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.

Peter Gilbert // State Board Member, Trinity College

Peter is a Sophomore at Trinity College, majoring in Political Science. Growing up in Chestertown Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay solidified Peter’s love for the environment and desire to preserve it. Last year, Peter worked on tackling climate change through the lens of renewable energy with fellow lacrosse teammate and CONNPIRG student mentor John Stookey. He is looking forward to continuing to help, learn, and grow with his community and CONNPIRG.


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.