Eco-Chic: 10 Green Warriors You Need to Know

by Editorial

Young environmentalist Jessy Tolkan reflects on those who will be revolutionizing the eco-movement in the next decade

Kari Fulton is one of the enviornmentalists Tolkan believes can bring change.

Kari Fulton is one of the enviornmentalists Tolkan believes can bring change.

Will Byrne
Executive Director, DC Project
Byrne helped President Obama win in Michigan, and then turned his attention to building a green economy in Washington. While many of his campaign colleagues headed for administration jobs, Byrne took to the streets of the capital, committed to ensuring that low-income people get a real shot at working in a new clean energy economy. To date, Byrne and the DC project, (where he serves as executive director) have put many local residents to work and helped others weatherize their homes.

Greg Nelson
Office of Public Engagement, THE White House
The first year of the administration may have been dominated by the health care debate, but it would be difficult to find anyone who has worked harder or done more to advance an issue than Nelson. As the man in the White House assigned to working with the environmental and clean energy communities, he has transformed the way government agencies are working with citizens all across the country. When he’s not convening a critical forum with Cabinet secretaries and the public, he’s directly engaged in the struggle to build a clean energy future. Nelson’s role in the White House has brought the HOPE from the campaign into the day-to-day governing of the administration.

Kari Fulton
Director, Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative
She may be young, but this Howard-alumna is changing the face of the environmental movement. As the leader of the campus program of the Environmental Justice and Climate Change initiative, Fulton is one of the most respected young voices on the green scene. Connecting hip-hop, culture, and the terrifying realities of environmental injustice in communities of color, she is bringing justice and diversity to a movement that has lacked both. From writing her blog to inspiring youth at historically black colleges across America, Fulton is smashing down barriers that have kept so many feeling that “green” has nothing to do with them.

Vikki Rateau
Oxfam America
While Washington was preparing for the holidays last December, world leaders gathered in Copenhagen to try to reach a global climate change agreement. Rateu and OXFAM America lead the pack of NGO’s fighting for a fair, ambitious, and binding deal. She reminds enviros that there is an entire world waiting for U.S. leadership. Her dynamic presence and fierce commitment to protecting the most vulnerable countries around the world make her a force to be reckoned with.

Michael Kravit
Eco-Friendly Designer
In Washington, many often forget that being green isn’t reserved for those walking the halls of Congress. As a hot new Washington-based graphic designer, Kravit is churning out the latest in eco-friendly, sustainable design options. From producing posters and programs for the District’s biggest conventions, to creating high-end wedding invitations made from stone paper, his commitment to style and sustainability have landed him at the intersection of all things green in Washington.

Emily Figdor
Environment America
Whether she is fighting attempts to limit the power of the Clean Air Act, or keeping the climate change debate alive in Congress, few advocates on the Hill are as savvy as Environment America’s Emily Figdor. She shuffles from office to office with a fierceness that is unparalleled, whether its hours before a vote or months before legislation even has a chance of dropping. Her knowledge of issues, relentless drive to win, and incredible sense of what’s required to protect the planet for future generations places her among the most effective green advocates in Washington.

Whit Jones
Reminding us all that we must live our values and not just lobby for them, Jones spends his days as a field director for the Youth Climate Movement and his nights and weekends launching the Bike House co-op in the Georgia-Petworth neighborhood. Working on the back porch of local coffee shop, Qualia Coffee, you can discover Washington, D.C. neighborhood culture at its best. The co-op helps cyclists fix their own bikes, while creating a hotspot for those looking to be part of the local cycling scene. On Saturday afternoons his bike mechanic clinics have become “the destination” for a true neighbor-helping-neighbor experience.

Lili Molina
Environmental Justice Director, Energy Action Coalition
Molina left her hometown of Chicago to bring her fight for environmental justice to the District. As environmental justice director of the Energy Action Coalition, a group of 50-plus youth groups united in their fight for a clean energy future, she makes waves by demanding that the old-school greens wake up and realize that the activists of 30 years ago just don’t have what it takes to win without the support of the most diverse generation in American history. By interfacing with EPA officials and supporting the environmental fights of young Latinos and African-Americans across America, Molina is lighting a fire in the enviro world. She’s not afraid to denounce what’s wrong with the status quo, and she’s got hundreds of thousands of committed young activists around the country who will back her up.

Van Jones
Senior Fellow, Center For American Progress
Known in Washington as the Obama Administration’s former Green Jobs Czar, Jones recently reappeared on the scene by winning a prestigious NAACP Image Award. His reemergence on the green scene is both welcome and needed, especially for an entire generation of young enviros who herald him as their Number One Green Hero. Jones has now landed at the Center for American Progress and will pick up a teaching gig at Princeton in the fall. Far more important than those positions is his prophetic voice, which is back in the center of conversation on how we create pathways out of poverty for millions of Americans. With unemployment at record levels, and a society in desperate need of visionary solutions, Jones’ return couldn’t have come soon enough.

Jeffrey King
Clean Economy Network
Recognizing that the intersection of business, clean energy, investment, and markets will undoubtedly be the next wave of innovation and economic transformation, King is on the cutting edge of gathering all the right people together to take ideas from conversation to implementation. Commuting back and forth between Portland to Washington, and making steps along the way with the Clean Energy Road Show that’s traveling across America, King represents one of the most forward-thinking players in the green mix today. Careful to not become too complacent with any one solution or approach, you’re likely to find him spending time mentoring a new generation of leaders and convening gatherings of top-level investors and political players. His next endeavor will surely have Washington buzzing.

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