Center for Climate Justice Launch Event

Center for Climate Justice Launch Event

The Center for Climate Justice launched over two days, April 22-23, 2021, beginning on Earth Day. It featured keynote presentations by food sovereignty scholar-activist Vandana Shiva and DOE Deputy Director for Energy Justice Shalanda Baker, a fireside chat with Green New Deal architect Rhiana Gunn-Wright, and panel discussions featuring California climate justice leaders, scholars and activists. We also hosted a beautiful music and spoken-word celebration at the end of the second day. The full launch event is now available on our YouTube channel.

Event Schedule

April 22, 2021
9:00am-1:30pm PST

9:00am-9:25am: Opening and Introduction to the Launch

9:25am-9:45am: Keynote Address: Shalanda Baker

9:50am-10:40am: Panel #1: Just Transitions

10:50am-11:40am: Panel #2: Social, Racial and Environmental Justice

11:50am-12:40pm: Panel #3: Indigenous Climate Action

12:45pm-1:20pm: Fireside Chat with Rhiana Gunn-Wright and Center Director Tracey Osborne

1:20pm-1:30pm: Closing Statements

April 23, 2021
9:00am-3:30pm PST

9:00am-9:25am: Opening and Introduction to the Launch

9:25am-9:45am: Keynote Address: Vandana Shiva

9:50am-10:40am: Panel #4: Community Resilience and Adaptation

10:50am-11:40am: Panel #5: Natural Climate Solutions

11:50am-12:40pm: Panel #6: Climate Education and Engagement

1:30pm-3:20pm: Musical Celebration

3:20pm-3:30pm: Closing Statements

Featured Speakers

Professor Shalanda Baker is serving in the Biden-Harris Administration as the Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy (DOE). She is a leading expert on environmental and energy law. In 2018, she co-founded the Initiative for Energy Justice to support the delivery of equity-centered energy policy research and technical assistance to policymakers and frontline communities across the country. She also works closely with colleagues in Northeastern’s Global Resilience Institute, linking it to the School of Law’s Center for Law, Innovation and Creativity (CLIC). She teaches courses at the law school and in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities related to her research interests and is the author of Revolutionary Power: An Activist’s Field Guide to the Energy Transition (Island Press 2021).

Rhiana Gunn-Wright is the Director of Climate Policy at the Roosevelt Institute. Before joining Roosevelt, Gunn-Wright was the policy director for New Consensus, charged with developing and promoting the Green New Deal, among other projects. Previously she served as the policy director for Abdul El-Sayed’s 2018 Michigan gubernatorial campaign. A 2013 Rhodes Scholar, Gunn-Wright has also worked as the policy analyst for the Detroit Health Department, was a Mariam K. Chamberlain Fellow of Women and Public Policy at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and served on the policy team for former First Lady Michelle Obama. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale in 2011 with majors in African American studies and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

Dr. Vandana Shiva is an Indian scholar, environmental activist, food sovereignty advocate, ecofeminist and anti-globalization author. Dr. Shiva has contributed in fundamental ways to changing the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food. Her books, The Violence of Green Revolution and Monocultures of the Mind have become basic challenges to the dominant paradigm of non-sustainable, reductionist Green Revolution Agriculture. Through her books Biopiracy, Stolen Harvest and Water Wars, Dr. Shiva has made visible the social, economic and ecological costs of corporate led globalization. Dr. Shiva chairs the Commission on the Future of Food set up by the Region of Tuscany in Italy. She is a Board Member of the International Forum on Globalization and a member of the Steering Committee of the Indian People’s Campaign against WTO. She also serves on Government of India Committees on Organic Farming and is on the National Board of Organic Standards. Among her many awards are the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award, 1993), Order of the Golden Ark, Global 500 Award of UN and Earth Day International Award.

Matthew St. Clair is the first Chief Sustainability Officer for the University of California’s Office of the President, leading sustainability efforts across the 10-campus UC system since 2004. Mr. St.Clair was a founding member of the Board of Directors for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Strategic Energy Innovations, an environmental nonprofit building leaders to drive sustainability solutions. He is a LEED Fellow and a Certified Energy Manager.

