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 public health movements. We also recognized the growing threat of preemption to grassroots movements on issues such as nutrition, tobacco control, agriculture and gun violence.

What We Do

Grassroots Change empowers grassroots leaders. We connect grassroots leaders with the evidence, tools and training to advance grassroots health and safety movements. 

Grassroots Movement Building

Grassroots Change provides leadership, evidence-based research and technical assistance to advance authentic and effective grassroots movements and counter state and federal preemption.

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Preemption Watch

Preemption Watch helps grassroots advocates understand, track and counter preemption. We share tools, research, and case studies, based on decades of experience and real-world evidence, to help advocates further their goals. Our Preemption Watch newsletter, website, and interactive Preemption Map provide 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, and served as Executive Director of, 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.

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
Communications & Legislative Affairs Consultant

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

No current openings at this time.