2010-2011 Excom Candidate Profiles Read the candidate responses to the questions below, to help you decide which 7 candidates are your top choices. Then VOTE online before July 28 for next year’s Executive Committee! Rebecca Drago ~Age 21, Skidmore College Q: What is your vision for the SSC for the next year? What do you hope to do on ExCom to work towards that vision? I envision the SSC strategically building our community, leading to more effective org anizing and a stronger organization. We’re currently dealing with oil spills, mountains bei ng blasted, a society entirely reliant on fossil fuels and more things than I can count addin g to climate change. The SSC has a history of strong activism, successful trainings and lo ts of love, but sometimes I worry that we as individuals get overwhelmed and spread ours elves too thin, forcing our Greenfires to pitter out. We have incredible training programs that mobilize hundreds of people every summe r, but keeping that mobilization in place is the difficult part. I think that helping each new member of the youth environmental movement find their niche in the campaign world is a half the battle. We’re all driven by passion in something, anything. Whether it is mount aintop removal, climate change politics or better bike lanes, finding that niche can be wha t it takes to keep a newly involved person permanently involved. And even more strategic is then plugging that person directly into an existing network of organizers. SSC’ers wor k on so many amazing projects on a both a local and national scale, and if each new perso n is able to feel the support from the rest of the network, our organization will grow stron ger and more strategic. Whether that means joining a working group of an existing campa ign or being paired with an older mentor to pass down wisdom, capturing that new mome ntum will further motivate our SSC veterans and keep our network of youth environment al organizers strong and growing. To put this into a more practical vision...I’d love to work with our Excomm to increa se transparency between the organizing bodies and communicate that more clearly to all of our members (both old and new). I want the Anti- Oppression Committee to have a bigger presence, opening our organization to uninvolved communities and remaining as inclusive as possible in the way we function. I’d like to se e a system for which our Sprogs are located in geographically strategic places so that we have the ability to plug Sproggers directly into a network of people, in areas that need mo re organizing. I hope to revive our budget so we can put our energy towards campaigns a nd not towards securing money. I’d like to help the SSC create more organizing positions for students just-out-of college to put their skills to work, allowing the network to grow further and successes to i ncrease. I want to make sure our Sprog magic remains magical all year long, hopefully th rough making Winter Gathering as well attended as Shindig. I want to see more SSC’ers t rain at youth conferences outside of the SSC, spreading our knowledge and opening ourse lves up to new ideas. In short, I envision a more strongly united, more strategic group of a mazing young people changing the world. Q: What past organizing experience do you have?/ What past national SSC experience do you have? Starting in September of 2008, I chaired a committee of eight students at Skidmore that ra n the Cool Cities Campaign in Saratoga Springs, NY. We started by forming a coalition with a local environmental group from Saratoga and running a mini campaign to involve t he local businesses in our overall sustainability goal. After much pushing, we got Mayor Scott Johnson to sign the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement on October 24th, 20 09 as part of the 350 International Day of Climate Action. This committed Saratoga to a 7 % reduction below our 1990's levels of carbon emissions by 2012, in an act that mirrors t he Kyoto Protocol. Our group is currently working with the government in Saratoga on a carbon emissions inventory and strategic plan to reduce our emissions based on the inven tory. In addition, I ran numerous mini campaigns in high school collecting backpacks/shoes for an organization I work with and started a gay-straight- alliance club with a friend. My first year at Skidmore I organized a large- scale trash audit, working with the administration and facilities to collect garbage from all over campus, publicizing our results successfully. Sophomore year I was vice- president of my college Environmental Action Club (EAC) and helped organized roughly 40 attendees to Powershift 09, as well as various club events and an large Earth Day Cele bration in 2008 and 2009. In terms of the SSC, I attended NH Sprog in the summer of 2008 and went to Shindig thr ee weeks later. At Shindig I joined the Trainings Committee and was an active member f or the 2009 Sprog season. I was also a member of Shindig Committee (Shincomm) for ou r 2009 Shindig, and a member of a small working group that connected