Neda Ibrahim is a third-year environmental science and policy major at UC Irvine and currently serves as the UCOP Carbon Neutrality Initiative Community Resilience fellow. Through this role, she coordinates the Environmental Justice Collective, a student-led initiative to respond to and raise awareness about opportunities to take action for environmental justice on the UCI campus. Neda is passionate about exploring the human dimensions of climate change and environmental challenges through community-based climate resilience, climate justice, and environmental justice. 


Panel 1: Just Transitions


Dan Kammen is the Chair of the Energy and Resources Group and faculty Director of the Center for Environmental Policy in the Goldman School of Public Policy.  His research is focused on energy access, climate and energy justice, and decarbonization of local to global energy systems.  He maintains active collaborations on energy and racial justice in the United States, with Native American nations, and overseas on gender, social, and racial justice in East Africa, in Southeast Asia, and in China.

Cheryl Davila, former Councilmember & Founder of the Climate Emergency Mobilization Task Force (CEMTF),was a leading progressive elected official in the City of Berkeley who worked diligently to put a halt to environmental injustice, demilitarize the police and transition the Bay Area away from the extractive fossil fuel economy. In June 2018, Cheryl, a champion for the Earth,  pushed the City of Berkeley to pass a Climate Emergency Declaration and Fossil Fuel Free Resolution. In 2020, the former Council member sponsored or co-sponsored over 100 pieces of legislation to promote the health and well-being of the community and safeguard our environment from further degradation. July through November 2020, the CEMTF held their first Virtual Summit Series: For an Environmentally Just and Regenerative Future. The CEMTF is in the planning of the 2nd CEMTF Virtual Summit Series: UNITED ACTIONS for an Environmentally Just and Regenerative Future which will begin in June 2021. 

Suzanne Singer is a member of the Navajo (Diné) tribe and grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona. She co-founded the non-profit organization Native Renewables in 2016 to solve energy access challenges for 15,000 families in the Navajo Nation who live without electricity. Her mechanical engineering and energy analysis background provides the technical foundation to develop programs that promote tribal energy independence, offer affordable off-grid solar energy solutions, and provide training and education programs that empower families. Prior to founding Native Renewables, Singer was a staff engineer and post-doc at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and an intern with Sandia National Laboratories’ Tribal Energy Program. Singer is the winner of the 2019 U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) Entrepreneurship Award. She earned a PhD and MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona.

Myroslava Fisun is a climate activist from Albany, California. She has been a member of the Sunrise Movement since September of 2020, where she serves on both the Policy Working Group and the Welcoming Team. She has developed and given trainings on environmental policy, coordinated research on corporate accountability, and has worked on the promotion of SB 260 (the Climate Corporate Accountability Act). She also works with the Youth Climate Action Team, where she helped design new middle school curriculum on endangered species and climate change. She currently attends Albany High School where she is active in YDSA (Young Democratic Socialists of America). She is passionate about collaborating with other young people on climate action and educating people on the importance of taking climate action.

Rupa Marya, MD is an Associate Professor of Medicine at UCSF and faculty director of the Do No Harm Coalition, an organization of over 450 health workers committed to structural change to address health problems. At the invitation of Ohlone native community, she served in medical response at the Standing Rock prayer camp, as indigenous people were encountering increasing police violence while protecting their right to clean drinking water. She was invited by Lakota health leaders and elders to help set up a permanent community clinic for the practice of decolonized medicine at Standing Rock—the Mni Wiconi Health Clinic and Farm. Dr. Marya addresses health issues at the nexus of racism and state violence through her medical work and international outreach with her band, Rupa and the April Fishes. 

Panel 2: Social, Racial and Environmental Justice


Jade S. Sasser is Associate Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies at UC Riverside, where she is a core faculty member in the major in Sustainability Studies. Her research and teaching are at the intersections of race and gender, climate justice, women’s health, and reproductive politics.

