Meet Our Summer Intern!

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We love summer for so many reasons.  It’s the time of year when seeds planted in the spring blossom, bloom and grow strong, and it’s a time to prepare for the warm gatherings and occasions for sharing that seem to characterize the fall.  At WEA, the summer is when we tend partnerships, plan for celebrations to come, and welcome in the amazing interns we’ve been fortunate enough to work with in summers passed.

This summer is no different, and we’re so thrilled to welcome Katie to the team here in Berkeley for her summer break. Meet Katie below!

KATIE DOUGLAS — General Office & Research Intern

1. Tell us about yourself — your background/journey to WEA.  I’m a student at Brandeis University in Boston, and heading into my senior year with majors in Environmental Studies and Anthropology. I attribute my love of the natural world to my parents for introducing me to redwood trees and blue-bellied lizards. During college I became heavily involved with the organization Half the Sky, and was incredibly moved by their work in providing access to education for girls across the globe. When I stumbled onto WEA I was amazed to find an organization that seemed to perfectly address the intersection of my interests in women’s rights, the environment, and the traditional knowledge of indigenous communities.

2. What do you do at WEA?  I’m a General Office Intern so I mainly support Kahea with general administration tasks, such as filing and managing the donor base. Additionally I research ongoing environmental developments for women, and assist with current campaigns.

3. Share 2 unique/fun/crazy/weird things about you that your co-workers do not know!  I worked on a farm for several summers, and seriously considered taking a baby goat home with me because I’m obsessed with goats. I have a secret skill for building camp fires.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment?  I think that the mainstream western environmental movement can be very ignorant to what an integral role women and indigenous persons play in the protection of the environment. While I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with the preservation of land, or the legal protection of endangered species, I think that the environmental movement can forget that millions of people around the world are already facing the direct consequences of climate change. Therefore their experiences make them experts on the current effects of climate change, and place them at the most important locations to develop sustainable change with equal access to resources and community training.

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why.  Sheryl WuDunn, the co-author of Half the Sky, is one of my biggest inspirations. She has broken so many barriers as a reporter, an educator on women’s rights, and a modern leader. Her work on the direct links from women’s education to a country’s economic prosperity, resource management, and levels of poverty has always reminded me how integral women are to the state of our world.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you at WEA.  WEA is such a close-knit and welcoming community, and everyone made me feel so comfortable on my first day. I was really surprised by how small WEA is, but all these women have accomplished so much. And there are always so many kinds of tea in the office, which is awesome!

7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA?  I hope to be continuously learning about current global developments and issues that deal with the intersection of women’s rights, the environment, and indigenous rights. I’m also hoping to gain a greater understanding of how non-profits like WEA function, and get to know an amazing group of women leaders.

Meet the rest of the talented interns that have worked with WEA throughout the years here!

Meet our Fall Interns!

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As we all shut down our computers and close our office doors to get ready for the holiday weekend, we at WEA are once again reminded of how so much of our work would not be possible without the support of our rockstar team of interns.  So to kick off our gratitude-sharing festivities, we’re sending warm hugs and tons of thanks to these ladies!

Thank you both for all the energy you’re bringing to your time with us!

And we hope everyone has some time this weekend to take a moment, give thanks for one another and the planet we live on, and do a little something to show that appreciation to the world.

REBECCA OLSON – General Office and Research Intern

 1. Tell us about yourself – Background / Journey to WEA.  I grew near the Blue Ridge Mountains in West Virginia and moved to Northern California a few years ago, where I managed an inn for several years and took community college classes. Now I am finishing my bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at UC Berkeley with a self-designed research focus on feminist perspectives in international relations, considering how traits traditionally associated with femininity and marginalized in the political sphere could contribute to policies that support a more sustainable and equitable international system. In my research, I focus on the experience of women and marginalized groups. I’ve always worked while in college, but starting this summer I took a leap of faith and decided to prioritize valuable learning experience over income-earning, mainly because I wanted to start learning firsthand about the issues that are close to my heart. I spent the summer volunteering for an international organization based in Rome that supports sustainable forestry and agriculture. Then I found Women’s Earth Alliance through an Internet search and joined the WEA team this fall.

