COP-16, Cancun, 2010 Agents of Change

The Agents of Change delegation to the 16th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (November 29-December 10, 2010) held in Mexico is here! This year's delegation will be focused on policy (especially forests, finance and the 1.5 degrees Celsius target), creative actions to capture attention around key issues in Mexico and media outreach to US and international outlets to keep US youth voices in the broader public discourse on the climate talks. The delegation has been once again sponsored by Brighter Planet, who have graciously donated carbon offsets to cover the transportation of all of our delegates to Mexico.

Please email the Agents of Change coordinator, Valida Prentice, if you have any questions about this year's or future UNFCCC delegations.


COP-16
Agents of Change
   
Valida Prentice

Valida Prentice, Coordinator 

Valida is a SustainUS Agents of Change Program Coordinator. She is currently a DAAD Scholar pursuing a Masters in Environmental Management at the Free University Berlin. Prior to moving to Germany for her graduate studies, Valida worked for the leading developer of large-scale, community-based wind farms in the US. She has been interested in the finer points of UN climate negotiations since she wrote her undergraduate honors thesis on the integration of cities in a post-2012 global climate agreement at the George Washington University (BA International Affairs, 2008). Apart from the international scene, Valida's research interests currently center around the intersection of transportation policy, sustainable urban (re)development, and renewable energy/transportation fuels. Also very passionate about bringing new people into the climate movement, Valida is currently interning with 350 in Berlin and is active in the international youth movement. In her spare time, Valida enjoys rapping about climate change.



Reed Aronow
Lifelong climate advocate, Reed Aronow was interested in weather even as a child, starting a weather station at his middle school, and even dressing up as a tornado for Halloween one year.  Aronow has experience in both the science and advocacy aspects of climate advocacy, learning and teaching climate modeling and organizing environmental campaigns, including the 2010 Focus The Nation MN Clean Energy Forum, two 700 mile 350.org Climate Bike Rides, and countless actions focuses on strong national and state climate legislation.  More recently, Aronow traveled to the COP16 climate summit in Copenhagen as a member of the Will Steger Foundation's Expedition Copenhagen, a group of 12 midwest youth to the UN climate summit led by polar explorer Will Steger.  Since Copenhagen, Aronow has journeyed around the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, speaking on climate change issues to audiences across the political spectrum, and emphasizing the fact that, although it will be hard, it is not too late to positively impact the future of our world and do something about climate change.


Abigail Borah

Abigail Borah
Abigail is a sophomore at Middlebury College majoring in Environmental Science with a focus on Conservation Biology. She is an active member of Middlebury's umbrella environmental organization, Sunday Night Group, as well as a volunteer at the Middlebury College Organic Garden. Abigail co-founded the Race to Replace Vermont Yankee Campaign (www.racetoreplace.org) with six other Middlebury students, focusing on youth voter empowerment replacing Vermont’s aging energy infrastructure with a clean energy economy. Other interests include fresh baked bread, bicycles, laundry lines, and farming.

Ethan Case

Ethan Case

Ethan Case is originally from a small town in south Georgia. He graduated from Davidson College in 2008. He studied environmental economics in India in 2006, and ever since then his life has been oriented towards learning more about environmental issues. He moved back to India in 2008 where he worked to start India's first monthly solar energy magazine, aided an entrepreneur at Urja Unlimited in building a network of businesses and NGOs focused on providing micro-financed solar lanterns to night hawkers in the Delhi slums, volunteered with the India Youth Climate Movement, and helped the Earth Matters Foundation with its social marketing. He now lives in D.C. where he is applying for environmentally focused jobs and masters programs while aiding an entrepreneur with her communications and marketing and serving up coffee drinks at the best coffee shop in town: SOVA.

Carra Cheslin

Carra Cheslin

Carra Cheslin is a senior environmental studies major at Connecticut College passionate, about changing the dire state of our environment. Having had the opportunity to study in the Brazilian, Panamanian, and Costa Rican rainforests, Carra was moved by the beautiful complexity of these endangered ecosystems and has since dedicated her life to protecting them. Particularly motivated around forest conservation issues and corporate accountability, she has been involved in and founded a number of advocacy and activism initiatives. She is the president and founder of CC Forest Justice, a campus organization dedicated to raising awareness about deforestation issues, founding member of the statewide coalition, Connecticut Students for a Just and Stable Future, and three year campus organizer for the nationwide Recyclemania competition. She has interned with such organizations as Rainforest Action Network and Ecologic Development Fund and has become increasingly interested in and supportive of using Non-Violent Direct Action tactics to promote environmental change. In the future she plans to pursue a career in grassroots environmental organizing and looks forward to gaining invaluable knowledge and experience at the COP-16 negotiations.



