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Meet the Interns: Hi, Oriana!

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Summer is almost here, which means we’re welcoming a new cohort of bright and passionate interns to our team! To kick things off, we are so happy to introduce you to Oriana — a talented, dedicated force, and a committed advocate of climate resilience, particularly for displaced communities. She’ll be bringing all of her skills and care to our Programs + Operations team this summer.

Please help us in giving Oriana a very warm welcome!

Name: Oriana Cabrera Piemonte
Hometown: San Jose, CA

If you had a superpower, what would it be (and why)? I wish I knew how to speak every language because being able to communicate with anyone anywhere would give you the ability to connect with so many people and learn so much!

Why did you want to intern with WEA? I feel passionate about working in a field that challenges traditional development methods by learning alternative ways to combat food insecurity, poverty, and environmental destruction through grassroots organizing. This is exactly what WEA is doing by empowering rural communities and women to remain at the center of governance and management of their local resources. This is incredibly important as we face increasing climate change related natural disasters that have the ability to displace mass populations and can be a fueling force in local and international conflict. Coming from an immigrant family, I’ve always felt passionate about immigrant and refugee rights especially as I’ve learned more about the connections between climate change, human migration, and the risks that many immigrants might face when crossing borders. Through WEA’s projects, women, children, and communities as a whole have transitioned to be safer spaces that ensure climate resilience and economic opportunity, and potentially limits the number of people forced to move in search of education, employment, or safety.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. Princess Nokia is an artist who has been a huge inspiration to me because she radically challenges societal norms surrounding gender and sexuality through her music. She talks a lot about embracing both masculinity and femininity as well as addressing intersectional issues surrounding race, women, the earth. One of the reasons I really appreciate her as a musician is because she aims at making her concerts safe spaces that prioritize women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.

Why women and why the environment? As I became more involved studying the many intersections between environmental and social justice, I consistently found my studies leading me back to how women were most affected. I became most passionate about this when learning about illegal mining in South America and studying the impacts this had on indigenous women ranging from health impacts to increasing vulnerabilities to human trafficking and sexual violence; and in learning about the many injustices experienced by refugee women and children. Through my studies in international development I felt passionate about the lack of representation and inclusion of women in decision making for projects involving sustainability, employment, and education. Around the world knowledge has been gathered and passed down for generations by women through experiencing environmental changes and living directly in connection to their environment. This knowledge is incredibly valuable, and it must be heard and included when developing viable solutions to social and environmental issues, especially as women face increasing risks from the impacts of climate change.

What does your life outside WEA look like? I try to spend as much of my time as I can in a day outside. I love to be in the sun, whether I am just sitting outside reading or painting, out on a hike, or just walking around the city with friends. I also spend a lot of time with my family who are very involved with the Venezuelan community in the Bay Area so we spend a lot of time dancing and  cooking.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? I absolutely love going to the botanical gardens in Golden Gate Park. I love sitting out in the sun for the whole day or walking around and seeing all the beautiful trees, flowers, and the little birds and animals they attract.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I am currently reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and have been watching the shows Atlanta and The Handmaid’s Tale! Some artists I’ve been listening to lately and absolutely love are Kali Uchis, Kaytranada, The Internet, and Anderson Paak.

Meet the interns: Hey, Sally!

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A highlight of the work we do here at WEA is that we are fortunate enough to do so alongside the women who will continue to lead our communities and movements for years to come. That’s why our internship program is so important to us — because it gives us a chance to meet women like Sally! Sally will be joining us this semester to support our Programs + Operations, with a particular focus on supporting projects like the Ripple Academy and the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project.

Please help us welcome Sally to the WEA family!

Name: Sally Morton
Hometown: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
 
If you had a superpower, it would be (and why): My superpower would be able to truly feel what it’s like to be another person or another being whether that be a plant, animal, or rock. This would deepen my understanding of this world and what it means to be here. It would grow my capacity for empathy for all that exists outside of myself.
 
Why did you want to intern with WEA? My senior year of college, I met the founder, Melinda, at an event with Vandana Shiva. She gave me her business card of the Women’s Earth Alliance and I just couldn’t believe a nonprofit like this existed! Women’s and environmental empowerment are huge passions of mine and I’ve always felt they’re very connected. I looked WEA up online and was so inspired by the beautiful work they’re doing, I became eager to get involved!
 
Tell us about a woman who inspires you. A woman who inspires me is Stefani Germanotta, known as Lady Gaga. She’s maybe not the most obvious role model from first impression, but her self-love attitude and heart filled activism has inspired me since high school. She is a fierce advocate of mental health, LGBTQ+ rights and suicide prevention. She is extremely intelligent and weaves her courage, huge heart, and passion for justice into all of her public work.
 
