As I sit down to write this my two-year-old son, Naeem, is playing in the backyard. It is hands down his favorite place to be. While the recent fires make air quality less than ideal, his south Sacramento-born and bred lungs are used to less than ideal air quality. Albeit, he could care less about pollution because he’s two and this is the most important part of Naeem’s day. He waters our lawn, plays in the mud, and runs back and forth until he’s exhausted. Sometimes between sprints, he stops and lifts his head up, looks directly at the sun, and roars. That little roar, from that free Black boy body, is why I care so deeply about climate and environmental justice. Making sure that he stays safe, healthy, and free in this world is the second thing (coffee being the first) that gets me out of bed.
I’ve been the Executive Director of ClimatePlan for a little over a month, but with the organization for longer. I have already had the pleasure of meeting and working with many of you. For those I have not, I hope we will meet soon. I won’t take too much time on myself or my background, but I will say the top three things you should know about me are:
- I walk through this world as a Black, female, single mother raising a little Black boy in South Sacramento. My lens, my bottom-line, my area of interest will always be centered around how policy is actualized, especially for those in historically discriminated communities. Plans are essential, declarations are important, but implementation and accountability are real.
- I was, and in many ways still am, a community organizer. For the last 13 years, I have worked in various capacities to help people advocate for themselves. I have covered a variety of issues areas across local, statewide, national and international campaigns. I believe in the power of people coming together, I believe in community, I believe we can win.
- I try to practice vulnerability, humility, and transparency. This means that I'm willing to say what I don't know, willing to ask for help, and willing to admit what I'm struggling with. I’ve found that that’s not always considered professional or appropriate but not honoring who you are is far worse than breaking decorum.
I am blessed to be standing on the shoulder of some amazing women who lead this organization before me. Women that convened diverse multi-faceted groups across our state, facilitated tough conversations, and led on dynamic, forward-thinking policy, I hope to build on that legacy. To do so, I will be leaning on the ClimatePlan network for help.
Over the next few months, while I get my bearings and find my footing, there will be many announcements to come. If you are interested in staying involved with what’s going on at ClimatePlan, there are a few opportunities.
Participate in the Policy Workgroups, Ad-hoc Groups, Webinars, and Quarterly Meetings
ClimatePlan would not be ClimatePlan if we were not bringing people together. Here are some of the ways we plan to continue:
- Policy Workgroup meets every other Friday to discuss general policy updates for all things transportation and land use.
- SB 743 ad-hoc group does not meet regularly but gathers when needed to discuss SB 743 implementation.
- Blogs and Newsletter will update you on ClimatePlan work. We want to start using these places to highlight our partners' work as well.
- CAPTI Workgroup will be starting in September to track strategies related to the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure.
- Webinars will be a place for guest speakers, industry experts, and advocates to discuss action-oriented solutions to some of our most pressing climate challenges.
- Quarterly Meetings used to be a staple at ClimatePlan, and we will be bringing them back. These meetings are intended to be catered around specific geographies and/or issues areas.
- Regional Workgroup will be a space focused on regional advocacy. The goal here is to share strategies and best practices for local climate policy.
Join the new Advisory Board
We have restructured our leadership model, giving opportunities for more people to help inform the priorities and direction of ClimatePlan. The Advisory Board is responsible for big picture decisions that involve strategic direction, significant policy decisions, and organizational and partnership strategy. This group will comprise 10 - 16 people across geography and issue areas that meet every other month. If this sounds interesting, please let me know, and we can schedule a time to discuss further.
Participate in Listening Sessions to inform the new Strategic Direction
As we close ClimatePlan’s 2019- 2022 Strategic Direction, it's time to look to the future. Starting in mid-September, I will be conducting Listening Sessions with the ClimatePlan network. I want to get to know you, your organization, hear about how ClimatePlan can be the most helpful, and strategize around being impactful together. All of this will help inform the new Strategic Direction for ClimatePlan we hope to unveil in 2022. More information on this will be coming soon.
Basically, the gist of this is to stay tuned and stay in touch. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me, Nailah Pope-Harden at Nailah [at] climateplanca [dot] org.