Aurora Conley

Aurora is Ojibwe from the Bad River Indian Reservation in Wisconsin, and recently worked as Executive Assistant for Honor the Earth in White Earth, Minnesota, a non-profit leader in the Native environmental movement. Aurora has organized, campaigned, and advocated for environmental and climate justice throughout Indian Country across the Midwest, including extensive outreach to tribal communities on renewable energy and environmental justice facilitating solar installation and youth education. Aurora is a volunteer firefighter and first responder for the Bad River Volunteer Fire Department. She hopes to work more extensively with Midwest Native communities to build a more sustainable future.


Christine Curella

Christine Curella

A New York City native, Christine has studied and worked in New York City and cities of Argentina, China, India, South Africa, and Germany to empower community participation in development. As a student at the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, Christine studied urban planning, economics, and international development and worked in New York City government and international nonprofits. At the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa, she analyzed national policy on sustainable development, contributing to Constitutional Court cases and an international conference on the development of urban infrastructure in Johannesburg. In 2007, Christine helped to launch seven initiatives of PlaNYC, New York City's campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent, increase sustainability and livability, and plant one million trees in ten years. Christine has also worked at the World Bank Inspection Panel, where she supported  investigations of World Bank-financed projects to determine compliance with safeguard policies on the environment, project supervision, and indigenous rights. Currently, in the Office of Planning, Analysis, and Accountability at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Christine assists in the development of the agency-wide strategic plan. Christine is excited to join the SustainUS delegation and advocate for sustainable climate solutions in Mexico. 


Alex Davenport

Alex Davenport

Alex was born in Dallas, Texas; moved 12 times; and then settled in Sterling, Virginia. He is currently a senior at James Madison University and pursuing a major in social justice with a minor in communications. Alex began to be involved with JMU’s environmental group, EARTH, at the end of his freshman year. During his sophomore year, he also became involved with Mountain Justice and has been involved with both EARTH and Mountain Justice ever since.  He served as co-bottomliner of the Mountain Justice committee in EARTH his junior year, and helped to organize various Mountain Justice events.  This year he and other EARTH members are running a sustainable endowment campaign, and he is continuing organizing with Mountain Justice.  After graduation he hopes to continue his education at JMU with a Masters in environmental advocacy.  Having friends attend the COP 15 as delegates last year, he is really excited to see Cancun as a staging area for a continued youth presence in the international arena.


Michael Davidson

Michael Davidson

Michael is currently the China Climate Fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He recently returned from a Fulbright Fellowship to China where he devoted his time to researching alternative energy policy in Beijing and understanding rural development in the countryside. A born and raised Oregonian whose passion for the environment began with his hippie parents and has blossomed into a scientific, social, and political inquiry, Michael is driven by the need to counter global climate change and create a development model that is both equitable and sustainable. Last year he helped organize the International Youth Summit on Energy and Climate Change held in Beijing. There, he met leaders of the Chinese youth climate movement and was inspired. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University with degrees in Physics and Japanese Studies, he has conducted research into fuel cells and advanced photovoltaic materials as well as Northeast Asian relations. Prior to NRDC, he was at Asia Policy Point, a non-profit research center studying the US policy relationship with Japan and Asia. When he is not enjoying the outdoors, he is an avid linguist, proficient in four languages and looking for the fifth.


Christine Dellert

Christine Dellert
Christine Dellert is a native Floridian and former daily newspaper reporter. She’s pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Politics from the University of Central Florida, where she works as a writer in the university’s media relations department. In 2006, Christine graduated summa cum laude from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Since then, she has traveled in Europe, Central and South America and across the United States, reporting from either coast. Earlier this year, Christine presented research on a constitutional provision that grants legal rights to nature at an international sustainability conference in Ecuador. This experience helped shape her interest in indigenous politics and sustainable development, while she continues to research food insecurity and urban agriculture. She also is the coordinator for a university-wide task force to assist with long-term recovery efforts in Haiti since the January earthquake. In her spare time, Christine enjoys playing with cameras, growing veggies in her garden and exploring new parks with her rescue pup, Izzy, and fiancé. She is honored and very excited to be a part of the delegation and work with international youth on climate change issues.

