Employee Spotlight: Vanessa Goyes


Our “Employee Spotlight Series” will share with you who the people working behind the scenes to bring justice to our clients and their environments. This series will include interviews from both our Akron and Pittsburgh offices to give you an idea of who are and what we do.

The employee spotlight this week is Vanessa Goyes who is the summer social media intern at Fair Shake. She is from Long Island, New York.  She is currently finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh where she will receive a B.S and a B.A for dual majoring in environmental science and political science.  

Q: Tell me how you first got involved with Fair Shake?  

A: I am currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh studying environmental science and political science, and I was looking for an organization that could give me some exposure to environmental law or policy. I had heard that there was a professor in the environmental science major, Emily Collins who is the director of Fair Shake, that had started an environmental law firm, so I decided to look for Fair Shake and see if they had any environmental internships open. Thankfully they did and Josh got back to me in about a week.  

Q: What is a typical day like at Fair Shake? 

A: I usually come in and I see what Josh has in store for me. Every day is a new task. It mostly has to do with us spreading the word about Fair Shake through social media outlets, like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Fair Shake is such a great organization that few people know about, so I think using social media as a tool is important so people out there know that this is resource that is available.  

Q: Favorite memory from work? 

A: One of my favorite memories so far was the first day I came in. I had never had any exposure to environmental law, and I got to sit in on a case meeting. It really allowed me to see first-hand how passionate the team at Fair Shake is. 

Q: What's a common question you get from clients about Fair Shake?  

A: What is Fair Shake and what do they do. Most of my friends have no idea that there is a whole branch to law that focuses on environmental justice and they’re always so shocked when I tell them how important it is to have this resource in Pennsylvania.  

Q: What do you like most about working with Fair Shake? 

A: I really like being surrounded by individuals who care about the environment and its people. I feel like most people like to live their live passively. There will be outcry about things that are happening to the climate, but those same people won’t do anything to really make a difference, no matter how small. Or there are people that try to save the world by thinking they can take on climate change by recycling. At Fair Shake I realized that these small contributions are more meaningful, and leading us in a direction for greater change.

Q: What has surprised you most about working with Fair Shake?  

A: How many cases some of the attorneys had. I knew Pennsylvania was notorious for using oil and gas energy, but the amount of people that are affected from these companies was a shock. It one thing to hear and read about it, but it’s another thing to sit there and put names or faces to people that are directly being impacted.  

Q: What do you wish other people knew about Fair Shake?  

A: I wish people knew more about it. I know there has to be a landowner or a someone else who is being taken advantage of by these big corporations. That’s why I was excited to take on this role in order to bring exposure to an organization that many people can benefit from.  

Q: Why do you think the work that Fair Shake does is important? 

A: It is the kind of work that not everyone is willing to do. It can be mentally exhausting having to deal with big corporations whose job is to care more about profits than an actual human being or the environment they are destroying. Seeing the attorneys at Fair Shake has given me an greater understanding of how necessary it is to be part of the few who are going to give people hope despite the hardships and struggles they have gone through because of environmental injustices.

Q: What do you like to do when you are not working?  

A: I really like to draw or doodle. Its super relaxing to me. I also like going for runs and hiking. 

Q: What might someone be surprised to know about you?  

A: I was born in Ecuador or the fact that I was vegan for 3 years. It’s hard being a Latina and being vegan my grandmother thought I was starving all the time.   

Q: What is your favorite skill that you have unrelated to what you do at Fair Shake? 

A:  I have a good eye when it comes to thrifting. I got into it when I was 14 and ever since I’ve been finding some cool things out there.