Grassroots Fellowship Program
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 the 2018 Fellows:
Chi Chi Anemelu
Chi Chi Anemelu is the 2018 Grassroots Organizing Fellow in Pennsylvania. Chi Chi is a senior at Temple University, and is currently working to complete a degree in Mechanical Engineering. She developed her passion for studying environmental issues in high school and it continued to grow from there. While pursuing her degree she has also become passionate about community organizing, and finding engineering solutions to help us create more green spaces and environments. In her free time you can also find her writing and journaling.
Fun Fact: One of my favorite songs is “Rollercoasters” by Tank and The Bangas.
Greensboro, North Carolina
Azuree Bateman is the 2018 Grassroots Organizing Fellow in Greensboro, North Carolina. Azuree is a journalist by day and organizer by night. She has a strong passion for political education among millennials. Azuree obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism and Media Studies from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. Throughout her collegiate experience Azuree discovered her love for social justice and writing. She has produced several radio segments for Belle-Air Radio on Sirius XM. When she’s not doing work, she can be found loving on her community, traveling or relaxing with a good book!
Fun Fact: My favorite movie is a toss up between Forrest Gump and Remember the Titans.
Aerielle is the 2018 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.
Mekdes Ferguson is the 2018 Grassroots Organizing Fellow in Maryland. Mekdes is outrageously excited about being involved in a movement to protect our beautiful Earth. Prior Mekdes has worked to stop school privatization, police violence, and war. Mekdes is also a mother to two wonderful children.
Fun Fact: My favorite song is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by IZ.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Henri Freeman is the 2018 Grassroots Organizing Fellow in Charlotte, North Carolina. Henri is a black queer organizer in Charlotte, NC. Henri began organizing during their second year of college with a radical leftist student collective called Customer49. Henri became committed to a life of activism and organizing after being apart of and witnessing first hand the uprising in Charlotte in response to the murder of Keith Lamont Scott by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Henri works towards the collective liberation of all people and has organized around issues of racial justice, immigration, LGBTQIA+ equality, student power and voter rights. Henri is excited to be working on environmental issues now with Friends of the Earth.
Fun Fact: My favorite song is “Rent” by Big Freedia.
Honni Harris is the 2018 Grassroots Organizing Fellow in Illinois. Honni is a mother of two sons and has been fighting for people for a long time but didn’t have the official title of an “Organizer.” With the knowledge and education, Honni is so ready to take on the world.
Fun fact: I want to learn how to drive and swim.
Michelle V. Jackson is the 2018 Grassroots Organizing Fellow in Michigan. Michelle is a fourth generational Farmer, born and raised in the city of Detroit. With Detroit having so many issues, food and water are the two that she works on daily. To bring awareness to the struggles of many. Using food to start the hard conversations. Michelle has worked on Detroit Water Affordability Plan, Detroit Food Policy Council, the campaign to close Detroit’s incinerator and Detroit Benefit Agreement. Michelle’s passion is youth, and teaching the young people to leave the Earth in better shape than they found it.
Fun Fact: My favorite song is “Order My Steps.”
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Maryah Lauer is the 2018 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.
Ashley J. Lawrence is the 2018 Grassroots Organizing Fellow with Friends of the Earth in Washington, D.C. Ashley originally hails from Jamaica, New York where she learned early on about the grave disparities of social and criminal injustice within her microcosm of Queens. She is a 2018 graduate of Howard University School of Law, in Washington D.C. and a graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Ashley has a passion for in public interest, civil rights and social justice issues and learning how to mitigate racial injustice through public policy advocacy, litigation and community-based solutions.Prior to law school, Ashley served as a political advocacy associate with IMPACT Strategies, where she led political advocacy projects, analyzed federal legislation, and prepared government policy proposals to further clients’ diversity and corporate responsibility goals related to the African American community. She also worked on Capitol Hill for three years, and has experience working with other civil rights organizations in both policy and legal support capacities. Her hobbies include singing and theatre.
Fun Fact: My favorite movie is Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Disney).
Queens, New York
Amina Majeed is the 2018 Grassroots Organizing Fellow in New York. She recently graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, majoring in International Criminal Justice. While in college, she served as the international criminal justice club president where she organized and raised awareness on issues regarding human rights violations and concerns of the international community. Amina is interested in a wide array of issues from refugees to violence against women and children to environmental justice and crimes. Being a New Yorker and first generation American is core to who she is, and uses that as an anchor in fighting for what she believes in. Amina believes in the power of people and change that can be done if the masses unite.
Fun Fact: My favorite movie is any Disney movie.
Yaira Matos is the 2018 Grassroots Organizing Fellow in Massachusetts. Yaira is an advocate and activist working at the intersections of environmental, social and health justice. Trained by environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Pachamama Alliance, as well as the health advocacy organization, Advocates for Youth, she is committed to using the power of political education to guide marginalized communities into the process of envisioning a collective future free of structural oppression. Yaira fiercely believes in restoring the people’s connection to the planet and looks forward to inspiring leadership and collective vision-making as an organizer with Friends of the Earth.
Fun Fact: My favorite movie is Kill Bill.
Gabrielle is the 2018 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 2018 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!