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Meet the SustainUS COP18 Delegation!

The SustainUS Agents of Change program has selected its SustainUS youth delegation to the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention and 8th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP18 and CMP8), which will be held in Doha, Qatar, from November 26 to December 7, 2012.  Delegates will work with each other and with international youth in advance of the conference to educate themselves and their communities, develop policy priorities, acquire skills in effective lobbying, and engage the broader youth population in action related to international climate policy.

Please email the Agents of Change coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  if you have any questions about this year's or future UNFCCC delegations.

Meet the delegates after the jump!

COP 18 Agents of Change  

Kate Catlin, the SustainUS COP18 Delegation Leader, is studying economics at Gonzaga University. Before pursuing higher education, she moved to Washington, D.C. to spend eight months lobbying for green schools and collaborating with student leaders through Earth Day Network. There she developed an enduring passion for the potential impact of an empowered youth. Kate has also biked across the country with the Trek to Reenergize America, won the 2012 MobilizeU “Big Ticket Idea” award as the Argentinean Coordinator, and spent five months in Nicaragua advancing sustainable social business with Soluciones Comunitarias. She was a SustainUS delegate to COP-17 in Durban, where she worked with international youth delegates campaigning for the Green Climate Fund and the “Robin Hood” Tax.

Adam Greenberg graduated at the top of his class from Global College, where he studied and conducted field work in Costa Rica, Ecuador, China, Japan, Australia, and the US. He graduated with a degree in Global Studies with a double concentration in Environmental Justice and Peace Studies.  Adam is a firm believer that the environment, human rights, and peace are inextricably linked, and that climate change provides an unprecedented opportunity— and responsibility—to address the major social issues facing the planet. Adam has studied and been active in a number of high profile environmental and social conflicts, and has always sought to illustrate the connections between the environmental and social consequences thereof. Adam has worked in mining conflicts in Ecuador, water rights conflicts and CAFTA referendums in Costa Rica, indigenous rights movements in Japan, Ecuador, Guatemala, Australia, and the US, and a national park in Australia. He has also been a player in environmental policy and politics in New York State, where he worked on solar legislation. Some of his written works have been submitted to such entities as the Tibetan CCP government, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to water and sanitation, and the Dalai Lama. Adam is currently focusing primarily on global water issues including freshwater management and water rights. He also works in the solar industry and is preparing to apply to graduate schools. He is committed to continuing to work on human rights, the environment, and peace. Adam is coordinating the US youth collaborative to COP18, and working on revitalizing a broad coalition within the US in order to make dealing with climate change a priority for our nation.


Adam Kwan is from Yonkers, New York. He recently graduated from Binghamton University where he completed a double major in Environmental Law and Policy and English Rhetoric. He is currently working for a local governmental environmental department where he works to advance policies which facilitate recycling and waste reduction. He is currently working on several local environmental initiatives, such as a backyard composting campaign and education on waste reduction as the most important of the “three R’s”. Adam has an interest in environmental policy and how policy is best crafted to achieve goals so upon hearing about the upcoming COP-18 he jumped on the opportunity. Adam has been an avid poker player for several years and uses some of the theories he learned from poker, such as expected utility, expected value, and risk adjustment, in his environmental policy analysis. Within the COP delegation, Adam is contributing his skills to media and public opinion tracking.  Although he will not be going to Doha, he will be contributing from the states in a support role. Adam’s favorite food is Buffalo wings.

Amanda Nesheiwat currently works as an Environmental Coordinator for the town of Secaucus. She serves as a Commissioner as well as the town's Chairwoman of the Environmental Committee. Amanda works with young people all around NJ as the State Leader for the Energy Action Coalition and the founder of a group called New Jersey Sustainable Collegiate Partners- a group of over 300 students representing 14 colleges in NJ. She is a UN youth representative for the Foundation for Post Conflict Development and graduated with an Environmental Science Degree from Ramapo College. Amanda has been an activist for 3 years now and is vocal on issues like climate justice, and women's empowerment.  After attending Rio+20, Amanda has become particularly interested in working with young people from all around the world.
Amy Meyer is a senior at the University of Colorado – Boulder, passionate about her studies in Environmental Studies and Ecology-Evolutionary Biology. As a Colorado native, she is eager to see the preservation of her beautiful surroundings as well as the environments of those all over the globe. Having held a number of internships in a variety of environmental organizations, her attention was soon drawn to the issue of climate change. Seeing the potential in the Green Climate Fund, Amy is exploring the application of the Fund and the opportunities it presents through an honors thesis, and for the COP18 delegation she is focusing on mitigation policy and the future of the Kyoto Protocol. In her free time, Amy is an avid literati and cat lover.

