MEET OUR TEAM
Margaret R. Stewart, Esq., MPA., LL.M
Margaret serves as the Director at the Center for Earth Jurisprudence. She oversees CEJ's programs and operations and represents the Center on various coalitions. She has created educational forums throughout the United States and abroad and generates strategic partnerships. She manages CEJ communications, including social and print media, and is responsible for the identification and application of grants and other fundraising initiatives that have supported CEJ’s continued work. She also serves as the key Advisor to three law students that work with CEJ as Earth Law & Policy Fellows.
Margaret serves on the Executive Committee and formerly chaired the Legal Committee of the Florida Springs Council. She serves on the Board of the Orange County League of Women Voters, chairs the Natural Resource Committee, and chairs the Solar Co-Op Committee. She is on the Executive Committee of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, a network of organizations and individuals committed to the universal adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognize, respect and enforce “Rights of Nature” and to making the idea of Rights of Nature an idea whose time has come. She is a member of the Central Florida Association of Women Lawyers, the Orange County Bar Association, and the Environmental & Land Use Law and Public Interest Law sections of the Florida Bar
She earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Randolph-Macon Woman's College, her Masters in Non-Profit & Human Resources Management from Penn State University, her Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law, and her LL.M. from Western New England School of Law. While in law school, Margaret earned her Environmental Law Honors Certificate and worked two semesters in the Environmental and Earth Law Clinic. As an Honors Board member of the Moot Court team, Margaret argued in the Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, advancing to the semifinals in 2015. She has since coached that competition.
Margaret enjoys traveling and exploring new destinations. Originating from an urban jungle like Philadelphia, Margaret has delighted in the natural treasures of Florida and is devoted to protecting them for future generations.
She is a member of the Florida Bar.
Kelli McGee, Esq.
Kelli facilitates CEJ’s programs and operations by coordinating with community partners and managing outreach and engagement programs, locally, nationally, and internationally. She is working to increase CEJ’s fundraising efforts to promote CEJ’s sustainable growth.
Kelli is also the founder of Natua Strategies, a consulting firm committed to promoting sustainable strategies that help businesses and nonprofit organizations prosper. Ms. McGee has a background in policy analysis, natural resource management, strategic planning, media outreach and partnership cultivation. Kelli has written and implemented federal and local laws, drafted congressional testimony and testified in multiple judicial hearings as a natural resources expert.
Having served as the Growth and Resource Management Director with Volusia County in Florida, Coastal Program Counsel with American Oceans Campaign in Washington, D.C. and California Director with Oceana in Los Angeles, Kelli has enjoyed a notable career in the fields of ocean advocacy, public policy development and marine mammal research and rescue. She has been quoted in the New York Times, U.S.A. Today and numerous other national and local outlets on water quality issues. Her professional memberships include the United States Supreme Court Bar, Florida Bar, District of Columbia Bar and Indian River Lagoon Council Management Board and Finance Subcommittee.
Kelli holds a Juris Doctor degree from the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. where she served as a member editor of the George Washington Journal of International Law and Economics. Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, where she double majored in Biology and Psychology.
Martha M. Collins, Esq.
Martha Collins is the founder of Collins Law Group where she has successfully litigated, lobbied, and negotiated for many of Florida’s largest precedent setting environmental and land use cases and polices. She has appeared before numerous governmental agencies in Florida and Washington, D.C.; including, the Florida Governor, Cabinet and Legislature, and members of the United States Congress. Her work has been quoted or referenced in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes, Politico, National and Florida Public Radio, other newspapers and blogs across the country and world, and in almost every major news media in Florida.
Martha Collins graduated from Tulane University before she simultaneously earned a Juris Doctorate from Seattle University and a Masters of Law in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School.
Martha is admitted in the Florida Bar and the Federal U.S. Middle District Court of Florida. Ms. Collins is past Chair for the Environmental and Land Use Section of the Florida Bar and currently sits on the Board of Gulf Restoration Network.
Josephine Balzac, Esq., LL.M
Josephine M. Balzac is licensed an attorney admitted to practice in Florida and the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida. She is the President of the Law Office of Josephine Balzac, P.A. and is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Rollins College in the Department of Business teaching Business Law and Ethics and Business Sustainability. She is also an adjunct law professor at Barry University School of Law teaching Sustainability in Business. Ms. Balzac previously worked as an associate attorney at an AV rated trial litigation firm and worked for a food safety regulatory consulting group. She holds a J.D. from Florida A&M University College of Law where she graduated as valedictorian of her class. While at Florida A&M, Ms. Balzac received several scholarships, including the prestigious Holland & Knight Scholarship. She also won the Third Best Oralist Award during the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition, where her team reached the semifinals. She received her LL.M. in International Environmental Law at The George Washington University Law School. While attending GWU Law, she served as a Randolph C. Shaw Research Fellow for the Associate Dean of Environmental Studies and interned at the Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery in the International Transportation Branch.
She serves her community on the Board of Directors for IDEAS For Us, the Advisory Board of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law, and the Coalition for Puerto Rico Justice. Ms. Balzac is actively involved in the local community, frequently educating and advocating as an avid speaker on environmental justice, sustainable development, climate change, human rights, food, and social justice issues. Professor Balzac recently published a chapter entitled Corporate Responsibility: Promoting Climate Justice through the Divestment of Fossil Fuels and Socially Responsible Investment as a contributing author to Climate Justice: Case Studies in Global and Regional Governance, Editor Randall S. Abate, ELI Press (December 2016). She has also published articles on sustainable development, international trade, human rights, and environmental justice, including; Public Engagement “Reach in, Reach out”: Pursuing Environmental Justice by Empowering Communities to Meaningfully Participate in the Decision-Making Processes of Brownfield Redevelopment and Superfund Cleanups, 9 Fla. A&M L. Rev. 347 (2014) and CAFTA-DR’s Citizen Submission Process: Is It Protecting the Indigenous Peoples Rights and Promoting the Three Pillars of Sustainable Development?, 11 Loyola U. Chi. Int’l L. Rev. 11 (2013).
