Board and Staff
What they are saying about WSLF
Board of Directors and Staff
Phyllis Olin currently serves as Western States Legal Foundation's (WSLF's) Board President. After many years of anti-nuclear activism as a co-founder of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, Ms. Olin spent a semester working as a legal intern at WSLF, joining its Board in 1995. She is now an attorney in private practice.
Ms. Olin has played a leading role in WSLF's work on nuclear transportation, opposition to "Urban Warrior" military combat exercises in Oakland, opposition to a military charter school in Oakland and environmental litigation challenging the California Department of Toxic Substances Control's failure to do adequate environmental review in connection with the issuance of a permit for Livermore Lab's hazardous waste management facility. She has represented WSLF at national and international conferences, including Alliance for Nuclear Accountability and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conferences.
Ms. Olin is currently a member of the Coordinating Committee of the People's NonViolent Response Coalition (PNVRC). WSLF was a co-founder of PNVRC, a multi-issue coalition of groups and individuals who came together in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks to formulate and promote nonviolent alternatives to the "war on terrorism" both at home and abroad.
Dale Nesbitt, a long-time peace and environmental advocate active with a number of groups, is an engineer, retired from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). There, for many years he served as Mechanical Project Engineer/Manager for a number of research projects in the areas of high energy particle physics, energy, the environment and astronomy.
In the 1980s Mr. Nesbitt was a local organizer in the successful nation-wide scientists campaign against "Star Wars," begun at LBNL.
Through his professional associations and his membership in the Union of Concerned Scientists, Mr. Nesbitt has extensive contacts in the scientific community. He currently serves as Treasurer for WSLF.
Heather Davison serves as WSLF's Board Secretary. Ms. Davison has been involved in anti-nuclear activism since the late 1980's. She lived and worked for three years with Seeds of Peace, a collective dedicated to providing logistical and organizing support for large-scale peace movement demonstrations, walks and encampments. Much of her organizing efforts have focused around demonstrations and domestic and international conferences at or near the Nevada Nuclear Weapons Test Site. She is a member of two “affinity groups” - close-knit community models strategizing and working for peace on a local level.
In addition to her experience with community organizing and events production, Ms. Davison brings to Western States her extensive background in administrative management. She was the Administrative Director for Berkeley's Feldenkrais Professional Training Program, as well as Business Manager for two international educational materials distributors.
Ms. Davison has worked as a core volunteer with WSLF since 1994, and joined the board in 1998. For several years, she has managed a significant portion of the WSLF's administration. She is currently on temporary leave.
Jacqueline Cabasso is the Executive Director of WSLF, where she has worked since 1984. As WSLF's principal organizer, she is responsible for community education, media, networking, client coordination and fundraising. Ms. Cabasso frequently writes for and travels on behalf of WSLF, speaking at public hearings, conferences and rallies, and meeting with organizers throughout the world. She is a leading voice for nuclear weapons abolition, speaking at events across North America, Europe, and Asia.
In her home region, Ms. Cabasso chairs the Coordinating Committee of the Peoples NonViolent Response Coalition. At the national level, she convenes the Nuclear Disarmament/Redefining Security working group of United for Peace and Justice. Since 1994, Ms. Cabasso has represented WSLF at negotiating and review sessions of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 1995, she co-founded the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, which has grown to include more than 2000 organizations in over 90 countries, and she continues to serve on its international Coordinating Committee.
Ms. Cabasso is the co-author, with Susan Moon, of Risking Peace: Why We Sat in the Road (Open Books, 1985), an account of the huge 1983 nonviolent protest at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory and the subsequent mass trial conducted by WSLF. She has written and co-authored numerous articles for publications including the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the journal Social Justice.
Andrew Lichterman has been Western States Legal Foundation's Program Director since 1998. He began his association with WSLF as a volunteer attorney in 1983, and was Litigation Director from 1986 to 1989. He has represented peace and environmental activists in a variety of settings, ranging from defense of demonstrators in cases arising out of nonviolent direct action protests to environmental proceedings concerning the impacts of nuclear weapons research, development, testing, and deployment. In 1998-1999, he split his time between WSLF and the Los Alamos Study Group in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a citizen group now located in Albuquerque which monitors U.S. nuclear weapons programs with particular attention to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Mr. Lichterman writes extensively on U.S. nuclear weapons and military space programs and their impacts on international arms control regimes and on prospects for disarmament, both in WSLF publications and for other outlets. He speaks frequently at public events on behalf of the organization.