Anirudh Sridhar is a Senior at SUNY school of Environment and Forestry. His romance with issues of the oppressed first flamed into life during high school when he became a proselytizer for vegetarianism and a strong advocate of Animal Rights. His first rite of passage was via Greenpeace where he was an intern and interviewed farmers across south India about the recent discrepancies in the climate and its effect on crop yield and shared his results with students across the city of Bangalore. Since his migration to the United States, he has played with (under the banner of "work") a myriad of fascinating beasts in the Everglades, and specialized in food web ecology. He is currently studying Environmental Policy, Planning and Law and after his stint at the Indian Supreme Court working on environmental law, wishes to work on policy and frequent the UN as a delegate even after he loses the "youth" status. He enjoys writing, playing cricket and long conversations.

Brandon Bass, who hails from New City, NY, is a senior pursuing a major in environmental engineering and a minor in business at Cornell University.  His interests lie in the intersection of energy systems, finance, and policy.  Brandon has done extensive research on biofuels, including a project intended to provide sustainable cooking fuel for farmers in developing countries with low-cost biosolid digesters. He is currently working on a project optimizing switchgrass to ethanol processes, with the goal of reducing energy wastes. Brandon has served as project leader, co-president, and co-founder for organizations on campus including Sustainable Enterprise Association, Society for Social Entrepreneurship and Collaborative Action, and American Academy of Environmental Engineers respectively.  Two summers ago, he interned at Fieldstone Private Capital Group, where he researched residential solar markets and transmission lines and worked on utility-scale energy system project financing.  Last summer, Brandon interned at the Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery.  There, Brandon worked with the Economics and Risk Analysis staff, where he authored and revised portions of national guidelines on industrial materials reuse and contributed to ongoing RCRA regulatory deliberations.  Brandon has also worked with grassroots movements and organized with The Green Umbrella to build a New York coalition at the Tar Sands Action in Washington D.C. during the summer of 2011.  In the spring semester of 2013, he will begin his Masters in Environmental Engineering at Cornell University.

Devan Hawkins is from Pepperell Massachusetts. At COP18, he will be working with the media caucus to create digital media to make the voice of youth loud and clear during the negotiations. Devan first became involved in environmental activism in high school when his history teacher challenged his class to get a letter to the editor published in a local paper. After writing a letter about climate change, he was surprised to have it published. Since then, Devan has continued working to make climate change science and policy more accessible to the general public. As an undergraduate, he spent a summer teaching high school students about climate change and helping them make videos to present their unique perspective about the issue. During his senior year, he worked to develop a website, “Climate Education in an Age of Media” [http://cleanet.org/cced_media/index.html]. The website seeks to provide ways for middle school and high school teachers to bring climate change education and communication into their classroom. After graduating, Devan spent a week on the Tohono O’odham Native American reservation in Arizona helping them install different sustainable technologies. He is currently studying Epidemiology in the Work Environment department at UMass Lowell.

Hannah Bristol grew up outside Washington, D.C. where politics were normal dinnertime conversation. She can't remember a time when she wasn't keenly following elections and politics, and she began working on campaigns and lobbying years before she could vote. Her interest in environmentalism was sparked when she took a semester off from school before starting at Middlebury College. While volunteering with a non-profit in Guatemala City, she contracted a cough that soon became pneumonia from the poor air quality and frequently suffered from food poisoning from the contaminated water. Through these experiences, she realized that access to a clean and healthy environment are rights that everyone in the world deserves. She combines these interests as an Environmental Policy major at Middlebury where she has continued to be involved in political and environmental activism with Sunday Night Group. She organized Middlebury Connects the Dots, an event attended by over 100 people that was part of a 350.org day of action, and a trip for more than 50 Middlebury students to attend the Keystone XL Pipeline protests in D.C. She also loves journalism and has experience both as a local news editor for the Middlebury Campus and as an intern writing for her local newspaper, the Falls Church News-Press. On the COP18 delegation, she will be doing blog coordination and social media. She is currently a Field Organizer with Organizing for America in New Hampshire.

