Women Leading the Way in Climate Action
Women's History Month in many ways is about women supporting women.
A month isn’t enough time to give the needed recognition, nor is one list enough to honor all of the innovators out there, but we want to celebrate the accomplishments of women leading the charge in the fight against climate change.
Here’s our list of revolutionary women leading the story of climate action:
Dr. Katharine Wilkinson
Dr. Katharine Wilkinson is an author, strategist and teacher with several books on climate: the new bestseller “All We Can Save” (2020), “The Drawdown Review” (2020), “Drawdown” (2017) and “Between God & Green” (2012). She co-founded and leads The All We Can Save Project with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson in support of feminist climate leadership and co-hosts the podcast “A Matter of Degrees” with Dr. Leah Stokes. Previously, Dr. Wilkinson was the principal writer and editor-in-chief at Project Drawdown, where she led efforts to share climate solutions with audiences around the world. She continues to speak widely on climate and gender equality.
Dr. Leah Stokes
Dr. Leak Stokes works on energy, climate and environmental politics, where she focuses on representation and public opinion, voting behavior and public policy. Within environmental politics specifically, Stokes researches climate change, renewable energy, water and chemicals policy. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and affiliated with the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Her book, “Short Circuiting Policy,” examines the role that utilities have played in promoting climate denial and rolling back clean energy laws. She also contributed to the anthology, “All We Can Save,” which is a collection of essays written by women in the climate space and co-hosts the podcast “A Matter of Degrees,” as mentioned above.
Virginia Hanusik is a photographer, storyteller and artist whose work examines the relationship between the environment, the landscape and the surrounding cultures. Her projects on climate change and environmental justice have been exhibited around the world, and she has lectured at institutions, including Columbia University, Bard College, New York University and Rutgers University, about the visual narrative of climate change. She is on the board of directors of The Water Collaborative of Greater New Orleans, where she coordinates multi-disciplinary projects on the climate crisis. Her current body of work examines flooding and the politics of disasters in the Mississippi River watershed.
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is an expert in indigenous peoples’ adaptation to climate change, traditional ecological knowledge, and climate change mitigation strategies. She is Co-Chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change. She also founded the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT) and works to empower indigenous voices and ensure their inclusion on international platforms. She has led several projects to improve access to basic needs of indigenous peoples, while honoring their unique contribution to the protection of the environment.
Christiana Figueres is an internationally recognized leader in the fights against climate change. She was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010 to 2016. Throughout her tenure, Figueres brought together individuals from all backgrounds: national and sub-national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and communities of faith, think tanks and technology providers, NGOs and parliamentarians, to confer and to deliver unprecedented climate change agreements. Figueres continues to accelerate the global response to climate change, and she is the co-founder of Global Optimism, a co-host of the podcast “Outrage & Optimism” and is the co-author of the recently published book, “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis.”
Dr. Kimberly Nicholas
Dr. Kimberly Nicholas is a sustainability scientist, writer and speaker. She has published countless articles on climate and sustainability in leading peer-reviewed journals. Her research has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, USA Today, BuzzFeed and more. Dr. Nicholas is associate professor of Sustainability Science at Lund, the highest-ranked university in Sweden. She is also Director of PhD Studies at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS). Her recent book, “Under the Sky We Make,” explores the climate crisis with facts, feelings and action.
Rhiana Gunn-Wright is the Climate Policy Director at the Roosevelt Institute. She has worked with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an author of the Green New Deal. Gunn-Wright was educated at Yale, before becoming a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford in 2013. Before joining Roosevelt, Gunn-Wright was the policy director for New Consensus. 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.
Anya Schoolman is the Executive Director of Solar United Neighbors. She has worked for decades on environmental projects and policy, including sustainable development and how to make complex issues relevant to the community. Solar United Neighbors got its start when her son Walter asked, “Mom, can we go solar?” In her role as Executive Director, Anya has been instrumental in the passage of landmark solar legislation and regulation. In April 2014, the White House selected Anya as one of 10 White House Champions of Change for Solar Deployment.
Hiroko Tabuchi is a climate reporter for The New York Times. She previously wrote for the paper on Japanese economics, business and technology from Tokyo. In 2011, Tabuchi was part of a team whose coverage of the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. Tabuchi came to The Times in 2008 after a year as a Tokyo correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered an eclectic beat ranging from politics and labor issues to fashion and consumer culture.
Sunita Narain is a writer and environmentalist, who uses knowledge for change. She has been with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) since 1982 and currently serves as the director general of the Centre, the treasurer of the Society for Environmental Communications and editor of the fortnightly magazine, “Down To Earth.” Since the beginning of her career, she has continued to research and write about how environment must become the basis of livelihood security of people in India. She has also linked issues of local democracy with global democracy, arguing that every human being has an entitlement to the global atmospheric common.