David N. Pellow is the Dehlsen Chair and Professor of Environmental Studies and Director of the Global Environmental Justice Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His teaching, research, and activism focus on environmental justice in the U.S. and globally. His books include: What is Critical Environmental Justice?; The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants vs. the Environment in America’s Eden (with Lisa Sun-Hee Park); The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy (with Lisa Sun-Hee Park); and Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago. He has served on the Boards of Directors of Greenpeace USA and International Rivers.

Isabella Zizi is a member of Idle No More SF Bay and a signatory on the Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty. Her whole life she has lived under the shadows of the Chevron refinery in Ohlone Territory also known as Richmond, CA and has organized many non-violent direct actions in her community standing for clean air, clean water, and clean soil.

Fortino Morales III is the Sustainability Officer at the University of California, Riverside campus which is located on Cahuilla, Tongva, Luiseno, and Serrano native lands.  He received his B.S. in Environmental Sciences and his Masters of Public Policy from UC Riverside. As an undergraduate he helped start a student green fund and a community garden called the R’Garden.  He served as the Founding Staff Director of the R’Garden for 6 years, which worked to raise awareness around food systems issues like food insecurity on and off campus.  The R’Garden grew from a quarter acre to now nearly 8 acres serving thousands of pounds of fresh produce to the students and community.  Now, in the Office of Sustainability, he leads a team of dedicated staff and students working to implement sustainability initiatives on campus. 

Dr. Michael Mendez is an assistant professor of environmental policy and planning at the University of California, Irvine. He previously was the inaugural James and Mary Pinchot Faculty Fellow in Sustainability Studies and Associate Research Scientists at the Yale School of the Environment. Michael has more than a decade of senior-level experience in the public and private sectors, where he consulted and actively engaged in the policymaking process. This included working for the California State Legislature as a senior consultant, lobbyist, and as vice chair of the Sacramento City Planning Commission. In 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Dr. Mendez to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. The board regulates water quality in a region of 11 million people.

Panel 3: Indigenous Climate Action


Dr. Beth Rose Middleton Manning (Afro-Caribbean, Eastern European) is a Professor of Native American Studies at UC Davis. Beth Rose’s research centers on Native environmental policy and Native activism for site protection using conservation tools. Her broader research interests include intergenerational trauma and healing, rural environmental justice, Indigenous analysis of climate change, Afro-indigeneity, and qualitative GIS.

Caleen Sisk is the Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, who practice their traditional culture and ceremonies in their territory along the McCloud River watershed in Northern California. Since assuming leadership responsibilities in 2000, Caleen has focused on maintaining the cultural and religious traditions of the tribe. She advocates for California salmon restoration, healthy, undammed watersheds, and the human right to water. She has received international honors as a tireless sacred site protector, and currently leads the tribe’s resistance against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s proposal to raise Shasta Dam 18.5-feet, which would inundate or damage more than 40 sacred sites.

Corrina Gould (Lisjan Ohlone) is the chair and spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan— she was born and raised in Oakland, CA, the village of Huichin. A mother of three and grandmother of four, Corrina is the Co-Founder and Lead Organizer for Indian People Organizing for Change, a small Native run organization that works on Indigenous people issues and sponsored annual Shellmound Peace Walks from 2005 to 2009. These walks brought about education and awareness of the desecration of sacred sites in the greater Bay Area. As a tribal leader, she has continued to fight for the protection of the Shellmounds, uphold her nation’s inherent right to sovereignty, and stand in solidarity with her Indigenous relatives to protect our sacred waters, mountains, and lands all over the world.

míw húŋa Ɂumhámuhéši? How are you all doing?

Herman Fillmore is the Culture/Language Resources Director for the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. He graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2012 with a BA in Native American Studies and has spent his professional career working with youth, elders and community members to assist in breathing life back into the Wášiw (Washoe) language and culture as his elders once did before him.

