Our Team

Student Leadership

Sophia Carellas // State Board Chair

Sophia is a Senior studying Political Science and Human Rights at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. She is from Westfield, MA. Sophia is the CONNPIRG Students statewide board chair and interns on the Hunger and Homelessness campaign, helping to network with other organizations on the issue to fight food insecurity on campus.

Emma Hersom // State Board Secretary, Trinity College Chapter Chair

Emma is a Sophomore, majoring in Political Science and Human Rights at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. She has been working with PIRG since the beginning of her first year, where she worked on the New Voters Project and Affordable Textbooks campaigns. Last semester, she was Volunteer Coordinator, regularly meeting with and helping new interns and volunteers to ensure that they felt more comfortable and represented within the chapter. Emma continues to strengthen her involvement with PIRG as Trinity’s CONNPIRG Chapter Chair, as she is committed to making real, positive change not only within Trinity’s community, but in Hartford and the surrounding communities as well.

John Stookey // Statewide Board Treasurer

John is a Senior at Trinity College, studying Political Science, minoring in Art History while also playing on the varsity lacrosse team. He is from Middletown, Rhode Island where he grew up with one younger sister. Last semester he was the founder and chair of the 100% Renewable Energy focus group at Trinity. John is looking to start his career in the renewable energy industry after he graduates in May 2022.


Julia McLaughlin // Organizing Director


Julia McLaughlin is the Organizing Director for CONNPIRG and MASSPIRG Students. Julia got her start as a student organizer with her own MASSPIRG chapter while she was an undergrad at UMass Amherst where she studied English and French. She spent her first two years on full time staff as a campus organizer at UC Riverside and UCLA with CALPIRG Students, working to help successfully pass SB100, a state bill committing California to 100% clean electricity by 2045. In the summer, Julia enjoys spending her weekends at the beach, laying out in the sun and swimming in the ocean.

Jim Leahy // State House Advocate

Jim Leahy has 30 years of experience in lobbying, non-profit association management and political organizing. An expert in building strong grassroots organizations, he has worked with clients in a wide variety of sectors, including healthcare, environment, consumer protection, public safety, as well as arts & culture. His advocacy track record includes several high profile wins, including two first-in-the-nation laws, one to require labeling genetically modified foods and another to require labeling small parts that pose choking hazards to children under 3.

Dan Xie  //  Political Director


Dan began her career in college as a student leader with CALPIRG, where she helped to bring high-speed rail to California. In her current role she directs the national political strategy for the Student PIRGs. She advises staff and students on strategic campaign plans and amplifies our work with coalition partners and at conferences. Dan has managed successful campaigns to cap global warming pollution, fight the high cost of higher education, and make voting more accessible for students. Dan lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she is an avid cyclist and climber.