We currently work from the traditional land of the first people of Seattle, many tribes of various Coast Salish People, past and present, and we honor with gratitude and care the land itself and this land’s original people.
Climate Action Families shows up for indigenous causes and makes a regular donation to a local indigenous charity. We encourage and support all climate justice participants who are not indigenous themselves to learn about, engage with, and help restore power to their local indigenous neighbors.
Climate Action Families started out as Climate Change for Families in 2013, hosting the Washington chapter of Plant for the Planet. Our community trained over 600 youth in climate justice, and participated in countless actions. Lessons learned brought us to developing this movement, knowing we must move quickly, and with care, into a new world.
We always did more than plant trees. Over the last decade we trained over 600 youth in climate justice through our Climate Justice Ambassador Academies. Through the trainings and support of adult mentors, our youth have gone on to:
- Sue our state and federal governments for not protecting their future through the monumental Youth v. Gov. lawsuits coordinated by Our Children’s Trust
- Be featured in Saving My Tomorrow, a six-part HBO documentary series
- Give TED talks that have been viewed by thousands
- Testify before the House Climate Crisis Committee and a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee
- Meet with WA State Governor Inslee – and many other lawmakers – to promote climate recovery.
- Co-found Zero Hour, a national climate and environmental justice group led by teenagers and young adults. Co-founder Jamie Margolin is a nationally-recognized youth voice for climate justice.
- Join the Global Climate Strike movement, organizing youth strikes and walkouts including a massive march in 2019 in Seattle with over 10,000 people.
In the pandemic years we continued meeting on Zoom with varying frequency depending on the campaigns we were working on, but still trying to provide some consistency through yet another crisis. During this time we distilled our learnings into the CREATE model by which we are now operating.
C·R·E·A·T·E is how we conceptualize our work.
Mission and Vision
We empower an intergenerational climate justice movement of youth, families, and friends building collective power to protect the people and planet we love at the speed and scale of transformation that climate science and justice require.
Our World Vision
We envision a future where communities flourish in harmony with the natural world, united by a shared sense of purpose, compassion, and reverence for the planet and each other. Diversity and creativity are celebrated, the inherent worth of every individual is recognized, and people work together in continually co-creating a world that is just, regenerative, and abundant for all.
Our Organizational Vision
We see our organization supporting the growth of a deeply connected, joyous, and powerful intergenerational climate justice movement in which we all belong, feel effective, and have the resources and support to experiment, explore, and build on our collective success. We have the freedom to transform and learn better ways to use our gifts, yet we know we deeply belong and can always find support and aligned spirits. We work strategically and quickly to interfere with activities that are responsible for destabilizing the climate and generating injustices, and we iteratively build towards a more just and intentional world. We continually reconnect with each other and this rare, irreplaceable planet and era of life.
Zenebech Demissie (they/them), Community Organizer
Zenebech is a queer Ethiopian first generation artist and coordinator residing on Duwamish/Coast Salish land. Zenebech gained a passion for community organizing and increasing accessibility through their professional work with Path with Art and on their own personal time as the cofounder of Black Visions Coalition. They have partnered with Black Farmers Collective and mutual aid books to raise awareness of the historical importance of Black and Indigenous farmers and food sovereignty. Zenebech approaches their community work from a decolonial lens, and a key aspect of decolonization is addressing the climate crisis and taking action together. They believe in Climate Action Families power to work across generations to share the knowledge and actions necessary to disrupt the ongoing harms to our planet.
Giada Lesothebe (she/her), Marketing & Communications Specialist
Giada is a Peruvian South African American studying Political Science and Early Childcare & Family Studies at the University of Washington. She has spent most of her childhood in Washington on Duwamish/Coast Salish land and California on Ohlone/Costanoan & Coast Miwok land. She began her involvement on Bellevue High School's Earthbound club board and in after school childcare programs to support King County children and families. Over the past few years, she has been involved in advocacy for communities that have been ostracized from green spaces, targeted by heavy policing, and hit with budget cuts affecting childhood development & education. Her outlets for engagement with these issues include digital photography, social media graphic design, journalism, protesting and collaborating with community-driven organizations like Climate Action Families. As she interacts with folks facing a range of adversities, she is reminded that fighting for intersectional environmentalism provides millions of folks a chance at equity in sectors of their lives that are neglected and sacrificed across the globe.
