SSC Staff Team

The SSC staff team is a small, dedicated group that help to support the programs and campaigns of the Sierra Student Coalition.

Karissa GerhkeKarissa Gerhke, National Director

Karissa got her start in organizing through attending the SSC’s nationally-recognized summer grassroots leadership training program, called “Sprog”, which gave her the skills to organize a successful green fund campaign for her alma matter, University of South Florida. From there, Karissa went on to organize with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, where she successfully sought to prevent the construction of a proposed coal plant in rural West Texas. Most recently, she served as the Director of Member Engagement at the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). At the PCCC, Karissa spearheaded the creation of ads targeting Senator Mitch McConnell and organized thousands of members in priority states on issues such as Social Security expansion and student loan rates. She's excited to bring her digital and electoral chops back to the SSC, and help build youth power for climate justice.
When Karissa isn't organizing, you'll likely find her in the woods, reading a book, or enjoying a cup of yerba mate. (Ideally all three at once.)

Tim Harlan-MarksTim Harlan-Marks, Trainings and Leadership Development Director

Tim has been a youth organizer since high school, working with other young people on issues of trade, immigration, human rights, and sustainability. Since graduating from Kalamazoo College in 2007, Tim has organized professionally with the Sierra Club, MPIRG, Transit for Livable Communities, and the Wilder Foundation, most recently winning a campaign against the last coal burning plant in Minneapolis. He is thrilled now to serve in the role of Trainings Director with the SSC, developing the capacity and leadership of the youth climate movement.  When not actively preventing catastrophic climate change Tim sings and plays bass in the Minneapolis music scene with two bands, Very Small Animal, and the Family Trade. Email Tim.


Randy DownsRandy Downs, Representative 

Randy joins the SSC’s staff team from the ‘Show Me State’ of Missouri. He first got involved with the Sierra Student Coalition in 2005 when he attended his first Sprog. Randy transitioned from attendee to leader, serving volunteer leadership rolls, including: national trainer, Shindiger, and SSC chef. He was a standout within the SSC nation and in 2010 he was awarded the Sierra Student Coalition “Appetite for Change” Chef Award (which is now named after him!). Randy is also passionate about politics. He served in various political capacities including Campaign Manager of the Franklin County (MO) Democratic Party and Campaign manager for state representative candidates and county candidates. His passion also translated to success. In 2004 he was awarded the President’s Service Award and in 2011 was named the "Young Democrat of the Year" by the Missouri Democratic Party. Randy's education exemplifies his diverse talents, he attended East Central Community College in Union, MO then went on to earn a with a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Southeast Missouri State University with an emphases in Political Science, Communication, Theater, and Music. On his downtime, Randy enjoys food, running, the outdoors, and playing intramural softball and kickball.


Anaastasia Schemkes

Anastasia Schemkes, Campaigns Representative

Anastasia first found the SSC through a student group at the University of Washington. She was hooked to environmental organizing after attending SSC's Northwest Sprog in Summer 2008 and joined the SSC nationally the next summer to help write the Campuses Beyond Coal campaign. While at the UW, she helped establish a $340,000 Campus Sustainability Fund, which continues to thrive. Before graduating, she dedicated her thesis to working on the Sierra Club’s Coal Free Washington campaign, which culminated in her first trip to Appalachia where she witnessed MTR first hand and listened to the stories of local activists. After graduating in June 2010, she worked for the Sierra Club as the WA state field organizer on the Beyond Oil campaign.

Coming full circle now as the SSC's Campaign Representative, Anastasia directs the SSC's national campaign strategy and supports the amazing campaigns of a new generation of SSCers as they organize to retire coal plants, and push for divestment, clean energy solutions and more. Contact her to learn more about SSC's campaigns!


Contact Us

Sierra Student Coalition
50 F Street, NW | 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20001