Mr. Lichterman serves on the Global Council of Abolition 2000, and is a member of the editorial board of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation Information Bulletin. Mr. Lichterman also taught law for many years, including courses on environmental law, legal history, and the rights of demonstrators. He holds a J.D. from Boalt Hall, U.C. Berkeley, and a B.A. from Yale.
John Burroughs, Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP) in New York (www.lcnp.org), is a specialist on treaty regimes and international law relating to nuclear and other non-conventional weapons. He is co-editor of Rule of Power or Rule of Law? An Assessment of U.S. Policies and Actions Regarding Security-Related Treaties (Apex Press, 2003), author of The Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons: A Guide to the Historic Opinion of the International Court of Justice (Transaction, 1998), and has published articles on disarmament issues in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the World Policy Journal. LCNP and WSLF are both affiliates of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, and collaborate on various projects. Dr. Burroughs is an adjunct professor of international law at Rutgers Law School - Newark. For more than a decade prior to assuming his current position at LCNP, he was an attorney, mostly on a pro bono basis, for Western States Legal Foundation. He has a J.D. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.A. from Harvard.
Michael Veiluva serves as WSLF's Counsel. For nearly 20 years he has represented WSLF in litigation and on governmental and nongovernmental advisory boards. He has also spoken and written on behalf of WSLF is a variety of forums.
In the 1980s Mr. Veiluva worked on litigation arising from the campaign against the homeporting of the Battleship Missouri in San Francisco, and WSLF's successful challenge to the University of California's 1987 Environmental Impact Report for Livermore Lab. Later, he was the lead attorney in WSLF's lawsuit to compel environmental review of a prototype uranium enrichment facility at Livermore. More recently, Mr. Veiluva served as co-counsel in the lawsuit brought by Representative Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) and 31 members of Congress in their challenge to George W. Bush's unilateral abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
Mr. Veiluva was the principal author of a 1995 monograph produced jointly by Greenpeace and WSLF entitled, Laboratory Testing in a Test Ban/Nonproliferation Regime. He also has been published in journals including Social Justice and Nature Medicine Mr. Veiluva is a partner with the law firm of Alborg, Veiluva and Epstein in Walnut Creek, California with emphasis on environmental, agency and property law. He holds a J.D. from Boalt Hall, U.C. Berkeley and a B.A. from Stanford.
WESTERN STATES LEGAL FOUNDATION (WSLF) grew out of the movement against nuclear power and weapons in the early 1980's. Founded in 1982 to provide legal assistance to nonviolent peace and environmental activists, WSLF has helped build both national and international nuclear abolition networks while remaining firmly based in a local organizing context. WSLF strives to provide information, analysis, and advocacy which is professional in quality but grounded in the values of the social movements we serve.
1982 WSLF represented protesters at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. For the next several years, WSLF also defended Abalone Alliance, Greenpeace and American Friends Service Committee against a $3.6 million suit filed by an ultra-conservative legal foundation over the 1981 Diablo Canyon blockade.
1983 WSLF defended hundreds of nonviolent protesters in an unusual "representative" trial arising out of a protest at the Livermore National Laboratory in which over a thousand people were arrested.
1983 WSLF stopped uranium exploration activities in the Los Padres National Forest.
1984 WSLF stopped a food irradiation facility proposed for Dublin, California.
1984-1989 WSLF provided legal assistance to activists in a variety of cases arising out of nonviolent direct actions at the Livermore Lab, Nevada Test Site, Concord Naval Weapons Station and elsewhere protesting development, testing, and deployment of nuclear weapons and U.S. military intervention in Central America.
1985-1988 WSLF provided information, advice, and legal representation to a coalition of peace and environmental groups which stopped the homeporting of the Battleship Missouri and 16 other warships, many armed with nuclear-capable cruise missiles, in San Francisco Bay.
1987-1988 WSLF represented groups, including Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs, in a lawsuit which resulted in both federal and state environmental reviews of Livermore National Laboratory nuclear activities.