T- comm with AO committee. I trained at NH Sprog in 2009 and was a BECC Fellow for th e Spring of 2009. I was elected Chair of the Logistics Committee section of T- comm at Shindig 2009, and am currently chairing that committee from my study abroad h ome in the Netherlands. I’m training at Virginia Sprog this upcoming summer (and can’t wait!). Angela Wiley ~Age 19, Chatham University Q: What is your vision for the SSC for the next year? What do you hope to do on ExCom to work towards that vision? The SSC hosts amazing trainings and is shaped by the volunteers who help sustain it. Thi s coming year, I am excited to watch SSC chapters and national working groups kick coal off college campuses, register thousands of millennial youth to vote in mid- term elections, hold decision makers accountable in 2011, confront oppression organizati onally and interpersonally, gear up for 2011 SPROGS, and so much more! I am truly exci ted just thinking about the work ahead. As part of the Executive Committee, I would hop e to support these projects through appropriate decision making, correspondence with Sie rra Club and partner organizations, and effective communication among the individuals t hat comprise this awesome network of organizers. I hope to serve as a transparent membe r of the committee, who acts with good intention and with the organization's integrity as h ighest priority. Q: What past organizing experience do you have?/ What past national SSC experience do you have? I organized on my high school's campus in Morgantown, WV around bottled water, moun tain top removal coal mining, and energy reduction. I also participated on a city board an d commission -- the former prepared proposals regarding pedestrian safety, and the latter focused on expr essing youth concerns and opinions about local issues. During my first year of college at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, I helped form the Pittsburgh Student Environment al Coalition, which organized a Townhall Forum about Clean Energy Economies and is c urrently participating in a statewide campaign to end hyrdaulic fracturing for natural gas drilling. I do outreach for the Alliance for a Coal Free Generation through tabling and pet itioning at community events. This year I helped organize Mountain Justice Fall Break an d MJ Spring Break, as part of solidarity work with the campaign to end MTR. I have bee n actively building relationships with local Senate Field Offices as part of anti- MTR solidarity work, and as part of the youth climate movement. This year, I served on the Logistics Subcommittee of Trainings Committee and on the Su pport, Outreach and Community Subcommittee. I did some visioning and support work w ith the Campuses Beyond Coal Working Group as well. I attended Virginia Sprog in 200 8, trained in 2009, and am co-directing Virginia Sprog this year. Rachel Aitkens ~Age 22, University of Texas, Austin Q: What is your vision for the SSC for the next year? What do you hope to do on ExCom to work towards that vision? I think that the main hurdle that the SSC must face in the next year is budgetary shortfalls . I would love to see the SSC continue to expand, but we must face the budget issues that we could not fully resolve within the past year. I would like to continue to expand the fu ndraising capabilities of the SSC and try using new and creative ways to raise the money the organization so desperately needs. I would work towards that vision on Executive Co mmittee by working with the National Director, the Fundraising Committee, and the Trai nings Committee to come up with innovative ways to raise money and secure funding fro m various other organizations to make sure that we are able to have the staff that we need , run the programs that we would like to, and support the students on the ground where th ey are needed the most. Q: What past organizing experience do you have?/ What past national SSC experience do you have? I have been working on environmental issues for 3 years. After attending SPROG, I wor ked on campus wide issues, such as setting up a bike lending program, and a campus- wide recycling program. My campus group also worked with the local Sierra Club to fig ht a coal plant near Austin, TX. Last year, I was director of my student organization. I tr ained at TX SPROG and OR SPROG. I have also trained at ReEnergize TX, Power Shift 09, Green Fund, and for American Youthworks and University of Texas San Antonio. T his past year, I worked on the TX/LA Grassroots Fundraising team for SPROG. I attende d Copenhagen as a member of the Sierra Student Coalition delegation. I am directing SP ROG this summer. I am also the chair of the Fundraising committee, which is working o n integrating fundraising for the SSC into SPROGs. We are also working to make sure th at everyone who wants to is able to attend SPROG through utilizing a fundraising toolkit for sproggers and support people to help with fundraising. We are also granting the schol arships for this years programs. Adriana Gonzalez ~Age 19, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campas