Kensey Berry is completing her undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Philosophy and Environmental Studies.  She is currently writing her senior thesis on financing mechanisms to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  Her work focuses on the political feasibility and global economic repercussions of instituting a carbon tax. Last summer she worked in the renewable energy industry, and she is still involved part-time in the marketing and sales of Renewable Energy Credits.  Kensey is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, where she first fell in love with the sun and being outdoors.  She looks forward to learning about the policy-making process at COP-18 and hopes for a productive conference for all.

Madeleine Achgill, originally from Indianapolis, IN, is currently studying in New Mexico as a Davis Scholar at UWC-USA, an international school with students from over 80 countries. She first got involved with climate policy when she helped to organize a direct action in response to the proposed carbon cap repeal in NM. Since then, she has worked on another direct action and has begun the process of creating a network of New Mexican youth climate activists. She has also helped to write the script for an interactive show designed to teach local youth about climate change. Inspired by time spent living in Ecuador and China, Madeleine hopes to go on to study international environmental policy (particularly policy related to developing countries) when she graduates from UWC-USA in May. In her free time she enjoys leading backpacking trips, traveling to local schools as an HIV/AIDS Peer Educator, and playing the violin. For COP18, Madeleine is working to build a unified youth message for the conference, as well as coordinate communication between SustainUS and the China Youth Climate Action Network.

Matt Maiorana is in love with international politics. Over the past 4 years he's done a bit of everything in the field -- he worked for the US State Department, Congress, Avaaz.org, the Climate Action Network, UNEP, and has been to roughly 14 UN negotiations. He's also worked with SustainUS for 2 years as the Policy Co-Coordinator and as a Steering Committee member. He's excited to get involved again! He recently graduated from College of the Atlantic and is now living in New York roughly 45 minutes away from UN headquarters (by bike). In his spare time he's working to launch DailyUN, an international news service focused on making international governance more accountable. He also loves Avocados.

Mike Sandmel is a writer, activist, and bicycle mechanic based in Philadelphia, PA. He is also a firm believer that creating a just and sustainable economy  and mitigating climate change are among the defining issues of his generation.  Mike's involvement in SustainUS began as a member of the policy team for the Agents Of Change delegation to Rio+20 where he learned the hard lesson that great policy ideas are useless if they aren't communicated in ways that speak to people's values, wants, and needs.  As media relations coordinator and as a member of the AOC delegation to the COP18 climate talks in Doha, he aims to highlight the ways in which young people are inventing solutions and struggling for change in the face of the interrelated ecological-economic crises they have inherited. Mike recently graduated magna cum laude from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study with an interdisciplinary BA in ecology and economics. He founded and managed the NYU Bike Share, the first ever bike sharing program in New York City. He was a 2011 Morris K. Udall Scholar, an exchange student in political economy and economic history at Stockholm University, and has authored an honors thesis entitled "Populism In The Anthropocene: A Study of Climate Change Politics at Occupy Wall Street." Mike's writing has appeared in Grist, Common Dreams, Waging Nonviolence, Nation Of Change, and Alternet as well as Andrew Revkin's "Dot Earth" blog for the New York Times.

Munira Sibai is a sophomore at Northern Virginia Community College. She is planning to transfer next Fall to a four-year university and pursue a double-major in Mechanical Engineering (with a concentration in sustainability) and Public Policy and Leadership.  Munira completed her high-school in 2011 at Al Bashair Private School in Abu Dhabi, which was awarded the title of "Sustainable School". She contributed a lot towards her school's environmental activities and was made president of its Green Club. She also participated in many activities and contests held by The Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi, and won two annual environmental competition awards. Furthermore, she volunteered in many environmental-related events, including 350.org Global Climate Party (Abu Dhabi version), WWF's Earth Hour event in Abu Dhabi, and others. She aspires to create new  green technologies and advocate for their use with her leadership skills.   Munira is a global citizen - she is originally from Syria, a country now going through a transformation in many aspects by the hands of its own people. She was born and lived the majority of her life in the modern, rapidly developing United Arab Emirates.  Additionally, she is a citizen of the United States, one of the strongest nations in our world. Having been exposed to those diverse cultures and ever-growing nations, she formed an eagerness and will to change the world to the better.

