Although I grew up in Houston, I was born in Chicago, and spent much of my school summers there, so I don’t have much of a Southern accent, I’m afraid! Growing up in the South, though, I do have a different perspective on the climate crisis that is happening right now. I have seen how marginalised communities end up on the frontlines. There was a hurricane the year I’d graduated from high school. During my first year of college, Hurricane Katrina happened. Hundreds of thousands of people from New Orleans and the surrounding areas had to be evacuated to Houston. This was my introduction to the term “climate refugees”, and understanding how Black communities could be displaced in their own country. Three years later, Hurricane Ike happened. And so many hurricanes and extreme heat events have happened since. People don’t think about the South as being one of the epicentres of the climate crisis, but it has exposed how the intersection of climate change and racial inequality can have devastating impacts.
In my senior year of college, I took an internship in environmental justice work, but there were few people of colour in the movement. I thought – where are the people that look like me? If there are no Black people in this movement, no one to represent our voice or perspective – then what will this movement look like in the future? So, I decided to be the change. Early in my career, I became a community organiser, focusing on the unrepresented stories, striving to show the connection between marginalised communities and the effects of climate change.
When I finished graduate school, I decided to move away from organising, but pursue a career path where I could drive change on a larger scale. As an ESG and Responsible Investment specialist for a large asset management firm, I am proud to have a seat at the table where I can bring my diverse perspective when engaging on sustainability issues in the capital and private markets.