About the Panelists
Climate justice solutions to create a prosperous and just transition
Founder and Executive Director of WomenStrong International
Dr. Susan M. Blaustein
Dr. Susan M. Blaustein is Founder and Executive Director of WomenStrong International, a global non-profit that finds, funds, nurtures, and shares women-driven solutions that will transform the lives of urban communities. Prior to establishing WomenStrong, Dr. Blaustein co-founded and directed The Millennium Cities Initiative, a 12-year project of Columbia’s Earth Institute advancing sustainable urban development across the sub-Saharan region.
Before coming to Columbia, Dr. Blaustein reported on foreign and domestic conflict and social justice issues for numerous publications and served as a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group and the Coalition for International Justice. Now teaching at The Earth Institute, Dr. Blaustein earned her doctorate at Yale University, has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Harvard Junior Fellow in The Society of Fellows at Harvard University, and the recipient of multiple awards.
Associate Program Officer at Nathan Cummings
Valerie joined the Nathan Cummings Foundation team in 2015 and brings more than 20 years of experience developing and managing programs in environmental justice, poverty, and global education. As Associate Program Officer, Valerie manages the foundation’s Inclusive Clean Economy grantmaking and continues to work closely with leadership across the organization on issues related to environmental and climate justice and economic inclusion in the clean energy economy. She also supports cross-program learning and grantmaking in the Corporate and Political Accountability focus area.
Valerie is dedicated to helping grassroots organizations build and strengthen programs focused on poverty, education, the environment, and the arts. Prior to NCF, she worked with the US Agency for International Development in Haiti, Hunger Free America, and Artists for Peace & Justice. In addition to her work in the public sector, Valerie developed corporate socially and environmentally responsible investment opportunities for clients and public-private sector partnerships to advance environmental sustainability while managing global sales for fragrance materials manufacturer, Texarome, Inc., where she continues to serve on the Board. Valerie holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Rollins College, with a concentration in Sustainable Economic Development.
Executive Director at UPROSE
Elizabeth Yeampierre is an internationally recognized Puerto Rican environmental/climate justice leader of African and Indigenous ancestry, born and raised in New York City. Elizabeth is co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance, a national frontline-led organization, and Executive Director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization.
Elizabeth was the 1st Latina Chair of the USEPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and opening speaker for the first White House Council on Environmental Quality Forum on Environmental Justice under Obama. Elizabeth has been featured in the NY Times as a visionary paving the path to Climate Justice. She was named by Apolitical as Climate 100: The World’s Most Influential People in Climate Policy, also featured in Vogue as one of 13 Climate Warriors in the world, and a recipient of the Frederick Douglass Abolitionist Award FD200. Recently, she has spoken at Oxford University, the Ethos Conference in Brazil, and the Hague.
Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice
Kizzy Charles-Guzman has spent over 15 years of her New York City service developing and delivering work at the intersection of sustainability, climate policy, public health, resiliency, and racial equity. She led the development of Cool Neighborhoods NYC, the city’s first strategy to address the impacts of rising temperatures and heatwaves, and several adaptation initiatives to ensure that New York City residents are ready to withstand and emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change.
Charles-Guzman served as a deputy director at the Mayor’s Offices of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency, as director of the Climate Change and Health Program at the New York City Department of Health, and as policy advisor on air quality during the Bloomberg administration. She received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Quality Award and a Champion of Change Award from the White House in recognition of her work. She is a graduate of Carleton College and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Climate Justice Campaign Director at NDN collective
Jade Begay, Climate Justice Campaign Director, is Diné and Tesuque Pueblo of New Mexico. Begay leads NDN Collective’s climate justice campaign work and brings extensive experience working in climate justice movement spaces throughout Turtle Island and within Indigenous communities across the globe.
She is a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She has also worked as a multimedia producer, filmmaker and communications professional working in non-profit and Indigenous organizations. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Video and a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Leadership.