About Jennifer Thomas
1) How would you as a director navigate the current international political environment to further Care about Climate’s mission?
In an era of increasing polarization and division, it is critical to develop strategies that are inclusive of diverse identities, political ideologies, and perspectives. I believe it is essential to engage in public issues with a focus on building bridges and learning from one another so we can identify common ground and cause for change.
In my view, climate change is the most urgent and complex public issue of our time. Its impacts are being felt around the world, and thus it is challenging to identify and effectively tackle large scale solutions. We can start by educating ourselves and considering strategies for engaging others not just from an environmental lens but also from social, public health, and economic lenses. The more we can arm ourselves with data-driven research and case studies on climate change through multiple lenses, the more effective we will be at reaching a broad group of stakeholders and working together to act on solutions that are both relatable and credible.
In my own life and work as an advocate, I’ve found it be especially useful to start by discussing one or two strategies for reducing carbon emissions. At Washington University, for example, I’ve educated staff and students about food-related emissions and how an increase in plant-rich diets, decrease in food waste, and support for conservation agriculture all have significant impacts. We can all relate to food and take simple steps as consumers that, taken together, lead to lasting change at industry levels. I seek to arm people with information that will allow for both grassroots and policy-level change. In addition to educating ourselves and each other, we must actively access and engage with our governments to shape policy.
How would you contribute to and improve current Care About Climate programs?
I am eager to advance Care about Climate’s mission to educate, empower, and unite people around the world to advocate for more effective climate change solutions. Specifically, I am interested to work with the organization’s staff and members to expand the Online Youth Exchange program. I appreciate the program’s focus on connecting young adults and using comparative studies to increase their understanding of the realities faced in countries around the world. In addition to offering webinars and regional group discussions, I’d like to explore opportunities for online or in-person summits that allow groups to share regional-level challenges, solutions, and action steps and work together to increase the scale and reach of their programs, events, and other efforts. I’d also like to grow the number of participants and countries involved in the program and highlight participant stories on the Care about Climate website.
I am also interested to serve as a Climate Ambassador in St. Louis, to support marketing and fundraising efforts that will expand the reach of the organization, and to participate in the United Nations Conference of the Parties so I can learn more about issues on a global scale. I am committed to learning about and actively participating in climate action at all levels. I also bring over nine years of professional and volunteer experience in sustainability-focused marketing and communication roles.
What do you see as the most important aspect surrounding climate change that we need to face as a society?
I care very deeply about all aspects of climate change and strategies for engagement and action that will mitigate our impact while also encouraging a more livable planet. Above all else, I feel it is critical to increase access and equity through climate change work. In recent years, I’ve focused my learning and volunteerism on issues related to environmental justice, from the Flint water crisis to St. Louis area food deserts. We only need to scan news headlines to be reminded that the most vulnerable in communities – in our own backyards – regularly struggle for access to a safe and healthy environment. They are disproportionately oppressed by fossil fuel emissions, severe weather, and other hazards related to climate change. I am committed to working with the Care for Climate network and with partners worldwide to increase awareness and the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations so that every person can thrive where they live, work, and play.