Panel 4: Community Resilience and Adaptation


Clare Cannon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of California, Davis. She is excited to continue her research into socio-environmental inequality, with an emphasis on feminist theories and methods. Her research areas include gender inequality, environmental justice, ecology and society, climate change and disasters, and mixed-methods. She has two main emphasis in her research program:  (1) studying environmental injustices, risks and hazards, in the context of climate change; and (2) investigating health disparities related to intimate partner violence (IPV). Her research continues to evolve in studying resilience and stress to COVID-19 and socio-environmental health in communities facing environmental injustices.

Jonathan K. London is the faculty director of the Center for Regional Change and an associate professor in the Department of Human & Community Development at the University of California, Davis. Jonathan conducts research on rural community development and environmental justice. He has extensive leadership experience in non-profit management, participatory research and community engagement. He holds a Master of City and Regional Planning and a Ph.D. in environmental science, policy and management from UC Berkeley.

Nayamin Martinez is the director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN). Ms. Martinez has vast experience working with immigrants and residents of disadvantaged communities across the San Joaquin Valley to manage public health and environmental justice programs, conduct participatory research and launch leadership and civic engagement programs.  Ms. Martinez holds a Master’s Degree in both Public Health and Sociology.

Bill Gallegos is a longtime Chicano Liberation and environmental justice activist.  He is the former executive director of Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), one of the leading environmental justice organizations in the US. He is also the author of “Reflections on the Green Economy.”

Eric Chu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Ecology and Co-Director of the Climate Adaptation Research Center at the University of California, Davis. He is interested in how local governments and communities around the world adapt to climate change impacts and risks in ways that are resilient, inclusive and equitable. He is currently a Lead Author in the Sixth Assessment Report to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Lead Author in the Urban Climate Change Research Network’s Third Assessment Report on Climate Change and Cities.

Panel 5: Natural Climate Solutions


Tracey Osborne is the founding director of the UC-wide Center for Climate Justice. She is also Associate Professor and Presidential Chair in the Management of Complex Systems Department at the University of California, Merced. Tracey is an engaged scholar whose research focuses on the social and political economic dimensions of climate change mitigation in tropical forests, Indigenous climate action, the politics of climate finance, global environmental governance, and climate equity and justice. She has worked on these issues globally with extensive field experience in Mexico and the Amazon.  She received her PhD from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley.

Liz Carlisle is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara. Her research and teaching is dedicated to fostering a more just and sustainable food system, with a specific focus on agroecological transition in the US. She is the author of the book Lentil Underground and co-author, with Bob Quinn, of the book Grain by Grain, and she has written both popular and academic articles about food and farm policy, incentivizing soil health practices, and supporting new entry farmers.

Connor Magee serves as the Data and Research Applications Manager at the Climate Science Alliance. His professional background encompasses joining various stakeholders, such as Resource Managers, Scientists, agricultural partners, Tribal representatives, and other decision-makers and experts, to establish and expand innovative alliances to accelerate effective problem-solving to support climate adaptation and climate mitigation strategies within ecosystem stewardship. His foci involves efforts to promote awareness of environmental issues to catalyze crucial change, locally and globally, through utilization of governmental and non-government programs and initiatives. As a Pala Tribal citizen (Payomkawichum/Cahuilla), it is his personal passion to integrate the tribe’s traditional ecological knowledge with emerging and innovative technologies.

Crystal A Kolden is an Assistant Professor in the Management of Complex Systems department, School of Engineering, at the University of California, Merced. Her research focuses on characterizing and understanding wildfire intersections with the human-environment system through geospatial, temporal, and mixed-methods approaches.

Joe Hostler is an Environmental Protection Specialist with the Yurok Tribe Environmental Program (YTEP) located in extreme northwest California. He is an enrolled Member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon with additional ancestry from the Tolowa, Yurok, & Karuk Tribes of NW California. He is a Traditional Cultural Practitioner and has a B.S. in Tribal Natural Resource Management Planning & Policy from Humboldt State University and is also an eager student of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Joe manages YTEP’s Air Quality Program and assists with Cultural Burning and Tribal Climate Change Adaptation Planning and Research. He also contributes to the Yurok Tribe’s land restoration activities. Joe takes pride in gathering knowledge from Tribal Elders and passing this knowledge onto Tribal Youth. He is happily married and the proud father of Three Daughters, and a Baby Boy.