Why women and why the environment? I’ve known in my bones since a young age that the disempowerment of women and the disempowerment of the environment are inextricably linked. The work towards a thriving future must be intersectional. Our planet is a huge system and the various systems of oppression and inequality are bound together and must be approached from all sides.
 
What does your life outside WEA look like? I’m starting a Chaplaincy Training at SF General Hospital, providing non-denominational spiritual care to any patients who want it. I work as a research assistant for Vijaya Nagarajan, a professor at the University of San Francisco. I also teach yoga and landscape. When I’m not working I love to read, go for long walks, meditate, hang out with friends and my partner Graham.
 
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? My favorite thing to do in the Bay Area is to walk along Ocean Beach on a full moon night.
 
What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I’m reading the book Salt Houses by Hala Alyan, a Palestinian author who reflects on the topics of gender, home and displacement. Also Battleborn by Claire Faye Watkins, a beautiful exposition of short stories about the American West. I listen to the Daily podcast from the New York Times every day.

Meet the interns: Hey, Teresa!

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WEA loves working with interns, and Teresa is one of them! Teresa, a smart, driven, and passionate woman ready to tackle some of the issues WEA cares about the most worked as our Programs + Operations intern. Thanks to Teresa’s support WEA has done even more work to empower women entrepreneurs and treat the environment with the love it needs. We are lucky to work with so many talented interns like Teresa.

Read more about her interests and amazing work below!

Name: Teresa Yu

If you had a superpower, what would it be and why? 
My practical superpower would be to know all the languages of the world and be a master of communication! This wouldn’t be limited to spoken languages either – I’d love to know all forms of language. My functional/silly superpower would be telekinesis because I would just be able to move things with my mind!

Why did you want to intern with WEA?
Amidst the most well-traveled year of my life so far, as intellectually fulfilling and exciting as it was, I yearned for an opportunity to bridge what I’d learned from my travels to my life in Berkeley, whilst still in school. I wanted to work in a place that would ground me once I came back to Berkeley. I believe that the solutions concerning environmental sustainability and poverty are already imbedded within the communities themselves, particularly within the women who lead the communities. WEA’s interdisciplinary understanding of the feminization of poverty and approach to engaging women entrepreneurs who are already working at the grassroots level embodied my desire to uplift women, while simultaneously work towards an environmentally just future.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you.
Besides my mom and all other moms in the world, a woman who inspires me is Michelle Obama. She remained true to her self after graduating from Princeton and Harvard and returned to her native Chicago, held several public sector positions that focused on the betterment of her community, and held the First Lady position with such grace and sophistication.

Why women and why the environment? 
As Katsi Cook once said, “Women are the first environment”. I remember as a child first learning that every living person once came from a woman, and I was absolutely blown away at the sheer strength and power that women held. A feminist to my core, learning the many ways in which women are disproportionately affected by poverty and climate change because of unequal access to opportunities and choices shaped my commitment to working at the intersection of the environment and marginalized communities. Women are inextricably linked to the environment, and it is impossible to separate the two when working towards environmental and social justice.

What does your life outside WEA look like? 
I’m currently in my last year of undergrad at UC Berkeley, studying Environmental Economics and Policy with minors in Global Poverty and Practice and Public Policy. When I’m not studying in Berkeley, I’m active in the Student Environmental Resource Center and other environmental initiatives on campus. I also love food, and love experimenting different ways it can be used as a platform for social activism.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area?
The Bay Area has the best weather in the world so I try to enjoy time outside as much as possible. I started rock climbing a few months ago and that’s been mentally and physically invigorating!

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to? 
I’m currently reading Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh, a delightful read about food and its intersection with politics, art, sexuality, gender, culture, and even class. I’m currently watching Dear White People, a hilarious and powerful show about identity politics in a predominantly white fictional Ivy League school and Annihilation, a sci-fi film about a super bad-ass team of women that embark on a super dark mission! I’m currently listening to (and loving) The Internet.

Meet the interns: Hi, Anna!

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We’re back with another outstanding intern to introduce you to, Anna! Anna joined WEA as our Communications + Outreach intern and we’re so lucky to have worked with interns, like Anna who are so passionate about empowering other women as well as creating a more sustainable environmental future. This social media savvy woman helped us keep our community up to date and informed on all our work while effectively communicating the passion we all feel for women and the environment. Thanks, Anna!

Read more about the amazing Anna below and what she’s up to!

Name: Anna Pedersen
Hometown: San Luis Obispo, CA
If you had a superpower, it would be (and why):
It would definitely have to be breathing underwater. If would open the door to exploring a whole new realm without depending on any equipment and I could spend hours underwater doing research, photography, or just hanging with the sea creatures.