Q: What is your vision for the SSC for the next year? What do you hope to do on ExCom to work towards that vision? I want to be a part of the 2010 2011 Executive Committee to continue helping the SSC in its effort to develop new strate gies that would allow us to accomplish goals more efficiently. First, by recruiting new m embers and involving them in campaigns and initiatives they can relate to, we would be working toward a more inclusive and diverse organization. Second, the creation of a new organizational structure would enable us to work together more transparently. An accessi ble web page, newsletters and data bases are tools that would assure clear communication among our members. Third, the combing of local efforts and national campaigns would only help us strategize better campaigns. Also, by securing existing sources, creating nati onal strategies and further developing local grassroots fundraising even further we would guarantee that the SSC receives stable funding. In addition, it is in our best interest that we support and continue the SSC’s involvement in international efforts such as youth part icipation in COP 15 and COP 16 conferences while integrating them into our campaigns and committee work. It is also in our best interest maintain the SSC’s relationship with t he Sierra Club and find new ways that we can further our relation in strategic ways for bo th organizations. Finally, while my plans for the SSC are ambitious, I am confident that w e are a strong organization that can achieve all this and more. I can’t wait to work with y ou all for another year so we can continue building the SSC we love. Q: What past organizing experience do you have?/ What past national SSC experience do you have? My first organizing experience was as a freshman in my high school group. Since, I have worked with the Puerto Rico Sierra Club chapter in local campaigns. Also, I am an active participant in the North East Ecological Corridor Campaign: planning, lobbying, produci ng educational material, community conferences and tabling events. After working with my school organization for some time, I had the opportunity of training in the PR SPROG of 2007 and then participating in that year’s SSC Shindig. Also in 2007 I organized a gro up of students from Puerto Rico to participate in Powershift 2007. In 2008, I was part of the steering committee for the first Cool Cities Campaign launched in Puerto Rico. That s ame year, I joined the SSC’s Training Committee and have been an active member since t hen. Later, I had the opportunity of co- directing PR SPROG. I also participated in that year’s Shindig and attended the SSC’s W inter Gathering. In 2009 I had to opportunity to help coordinate a group of 12 students fro m Puerto Rico to participate in Powershift 2009, where I was a SSC Spokesperson and a t rainer. That year, I was co-director of PR SPROG and was elected member of the 2009- 2010 Executive Committee of the SSC. More recently, I had the opportunity to start the e fforts of a local energy efficiency campaign in the Univesity of Puerto Rico and co- direct PR SPROG 2010. Mary Shindler, ~Age 21, James Madison University Alum Q: What is your vision for the SSC for the next year? What do you hope to do on ExCom to work towards that vision? The SSC is amazing and we all have a lot of love for one another. I want SSC- ers to have more opportunities to take on leadership and get involved in the organization. I would love to see the SSC offer more job opportunities for students and graduates, dev elop an effective alumni program, find more funding for SPROGs, and develop better net works with our partner organizations around the world. I think it’s really important that we offer more paid positions for members to stay involve d and build our organization. Also, our alumni are doing some really cool things and no one should ever feel like they’re leaving the SSC. I’m excited about developing a strong alumni network so that SSC- ers can stay in touch and provide support for one another. I want to see more SPROGs, a nd a better transition from SPROG to national committees. And I am currently exploring opportunities to work with our partner youth organizations, such as AYCC (Australia) an d SYC (Canada). I’m sure you all have amazing ideas as well and I would love to hear w hat those are and how we could help make them happen. Q: What past organizing experience do you have?