Celebrating the Greenpeace Women and Gender Non-Binary Staff Fighting for Climate Justice
by Kaitlin Grable
Today, International Womens Day 2019, we share and amplify the voices of our women and gender non-binary activists fighting for a green and peaceful future.
Here at Greenpeace, we work with many astounding individuals who dedicate themselves to organizing, campaigning, and amplifying the issues we care so passionately about. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’d like to introduce you to a handful of the incredible women and gender non-binary staff who help empower and drive the environmental movement.
Kaitlin Grable – Social Media Associate
I come from matriarchal families and culture, and was raised with no shortage of female role models to look up to. Along with a sense of strength and resilience, the women in my life (specifically my mom) instilled in me a love for Mother Earth and all her beings. Growing up in the Mojave desert of California, my mom worked as a conservation biologist with a crew of archaeologists. When I wasn’t in school, I would tag along with her in the field to monitor local desert tortoise populations and help catalog Indigenous artifacts. I loved these excursions, and now I can look back and see how these experiences laid the groundwork for the woman I was going to become.
For as long as I remember having career aspirations, I have wanted to be a part of the environmental movement in some way. My time in the desert with my mom had shown me at a very young age that nature and wildlife are worth protecting. When I was 12 years old I somehow got my hands on a poster of the iconic Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior. It hung on my wall through middle and high school, and every time I saw it, I would daydream about my future and wish for the opportunity to join a Greenpeace expedition on board one of the ships. Nearly 16 years later, that dream is coming true.
It inspires me how, despite the many challenges we face, women activists are creating intersectional solidarity and spaces where we can band together to fight for the many causes we hold dear to our hearts. I am so proud to be a part of an organization that recognizes and upholds the importance for intersectional activism for social, racial, environmental, and gender justice. Every day I am inspired by the women of this movement and this organization, and I’m so grateful that I get to share their stories with you in this piece.
Ivy Schlegel – Senior Research Specialist
I identify as non-binary/gender fluid, and I am hopeful for a world where gender is seen as autonomous choice.
I am a research specialist with Greenpeace, which means I work with our team of campaigners, scientists and storytellers leading investigations that expose environmental destruction, responsibility, and solutions. My interest in science and activism was inspired by my 8th grade science teacher, Mrs. Greffly, who helped me with a research project on elephant conservation and illegal wildlife trade, and later by many women who taught me how to climb and deploy both aerial blockades and people-powered science to protect forest ecosystems from corporate logging.
I’ve always sought out women mentors to learn trades and skills I didn’t always see other women doing, and most have helped me articulate a niche for myself. I am proud to work in a team where we challenge each other to expose things that are deliberately kept hidden and figure out how we will make both the problems and the solutions visible, which requires a lot of imagination and creativity to stay ahead of despair.
I am inspired daily by the women here and around the globe who drive environmental movements. Women tend to be impacted disproportionately by health impacts, and in many contexts, women are on the frontline as the “managers” of things like food cultivation, domestic waste management, family-making and child-rearing – often with less access to things like land tenure or wealth-making – and thus well-suited to identify problems and solutions. The emotional labor often delegated to women sharpens skills in organizing, negotiation, the health of the collective, pattern recognition and detail awareness, reading people, and so on. These are all important skills for strategy and activism, as people-based movements make lasting change, not government or legal policy.
Mariah De Los Santos – Social Media Fellow
Being a woman in the environmental movement is very empowering. I have always looked up to the many female activists, scientists, scholars, mothers, and writers who have been criticized for working towards environmental progress, yet they continue to fight on. The services that women provide for environmental protection have become more imperative every day. So much so, that the common theme of “mother nature” as representing the land and earth, is embedded into our outlook. As we waver between various global crises, it is clear that we need women: their skills, their wisdom, and their knowledge.
From a very young age, I knew that my role in this world was to speak for those who cannot. I am proud to be using my voice to amplify the rights of nature, animals, and communities affected by climate change. I have always taken interest in the protection of our fragile planet, and it has been incredible to widen my passion for the environmental and social justice through Greenpeace. I am inspired to work for an organization that fights for a just world that promotes and protects human rights, gender equality, and the integrity for the environment. And it is a privilege to stand alongside of so many extraordinary and dedicated women.
Linda Rodriguez – National Mobilization Organizer
My sister sent me a Greenpeace email in 2007, the email had a petition about saving the whales. I realized that I wanted to part of something big, so I signed up to receive Greenpeace emails. I realized after signing a few petitions how powerful my voice was when I heard back from my state senator. Three years later, I started working for Greenpeace. I started as a canvasser and now I’m a National Mobilization Organizer. I’ve had many opportunities to support the environmental and progressive movement, and I’ve had the privilege to speak up through civil disobedience against dirty corporate money in politics.
I am a proud Latina, and I am motivated every day by women who continue to fight the good fight even when faithless. I see us rising and I see us creating our own stage, for our planet, for human rights, and for social justice. The diversity we bring inspires me to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, and I will continue to do so until the good fight no longer needs me.