Why did you want to intern with WEA?

Initially I was searching for an organization to work with alongside my minor, Global Poverty and Practice, and when I came across WEA it seemed too perfect a fit. I love that WEAs work is centered around both women and environmental concerns and the unique approach that WEA has to this area really aligned with my perspectives on development work. There’s no stepping in to ‘help’ women, its working as a support to enable women to feel empowered and able to make the changes they want to see, which is really beautiful.  

 

Tell us about a woman who inspires you.
I am always inspired by Melati and Isabel Wijsen who are two sisters from Bali that started their own non-profit against plastic pollution and worked/protested/fought to ban plastic bags in Bali. They started their organization when they were 10 and 12 because they saw an issue and wanted to address it. They did everything in their power to make the changes they were so passionate about, from beach cleanups-to a hunger strike. Eventually, their voices were recognized by the Governor of Bali, as well as other countries and now they are spreading their voices globally to ban plastic bags. Their story always inspires me, their passion, their dedication, their bravery and the way they are making things happen!
Why women and why the environment?
Because women are amazing! And the environment needs a lot of love right now. The way in which women are marginalized in so many different ways around the world is something that needs to be the center of focus and change if we want to create a healthy, sustainable and equitable planet for life to thrive on. The way things have been going for the last bit of time have taken us in a direction that won’t last long unless we create a paradigm shift and I believe women and the environment both need to be at the center of that shift in moving forward.
 

What does your life outside WEA look like?

I’m currently on a boat out in the Pacific right now, working as a Marine Naturalist for a children’s conservation program on board, so its life at sea for a little while. While I was with WEA though, I was studying Conservation and Environmental Biology at UC Berkeley, with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice. I was wrapping up my last year and spending a lot of time camping, going on adventures to the ocean in Santa Cruz or Marin, and going to different events around the Bay Area.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area?

Drive up Panoramic way and just sit and watch the whole Bay Area. It puts so much of what’s happening in this space into perspective and helps me reset. It’s also such a magical view up there. 

 

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to?

I don’t watch too much TV and haven’t had a lot of time to read (sadly) but I’ve been listening to a lot of Parov Stelar, Glass Animals and Flume lately. And when I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ve been throwing it back to Jack Johnson and Pepper.

Meet the Interns: Hi, Fiona!

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We’re wrapping up our summer intern series and are so excited to introduce you to Fiona! Fiona is a smart, passionate and committed advocate who has been busy supporting our Programs + Operations team this summer, specifically through our local efforts (have you seen her blog post on the upcoming Run4Salmon?). Her insights and care have helped to shape our summer, and we’re so honored to have her with us!

Please help us in giving Fiona a warm welcome!


Name: Fiona McLeod
Hometown: Berkeley, California

If you had a superpower, what would it be (and why)? I would want to be able to teleport myself around the world. I love traveling and exploring new places. If I could teleport, I could walk out of the library, hop on over to the Pacific Crest Trail or the Great Barrier Reef for a study break, and then get back in time for my next class.

Why did you want to intern with WEA? I have been following WEA’s work for many years, and always knew it was an organization that I wanted to be a part of. At school, I am majoring in American Studies with a concentration in Native and Indigenous Studies, and I hope to focus my future studies (and maybe eventually my career) at the intersection between human rights and the environment. WEA, with their Shedding Light on Environmental Violence project and other work with local indigenous communities, is the perfect place for me to become involved with this type of work!

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. My mom and her three older sisters are some of the most empathetic, passionate, and resilient women I know. These women are artists, teachers, and leaders in everything that they do, and they ground my entire extended family with an appreciation for the incredible strength that they show every day.

Why women and why the environment? Especially in the current global political climate, I believe it is more important than ever to invest in communities that are disproportionately affected by social and systemic injustices. Investing in women means supporting the health and well-being of entire communities and the environment at large, and provides women with a higher degree of agency to create positive change in the world.

What does your life outside WEA look like? When I’m not at WEA, you can usually find me reading a book by the ocean, hanging out with my family, or wandering around taking photos. I also work at a circus camp during the summer and am currently interning at an environmental law firm, Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA). In between all that, I’m planning an upcoming three-month-long solo trip to Argentina and Chile!

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? When I’m away at school, the thing I miss most about home is spending time outdoors with my friends and family. The Bay has an unbelievable wealth and variety of beautiful places that are all so close together…if you live here you can be in the mountains, the woods, and at the beach all in one day, and I can’t imagine anything better than that.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? So far, my favorite books of the summer have been On Beauty by Zadie Smith and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. I’m currently reading The Glass Castle and get basically all my news from listening to Pod Save America with my brother.