Climate Activism and Optimism

Ideas Summit: Environmental Voices

Lucy Nalpathanchil moderates a powerful conversation on Activism and Optimism that features LGBTQ BIPOC activists Adrian Huq, co-founder of the New Haven Climate Movement Youth Action Team, and Wawa Gatheru, founder of Black Girl Environmentalist. This empowering dialogue highlights the potential of emerging climate leaders of color, including Black girls, women, and gender-expansive individuals, in climate leadership. Don't miss this opportunity to be inspired by their stories and insights as they discuss strategies for driving positive change in our communities and beyond.

Wanjiku "Wawa" Gatheru

Wanjiku "Wawa" Gatheru is a Kenyan-American climate storyteller passionate about bringing empathetic and accessible climate communication to the mainstream.

Harnessing her academic background as a Rhodes Scholar and her work as a youth climate activist, Wawa’s life goal is to help create a climate movement made in the image of all of us.

In 2019, Wawa was named the first Black person in history to receive the prestigious Rhodes, Truman and Udall scholarships for her environmental scholarship and activism.

She is the founder of Black Girl Environmentalist, a national organization dedicated to empowering Black girls, women and non-binary people across the climate sector. She is an inaugural member of the National Environmental Youth Advisory Council of the US EPA, the first federal youth-led advisory board in the US History. She is also a Public Voices Fellow on the Climate Crisis with The OpEd Project, in partnership with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Wawa sits on boards and advisory councils for EarthJustice, Climate Power, the Environmental Media Association, the National Parks Conservation Association, Good Energy, and Sound Future.

For her work in collaboration with other organizers and activists, Wawa has been recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient, a 776 Fellow, a Young Changemaker at the 2023 Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Young Futurist by The Root, a Grist 50 FIXER, a Glamour College Woman of the Year,, and named a Climate Creator to Watch by Pique Action and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She most recently joined Billie Eilish and 7 other climate activists on the January 2023 VOGUE cover.

Lucy Nalpathanchil

Lucy Nalpathanchil is Vice President of Community Engagement at Connecticut Public where she leads strategies to deeply connect and grow collaborations with community- focused organizations across the state.

Before becoming a member of the company’s senior leadership team, Nalpathanchil was the Executive Producer and Host of Connecticut Public’s morning talk show and podcast, Where We Live, for nearly seven years. Under her leadership, WWL went beyond news headlines and interviews with policymakers to feature more conversations about Connecticut and the stories of its residents.

Nalpathanchil has been a public radio journalist for more than 20 years covering everything from education to immigration, juvenile justice, and child welfare issues to veterans’ affairs and the military. Her reporting has taken her to all sorts of places, including a ride aboard a Coast Guard boat in Florida and to Tambacounda, Senegal, to talk with women journalists and farmers.

She’s contributed to National Public Radio and her stories have aired on several national NPR shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Weekend All Things Considered, Here and Now, and Latino USA.

In 2021, Nalpathanchil and the Where We Live team received a first- place award among large stations from Public Media Journalists Association or PMJA for this interview with a Norwich woman. In 2020, Nalpathanchil received a national Gracies Award from the Alliance for Women in Media in 2020 for her conversation with a Connecticut mother and her trans-son.

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