April Rose Sommer
Executive Director and Lead Counsel
April Rose Sommer serves as The Protect Our Communities Foundation Executive Director and Lead Counsel. Ms. Sommer brings expertise in energy regulation and experience in non-profit governance and environmental advocacy to the Foundation. Prior to joining POC, Ms. Sommer was a Staff Attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity where she challenged development of dirty utilities infrastructure and advocated for clean energy in practice before the CPUC, CEC, air districts, and appellate courts. As a new attorney, Ms. Sommer opened and ran Sommer Public Interest Law, specializing in energy, non-profit, and public forum litigation and appeals. Ms. Sommer fought against state and federal approvals of new fossil-fueled power plants, ill-conceived development of natural places, and government corruption. Ms. Sommer is active in the legal community as a board member of the Queen’s Bench Bar Association and participant in the Conference of California Bar Associations. She enjoys volunteering as a wildlife rehabilitator with a special interest in caring for raptors. Ms. Sommer hold a B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a J.D. from Emory University.
Maris Brancheau represents The Protect Our Communities Foundation in administrative and legal proceedings. Ms. Brancheau is a former journalist whose award-winning series on the battle against the Sunrise Powerlink, the County of San Diego’s General Plan Update, and environmental issues facing the backcountry informs her work with the Foundation. Ms. Brancheau left journalism to accept a full scholarship to California Western School of Law where she graduated with honors in December 2014. She passed the California State Bar Exam in February 2015 and embarked on her legal career dedicated to advocating for the protection of people, animals, and the environment. She is a board member of the Borrego Springs Dark-Sky Coalition. Ms. Brancheau holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Aquinas College and a J.D. from CWSL.
Denis Trafecanty is a co-founder of The Protect Our Communities Foundation and serves as its President of the Board of Directors. The Foundation benefits from Mr. Trafecanty’s three decades of business and financial experience as a Certified Public Accountant and Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Trafecanty has served as the Chief Financial Officer for a variety of public and private companies with annual revenues up to $460 million. He is currently the co-owner of Vitalityweb.com and a Principal at Accountants Direct and was the Managing Partner for the San Diego practice of Tatum, LLC. Mr. Trafecanty has been an ultra-marathoner for the last 33 years, successfully completing eighteen 100 mile runs and over 125 organized runs of 26.2 miles or longer. He has long shared his passion for running by coaching hundreds of young track & field and cross country athletes. Mr. Trafecanty holds a B.A. in Accounting from Loyola Marymount University.
Loretta Lynch, The Protect Our Community Foundation’s newest board member, brings the Foundation a wealth of legal and policy experience. Ms. Lynch is an accomplished attorney, public servant, and expert on energy policy. Lynch served as President of the California Public Utilities Commission from 2000 through 2002 and served as a Commissioner until January 2005. At the CPUC, Ms. Lynch was an early critic of energy deregulation and strident advocate for the protection of ratepayers and against corruption. After her term at the PUC, Ms. Lynch taught at the Goldman School for Public Policy and was an Executive Fellow at UC Berkeley. Currently, she consults with community, labor and environmental organizations on regulatory matters. Prior to her appointment to the CPUC, Ms. Lynch was the director of Governor Davis’ Office of Planning and Research. Before entering public service, Ms.Lynch was a partner in the litigation firm of Keker & Van Nest and has worked in key roles in a number of statewide and national political campaigns. Ms. Lynch has worked as class action counsel for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and clerked for the Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Ms. Lynch holds a B.A. from the University of Southern California and J.D. from Yale University.
Michael Pinto, PhD
Michael Pinto, PhD is a co-founder of The Protect Our Communities Foundation and serves as its Treasurer. The Foundation benefits from Mr. Pinto’s substantial knowledge of and experience in fundraising and non-profit organizational development. After a successful teaching and business career, Mr. Pinto retired in 1983, devoting his life to community building through nonprofit organizations in the fields of education, the environment and social welfare. He was founder and chair of the Laguna Canyon Foundation, vice-chair of the Orange County Great Park Corporation, and serves on the California State Parks Foundation board. He has also served on the boards of the Institute for Deep Ecology, chairs the Volcan Mountain Preserve Foundation, and serves on the Laguna Greenbelt. Mr. Pinto advises foundations on fundraising and organizational development, and co-chaired the advisory board of the University of San Diego's Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research. A life-long teacher, Mr. Pinto has been a guest lecturer at the University of San Diego in non-profit organizational development. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from California State University at Long Beach, a teaching degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in Integral Studies with a concentration in nonprofit organizational development from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Bill Powers, P.E.
Bill Powers, P.E., is a long-time board member who provides The Protect Our Communities Foundation technical expertise as an energy expert. A registered professional engineer, Mr. Powers has extensive knowledge and experience in the fields of energy and environmental engineering, air emissions control, and regional energy planning. As the owner and principal of Powers Engineering, Mr. Powers works with clients throughout the United States and Latin America, providing expert testimony and analysis, strategic planning, and equipment testing for public sector and private industry clients. Mr. Powers has authored technical studies on a variety of energy-related topics, including: distributed generation-based strategic energy plan for the San Diego and Bay Area regions, gas turbine air emission controls, power plant cooling systems, and integrated strategic energy and environmental planning in the California – Baja California border region. Mr. Powers is a voting member of San Diego Association of Governments Energy Working Group and a co-founder of the San Diego Energy District Foundation. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University and M.P.H. in Environmental Sciences from the University of North Carolina.