2. What do you do at WEA?  I help with general office tasks and donor support. I am also researching the effects of energy development projects on Native U.S. and Canadian women’s reproductive health, as well as its connections to violence against Native women, and I’m excited to contribute a few blog posts in the coming weeks as I learn more about these issues.

3. Share 2 unique/fun/crazy/weird things about you that your co-workers do not know!  I used to volunteer at a monkey sanctuary in Maryland, and I just started learning Argentine Tango.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment?  One major challenge is grappling with our economic mindset that prioritizes short-term income or profits over long-term prosperity. Also, I think that our conventional understanding of economics needs to expand to include those things that truly contribute to human well-being, such as healthy relationships with each other and with the planet. Treating the earth like a commodity is obviously not sustainable. Additionally, I think that development projects will tend to replicate or even exacerbate existing inequalities in society unless they are rigorously examined and take into account the concerns of all those who will be effected.

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why.  Vandana Shiva, for her activism to preserve biodiversity and to support the work of women farmers. Many times I struggle with how to effect positive change in the world. I see Shiva’s work as focusing on the regeneration of life, building life from the roots (in communities and working with small farmers), rather than coming down from the top with some big revolutionary idea.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you at WEA.   On my first day, I was told that I could take the initiative in projects that I’m working on. I said, “Oh, you mean if I want to do something differently I should check with you first?” She clarified that I can just go ahead. I’m still getting used to this approach, and find that it makes me feel energized and excited about the projects I’m working on.

7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA?  I hope to learn about specific effects of environmental damage on the bodies and lives of Indigenous women and communities, and to learn about what these women are doing to stand up for themselves and protect their bodies, families, and communities. I am already learning so much, and wondering why I haven’t seen more stories about these issues in the mainstream media. I hope to be able to share what I learn with family, friends, and others who I know.

KATALINA TORRES-GARCIA – General Office and Research Intern

1. Tell us about yourself – Background / Journey to WEA.  I grew up near Los Angeles and moved up to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley where I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree in Psychology. When I saw there was an opening at WEA I jumped at it. WEA’s work focuses on the subjects I am most passionate about.

2. What do you do at WEA?  I’m the general office and research intern. I update and input donations and information into WEA’s databases, transcribe testimonies, help cultivate donor support and correspondence and assist with anything else the team needs help with!

3. Share 2 unique/fun/crazy/weird things about you that your co-workers do not know!  I’m really fond of dogs, so much so that my attention span is temporarily suspended if I see one and I’ll only really be thinking, “Must pet dog…” When I’m not thinking about dogs I’m probably thinking about food, or traveling to different countries to eat food.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment?  I see the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment as changing the embedded patriarchy within our systems. This challenge is exacerbated when corporations have their hands in environmental issues fueling injustices and are neglecting human rights. To create an environmentally sustainable future it’s necessary for women have agency over the environment that shapes their lives.

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why.  Many women inspire me, but my mom is always who comes to mind first. She set the standards of equality for my life, and I’m thankful because now I won’t settle for anything less. She encouraged me to learn and to question and to not hold back my voice or opinions.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you at WEA.  One thing that surprised me at WEA is the volume of new information I am exposed to. Before I began I felt relatively informed, but after just my first couple of days I learned about issues that I knew little about and will never forget.

7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA? Throughout my time here at WEA, I hope to get practice and knowledge about how a non-profit operates to move forward and continue to work to improve the environment and lives of women, including my own. I look forward to learning and seeing how when we women connect to share knowledge and resources, change can occur on small scale to become widespread.

Meet the rest of the talented interns that have worked with WEA throughout the years here!

Meet Our Summer Intern!

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We don’t know what we’d do without all the wonderful interns who have given of themselves to support our work over the past few years.