1988 WSLF, with Tri-Valley CAREs and other local groups, successfully halted construction of an incinerator for hazardous and radioactive waste at Livermore Lab.
1989 WSLF, with Tri-Valley CAREs and Natural Resources Defense Council, stopped development of a pilot project at Livermore Lab to purify weapons-grade plutonium using laser technology.
1989 to present WSLF continues to monitor U.S. Department of Energy plans to rebuild its nuclear weapons research, production, and testing facilities across the nation. WSLF has participated in numerous environmental review proceedings and worked with grassroots groups nationwide to press for cleanup of DOE's contaminated weapons sites before new facilities can be built.
1989-1992 WSLF represented local citizens in a case where Oakland, California's tough Nuclear Free Zone ordinance was challenged by the U.S. government.
1990 WSLF staff traveled to central Asia where, along with other organizations advocating a Comprehensive Test Ban and abolition of nuclear weapons, they began to forge alliances between groups calling for the closure of the Soviet nuclear weapons test site at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, and groups working to end testing at the U.S. test site in Nevada.
1993 - present WSLF was one of the first organizations to criticize the "Stockpile Stewardship" program, a mammoth effort to continue to improve the U.S. nuclear arsenal after the cessation of underground nuclear testing. WSLF's research and advocacy efforts have played a leading role in building opposition to this dangerous and destabilizing program within the U.S. and internationally.
1994-present WSLF brought information about U.S. weapons programs and analysis of their status under international law to the Comprehensive Test Ban negotiations, and in following years, to the 1995 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and annual Preparatory Committee meetings for the NPT 2000 Review Conference at the United Nations.
1994-1995 WSLF, together with Tri-Valley CAREs, forced an unprecedented public review of the nuclear proliferation impacts of the National Ignition Facility, the centerpiece of the Stockpile Stewardship program.
1995 WSLF personnel staffed the World Court Project in The Hague, Netherlands, during historic hearings before the International Court of Justice on the legal status of nuclear weapons.
1995 WSLF, together with other grassroots groups long shut out of international nuclear arms control forums, founded the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, which today has grown to more than 2000 groups in more than 90 countries.
1997-8 WSLF provided legal information and organizing assistance to a regional coalition opposing shipment of spent nuclear fuel from foreign research reactors through California and Nevada.
1997-present WSLF and 38 other groups sued DOE over inadequate environmental review of its nuclear weapons programs, waste management, and cleanup. Settlement resulted in extensive new information on environmental impacts and $6.25 million fund for technical aid to affected communities and tribes. WSLF coordinated plaintiffs' groups and is continuing to work on settlement implementation.
1999 Along with other groups including American Friends Service Committee, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Lawyers' Committee for Nuclear Policy, Pax Christi, Women's Action for New Directions, and the Tribal Environmental Watch Network, launched the US Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, part of the Abolition 2000 Global Network.
2000 WSLF provided information about current US nuclear weapons programs and policies to delegates, United Nations officials, and international NGOs at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty 5-year Review Conference. WSLF took a leading role in efforts to oppose “Son of Star Wars” by supporting nonviolent protests at Vandenberg Air Force Base, and by exposing the connections between Stockpile Stewardship and other high-tech weapons programs, including ballistic missile defense and space-based weapons research and development.
2001-present WSLF worked with the Moving Beyond Missile Defense project of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation to develop alternative approaches to global security. WSLF responded to the 9/11 attacks by co-founding the Peoples NonViolent Response Coalition, a multi-issue coalition of Bay area organizations and individuals promoting nonviolent alternatives to the rush to war.
2002-present WSLF took an active role in opposing the Iraq war. WSLF provided analysis of the international law issues relevant to the war, including op eds, letters to Congress and the U.N. Security Council, and a joint publication, with Lawyer's Committee on Nuclear Policy, providing a more in-depth look at the issues.
2003 WSLF continues its research, analysis and advocacy to challenge U.S. nuclear weapons and related high-tech weapons programs and policies, and to promote nuclear disarmament and peace. In June, WSLF joined with groups across the country to convert United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), a coalition founded to oppose the Iraq war, into an ongoing network working to effectively connect issues of peace, economic justice, and ecological sustainability, and to provide a genuinely different vision for the future. WSLF led a successful effort to make nuclear weapons abolition one of the top five priorities for UFPJ in the coming year.