Learn more about the panelists and moderators who will be featured in MWBDC’s Youth in Climate Podcast series. Register to tune in to the conversations live – or catch the recordings afterward.
Charles Hua is a Policy Analyst at Rewiring America. Previously, Charles supported clean energy investment efforts with Generate Capital, developed clean energy projects with Avangrid, and analyzed climate policies with Clean Energy States Alliance. While in college, Charles helped develop and write his university’s sustainability plan, served on its sustainability committee, and organized energy conferences. He also published research on advancing environmental justice through state climate action, equity outcomes of public utilities commissions, the effectiveness of renewable portfolio standards, and the role of technological innovation in the energy transition.
Charles has advised Fortune 500 companies and international NGOs on sustainability issues and serves on the Board of Directors for environmental nonprofits Slipstream, Energy News Network, and Clean Wisconsin. Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Charles organized a campaign that successfully petitioned his school district to become the largest in the U.S. at the time with a 100% renewable energy commitment. For his work, Charles has been recognized by the White House and U.S. Department of Education as a 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholar and as an Energy News Network 40 Under 40 honoree. Charles holds an A.B. in Statistics and Mathematics from Harvard College.
Tonyisha Harris is Action for the Climate Emergency‘s Associate Director of Communications and Partnerships. Having been introduced to the organization via a climate education assembly in high school, it is a full-circle moment for her to be working for the organization that inspired her to be a youth climate and environmental justice advocate. She helps ACE garner earned media opportunities, communicate with partners, and supports its coalition-building efforts.
Tonyisha earned her B.S. in Environmental Science from Loyola University Chicago in 2019. As a Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program alumn, she conducted research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and interned at the Huron River Watershed Council. After studying abroad in the Galapagos Islands, where she received her Open Water Scuba Dive Certification, she launched the “A Place at the Table” Campaign through the Student Environmental Alliance to promote diversity, equity and inclusion on campus for environmental discourse. She previously worked at Illinois Environmental Council as the Clean Energy Programs Director and Chicagoland Conservation Manager. One of her biggest accomplishments was organizing a CEJA photo banner delivery to Illinois Governor Pritzker with 300 young people at the Capitol; the bill passed in 2021. She is also a 2021 New Leaders Council Fellow.
She lives in Chicago with her three-year-old husky mix, enjoys reading, writing, singing, and acting, and can always be found hanging out with her friends.
Jordan Irving is the Youth Program Manager at The Green Door Initiative. In her current role, she connects inner-city high school students with opportunities to explore nature while using educational and hands-on programming to expose these students to unconventional career paths in natural resources/agriculture/forestry, maritime trades, IT, and college preparatory experiences.
Jalisa Mauldin lives in Gary, IN and serves as Faith in Place’s Gary Indiana Outreach Coordinator. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from Fisk University. Jalisa is passionate about environmental justice, community building, and resource management.
Jalisa’s passion for community building continued during her years as a student at Fisk University. As a member of the Fisk Regional Club, Jalisa was given the opportunity to connect with community members in the North Nashville, TN area. With a continued partnership with the local Boys and Girls Club, Jalisa unearthed her interest in teaching. Jalisa’s opportunity to teach, coupled with her experience as a Media Management Intern, gave her a true appreciation for providing communities with information for change! Jalisa also acted as Class Senator for two consecutive terms which ingrained in her a greater desire to champion community involvement, especially regarding the evolution of legislation.
Jalisa’s skills in outreach, education, and community advocacy will propel her mission to continue bringing environmental health and community building to the forefront of communities throughout Indiana.
Jamie Valdez is a multicultural native of Pueblo, Colorado and a parent and grandparent with education in Electronics Technology and Psychology. He began his environmental justice work in 2015 as a volunteer Digital Organizer and has since expanded the scope of his work. He is now the Colorado Senior Organizer for a mother-founded, mother-led environmental justice organization called Mothers Out Front, working toward the goal of a livable climate for all children. He also serves as an appointed member of Colorado’s Environmental Justice Action Task Force. Jamie’s activist background is primarily in racial and economic justice movements and he considers environmental justice a natural progression that’s become a passion. He therefore approaches all his work with equity, justice, and inclusivity in mind.
