Meet the Judges

ecoAmerica is thrilled to have another stellar group of climate leaders and advocates on board for the fifth annual American Climate Leadership Awards and the inaugural awards for high school students...

ecoAmerica Announces the 2024 American Climate Leadership Awards Selection Committee

ecoAmerica is thrilled to have another stellar group of climate leaders and advocates on board for the fifth annual American Climate Leadership Awards and the inaugural awards for high school students. The 2024 Awards kicks off mid-September. Join us, and apply today!

Leader Awards Judges Include

Christopher Barnard
President, American Conservation Coalition (ACC)

Chris has dual American and Belgian citizenship. Having grown up in Belgium, he speaks Dutch, French, and English fluently. He received a Master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and currently resides in Washington, DC, with his wife, Hayley. While in the UK, he founded the British Conservation Alliance and was active in UK politics for several years. He also co-published the book Green Market Revolution, which has been read in 100+ countries, translated into 5 languages, and has a foreword by Lord Daniel Hannan. Chris has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, The Independent, USA Today, Newsweek, and more. Chris has spoken at conferences in more than 10 countries.

Jackie Biskupski
Climate Champion

Jackie Biskupski is a well-known climate champion and political figure in the State of Utah. Her political career spanned city, county, and state levels of government for over 20 years. She was first elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 1998 and earned a second title as Utah’s first openly gay elected official. She served in the Utah Legislature for 13 years.

Chip Giller
Founder, Grist

Chip Giller is a social entrepreneur working at the intersection of media, culture, community, and emerging technology. He believes in a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck. Giller has been an innovator in the climate movement and media field for more than 25 years, leading creative storytelling teams and partnering with nonprofits, companies, philanthropists, activists, and other leaders to accelerate progress to a better, more just world. In 1999, he founded one of the first digital news organizations and first nonprofit newsrooms, Grist, intent on using a new type of journalism to engage the next generation on environmental issues. Among other honors, Giller has received a Heinz Award for founding the country’s most influential green media platform, and has been named a TIME magazine “Hero of the Environment.” He has been featured for his work in such outlets as Vanity Fair and Outside and appeared on broadcast programs such as NBC’s Today Show. Before launching Grist, Giller was the editor of Greenwire, the first environmental news daily. He and his family live on Vashon Island, near Seattle.

Maddy Kohlberg

Madeleine is currently enrolled in NYU, STERN pursuing her MBA, while actively participating in various clubs and centers such as the Private Equity and Venture Capital Club, STERN Women in Business, and The Berkeley Center for Entrepreneurship. Alongside her studies, she works as an analyst at Global PayTech Ventures where she collaborates with founders and searches for new companies to invest in. Madeleine is also a member of Golden Seeds, an Angel Investing Group, focused on bridging the gender gap in investment. In her spare time, she volunteers at Salvation for Families and serves as a board member of the Camalotte Foundation. Previously, Madeleine worked in the hospitality industry with Major Food Group, where she became passionate about food and food sustainability. She holds a degree in Communications and a minor in Social Work from Miami University. A dynamic individual with diverse interests and accomplishments, Madeleine currently resides in New York City.

Bill Mckibben
Founder, Third Act

Bill McKibben is the founder of Third Act, which organizes people over the age of 60 for action on climate and justice.

His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change and has appeared in 24 languages. He’s gone on to write 20 books, and his work appears regularly in periodicals from the New Yorker to Rolling Stone. He serves as the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he has won the Gandhi Peace Prize as well as honorary degrees from 20 colleges and universities. He was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the alternative Nobel, in the Swedish Parliament. Foreign Policy named him to its inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers.

McKibben helped found, the first global grassroots climate campaign, which has organized protests on every continent, including Antarctica, for climate action. He played a leading role in launching the opposition to big oil pipeline projects like Keystone XL, and the fossil fuel divestment campaign, which has become the biggest anti-corporate campaign in history, with endowments worth more than $40 trillion stepping back from oil, gas, and coal. He stepped down as board chair of 350 in 2015, left the board, and stepped down from his volunteer role as a senior adviser in 2020, accepting emeritus status. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors. In 2014, biologists credited his career by naming a new species of woodland gnat—Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.