That’s why we’re so excited to introduce you to the amazing intern working with us here in Berkeley this summer!  She’s a rockstar, and we feel so lucky to have her on board!  If you’re in the Bay Area, come by and say hi to Kelsey and the rest of the team!
KELSEY RILEY – General Intern

1. Tell us about yourself – Background / Journey to WEA.  Born and raised in the Bay Area, I have always appreciated the incredible amount of cultural and environmental diversity Northern California has to offer. Even as a child, I knew that I was incredibly lucky to live in such an amazing area with countless opportunities. I grew up volunteering at school events and summer camps, and it has always been my passion to give back to my community. Here in Berkeley I volunteer through a mental health awareness org, as well as a homeless shelter for youth ages 18-25.

I just finished my second year at UC Berkeley and I am majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies. A good friend of mine interned with WEA previously and after I heard about her experiences, I knew I had to get involved!

2. What do you do at WEA?  Generally I help with daily operations, whether it be logging donations or writing thank-you cards to our generous donors. In addition I have been working on some graphics to add to WEA’s social media pages, as well as doing research on the Alberta tar sands and their impact on indigenous women and their communities.

3. Share 2 unique/fun/crazy/weird things about you that your co-workers do not know! I enjoy the movie Napoleon Dynamite a little too much! I won a pig-calling contest when I was seven… I am strangely proud of this accomplishment.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment?  I think that at times it can be difficult to examine the intersectionality between these categories because they each have issues within themselves. We must be able to look at these intersections critically and search for ways in which they bring different identities together in order to make sense of these complex challenges and find ways to actively work on them.

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why.  Emma Thompson. Other than being an Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter, she supports anti-poverty agency ActionAid, is the chair of human rights organization The Helen Bamber Foundation, and works to raise awareness of human trafficking. I deeply admire both her work in film and her philanthropy.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you at WEA.  How such a small group of individuals can make such an impact in so many ways. WEA is a living, breathing example of women supporting women in a way that brings individuals of all experiences together to empower one another. WEA encourages women to continue being successful leaders within their communities.

7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA?  I hope to learn more about the intersections between women and environmental issues, and how women can work together to make differences both in their communities and on a more global scale. I also hope to contribute to hands-on, creative projects that assist the social media presence of WEA as an organization.

Meet the rest of the talented interns that have worked with WEA throughout the years here!

#Proud2BIndigenous Week

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Did you know this week was First Peoples Worldwide’s Proud To Be Indigenous week?

WEA’s Advocacy Network Coordinator, Kahea Pacheco, shares why she’s so proud to be Indigenous:

“Because it grounds me in my history, my legacy, and my responsibility.  Hawaiians are a strong and resilient people that took care of community and land, and that’s something I can look up to.”

 

Proud2BIndigenous

 

Meet our Spring Interns!

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What’s amazing, and talented and leaves us thinking it’s too good to be true?  
Our WEA intern team! 
We have some serious love for these ladies – and for all of the rockstar interns who have supported WEA over the years.  They help us not only during our big events, but also in the day-to-day running of things, making our work not only possible, but THRIVE.

Because we adore them and their awesome skills, we wanted to introduce our current spring interns to all of you.

We’d also like to send a big heartfelt hug and thanks to some of our previous interns from last fall and early winter: Molly Garritson, Monica Boardman, Germaine Lau and Bess Zewdie.

SOPHIE SPARKSWORTHY – General Intern

1. Tell us about yourself! What is your background and what has been your journey to WEA?  Born and raised in Lake Tahoe, I have always had a deep connection with nature.  Ever since I was little I felt very lucky to be blessed with the wilderness as my playground.  My connection with the wild inspired me to want to protect the bounty and beauty our planet has to offer.  Despite my love for the outdoors, growing up in a small town drove me to San Francisco to attend San Francisco State University to graduate with a Degree in International Relations, and a minor in Russian.

In my five and half years in the Bay Area, I have come to appreciate the vibrancy and vitality that comes from thriving urban communities.  I began to see disparities between communities and individuals more clearly than ever, and decided it would be one of my missions in life to help make positive changes.  After volunteering for community organizations, I realized my passions were focused around global injustices particular to the environment (water especially).  Seeing the work WEA did, I was able to see my two passions linked together to help communities thrive through supporting women.