/ What past national SSC experience do you have? I feel like I’ve always been a part of SSC, but I really got involved last year at Shindig. L ast fall, I codeveloped the proposal and process for the SSC youth delegation to the clima te negotiations in Copenhagen. We fundraised and sent a group of 18 incredible SSC you th delegates on an adventure to the United Nations climate negotiations to be immersed in international climate policy. I’m also participating in the working group preparing for an other delegation to attend the conference this year, and we're excited to be working closel y with the Anti-Oppression committee. Before finding SSC, I spent three years actively involved in James Madison University’s Earth club, where I found my passion for environmental issues, gained organizer skills, a nd helped our nowhierarchical organization come to be recognized as one of the largest cl ubs on campus. During my time with Earth, I met with our University President and adm inistration about a green fee, attended Power Vote training and successfully ran the camp aign, planned a student- run state conference featuring Dr. James Hansen, and created a scholarship fund. Adelaide Abele ~Age 22, University of Alabama, Birmingham Q: What is your vision for the SSC for the next year? What do you hope to do on ExCom to work towards that vision? “Our mission is simple: "to train, empower, and organize youth to run effective campaign s that result in tangible environmental victories and that develop leaders for the environm ental movement."" My vision is to bring the SSC back to this mission statement with an emphasis on training s outside of Sprogs and smaller campaigns that are relevant to individuals in the SSC & t he work they are doing locally. I hope to work within ExCom as an advocate for smaller scale SSC campaigns (maybe re gional?), and on T-Com to work on training opportunities outside of Sprog. Working with campaigns and trainings on a smaller scale will also potentially contribute t o diversifying the SSC. Q: What past organizing experience do you have?/ What past national SSC experience do you have? UAB Green Initiative - Campaign to open campus recycling center - Fall 2008- Spring 2009 Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment - Co-Founder - Currently planning statewide campaign for 2010/2011 & state summit for fall 2010 Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference - Planning Committee - Summer 2010 Texas SPROG trainer 2009 Trainings Committee - Chair of Relationships & Resources - Fall 2009 Alabama SPROG co-director 2010 Attended Shindig 2009 & Winter Gathering 2010 Joseph Manning ~Boston College Q: What is your vision for the SSC for the next year? What do you hope to do on ExCom to work towards that vision? The SSC is a dynamic, thriving organization that has flourished by producing leaders thro ugh our trainings programs that are as diverse in their backgrounds as they are in their ide as. Yet, we are all united behind a common vision, a vision for a future that is rooted in s ustainable economic practice, a future free of fossil fuels. I hope to see the SSC tap into t he vast amount of energy supplied by young people around the country during this electio n year. We are at a pivotal moment in history. While “baby- boomer” pundits predict huge losses for progressives in Congress to radical Tea Partiers t his November, we have the opportunity to prove them wrong by instead rallying around g reen leaders and sending them to Washington and our respective state capitals. Across the nation, SSC organizers are already conducting civic engagement campaigns that can acc omplish just this. What we need is an ExCom that can support and challenge these organi zers to do more. I want to help ExCom make sure that SSC leaders in the field have the re sources they need by supporting our Campaigns Committee and our staff. Unfortunately, all the great work done by the SSC requires money, and money can be har d to come by. In the past, the SSC has been plagued by fundraising problems. As a memb er of ExCom, I will work with FUNDScomm to develop an aggressive fundraising campa ign that pairs the SSC with numerous “green businesses” across the country that have an i nterest in supporting young, conscientious activists who are striving for a better world. Finally, though the SSC and the Sierra Club operate as two separate organizations, we are in reality one. We are both governed by the same operating procedures, and we are both t ied by the same funding sources. As a member of ExCom, I will do everything possible t o encourage the Sierra Club to develop policies that benefit the SSC. I will also work to st rengthen the relationship between the two clubs. The Sierra Club needs the SSC’s bright and energetic organizers if it wants to continue to be the nation’s most powerful environ mental lobby, and the SSC needs the Sierra Club’s political connections and leverage if w e want to achieve our vision. Q: What past organizing experience do you have?