Cara Capone – Greenpeace NYC Fundraiser
Women play an incredible role in the environmental movement. We need women. We make up a little over half of the Earth’s population. Greenpeace was co-founded by Dorothy Stowe, a woman. Greenpeace USA is now run by a woman, Annie Leonard. Women in the Chipko Movement coined the term “tree hugger” in India in the 1970’s. We use the term “Mother Earth.” We will never stop needing women, in any movement.
At Greenpeace, we are a family and we take care of each other. The way of setting and meeting goals is very motivational. The way we inspire strangers to get involved is one of the best feelings. It’s very freeing compared to working retail or an office. Through learning at my job, I grew to really love the organization, their independence, how they take action in creative ways, and how they incorporate social justice with the Jemez Principles.
I am fighting for everything and all of us. We all live on this planet, we’re all affected by it, and we need to leave something livable for the next generations, our animals who don’t have a voice, and also us in the present. This is the world. This is existence. This is our health and our lives. It gives me hope seeing how many people on the street care, and how much they’re willing to invest in our work. When they thank us for being out there. It restores my faith in humanity.
Irene Kim – Programs Coordinator
Zero waste living is the latest lifestyle trend for Instagram influencers, but for frugal immigrants households, it’s long been our way of life. My 엄마 and 아빠, immigrants from South Korea, born during the Korean war and raised in difficult times of post-war shortages, cannot bear to be wasteful. We’ve always reused plastic containers, ziploc bags, straws, paper towel sheets, recycled aluminum cans (hello, 5¢ deposit return!), and reduced food waste (overripe kimchi makes better kimchi stew!) Why throw something away when you can reuse it? Why create unnecessary waste?
While their efforts were more an attempt to save money than to save the environment, my parents practice of frugality taught me the importance of conservation when I was able to see the benefit to the environment as well. I proudly credit my immigrant parents and their conscientious lifestyle as the foundation for my environmentalist values.
Though the vast majority of climate change has been driven by corporate polluters, everyday people are doing their part to help the environment. I’m inspired by these everyday activists taking action with Greenpeace and being part of the environmental movement. We’re all working together to channel the power of our diverse backgrounds and perspectives and seek a more equitable, just, and free world for all.
Jayne Worth – Visual Content Designer
Ever since I was young, I always knew I would be an artist. I also knew that I would never conform to the norm, or a system of patriarchal oppression, hell no! But most importantly, I knew that I would ALWAYS stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves — including not only other humans, but animals and our planet overall. To me, there is no separation between us as individuals, or us and the earth — we are all one.
My great love for art and doing what’s right has led me to where I am today. Art has the powerful ability to educate, expand the mind, heal, bring people together, and so much more — it is truly amazing. With all the pain and trouble in the world, I strongly feel that compassion and creativity can save us. That is why I am proud to be utilizing my creative communication skills alongside so many other talented and passionate folks at Greenpeace to assist in advancing humanity and our planet forward toward a more green and peaceful future.
Nicole Sands – Deputy Digital Director
I moved to DC after college and figured to make the most of my time there, I should pursue connecting with one of the awesome non-profit organizations in town. Greenpeace was my #1 dream, so I wrote to the director of HR, he connected me with the head of the “Creative Department” (now Communications), and I started coming in a few days a week. There was no intern program, no orientation. I was to show up and try to make myself useful. Which I actually think is a good way to start. After six months volunteering I was hired part-time. I went on a ship and fell in love with everything and I’ve worked here ever since.
People have asked me if it’s sad working on all of the tough issues Greenpeace works on. For me, it would be sad not to. I feel lucky to work with people fighting for a green and peaceful world. I met actor/rapper Ice-T when I was in college and he told me you can have anything you want, think about it – anything you’ve really wanted, you’ve gotten. The secret is knowing what you want. At Greenpeace, asking for the world we want it makes that world possible. And that gives me hope. At Greenpeace I’ve always been encouraged to dream big and take risks. I still am.
I believe in the Commons and a system that values cooperation over domination. In that system, a lot of skills traditionally seen as feminine are valued rather than discouraged. I’m happy to celebrate the awesome women I’ve worked with on International Women’s Day. IWD also happens to be my mom’s birthday. Happy birthday, Mom!
Layla Anthony – Talent Acquisition Assistant
I realized that I was passionate about preserving and conserving our environment when I was in college. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I wanted to work in a space where I was making a difference in the world, whether that be working to protect the environment or working to promote social justice. I wanted to be able to go to work and feel like the work I was doing was genuinely important.
I always thought Greenpeace was the most impactful of all the environmental non-profits and that Greenpeace activists made the most effort to get out there in the world and create the change the we all need. I always believed that it was essential for all women, especially women of color, to be environmental activists. For a long time, the forerunners of the environmental movement have been white men, but we live in a world comprised of so many different people from so many different backgrounds and our environment does not solely belong to white men.
What gives me hope is that the environmental movement has grown significantly to include people of every background you could imagine and that its continuing to grow to include more and more women as forerunners of the movement. It’s exciting stuff!