Nathaniel Loewentheil

Nathaniel Loewentheil
Nate Loewentheil hails proudly from Baltimore, Maryland. In early 2005, while in his sophomore year at Yale University, he helped found the Roosevelt Institution (now the Roosevelt Campus Network) and later served from 2007 to 2009 as fulltime executive director, helping to support Roosevelt’s network of 75 campus chapters and 7,000 student members around the country. In 2010, he moved back to New Haven, where he is currently enrolled in a dual degree program with the Yale Law School and Yale School
of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Nate sits on the Board of Directors of the Elmseed Enterprise Fund, 501(c)(3), a microcredit lending organization in New Haven, and on the board of the College Democrats of America Alumni Association. He also sits on the advisory boards of the New Leaders Council and of Fundación Sodis, an international NGO focused on water provision in developing nations. In addition, he serves as a special advisor to the Bolivian municipality of Pasorapa. He has submitted testimony to Congress on topics like Social Security, published with the Center for American Progress and in the Review of Policy Research and contributes to the Huffington Post. He is also the editor of a recent book, Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era.

Sophia Peters

Sophia Peters

Sophia is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.  At Woodrow Wilson, she has focused her studies on international development and energy and environmental policy. Having spent time during her youth living in Indonesia and with her family in El Salvador, she has always been interested in the impact of environmental and economic policies in the developing world.

Last summer, she worked at USAID/Mexico helping create and design the Mission’s Global Climate Change Program for Mexico, which will come from the U.S.’s contribution to fast start funding pledged in Copenhagen in 2009.  While there, she was able to get a peek into the U.S and Mexican planning for Cancun negotiations.

Before graduate school, Sophia worked in Washington D.C. as consultant to the U.S. EPA on the ENERGY STAR Program, specifically on energy-efficient products and utility and retailer campaigns. She first began to study environmental policy and international politics during her undergraduate studies at Duke University. While at Duke, she traveled to Santiago, Chile and Barcelona, Spain in pursuit of her Honors Thesis.

After completing her Masters, Sophia hopes to work in adaptation or energy policy in Latin America.  Sophia is honored to be a member of a fantastic youth delegation working for change, and is very excited to return to Mexico, not only for the tacos and the cumbia, but to participate in her first international climate change negotiation.


Marielle Remillard

Marielle Remillard
Marielle, a native New Mexican, graduated summa cum laude from Austin College in 2009 (B.A. in Math with honors).  In the midst of her undergraduate studies, she discovered her passion for water resources and founded the WaterCan Walk for Water in Sherman, TX to raise funds and awareness about water issues in eastern Africa.  In 2008, she studied civil engineering for a semester at the American University in Dubai as a William Jefferson Clinton Scholar.  She first became interested in climate change policy in 2009 after spending a summer monitoring hydrology and setting up weather stations on Alaska's North Slope.  While in Alaska, she saw that climate change is not some far-off hypothetical problem, but an issue that is having an impact today; people are being displaced and lifestyles severely altered in response to rising sea level and melting ice caps. Furthermore, global water scarcity will increase and water quality will degrade as a result of global climate change.  Currently, Marielle is pursuing a master's degree in Environmental Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. She hopes to one day work as a liaison between scientists and policy makers addressing international environmental issues

Laura Rigell

Laura Rigell
Laura Rigell is from Knoxville, Tennessee.  She left Maryville High School after her junior year to study for two years as a Davis scholar at United World College of the Atlantic, in Wales, UK.  She has been interested in the natural world and its conservation since her early youth.  At Maryville High School, she cofounded an outdoors club and instigated interest in acquiring an earth flag and roof garden for the school.  She held a research internship in the Great Smoky Mountains, during which she helped to conduct surveys of biodiversity and to involve visiting groups.  This experience fueled her passion for field research and environmental education.  While at Atlantic College, she has pursued her interest in conservation by being a pioneering member of the 10:10 initiative and the permaculture activity.  Also, she attended Powershift ’09 in London, helped to construct a wind turbine, and started a craft activity which makes use of trashed materials.  Laura plans to attend university in the United States and earn a degree in conservation biology.  She hopes to use this qualification towards the mitigation of climate change and preservation of biodiversity.

Syd Schulz

Syd Schulz

Syd Schulz, age 19, was born and raised in Athens, OH, a small college town in Appalachian Ohio. She is now a sophomore at Middlebury College where she will be an Environmental Policy major if she ever gets around to declaring a major. She first got involved in environmental activism through Middlebury’s Sunday Night Group. She co-founded the Race to Replace Campaign with six other Middlebury students. Race to Replace is a youth voter empowerment campaign focused around replacing Vermont’s aging energy infrastructure with a clean energy economy. Their kick-off event was an awesome cross-state bike ride. Subsequent shenanigans have included registering voters on top of Mt. Mansfield and running an 11 year old for governor. When not committing obscure bits of environmental policy to memory, Syd enjoys mountain biking, baking scones and speaking Spanish. She hopes she will find an excuse to dress up as a windmill at some point during her tenure as a SustainUS delegate.