/ What past national SSC experience do you have? In October 2006, my twin sister and I co- founded my high school’s chapter of the Young Democrats of America (YDA); I was ele cted Vice President. With less than a month before the election and no Democratic candid ates to support (in the heart of what many consider one of Florida’s most conservative dis tricts), YDA rallied behind an issue my parents had ingrained in me as a child, Environm ental Stewardship. So on a rainy November day, I stood outside our precinct with signs re ading “Vote Yes on Tax for Sensitive Land Purchases.” YDA grew to become the most a ctive organization on my campus – an organization with a focus on building awareness about climate change and environme ntal issues in our student body. In 2007, we hosted an environmental rally where we featu red speakers from the Sierra Club and The C.A.R.E. Foundation. In 2008, I organized YD A’s participation in the Obama Campaign. Members logged over 500 hours on the campa ign trail and when the precinct-by- precinct results came in, 80% of the UCF precinct (which is where we worked) turned out to vote and 70% of them voted for Obama. I also founded the Student Action Board (SAB) at my high school, to establish a unified s tudent response to an education- funding crisis created when the Florida Legislature proposed $500 million dollars in cuts to public education. SAB brought together every major club and organization at the schoo l and organized a letter writing campaign that sent over 800 letters to the State Legislatur e. We also sponsored a “Morning Vigil for Education” attended by over 400 students that attracted the attention of five major news outlets. But my chief goal has always been to become involved in climate change policy. In 2009, I spent a week in New Hampshire at SPROG, and this proved to be a life changing exper ience for me. I’d found an organization through which I could help make real, positive c hanges to environmental policy both within my community and on the national level. I re turned to Florida energized and led YDA in a campaign to support clean energy legislatio n. I also represented the SSC at the UNFCCC COP15 in Copenhagen last December, along with 17 other dedicated SSC volunteers. While at COP, we met with Obama Administrati on officials and asked tough questions about pollution reduction measures, mitigation, de forestation, transition funding, and mountain top removal. We also spread the SSC’s inter national reach by making contacts with leaders from other youth environmental organizat ions in Canada, Norway, China, Japan, and many other countries. After COP, I became Regional Director for Show Me Democracy – Florida. With SMD, I worked on building a core team of students at 3 major state univer sities and assembled a coalition of both youth and adult environmental and non- environmental organizations comprising over 5000 members. This coalition is dedicated t o urging Florida Senators Nelson and Lemeiux to support comprehensive climate change legislation. I also bottom- lined the creation of a new SSC delegation to attend COP16 in Cancun, Mexico. I oversa w the creation of the proposal for a new delegation, an application, and selection criteria t hat strengthens the SSC’s goals of anti- oppression and learns from our mistakes at COP15 by implementing a peer- mentoring program for new delegates. Maura Friedman ~Age 19, University of Georgia Q: What is your vision for the SSC for the next year? What do you hope to do on ExCom to work towards that vision? My vision for the Sierra Student Coalition involves a strategic prioritizing of the accessib ility, and therefore presence, of the Sierra Student Coalition. Accessibility, to me, is how readily information and opportunities within the organization are available to the public. I so believe in this work and, specifically, this organization, but my involvement came as a freak fluke (first I went to Sprog to fill in for the group rate and then I was invited to a co mmunication committee retreat, complete with a paid plane ticket). In these shaky econo mic times, the SSC doesn’t necessarily have the monetary resources to grant these opport unities in the way it once did, but I believe our organization can make up for this by reene rgizing our communication systems and practices. In my mind, that’s the key to making t he SSC much more accessible and where the Executive Committee comes in. We need a system in place for committees to communicate happenings, decisions, and opportunities with Excomm and a system through which Excomm synthesizes and dispatches this infor mation throughout the greater organization. I believe a large component of this will be re vamping our website, which is currently too stagnant and difficult to navigate to function as the incredible organizing tool it has the potential to be. My eventual goal is that any in dividual with internet access could, at any point in the year and not just during Sprog seas on, access SSC history, goals, current campaigns, and tangible, immediate ways to get in volved in minutes on our website. Q: What past organizing experience do you have?