models and leadership and volunteers with community wellness programs and on community boards.

Leslie Zellers
Senior Legal & Policy Consultant

Leslie Zellers is an attorney with more than 20 years experience in public health. Leslie was Vice President for Programs at ChangeLab Solutions (formerly Public Health Law & Policy), a nonprofit organization that works with local governments and the community to create environments where healthy options and lifestyles are available to all residents. Prior to working with ChangeLab Solutions, Leslie conducted legal and policy work on tobacco prevention and childhood lead poisoning prevention for Contra Costa County and several nonprofit organizations. Leslie is a member of the Alameda County Tobacco Control Coalition and serves on the Board of Directors of The Shanti Project and Counter Tools (a tobacco control nonprofit). Leslie is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and a graduate of the UC Hastings College of the Law.

Mahmoud Abunie
Research & Media Content Intern

Prior to joining the Grassroots Change team, Mahmoud worked with the Arab American Institute as their Government Relations intern in Washington D.C. He worked on tracking legislation concerning the Arab-American community and researched and wrote blog posts. He received his graduate degree in Public Affairs from the University of San Francisco, where he had the opportunity to learn extensively about public policy, communications and social change.

Advisory Board

Daniel N. Abrahamson


Office of Legal Affairs, Drug Policy Institute

Berkeley, CA

Edith D. Balbach

Professor and Director

Community Health Program, Tufts University

Medford, Massachusetts

Geraldine Henchy

Director of Nutrition Policy and Early Childhood Programs

Food Research and Action Center

Washington, DC

Toby Hoover

Founder and Executive Director

Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence

Toledo, Ohio

Chief Tonya Hoover

State Fire Marshal

State of California

Sacramento, CA

Letetia Daniels Jackson

President and CEO

Tandeka LLC

Dothan, Alabama

Michelle Larkin

Assistant Vice President

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Princeton, New Jersey

Marjorie Paloma

Senior Policy Advisor, Senior Program Officer

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Princeton, New Jersey

Amy Pertschuk

Co-Founder, Director of Network Communication

Children & Nature Network

Liz Williams

Project Manager

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights

Berkeley, California

Join the Team

We are accepting applications for a Communications Intern on a rolling basis!

See the Listing