Geof Rochester
Founder and CEO, GRC Advising

Geof Rochester is the founder and CEO of GRC Advising, a consulting practice that specializes in working on business strategy, marketing, and capital formation with for-profit and nonprofit brands.
Previously, Rochester served as the CMO of AppHarvest, where he led branding and marketing efforts through the company’s IPO. He was also the managing director and CMO of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and held marketing leadership roles at World Wrestling Entertainment, Showtime Networks, Comcast Cable, Radisson Hotels Worldwide, Marriott, and Procter & Gamble. Rochester is a graduate of Georgetown University and received an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Laura Turner Seydel
Captain Planet Foundation

Laura Turner Seydel works with and supports organizations that address urgent challenges affecting the health, functionality, and vitality of our life support system: our air, water, land, food, biodiversity, and climate. She serves on the board of Project Drawdown, which focuses on measuring the top scalable solutions to address global warming. Laura also works to address the extinction crisis as a Patron of Nature for the International Union of the Conservation of Nature.

As chair of the Captain Planet Foundation, she works to guide the organization in its mission to empower and engage youth to become environmental stewards. She is a passionate board member of the Children & Nature Network, whose mission is that all children grow up realizing the many benefits — physically, mentally, and developmentally — that exposure to nature provides.

The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers
The Episcopal Church

The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers is a Canon to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and spearheads Episcopal efforts around evangelism, racial reconciliation and creation care. She also serves on the clergy team at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City. Prior to her current ministry, she served as Chaplain to the Episcopal House of Bishops, directed and taught mission and evangelism at General Theological Seminary, and served as Canon for Missional Vitality in the Diocese of Long Island. Her professional ministry began at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Boston, where she acted as the cathedral’s Minister for Radical Welcome and founded The Crossing, a ground-breaking church now in its 17th year. The author of The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline and New Hope for Beloved Community, an updated edition of Radical Welcome: Embracing God, The Other and the Spirit of Transformation, and The Episcopal Way (with Eric Law), she has led numerous church-wide and ecumenical renewal and justice efforts. A native of Frankfort, Kentucky, she holds master’s degrees from both Episcopal Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School and an honorary doctorate from General Theological Seminary. She and her husband Albert deGrasse make their home in New York’s Harlem neighborhood.

High School Students Awards

The high school student awards category will be judged by a committee of five who are climate leaders hailing from the East and West Coast:

Jasilyn Charger
Co-founder, 7th Defenders

Jasilyn Charger is a Land Defender and community organizer youth advocate for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. They are 23 years old and have been on the frontlines for six years battling pipelines, protecting and advocating for Native American and LGBTQ rights. Currently, they are supporting a local movement for MMIW with the Women Warriors Society opposing the construction of the KXL pipeline. Jasilyn is the co-founder of the International Indigenous Youth Council, The One Mind Movement, and 7th Defenders, a grassroots group that serves disadvantaged youth and young adults on the Cheyenne River Reservation. Jasilyn Charger was one of the few youths who ignited the Standing Rock Pipeline Resistance Movement.

Hannah Estrada
Climate Organizer, Youth Vs. Apocalypse

Hannah Estrada is a 20-year-old Chicana organizer born and raised in San Francisco. She’s been organizing with Youth Vs. Apocalypse for about 5 years at the intersections of race, climate, and class. For the last 2 years, Hannah has served as YVA’s San Francisco Lead building spaces in SF public schools for students coming from low-income communities of color to explore what climate justice means for/to their communities through education and organizing. She is determined to bring the ideas of sustainability into different walks of life and build solidarity across movement spaces.

Daphne Frias
Climate Advocate

Daphne Frias is an American activist from West Harlem, New York City, whose work and advocacy have focused on gun control, voting rights, climate change, and environmental and disability justice.

Nancy Metzger-Carter
Schools for Climate Action

Alexandria Villaseñor
Founder, Earth Uprising

About the Author
Gibbs Rehlen, American Climate Leadership Awards Program Director, ecoAmerica

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