/ What past national SSC experience do you have? My organizing experience began in the summer of 2008 when I attended Georgia Sprog a nd became thoroughly introduced and enthralled with the environmental movement. Fro m there, in terms of training, I also attended Green Peach (a small Southern conference) a nd now two Training for Trainers sessions. As a trainer, I have worked at Power Shift, Ne w Hampshire Sprog, I gave a spokesperson training for UGA Beyond Coal, and am now preparing for Alabama Sprog. In terms of positions and opportunities beyond the Sierra Student Coalition, I was a core member of my high school environmental organization which involved organizing meetin gs, agendas, and materials to educate our school about environmental issues, run the Pow er Vote campaign, and coordinate a group to attend Power Shift. I am also a founding me mber of Georgia Youth for Energy Solutions (Ga YES), a youth branch of the Southern E nergy Network focused on energy issues in the state. This required conference calls, phon e banking, and prep for a retreat in which the actual organization was formed. I was also r ecently elected to the Ga YES steering committee, a body of eight elected to represent the youth movement in Georgia. The steering committee commits to weekly calls and planni ng a campaign around tackling regional coal issues. Beyond training for the SSC, I first worked internally with the organization in January of 2009 when I attended the Conservation Committee Retreat where attendees fleshed out m edia and campaign strategies as well as goals for the upcoming year. I also attended the C ampuses Beyond Coal Retreat that August as part of the initial visioning group that establ ished what we wanted the Campuses Beyond Coal campaign to look like and what steps we needed to take to get there. From this opportunity I joined the Campuses Beyond Coal Working Group, a small group of organizers who sought to keep the campaign on track t hrough weekly calls, consultation, and check- ins. I also assisted in hiring paid organizers to assist at strategic schools with the Campus es Beyond Coal Hiring Committee. Following through on my campus, I was also a UGA Beyond Coal leader and helped facilitate a matrix and campaign writing workshop. I also headed up the media group, contacting press, compiling a spokesperson guide and trainin g, and working directly on interviews. Ashley M. Braquet ~Age 25 Q: What is your vision for the SSC for the next year? What do you hope to do on ExCom to work towards that vision? First and foremost, being a native Louisianian, the oil leak is on the top of my priority list . The Sierra Club is launching a Beyond Oil campaign (similar to the Beyond Coal), and t hat is something that I'd like to see the SSC participate in. The Gulf Coast is in a delicate situation and this has mobilized so many people new to the environmental movement. I w ant to push the people and the legislators of the Gulf South to transition to a clean energy economy now. As a southerner, I am delighted to have three sprogs in the south this year, and as much as the region desperately need the new leaders that are created by sprogs, I recognize that w e need sprogs to be more geographically diverse. They shouldn't be in the south one year and in the north the next year. So I'd like to institutionalize a regional sprog plan as comp ared to a state plan, which would focus on 5- 6 regions for sprogs, so the Southeast, Midwest, Northeast, etc. would each fundraise for one sprog, to ensure that each region has a sprog and that travel costs are kept at a reason able rate. If some regions wanted to go above and beyond, they could raise the money for a second sprog. A second option might be the whole SSC works together nationally for o ne common pot of money until there is enough for all 5- 6 regions, and only after that goal is reached, then a region can consider raising money fo r a second Sprog. Lastly, I feel that it's extremely important to have southern voices on the SSC's ExCom b ecause of the dire situation that our region is in. The south is not generally thought of as e nvironmentally active, but people are starting to realize how important this place actually is, and we need representation on ExCom. Q: What past organizing experience do you have?/ What past national SSC experience do you have? My first organizing experience began at Powershift '09 and continued on with the Enviro nmental Conservation Organization at Louisiana State University. One of our campaigns was a dorm energy competition that saved the university $13,000 in one month. After attending TX Sprog last year, I started organizing more in my community and I was offered a job with the Repower America campaign in Louisiana where I worked with me mbers of the community as an advocate for renewable energy. During the time I was working on the Repower America campaign, I was able to get the Youth Alliance for Louisiana Leaders (the Louisiana youth climate network, abbreviated YALL) up and running. Since the organization's inception at Powershift '09, the group ha s become a major voice in the state as well as an information exchange for the youth of th e state. We are currently working on attaining our 501(c)3 status, and I have recently bee n elected to the steering committee. I played a major role in the grassroots fundraising efforts which in turn led to TX and LA Sprogs, and I am co-directing LA Sprog this summer. I am currently doing research at LSU for a Department of Labor grant study on the green economy in the states of LA and MS, which includes tracking the economic impact and cl ean- up efforts of the oil spill.