Olivia Turnross is a senior at the University of California at Santa Barbara majoring in Biology in the College of Creative Studies. She spends most of her days in the Hofmann Laboratory in the Marine Science Institute where she is a lab assistant and independently researching the impacts of ocean acidification and food availability on the larval development of the purple urchin. Her love for the omnipotent, every-changing, and scientifically invaluable oceans has lead to a passionate involvement in marine ecology climate change research at UC Davis’s Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratory, and UCSB’s Marine Science Institute. Presently, she is at the McMurdo Station, the U.S. Antarctic research center, conducting ocean acidification research. Olivia is also dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of climate change, and sustainable living through her involvement in teaching, campaigning, and lobbying through campus organizations including Environmental Education for the Next Generation, Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative, Campus Democrats, and the Environmental Affairs Board. She is thrilled to utilize her knowledge of global change biology and ocean policy in the negotiations in Qatar. Within the delegation she is focusing on policy issues, and is drafting the water policy position paper. 

Ratnika Prasad is the Policy Caucus Facilitator of the COP18 delegation and a junior attempting to study Applied Economics, Natural Resources and International Relations at Cornell University, all at once. Since the age of six, when she won a Captain Planeteer award, Ratnika has always been the "environmentalist" in town. Having worked with the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) on protecting Olive Ridley Turtles in high school, Ratnika spent her freshman summer in India working with Jindal's Environmental Management Department on a water conservation project and last summer working with the Tompkins Energy Corps on home energy upgrades. At Cornell, Ratnika is running the PaperLESS campaign and loves to argue in her free time as part of the varsity debate team. 

Rebecca Chan grew up in Encinitas, California. She graduated from Columbia University with majors in political science and environmental chemistry in 2012, and wrote her honors thesis on the framing tactics small island nations use in international climate negotiations. Rebecca is a Udall Scholar and a NOAA Hollings Scholar, and has worked for the National Ocean Service, the California Center for Sustainable Energy, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Rebecca is especially interested in environmental justice, and plans to attend law school to study a human rights framework for addressing climate change. Rebecca was a member of the SustainUS delegation to Rio+20, where she worked primarily on the sexual and reproductive rights policy team and the fossil fuel subsidies campaign. On the COP18 delegation, she will be bottom-lining SustainUS’s participation in the international CliMates Summit and tracking policy in intermediary UNFCCC negotiations in the lead up to COP. Currently, Rebecca lives in Málaga, Spain, where she teaches English in a public high school.

Scott Chernoff is a junior at Green Mountain College studying Environmental Studies with a concentration in policy. Originally from New Jersey, Scott found himself involved in the environmental movement in recent years and has done work against the Keystone XL Pipeline, Fracking, and has interned with Food & Water Watch in Philadelphia. He is also very active in the leadership of Activism @GMC, the student activist collective at his college. Scott is excited to be representing the Youth of his area on the COP18 delegation, and is co-leading the Domestic Lead-Up Campaign Caucus. He is working with the Rapid Response Network, US Youth Push, and partnership with EAC. In his spare time, Scott enjoys backpacking, playing guitar, skiing, biking, and loud rock concerts.

Zach Swank graduated from Clarkson University with a degree in political science and minors in computer science and environmental science and policy. Working for the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) government relations department he found that while lobbying on environmental issues is vital, perhaps it is not the best leverage point at the moment. After WWF, Zach spent three years serving with the Peace Corps in Mauritania and Senegal, West Africa. In Senegal, Zach discovered a passion for environmental business consulting while overseeing the design, construction, and management of an ecotourism lodge. In the current political, economic, and social environment, businesses are the most dynamic and capable of effectuating major changes. Currently Zach is working for eGo CarShare, the Boulder/Denver area carsharing organization and Natural Capitalism Solutions a business sustainability consulting NGO. Zach is an alumni of the 2007 COP13 Agents of Change program and is currently serving as the logistics caucus leader for the COP18 Agents of Change delegation.

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