Friends of the Earth's mission is to defend the environment and champion a more healthy and just world. To accomplish that mission, we are working at the nexus of environmental protection, economic justice and social justice to fundamentally transform the way our country and the world values people and the environment.
Within the past year we have seen the dismantling of critical environmental protections through the gutting of the EPA and blatant attacks on our public lands for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry. And this administration is just getting started. Coupled together, these attacks leave the environment more vulnerable than it has been in over two decades and threaten decades of hard-fought victories for people and the planet.
Friends of the Earth was made for this fight. We are tough, scrappy, and aren’t afraid to stand up and speak truth to power. We pull no punches, and neither do our members. We are organizing at the grassroots to expand FOE’s political power and stop many of the Trump administration’s environmental attacks by developing a diverse base of activists and grassroots leaders who are taking action at a local level to influence key decision-makers in their districts.
In order to help us build a diverse base of activists and grassroots leaders we have launched a grassroots fellowship program aimed at organizing to stand up to Trump and his corrupt administration. This program focuses on Friends of the Earth's flagship campaigns to fight the Trump administration's attacks on people and the environment.
Meet OUR Grassroots Fellows:
Onyinye Alheri is the Maryland-based 2019 Grassroots Organizing Fellow at Friends of the Earth. Onyinye is an artist and organizer whose practice centers working class people of multiple identities who have experienced generational exclusion and marginalization. She is active in efforts to promote economic, environmental, racial, transit and housing justice. She believes in a harm-reduction philosophy and that community healing must happen in conjunction with self care. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Onyinye has lived in many places and is now focused on power-building in her childhood home of Baltimore. She has a BA in International Studies from Macalester College and is currently working on a master’s in social work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Fun Fact: Favorite movie is ‘George Washington’ by David Gordon Green.
New York City, new York
Jo Cutrona is Friends of the Earth’s 2019 New York City-based Grassroots Fellow. Before becoming a FOE Fellow, they worked as a Frontline Fundraiser for Greenpeace, mobilizing people to act against the tar sands pipelines, plastic pollution, and deforestation. They’re deeply passionate about social and environmental justice, and believe it’s vital that communities come together to stand up for human rights! Jo is also an actor/singer, and in their artistic pursuits – much like in their activism – most enjoy doing work that has an emphasis on community building, diversity and inclusion, and questioning the status quo.
Fun Fact: I love fantasy and sci-fi. ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in my favorite movie!
Aerielle is the 2019 Grassroots Organizing fellow in Washington. She has always been deeply inspired by nature and people and passionate about helping restore social and environmental justice in this out of balance world. From a young age, she has pursued activism through her personal and social connections. This has translated into action through her current climate justice work as an active member of the Earth Guardians National Youth Council, a group of inspired young people around the country advocating for environmental and social justice. She recently completed her two year degree at Portland Community College and completed an extensive multimedia program. She will be a junior at Seattle University in the fall studying economics and environmental science so she can further her perspective as she continues her lifelong pursuit for a more sustainable and just planet.
Fun Fact: My favorite movie is Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Carrie is the Massachusetts organizing fellow for Friends of the Earth. She got started as an organizer as an intern during the Yes on 3 Campaign to keep Massachusetts transgender non-discrimination laws on the books. She enjoys reading history to once accidentally wander into a university and emerge a couple years later with a bachelors degree. When she is not organizing or reading, Carrie enjoys sailing and hiking.
Fun Fact: Her time as a transit bus driver made it so that nothing anyone can do can seriously phase her.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Maryah Lauer is the 2019 Grassroots Organizing fellow in Colorado. Before joining FOE, Maryah lived in the UK for two years, getting an LL.M in Human Rights and the Environment. Maryah grew up primarily in Texas, but the mountains and sunshine pulled her West to Colorado for college, where she worked as Volunteer Coordinator at the UCCS Office of Sustainability. Maryah is passionate about water, democratic control of natural resources, and educating herself and others about environmental justice issues. Maryah has a B.A in Political Science and Communication from University of Colorado.
Fun Fact: My favorite movie is The Princess Bride.
Gabrielle is the 2019 Grassroots Organizing Fellow in Oregon. She was Inspired to change her math major to environmental studies after reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, introduced in a college English class by professor Karen Brown. The treatment of animals in the industrial food sector, the lack of healthy fruits and vegetables across America, and the long term effects from pesticide exposure to birds, bees, insects, and humans, enraged Gabrielle. She decided to emerge herself in Environmental Justice classes at the University of Oregon (U of O). Professors Sarah Wald, Peter Walker and Alexandra Rempel, brought awareness to issues of migrant farm worker conditions and the lack of access to their basic human rights of healthcare, food security, home security and environmental racism stemming from Croney politics,
Gabrielle has over 20 years experience in customer service and is passionate about social and environmental justice issues. Gabrielle is a single mother of two who enjoys family outings at Oregon State Parks with her son Jiovanni, 13, and daughter Sophia, 8. She enjoys her family community at U of O, gardening, cooking, and throwing Disco and birthday parties for her friends and family. Gabrielle is currently a senior at U of O finishing up her undergraduate degree in environmental studies. She hopes to bring awareness to her community about issues our society faces today and the attacks from our current administration on equal rights, access to healthcare, and protection of public lands.
Gabrielle is currently a community assistant in the family housing community at U of O. Her duties include ensuring the safety of all residents and establishing a sense of community through connectivity, compassion, empathy, and culture. She also works in the BEST Afterschool Program, teaching middle schoolers about environmental and social issues through recycling, gardening, team sports, and cooking.
