Founder | Director
Caroline Mair-Toby is the founding Director for the Institute for Small Islands; the Chief Empowerment Officer for SHE Changes Climate; a Lawyer and liaison officer with Legal Response International (LRI); an Attorney at Law, Mair and Company; and a Director at the Fondes Amandes Reforestation Community Project. Most recently, she was a delegate with the Trinidad and Tobago delegation to COP27 Egypt 2022. Caroline has been advising at the climate negotiations since 2011 with first FIELD and then LRI, facilitating legal and technical advice to Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and civil societies including Indigenous Peoples. She is working on climate justice and Indigenous rights issues around the world.
Head | Rights of Nature and Biodiversity
Justin Sobion is a graduate of the Hugh Wooding Law School and was admitted to practise law in Trinidad and Tobago in 2002. In 2008, he was admitted to practise as a Barrister and a Solicitor in the Commonwealth of Dominica. He served as a Judge’s Research Assistant at the Supreme Court of Trinidad and Tobago and as an Attorney at Law in private practice with J.D. Sellier & Co as well as in the Chambers of Reginald Armour S.C. As a diplomat, Justin functioned as the First Secretary to Trinidad and Tobago’s United Nations Mission in Geneva, and at the Office of the President of the UN Human Rights Council based in Geneva, Switzerland. He holds two Masters’ Degrees in International Law (Cape Town) and Environmental Law (Auckland) and is currently pursuing his PhD research at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. The focus of his research is on earth trusteeship, the rights of nature, and the legal responsibilities of states and citizens towards the planet. Based in New Zealand, Justin acts as the coordinator of the Earth Trusteeship Working Group which is a global think tank which promotes the concept of Earth trusteeship. He is also leading a Caribbean response to Vanuatu’s climate campaign for an Advisory Opinion at the International Court of Justice, in The Hague.
Britney Gabrielle Nurse is an Attorney-at-Law called to the Bar of Trinidad and Tobago, with a passion for environmental law and climate activism. She is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and recently attained her Legal Education Certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School. During her tenure as a student, she spearheaded the Caribbean Environmental Law Society whilst also pursuing her own personal grassroots movement called RenewTT. She has also consulted the Environmental Law department of the Legal Learners Group where she provided workshops on international environmental law, maritime law, and public international law.
Junior Marketing Director
Zahra Boxill is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, where she received her Bachelor of Laws. During her undergraduate studies, she undertook executive positions such as Public Relations Officer and Cultural, Entertainment and Activities Chairperson where she planned and executed a variety of events for all the halls across the university. Following this, she ventured to London to study for her Postgraduate Diploma in Management, with a concentration in marketing, at Birkbeck, University of London. While studying, she also worked on the Public Relations team at Shiseido Group UK Limited with NARS Cosmetics. Aside from her enthusiasm surrounding marketing and fuelling creativity, Zahra is passionate about human rights issues and a firm believer that, we as humans, are all responsible for the protection and development of the environment.
Biodiversity Officer | Legal Assistant
Johanne Ryan is an Environmental Educator who worked for a decade at Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad where she carried out conservation and education projects with a variety of stakeholders. She received an MSc.in Environmental Science and Management from the University of Trinidad and Tobago and a BSc. in Environmental and Natural Resource Management, and Biology from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. As someone who is passionate about the conservation of natural resources, Johanne thinks Stewart Udall put it best when he said “Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.” She believes that spending time in nature can improve our well-being and that everyone can find a spark within them to love the natural world.
Project Assistant | Podcast Manager
Ryan O’Connor is a graduate of Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts, where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a minor in Latin American/ Caribbean Studies. He began his work with the Institute in 2020 as an intern. Ryan's scholarly work was presented at the 2018 and 2019 Caribbean Studies Association Conferences in Cuba and Colombia respectively. He is very passionate about climate change and sustainability which has led him to volunteer his spare time at the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project in Trinidad and Tobago. His other scholarly interests include postcolonialism, culture and literary analysis.
Head | Climate Change Programs
Rueanna is an international climate law and governance specialist. She participated in the UNFCCC for several years on behalf of Trinidad & Tobago, and was a lead climate and sustainable development negotiator for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and G77 and China. In addition to her role at the Institute for Small Islands, she is a Senior Legal Adviser for the Berlin-headquartered think tank Climate Analytics, where she leads the team that supports Small Island Developing States in climate change negotiations. She serves as a consultant in climate change law and negotiations for entities in the Caribbean and worldwide. Rueanna holds a Master in International Legal Studies from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC, and a Master in International Environmental Policy from Sciences Po, Paris. She is a graduate of the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad & Tobago.
Head | Business & Sustainable Development
Danielle Bart is an attorney with several years’ experience in private practice, counseling corporate, nonprofit, social service, advocacy, and individual clients through litigation, investigations, regulatory compliance, and policy matters.She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Carleton College, is trained in negotiation and facilitation, and has been a tutor for the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program. Danielle also holds a Master’s Degree in Global & International Studies from the University of California, and worked at the former Center for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics, as well as the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. She is admitted to practice law in New York and Massachusetts.
DR ISIS SEMAJ-HALL
Head | Culture, Heritage and the Arts
Dr. Isis Semaj-Hall is a decolonial feminist and cultural analyst. Born in Jamaica and raised in New York City, Semaj-Hall earned her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and her MA and PhD from the University of Maryland, College Park. In real and digital spaces she bridges academic training with an intention to use words to open minds and eliminate access walls and glass ceilings. She is a co-founder and editor of "PREE: Caribbean Writing," the author of the “write pon di riddim” blog, and a digital disruptor using social media as a space for cultural and political debate. She has written essays and commentaries on a wide range of topics including identity, remix theory, Ishawna, dub, and dancehall. Since 2016 she has been a lecturer in the Department of Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies, Mona (Jamaica) where she explores gender, the creative digital, Caribbean literature, and popular culture.
DR. SHARDA PATESAR
Creative Director | Researcher
Dr. Sharda Patasar is a freelance musician, writer and researcher. Her main academic interests cover folk music cultures, religion and religious iconography. Her most notable work has been the study of the Ganesh Festival in Trinidad, published in the Journal of Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas (Brill, 2016) and Pichkaaree music published in the essay collection Shabd Aur Sangeet: Unravelling Song Texts in India (Three Essays Collective/Flame University, India, 2019). She has written columns on arts and culture for the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday and other local magazines. In 2020 she was selected as one of eighteen international writers to work on an online collaborative fiction project funded by Kulturbryggan, a Swedish Arts Council. Her work can be found on the online archive at https://bbu.world/ under her pseudonym Shruthi.
As a musician, she has given concerts at home and abroad. Her main musical work has been experimental in nature and she has worked collaboratively with various artists and writers to render music that converses with sound, light and words. She has also composed music for local films most notable among them Coolie Pink and Green (2009) and Voices of a Century: Interviews with East Indian Centenarians (2018). Her most recent work where she served as Co-Director/Producer was a documentary short, Sacred Spaces: Ganga Dhaara (2020) which was screened at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival 2020. The film also earned Special Mention at the Global Shorts International Film Competition 2021.