2017-2018 Earth Law and Policy Fellows
An accomplished human resources professional, Arlene currently works in the recruitment field. However, she was once a private investigator, specializing in maritime investigations. And, it was this experience, in combination with a love of the sea, that led her to an extensive career in the cruise industry – and to the awareness of the need for stronger laws to protect our natural resources.
A lifelong advocate of animals and the environment, Arlene has, throughout the years, adopted several rescue dogs, stray cats, and homeless gerbils, among others. She currently advocates for a variety of causes which include ending the dolphin hunts in Taiji, Japan, retiring captive cetaceans to sea pens, and, garnering support against future black bear hunts in Florida, as well as bringing awareness to a variety of environmental issues and causes. Arlene was a founding Director of Imagine Our Florida, Inc., a Florida environmental non-profit, and now serves on their Advisory Board.
Arlene holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics & Public Affairs from the University of Miami and a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Nova-Southeastern University. She is currently a Juris Doctor candidate and hopes to practice in the area of Environmental law.
Kathryn L. Avila
Kathryn L. Avila is a third-year law student at the Barry University School of Law, where she is pursuing her Honors Certificate in Environmental and Earth Law. She graduated cum laude from the University of Florida in 2014. Prior to law school, she worked for the Levin Law Firm as a litigation assistant in pharmaceutical mass torts.
Following her passion for travel, Kathryn attended Barry’s Summer in Spain program, where she took a class in comparative environmental law. Her time in Spain sparked her interest in environmental and earth law, as she questioned the differences between countries in their approaches to environmental regulation and land use management. To gain some practical experience and further explore the environmental movement, she was accepted into Barry Law’s Environmental & Earth Law Clinic where she focused her efforts in SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) legislation, plastic bag bans, and preventing the reversion of public to private land.
Kathryn is currently continuing her work with the clinic as an Advanced Environmental & Earth Law student and has joined the Center for Earth Jurisprudence team to further entertain her interest in environmental and earth law. During her time as a fellow, she hopes to remain proactive in the fight to recognize planet Earth as its own being. She seeks to help shift the current mentality of human-centered values towards an affirmative duty of care that humans have to maintain a healthy and sustainable environment.
Samantha is a third-year law student at Barry University School of Law where she is pursuing an Honors Certificate in Environmental and Earth Law. Samantha has been passionate about environmental issues since high school. She graduated Florida Atlantic University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Geography. She also obtained certificates in Environmental Science and Geographic Information Systems. While at FAU, she led a sustainability student organization that focused on local environmental issues such as, a campus wide recycling program and a community garden.
Shortly before attending Barry Law Samantha was a sustainability intern for the City of Coconut Creek in South Florida where she focused on a city-wide recycling program.
While attending Barry Law she was elected to lead two organizations, becoming the Justice of Phi Alpha Delta, an International Law Fraternity, and the President of the Environmental Law Society. She also was accepted to participate in the Environmental and Earth Law Clinic during the Spring 2017 semester. She continued her passion for environmental law through partaking in the program as an Advanced Student working on multiple local projects. Her projects during the clinic included work to further the protection of local Florida Springs, and private drinking well contamination in a nearby community.
Samantha has continued to be active in her community, traveling to environmental conferences and panels across the State of Florida. Her quest for knowledge, and desire to help people see the importance of a healthy environment, is evident in all her endeavors. Samantha enjoys spending her free time gardening, volunteering, and camping. She is very passionate about the interconnectedness of nature and cannot wait to begin her career doing what she loves.
Lizaida Guadalupe is a third-year law student at the Barry University School of Law, where she is pursuing her Honors Certificate in Environmental and Earth Law. Lizaida graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Business and a minor in Italian. While at FAU, she was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Pre-Law Society.
Motivated by her passion to learn about the legal system in the U.S., as well as those in other countries, she decided to go to Barry Law School. During her first year, she began to learn about laws relating to water rights in Florida and became concerned about the availability of freshwater in the state in the near future. She also became proactive in following the forecasts of sea-level rise in Florida in the future.
In an effort to resolve some of the water issues that continue to evolve in the state, Lizaida traveled to the Netherlands and completed the United Nations Water Law Program in Delft. During her time in the Netherlands she learned how, in preparation for a climate changed future, the people of the Netherlands are designing and constructing billions of Euros worth of project to ensure the well-being of their nation. She studied water management as experienced in a nation situated below sea-level and learned how other countries are meeting the present global challenges by building a strong foundation of knowledge to improve water management practices.
Lizaida was accepted into Barry Law’s Environmental & Earth Law Clinic where she had the opportunity to work with the Apalachicola Riverkeepers and the Florida League of Women Voters to advocate for the protection and restoration of the Apalachicola River, Apalachicola Bay and adjacent lands. She is currently continuing her work with the clinic as an Advanced Environmental & Earth Law Student and further focusing her efforts in saving the Apalachicola River and Bay as well as working on other local projects. During her time as a fellow, she hopes to help develop laws that take into account the importance of preventing harm to our Earth rather than restoring the harm once it is done. She also aspires to continue being involved in efforts to protect and restore our springs and rivers and promote better water management practices across the state.