Melanie Allen is co-director of the Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice. Previously, she worked for the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation where she launched the organization’s Energy Equity portfolio and managed relationships and grant making in South Carolina. She is committed to supporting leadership across the South and is focused on community-based solutions that ensure those most affected by policy are centered in the decision-making process. She also has a strong background with community development projects in many sectors, including conservation, affordable housing and workforce development.
Dr. Sweta Chakraborty
Dr. Sweta Chakraborty is a risk and behavioral scientist whose work is motivated by the need for clear, evidence-based communication to urgently manage the risks of a changing climate. She is the U.S. Representative for “We Don’t Have Time,” the Sweden-based tech start-up that launched Greta Thunberg to viral global renown. She is also the founder and principle of Adapt to Thrive, a venture that seeks to inform individuals, businesses and government entities on issues emerging from a warming planet. She co-hosts the live weekly radio show “Risky Behavior” on Eaton Radio and is the host and producer of The Center for Climate and Security’s “The Climate and Security Podcast.”
“I have chosen to be an unapologetic communicator of sciences and facts, and I thrive in it. I also understand that correcting existing erroneous beliefs comes from first admitting to and accepting that we are all subliminally influenced by cognitive triggers outside of our control.”
Cristina Garcia is Assistant Director of the Building Electrification Initiative, an organization that equips cities across North America with knowledge and resources to accelerate building systems’ transition from fossil fuels. Garcia also served in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability for nearly three years. Garcia’s passion for workforce development and increasing diversity in the sustainability industry led to her involvement in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) NYC chapter, where she founded Latinos in Sustainability, which informs Latinx students about sustainability careers and connects the Latinx professional community working in the sustainability and energy sectors. She is a Certified Energy Manager (CEM), an EcoDistricts Accredited Professional, and a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate, as well as a Climate Reality Project Leader and an Environmental Leadership Program Fellow.
Maggie Thomas was recently appointed as Chief of Staff of the newly created Office of Domestic Climate Policy by President Joe Biden. Thomas, who most recently served as political director of the climate-focused nonprofit Evergreen Action, worked on the Biden-Harris transition team and served as a climate policy advisor on the presidential campaigns of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Before all of that, she worked for years as a senior advocacy manager at NextGen America, the climate-focused group started by former presidential candidate and billionaire Tom Steyer.
Chandra Farley serves as the Just Energy Director at the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE). There she leads a team of program staff and organizers and develops local and regional strategies to advance energy equity. Chandra is a graduate of the EPA’s Environmental Justice Academy, current President of the Environmental Justice Academy Alumni Association, Co-Chair of the Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice Advisory Board, and serves on the Board of Directors for Community Movement Builders, Georgia Conservation Voters Education Fund, and the People’s Justice Council/Alabama Interfaith Power & Light.
Miranda Wang is a climate tech entrepreneur who's leading innovations in plastics. She is the co-founder and CEO of Novoloop, a low-carbon advanced recycling and sustainable materials provider that upgrades the most common plastic waste into performance materials worth up to 50x more. Miranda is a Forbes “30 Under 30” honoree, UN Young Champion of the Earth, and a Pritzker Environmental "Genius" awardee.
Amee Raval is the Research Director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. Her personal experiences have supported her awareness of how inequalities in the workplace, as well as the built and natural environment, influence community health. Through her role at APEN, she offers an environmental justice and health equity lens to climate and energy policy in California. She previously worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on research and advocacy addressing the environmental and occupational health impacts of extreme heat due to climate change.
Dr. Katharine Hayhoe
Dr. Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who is a professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Center at Texas Tech University. Her research focuses on developing high-resolution climate change projections and assessing the potential consequences on human and natural systems. She is also the founder and CEO of ATMOS Research, where they bridge the gap between scientists and stakeholders to provide relevant, state-of-the-art information on how climate change will affect our lives. She has served as lead author on many high-profile reports, and she was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, as well as UN Champion of the Earth. She has also received the American Geophysical Union’s Climate Communication Prize and the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award.
“The data tells us the planet is warming; the science is clear that humans are responsible; the impacts we’re seeing today are already serious; and our future is in our hands.”
Damilola Ogunbiyi is the CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy. She is also a Commissioner for the Global Commission to End Energy Poverty and the Co-Chair of the COP26 Energy Transition Council. As the Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), she focuses efforts on closing energy access gaps, showing that a clean energy transition is possible.
Secretary Deb Haaland
Secretary Deb Haaland made history when she became the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican. She advocates to create policies and commitments to environmentally friendly business practices. Prior to her appointment as U.S. Secretary to the Interior, she focused on environmental justice, climate change, missing and murdered indigenous women, and family-friendly policies in Congress.