London Jackson is a Sophomore in High School where she is active in Marching Band (Drummer), Art Club, Drama Club and is a Majorette, Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz and Tap Dance. London is a growing moderator in Climate Justice where she has moderated a Global Service Youth Climate panel in 2020 and interviewed Mustafa Santiago, a renowned thought leader, international speaker, policy maker, community liaison, trainer, and facilitator, Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali serves as the Executive Vice President for the National Wildlife Federation and in the Obama Administration. London is a member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Archonette Auxiliary Club and a member of the NAACP. London is a Social Butterfly.
Alannah Sakai Kelsaw is fourteen years old and a Freshman at New Haven High School in New Haven, Indiana, She is excited about being in high school. She is the co-owner of a vegan cosmetics business, along with her Mom, called “Lovely Tai Cosmetic LLC” which they enjoy doing together. Alannah is an active member of the Youth Working Group in the MWBDC with her Grandmother, and they share a passion for basic human rights of safe, healthy living environments for everyone. Alannah is thankful for these opportunities, as she continues to find her way in life.
Gloria Lowe is an Interior Construction Designer with over 18 years of Construction Management experience and training throughout Detroit. She is the Founder and Executive Director of We Want Green, Too! Ms. Lowe’s knowledge and skill sets the foundation of We Want Green, Too! to assist Veterans with intellectual disabilities and help them transform their lives and communities, one soul, one house at a time, moving from energy poverty to energy democracy.
We Want Green, Too! is a grassroots frontline community-led organization founded in 2007 and officially established as a non-profit in 2014. The idea for WWG2 began when our Founder, Gloria J. Lowe was working for a local advocacy law firm at the Detroit Veterans Center. Ms. Lowe listened to heart-wrenching stories and wishes from Veterans about returning to their community as productive individuals. When asked what they needed to feel “whole” again (what would it take to inspire their transformation and the life they wanted?) the Veterans shared a vision of doing “good work” with their hands. Thus, WWG2 was born with the mission to create and develop programs to support the transition of Veterans with PTSD to become self-sufficient community leaders.
Early on, our organization focused on building projects with new skills learned by Veterans. We started with an experimental energy-efficient renovation for a home in Jackson, Michigan with four Veterans, and after a successful renovation, the Veterans responded positively and voiced their desire to learn green building skills. After this experiment, we returned to Detroit’s East Side to learn techniques for weatherizing a blighted 2200 square foot home with an energy-efficient retrofit that reduces the cost of utilities and increases health by creating healthy, clean indoor air spaces. Using green and recycled materials, and with the expertise of retired contractors and the courage of men who would not give up, we designed an affordable East Side home that has since been viewed by people around the country and world. Our goal was to present our community with a model for quality living built by employing its own members; what we achieved was not only this goal, but the ability to dream even bigger.
David Weaver is a Midwest BDC Board Member and a Midwest BDC Youth Working Group Member. Outside of the Midwest BDC, he serves on the Illinois Environmental Council Youth Board and volunteers with Sustain DuPage. Prior to transitioning to a career in environmentalism, he served for ten years with the Marine Corps before transitioning to the Marine Corps Reserves. David has a Master of Science degree in Resilient and Sustainable Communities and is working on his JD. He is passionate about green building careers and helping folks either transition into or plan for a future in green jobs!
Throughout her career, Amy Cortese has been involved in sustainable and healthy building design and operation. She has worked on programs that aim to make healthy, energy-efficient products and practices commonplace. As Program Director at New Buildings Institute, Amy works to eliminate energy waste and carbon emissions in buildings. She does this by researching technical best practices, investigating how markets function, and informing stakeholders and policy makers on strategic ways to improve building performance. Her work identifies common barriers and uncovers opportunities to overcome them so that the built environment equitably delivers on community benefits and climate solutions for everyone.
Gary Ringer served his community as a Detroit Firefighter for over two decades. That experience and exposure led to local and national recognition for his leadership in addressing environmental health disparities and environmental justice within neglected communities. As a Culture of Health Leader, with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, he collaborates with residents to advance health and equity. Gary recently was selected by the National Association of Community Health Workers (NACHW) as one of twelve leaders from across the country to represent community health workers (CHW) as National CHW Leaders. He is the CEO/President of Eco-Environmental Solutions, an emerging leader in air quality monitoring, environmental remediation, healthy homes assessments, and weatherization.