2. What do you do at WEA?  My role at WEA involves supporting the general operations of the organization, like administrative assistance, and helping to maintain donor relations.  I am also working to support the Advocacy Network, which allows me a wonderful opportunity to research potential and current Indigenous environmental movements and efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.  Part of this role includes blogging about these significant efforts made by Indigenous communities and organizations.

3. Share 2 unique things about you that your co-workers do not know.  Two unique things my co-workers might not know are that I have been belly dancing since I was 13 years old, and am currently teaching myself how to costume design.  Rather than keep pets, I raise carnivorous plans as well.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersection of women and the environment?  The biggest challenge I see globally for the intersection of women and the environment is access.  Access to the resources, training, and participation in the decision-making process necessary to have more power in maintaining our ecosystems, and having a role in protecting the future of this planet.

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why.  One woman who I find to be extremely inspirational for her strength to resist the USSR and create change for so many is Maria Cherkasova.  As a Russian journalist and ecologist during Soviet rule, she forced the government to adopt an environmental program, and address some of the severe ecological issues of the time.  Since then, she has run the largest environmental NGO in the former Soviet Republic.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you about being at WEA.  I was surprised by the amount that play and work are incorporated together.  I was even more surprised to see the results of this combination with an incredible amount being accomplished.

7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA?  From my time at WEA, I hope to gain a strong understanding of the issues women face globally, and the surrounding climate change.  More importantly, I hope to gain a meaningful understanding for what people are doing to solve these problems, and what those efforts take logistically, financially, and personally.  I hope to gain the hands-on experience and skills that can be utilized for any cause I may involve myself in.

SOPHIA ROSE PENNELLA  – Social Media Intern

1. Tell us about yourself! What is your background and what has been your journey to WEA?  I grew up in Southern and Northern California, spending my school year in Los Angeles and winters and summers in Truckee near Lake Tahoe.  I was raised with an appreciation for the outdoors and a moral code to conserve our natural beauty.  Studying environmental economics in college, with geography, photography, and French as my minors, only crystallized those passions.

I graduated in December 2013 from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and moved to the Bay Area.  I knew that while I was studying for the GRE and advancing my long-term goals of pursuing a graduate level degree in economics and natural resource management, I also wanted to gain some experience working with a non-profit organization doing international development or environmental work.  When I found WEA it was like my dreams had come true.  The organization seemed to be involved in everything I was interested in: development, sustainability, empowering women, co-powering organizations, and environmental management.  At the time I applied, they had no internships available, but I stuck with it and kept in touch, and soon enough one opened up!

2. What do you do at WEA?  I am the Social Media Intern at WEA.  I manage the daily postings on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, spread awareness of WEA’s mission and projects, and connect with other like-minded organizations.  It allows for a lot of creative control and collaboration with the rest of the staff.

3. Share 2 unique things about you that your co-workers do not know.  I have a pet bird named Stella who travels with my family and me on any road trips we take!  I also would love to open an artisanal dairy products shop one day.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersection of women and the environment?  Women, all over the world (including the West), need to be empowered.  They need to be empowered to realize that they hold the key to sustainable change and have access to the resources they need.  This empowerment lies in education (of resources, skills, ability to evoke change) and community building (within their own community, and outside communities and organizations).  The combination of these two factors equips women with the confidence and resources that they need to save our environment.

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why.  My mother inspires me.  After being a stay-at-home mother for 18 years, she decided to go back and get a Masters degree in what she truly loved at the age of 50.  Not until she was 52 did she start her career and now she is a powerhouse!  She did not let age or time keep her from achieveing her dreams.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you about being at WEA.  I was suprised at how comfortable I immediately felt at WEA.  The office feels like a home, and even though I can work remotely, I prefer to go into the office.  With that, the staff is incredibly sweet, helpful, and enjoyable to be around.7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA?  I hope to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who are looking for unique and pragmatic approaches to environmental sustainability.  I hope to be inspired by and inspire my co-workers.  I hope to learn the workings of an environmental non-profit.  I also enjoy learning about social media, marketing, and public relations best practices.

Meet the rest of the talented interns that have worked with WEA throughout the years here!