Fun Fact: I have a musical answer for just about any question.
Abigayle Reese is the 2019 Grassroots Organizing Fellow in Minnesota. Abigayle is a Junior at Concordia College double majoring in Global Studies (Development) and Business Marketing. Abigayle is a member of various organizations on campus and holds multiple leadership positions, she also started the group Minority Cobbers for Change which volunteers with marginalized individuals and hosts events for justice and equity. Abigayle cares deeply for environmental, social, and racial justice and uses her skills from her position on the Concordia Forensics team to educate about these issues and how they are connected. Abigayle has worked heavily on issues of racial and environmental justice and is excited to continue this work as a Grassroots Fellow.
Fun Fact: I have been hit by a car multiple times yet I managed to never suffer any major injuries!
Susan Sunhee Volz
Susan Sunhee Volz is the Pennsylvania-based 2019 Grassroots Organizing Fellow at Friends of the Earth. A local Philadelphian, she is passionate about building people power to solve the crises facing the city. She’s been a dedicated environmentalist since her childhood spent exploring Pennypack Park and watching Captain Planet. She believes that environmental work is and must be intersectional with other forms of oppression. She organizes with the Radical Asian American Womxn’s Collective of Philly and the Ecosocialist Working Group of DSA. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Drexel University where her focus was climate and environmental justice and where she wrote a graduate thesis on fracking in Pennsylvania.
Fun Fact: I’m really good at peeling oranges so the peel stays in one piece.
Kala Tedder is a current junior majoring in Political Science at the University of South Florida. Kala’s activism began in high school where she was introduced to High School Democrats of America and became the chairwoman of her state caucus. During her term, she expanded the organization, promoted and helped organize March For Our Lives rallies, and ran for her county’s school board during which she gained more experience in grassroots organizing. Kala is motivated most by her connection to her community and the necessity of environmental justice and just food systems where she lives.
Fun Fact: My favorite move is ‘The Addams Family’
2019 Fellowship Program
Friends of the Earth envisions a world where we live within the ability of the planet to sustain life, and in which all people live with dignity, health and equity. We believe that both environmental crises, as well as widespread social injustice, are intertwined symptoms of flawed ideological, economic and political systems that are violating peoples’ rights, perpetuating oppression, failing to meet the needs of people, and destroying the planet.
We believe that increasing racial diversity within environmental organizations is critical to the future success of our movement. Our six-month fellowship is designed to increase the long-term effectiveness of FOE and the environmental movement by operating an inspiring and fulfilling fellowship program that builds skills and relevant job experience for people of color and members of underrepresented communities. Each of our five fellows work closely with one of our five programs: Climate and Energy, Economic Policy, Food and Agriculture, Oceans and Vessels, and Organizing.
Oceans & Vessels Fellow
Naudelis is the 2019 Oceans & Vessels fellow in Washington, DC. She was born and raised in Puerto Rico where she grew to be passionate about her island’s history, culture, and natural resources. In high school, Naudelis participated in an environmental leadership program lead by the Sierra Club Student Coalition and she has collaborated with the group as an organizer, facilitator, and coach ever since. Naudelis recently graduated from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and an Economics minor. She is currently a coach and facilitator for the Climate Justice League and board member of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (PR). In both spaces she helps other youth in Puerto Rico organize environmental justice campaigns and projects. When she’s not out and about fighting for climate justice, you can find Naudelis in a Zumba class as an instructor or student or trying to take the perfect picture for Instagram. Naudelis aspires to start law school this fall and continue her work towards a just and sustainable society.
Fun Fact: I have “accidentally” snuck into two VIP concert events
Climate & Energy Fellow
Raena Garcia is the Climate & Energy Fellow at Friends of the Earth in DC. Her duties include holding corporations and decision makers accountable on environmental and social injustices while promoting clean and sustainable practices. She is a native New Mexican and graduated with a BS in Biology and BA in Psychology from the University of New Mexico. Previously with Americorps VISTA, Raena dedicated her work in promoting environmental education and Earth stewardship to residents in rural New Mexico. She has worked with local and state representatives, Pueblos, non-profits, and community leaders on conservation campaigns to help permanently protect New Mexico’s diverse wildlife, waters, and public lands. You can find Raena spending her free time outdoors in nature or trying out new restaurants and foods.
Fun Fact: I’ve recently found a love for river rafting. My last trip was a three-day float down the Chama River and I hope to one day do the Colorado River!
Economic Policy Fellow
William is the 2019 Economic Policy fellow in Washington, D.C. He works on issues related to the corporate finance and liability of industries that drive climate change via fossil fuel production and deforestation, as well as the transition to a fully renewable grid system and transportation network through the Green New Deal. He earned his B.S. in Environmental Economics & Management from the University of Georgia and is an alumnus of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program. William enjoys outdoor activities, is an aspiring sushi critic, and promotes green entrepreneurship.
Fun Fact: William can tie a knot with a cherry stem using his tongue.
Food & Agriculture Fellow
Jolene is the 2019 Food and Agriculture Fellow and is primarily working on the Bee Action campaign which focuses on banning pollinator-toxic pesticides and transitioning the food system to be more organic. Prior to the fellowship, she was a Project Coordinator for Nutrition Action Healthletter where she worked on various food centric articles through research and editorial work. She has a B.S. in Kinesiology (Public Health Concentration) and Environmental Policy from the College of William and Mary. Jolene has a strong passion for food justice and its intersectionality with public health. When she’s not working she likes to bike, cook, write, do yoga, and go to museums!
Fun Fact: I can rotate my arms 360 degrees because I have hypermobility in my shoulders!