Panel 6: Climate Education and Engagement


John Foran teaches sociology and environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he networks in the global climate justice movement and the creation of systemic alternatives beyond capitalism.  His work can be found at NXterra, IICAT, and the Eco Vista Climate Justice Press, and his activism takes place with Eco Vista, Transition US, the Ecoversities Alliance, and the Global Tapestry of Alternatives.  He is working on a text – soon to be a minor video production – called the coming cosmic ecosocialist transformation [jk, sort of]

Gopal Dayaneni is a co-founder of Movement Generation: Justice and Ecology Project, which inspires and engages in transformative action towards the liberation and restoration of land, labor, and culture. MG is rooted in vibrant social movements led by low-income communities and communities of color committed to a Just Transition away from profit and pollution and towards healthy, resilient and life-affirming local economies. MG is a founding member of the Climate Justice Alliance. Gopal has served on the staff-collective and is now a member of the Planning Committee. Currently, Gopal supports movement building through his work with organizations including The Climate Justice Alliance, ETCgroup, and the Center for Story-based Strategy. He is also a Fellow with the Center for Economic Democracy. Gopal teaches in the Masters of Arts in Urban Sustainability program in the undergraduate program at Antioch University in Los Angeles and at San Francisco State University in the Race and Resistance Studies program. 

Fonna Forman is a political theorist at the University of California, San Diego, and founding Director of the UCSD Center on Global Justice, an ORU (Organized Research Unit) focused on community-based solutions to poverty and environmental crisis. Vice-chair of the 2015 UC Bending the Curve report on climate change solutions, her work focuses on climate justice, migration and citizenship, border ethics and equitable urbanization. She also co-directs the UCSD Community Stations, a network of field stations located in marginalized neighborhoods across the US-Mexico border region, designed for collaborative educational, cultural, urban and environmental agendas between university researchers and community-based agencies.

Mario Trigueros is the Managing Director of Pachamama Alliance. He is accountable for the development and execution of Pachamama Alliance’s overall strategy. Mario partners with stakeholders in all departments of the organization to ensure Pachamama Alliance is working as effectively as possible to achieve its mission. Mario has a diverse background in social justice, youth advocacy and education along with a commitment to personal and societal transformation.

Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer in the MIT Management Sloan School and founder of the Presencing Institute. Scharmer introduced the concept of presencing”—learning from the emerging future—in his bestselling books Theory U and Presence (the latter co-authored with Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers). In 2015, Otto co-founded the MITx u.lab, a massive open online course (MOOC) for leading profound change, which has since activated a global eco-system of societal and personal renewal involving more than 125,000 users from 185 countries. In 2019, he co-founded the Societal Transformation Lab (u.lab-S), involving 350 place-based teams focusing on reinventing education, governance, and our economies in the context of their eco-system.


Dana Pearlman organizes, facilitates and delivers co-creation labs, learning journeys, leadership workshops, strategic planning, collaboratives and facilitation trainings that lead towards innovation within individuals, teams, organizations and large scale systems. Dana’s specialty is designing and facilitating sessions through co-creation labs and learning environments that build community, surface shared intent, collectively see current challenges and move groups toward emerging opportunities and solutions. Dana also designs and develops education programs curriculum and change labs. Dana’s academic background is in psychology, strategic leadership towards sustainability, complexity theory, systems thinking and community engagement.

Martin Kalungu-Banda is a consultant in organization and leadership development, a facilitator of innovation and change; trainer, coach and author. He is faculty for the Presencing Institute as well as several Leadership Centers and Institutes. Martin works with business, government and civil society leaders globally, advises the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative and serves as Special Consultant to the President of Zambia. He has led collaborative innovation on diverse social and environmental issues including finance reform, education, health and wellbeing, and climate change.


Aztral Folk
Yaku Viteri
Lydia Violet
Climbing Poetree
Rebecca Roundman
Michael Franti
Rupa Marya
Lyla June