Giselle Sebag

Giselle Sebag
Giselle Sebag, LEED Green Associate, is a sustainable policy fellow at Southface Energy Institute, a 32-year-old environmental non-profit that works to promote sustainable homes, workplaces and communities throughout the Southeast. Originally from Atlanta, Giselle graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 with a BA in government and a BS in architecture. During her time as an undergraduate she earned a School of Architecture Provost Scholarship to support her studies in Italy, the Consortium for Cooperation in Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology Fellowship to support her exchange to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the Bill Archer Fellowship which provided study and work experience in Washington, DC. She was an active member of the UT campus working with groups such as the Campus Environmental Center and Texas Exes, where she served as a Camp Texas Counselor teaching incoming freshman about leadership opportunities at the University. Giselle is passionate about the fine arts, travel, sustainable development, new urbanism, human and environmental health. She is thrilled to be a part of the COP-16 delegation!


MJ Shiao
MJ Shiao is currently a Solar Analyst at Greentech Media (GTM) Research, focusing on US photovoltaic (PV) demand and global inverter markets.  Prior to GTM Research, MJ assisted Promethean Power Systems deploy and test an off-grid, solar-powered dairy refrigeration system aimed at simultaneously increasing the quality and reducing the cost of milk for rural farmers in India.  He has over 5 years experience working in the US solar industry, from research and design of high-efficiency silicon solar cells at the University of Delaware to management and engineering of commercial and building-integrated PV systems up to 2 MW in size with Solar Design Associates.  MJ has a bachelor's degree with distinction in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware, where he was selected as a National Truman Scholar.


Marcie Smith
Marcie is a graduate of Transylvania University with a B.A. in International Affairs and French, and a concentration in Environmental Studies. She is a member of the Student Environmental Action Coalition's National Council and an Associate Fellow with the Institute for Environmental Security. In 2006, Marcie founded Transylvania's environmental action group, TERRA, which has gone on to receive national media attention for its work advancing environmental justice in Kentucky. In 2007, she helped found the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, one of the first coalitions of its kind in the U.S. She was a U.S. youth delegate to the UN Climate Change Convention with SustainUS in 2008 and will be returning to the Copenhagen talks in December 2009. In 2009, she was solicited to testify before Congress on the need for bold, just federal climate legislation, the impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining, the security implications of climate change, and the need for constructive U.S. leadership in the UNFCCC negotiation process. She has interned for Congressman Ben Chandler in the U.S. House of Representatives, has initiated independent research on the coincidence of ecoviolence and gendercide, and has studied ecology, local environmental law, and mining code modernization in Madagascar.


Jessica LeClair

Jessica LeClair
Jessica is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Climate Science and Policy at Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy. Jessica is extremely interested in the climate change adaptation policy and how it can be planned in tandem with poverty alleviation strategies in the Global South. Undergraduate study abroad and work abroad experiences led her to the tropics of Central America and the Scandinavian Arctic living and working alongside folks in these deeply affected areas. Upon return from abroad Jess got a job as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA). As a VISTA she directly worked towards eradication of elements that caused poverty in the city where she was stationed, New London, CT. For two years with America Jessica tried to infuse green living, awareness to environmental crises, and a general love of nature to the city’s children. One of her favorite experiences was when a class of 8th graders she had been working with devoted a semester to making a claymation of a mach-UNFCCC conference with animals as the negotiators, which we then presented on a local cable station. Jess is a lover of all things outdoors, especially kayaking, fishing and exploring wherever she may be. Jessica is excited for the opportunity to work with SustainUS as an Agent of Change and looks forward to the road ahead.
Delegate(s) regrettably not attending COP16:

Beverly Bendix

Beverly Bendix

Bev is originally from a small suburban town in Massachusetts, but now lives in Troy, NY. She just recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); a science, technology, and engineering focused school. While at Rensselaer, Bev became active in a community of students, faculty, and staff who were similarly interested in sustainability issues. During her sophomore year as Vice President of the student environmental club, Ecologic, Bev helped to found The Student Sustainability Task Force (SSTF), a coordinating body meant to bring together the numerous environmentally-related student groups, and interested faculty, and staff. The groups’ focus was on identifying and implementing sustainability projects on campus. During the summer between sophomore and junior years, she worked for the Office of the President of RPI to co-author The Rensselaer Sustainability Report, a benchmarking and base-lining study regarding sustainability initiatives. After doing a semester abroad during spring semester of junior year, Bev came back to lead the SSTF initiative in creating an on campus farmers market. Currently, Bev is a full-time intern at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), pursuing her decision to focus on the energy aspect of sustainability.