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COVID-19 and the Environment: Power Building, Leadership, and Civic Engagement — Peer Group

Friday, May 15, 2020
10:30am - 12:00pm PDT
Members: $0.00
Non-Members: $100.00
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The outbreak of COVID-19 will leave a changed world for us all. Philanthropy has an opportunity to be a leader in advocacy and policy change to support and protect our most vulnerable communities and the environment. With the post-COVID risk of widened inequities and further environmental degradation, how can our sector leverage shifts in public policy and respond to the current global health, environmental, and economic crises? How can grantmakers support community power-building that leads to greater leadership and civic engagement on environmental and health issues?

In the last decade, environmental movements across the country “have created intentional and strategic leadership development that inspires and prepares grassroots leaders to run for local office—which then creates the conditions for leaders to pursue higher office” at state and national levels (1000 Leaders (And More) Rising, 2019). What is unique about many of these programs, according to the recent report by USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, is the way in which these leaders are situated within broader coalitions.

Join us for a conversation with four dynamic leaders on what is at stake in 2020, how community-based coalitions and grassroots leaders are poised to respond, and what we can learn from this current crisis to ensure a thriving and equitable future for Californians.

We’ll share success stories and dig deeper to understand underlying themes making these programs work and reflect on what this work looks like in the context of a global pandemic. We’ll also address opportunities to scale and network these initiatives in order to deepen their impact. Given the complexity and diversity of the environmental movement, this session will weave together multiple issues including environmental justice, green infrastructure, access to public lands, water quality, and more.

This session builds upon the last Environmental Funders convenings (Environmental Leadership and Just Transition).

Recurring Dates:

  • Friday, August 21, 2020, 10:30am - 12:30 pm
  • Friday, November 20, 2020, 10:30am - 12:30 pm



Roger Kim

Executive Director, Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund

Roger Kim is Executive Director of the Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund and the Climate Equity Action Fund. He also serves as Senior Advisor at the Democracy Alliance, where he leads the Democracy Alliance’s strategy to build political power for climate action. Previously, Roger was Senior Advisor to the Mayor of San Francisco where he was responsible for a portfolio of policy initiatives and departments related to climate, energy, water, and the environment, and also served on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. As Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), he led community-driven campaigns resulting in billions of dollars of investments to implement climate solutions in California’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Roger serves on the board of directors of the League of Conservation Voters, Climate Mayors, and Roosevelt Forward. 


Rob Chlala

Program Manager, Funders for a Just Economy, Neighborhood Funders Group

Rob supports Funders for a Just Economy's Senior Program Manager and membership in efforts to bring funders, community and labor organizations, and other grassroots experts together to address pressing political-economic challenges and resource movements towards economic, racial, gender and ecological justice. His work includes supporting member-led initiatives that build knowledge among funders about current economic justice issues and lead to concrete shifts to support power-building and increased labor-community-funder alignment. Rob draws from research, communications, and popular education as tools for change, in ways that can both lift up effective power-building strategies and create spaces for imagining alternatives. Rob comes to NFG from more than 15 years of front-line community organizing and movement-building experience that address intersecting questions of race, gender/sexuality, ecology, and inequality. He is currently completing his doctoral degree at the University of Southern California, where he has been charting intersectional economic justice efforts to create alternative economic/ecological models that empower workers and challenge mass incarceration through the lens of Los Angeles’s cannabis industry. This research has been developed in conjunction with five years of work with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 on their innovative social equity and unionization campaign in cannabis. During this time, Rob also researched movement-building with the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, which works closely with funders to understand strategies to shift power towards inclusive economies/democracies, and previously worked with the California Fund for Youth Organizing. While still deeply-rooted in Los Angeles (and Beirut, where he was born), he is happy to be exploring new horizons in Providence, RI, and learning from communities on the East Coast.

Belinda Faustinos

Executive Director, Nature For All

Belinda Faustinos is the Executive Director of Nature for All. Prior, Belinda served as the Executive Officer of the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC). She was also the Executive Officer of three joint powers entities: the Watershed Conservation Authority, the San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority and the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority. She retired from these positions in May of 2011 after 40 years as a California State employee. A native of Southern California, Belinda was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Pitzer College.

Veronica Padilla-Campos

Executive Director, Pacoima Beautiful

Veronica grew up in Sun Valley and now lives in Sylmar with her family. She serves as a City of Los Angeles Planning Commissioner and as an Urban Planner works to improve the welfare of people by creating equitable, healthy, and safer communities.

Wendy Wendlandt

Senior Vice President and Political Director, The Public Interest Network

Wendy Wendlandt is a senior vice president and political director for The Public Interest Network. Wendy started with WashPIRG, the Washington Public Interest Research Group, where she led campaigns to stop the nation’s first high-level nuclear waste dump site and win Initiative 97, which created the state’s model toxic waste cleanup program. She is a founding board member of Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizers, and the Green Century Funds, the nation’s first family of fossil fuel free mutual funds. As political director, she manages both the non-partisan and partisan electoral programs of Environment America Action Fund and Environment America Voter Action She also serves on the board of directors of America Votes, the coordination hub of the progressive community. Wendy is a 1983 graduate of Whitman College. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and their dog, and hikes wherever she can whenever she can.

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Current SCG, EGA, and Smart Growth California members: $0
Eligible Non-members: $100

Who May Attend
Current SCG members and eligible non-members

SCG, EGA, and Smart Growth California members: Register online.
Non-members: Register online. If you do not have an SCG account, contact us.
If you have additional questions regarding these sessions, please contact us at [email protected]

Accommodations for People with Disabilities
If you have a disability and require accommodation in order to fully participate in this activity, please contact our programs team at [email protected] or (213) 680-8866. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs.

Funding Issue Area & Geographic Regions