Greenpeace USA Names Labor and Human Rights Leader Tefere Gebre as Chief Program Officer
As Climate Change Heightens Threats to Workers Rights and Racial Justice, Greenpeace US Sharpens Its Policy Leadership
by Katie Nelson
February 24, 2022
"The climate crisis is the fight of our lifetime. We have a responsibility to listen to and partner with immigrants, communities of color and more to create new and fresh approaches to the challenges we face today."
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Greenpeace USA, one of the largest legacy environmental organizations in the United States, announced that Tefere Gebre has joined the organization as its new Chief Program Officer. Gebre brings nearly three decades of experience in workers rights, grassroots organizing and coalition building to Greenpeace, after serving in leadership roles at the AFL-CIO and the Orange County Labor Federation. In this role, Gebre will lead Greenpeace’s work to combat the climate crisis, defend democracy and advance social and racial justice. Gebre knows first hand the power of organized workers and immigrants rights groups, and is eager to build bridges between them and the climate movement at this crucial time.
“This moment is happening at an important point in Greenpeace’s evolution as an environmental organization. We have accomplished much in the last 50 years, and yet so much is still changing around us: democratic space is shrinking, big corporations are locking in structural obstacles and institutional power, inequality is growing, and the climate clock is ticking. What worked in the environmental movement before, will not work moving forward. If we are to compel our elected and business leaders to avoid worst-case climate scenarios, we have to engage new voices to build the strongest, most diverse, and broadest base and coalition possible. We are thrilled to work alongside Tefere in building the best Greenpeace of the future,” said Ebony Twilley Martin, co-Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.
“In the years I have known Tefere, I’ve been incredibly impressed with the way that he fights hard and wins big for workers everywhere. Fighting for both workers and the climate is the only way we can truly win on the scale we need to today. So, when Greenpeace USA’s Board embraced its new strategic vision, one that aimed to advance justice in how we do our work and the solutions we advocate for, we knew we needed a transformational leader who understands the power of mobilizing people to affect change. I am excited for Tefere to step into the CPO role, and I am deeply convinced that with his leadership, we can build the powerful, diverse and strong Greenpeace the world needs now,” said Annie Leonard, co-Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.
“I’ve spent my life fighting for workers’ rights, but I know that none of it will matter if we don’t have a safe and stable planet to work on,” said Tefere Gebre, Greenpeace USA’s new Chief Program Officer. “The climate crisis is the fight of our lifetime. We have a responsibility to listen to and partner with immigrants, communities of color and more to create new and fresh approaches to the challenges we face today. My priority here at Greenpeace will be to bring those proactive, organized American workers into the fray because, just like everyone else, the climate crisis is the fight of their lifetime, too.”
For eight years, Gebre served as executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, where he was the first immigrant, political refugee, and Black man elected to the position. In this role, he helped build strong partnerships between labor and community groups, immigrant rights advocates, and civil rights organizations.
Prior to joining the AFL-CIO, Gebre served as the executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation, where he helped redefine the growing labor movement in Orange County, California. As executive director, he doubled the political capacity of the labor movement in the county. In 2008 and every year thereafter, the federation was honored by the state federation’s Strategic Planning Committee as one of the highest-performing labor councils, and was singled out as an “agent for change” by the California Labor Federation. In less than a year as executive director, Gebre increased the federation’s membership by more than 15,000 new members, established a communications division, expanded the political operations and grew the program staff.
Gebre was just 15 years old when he arrived in the United States as a political refugee from Ethiopia. Since then, Gebre has devoted his life to ensuring the fair and just treatment of workers everywhere. He has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including co-chairing the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of organizations from sectors such as environment, labor and civil rights working to ensure all Americans can participate fully and freely in the democratic process.
Gebre received a bachelor’s degree from CalPoly Pomona and an MBA from the University of Southern California.
About Greenpeace USA:
Greenpeace is a global network of independent campaigning organizations that use peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. This year, as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary, Greenpeace USA is committed to transforming the country’s unjust social, environmental, and economic systems from the ground up to address the climate crisis, advance racial justice, and build an economy that puts people first. Learn more at www.Greenpeace.org.