Kirsten Hallock (she/her), Community Organizer
Kirsten is a MSW intern at Climate Action Families. She is originally from Spokane, WA, but moved to Seattle in 2023 for the Masters in Social Work program at the University of Washington. Kirsten just recently graduated in Spring 2023 with a Bachelor's in Social Work from Boise State University while receiving a minor in psychology. She has many experiences from her undergraduate years from being a part of the Boise State Sustainability Club her freshman year to working with a social worker at a community elementary school, to interning at a behavioral and mental health agency working alongside case managers and Community Based Rehabilitation Services workers. Kirsten is passionate about working with youth and families and community-based practice. She is really excited to be a part of this team this year and to get more involved in the climate action community.
Board of Directors
Dongmei Chen, Board Treasurer
Dongmei worked in publishing from 2010 to 2017. She was a Chinese editor, and treasurer for the literary translation organization Paper Republic. Climate became one of her passions when she moved to Seattle and became a mother in 2018. Now she works in the data field, and hopes to apply her new skills to climate-related work. Dongmei believe that youth and families are deeply affected by the climate crisis, resulting in feelings of grief, anxiety, and anger. She is convinced that there is significant potential to empower youths and families by offering them resources and tools to transform these emotions into powerful drivers for change.
Sue Lenander (she/her), Board Secretary
Sue is co-founder, former Board President and current Board Secretary of Climate Action Families. Trained with Vice President Al Gore in 2015, she became a Climate Reality speaker and gives climate justice presentations at churches, community organizations, hospitals and schools. Her BA in child development helped in the role of Youth Program Coordinator for Seattle Plant for the Planet. She volunteers with 350 Seattle as a former Board and Leadership Team member and a proud Kayaktivist. Sue trained with Joanna Macy to facilitate Work that Reconnects climate grief groups to honor and process our pain for the Earth. Sue recently retired from Seattle Children's Hospital as a Medical Assistant, giving her extra time to support CAF's mission. As a parent, Sue invites other parents and grandparents to identify as a Climate Action family and CAF will give you community, education, fun and support. Together, we can mitigate the effects and progression of this crisis. It's a privilege to be alive on this magic planet, with all the diverse sentient beings, and we humans have the honor to protect it, together.
Heather Price, Board Member
Heather is a parent, climate scientist, climate justice activist, chemistry professor and researcher in Seattle, Washington. She has a PhD in Chemistry and conducted her post-doctoral atmospheric chemistry research with the University of Washington Program on Climate Change. Her current National Science Foundation research project, Climate Justice in Undergraduate STEM Incorporating Civic Engagement (C-JUSTICE), focuses on improving undergraduate STEM education through the integration of climate justice, equity, and civic engagement across the humanities, arts, and STEM curriculum. Heather believes in the CAF mission because it helps families and young people address fossil fueled climate change in ways that that are positive, fun, builds community and helps folks hold the emotions that come with taking climate action all while living during this era of a shifting climate.
Grace Stahre (she/her), Chair
Grace has worn many hats on her journey to making a meaningful contribution to the world. From technology to video and film production, Grace's passion has always been rooted in climate and environmental justice. Throughout her life Grace has had the privilege of organizing small groups, volunteering, and contributing to various organizations aligned with climate justice. Since 2015 she has been an been an active member of Climate Action Families (CAF) with her children, working together in an intergenerational climate justice space that understands the gravity, urgency, and opportunities in the path before us. As a member of the 350 Seattle Leadership Team since 2019, Grace helped align our organizations on the ever-changing landscape of grassroots climate engagement, always learning and adjusting our strategy. Grace's heart lies in making a positive impact on the climate crisis, supporting the next generation in developing resilience while cultivating a sense of awe and deep connection to the planet and each other.
Rusty West, Board Member
Rusty West is an active member of our Board of Directors. He served previously as Secretary of the Board for 10 years, since our beginning in 2013 until May 2023. Rusty has worked tirelessly with Climate Action Families Seattle (and our previous program, Plant for the Planet Seattle) as Secretary, Monthly Meeting Youth Program Coordinator, Outdoor Program Coordinator, Attendance & Photo record keeper in preparation of our annual January “Court of Honor, Historian, "Registrar" at Academies, “Youth 5-Year Service Award” coordinator, and many other roles since 2013. Rusty is a retired schoolteacher (worked with "at risk youth" in 2nd grade through college levels levels) for many years and has been teaching snow skiing and snowboarding for decades. He works part time currently at Stevens Pass Ski School. Rusty was a Boy Scout in the 1960's and then as an adult was a Scoutmaster for 2 different Boy Scout Troops in the 1970's and 1980's. He was also a "Big Brother" in Big Brothers - Big Sisters of King County from 2003 to 2012. Rusty believes in the Climate Action Families mission because he believes our youth have the moral high ground and the most vested interest in promoting climate recovery in the climate crisis of today.