Meet The Commissioners
Bio: Sophia Lopez is a Los Angeles native who is passionate about sustainable urban development and the built environment. In high school, Sophia was a member of the LA Mayor's Youth Council and interned with the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation. These experiences helped Sophia learn more about different issues the city faces and how to get involved. Having recently graduated from Trinity College, Sophia now works for a commercial real estate firm in Los Angeles. In this role she is learning about the growing importance of Environmental, Social, Governance and Resilience (ESG+R) in the private sector. Sophia is curious about how the private and public sectors can work together to develop sustainable, durable, and functional infrastructure for an evolving city. She is excited to work alongside like-minded youth to advocate for a more resilient and healthy Los Angeles.
Bio: Martha Rosario is a first-generation undocumented queer immigrant with a passion for community organizing, mental health advocacy, youth empowerment, and environmental sustainability. Born in the Philippines, Martha immigrated to the United States when she was 9 years old. This significant life event informs and impacts nearly all of her advocacy work today. Since 2014, Martha has been a Math and English tutoring instructor for K-12 students, and although she does not currently operate in that role, currently, her experience working with youth motivates her to continue to build a better future for them. She is currently a Program Consultant for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) - Roots for Peace in South LA and operates a small business called “Sustain with Martha'' where she artfully crafts hand-made earrings and resells funky vintage clothing. In addition, Martha has been an avid roller skater since November 2021 and is actively involved in skatepark advocacy work. In fact, she was chosen to serve as a fellow for the very first Black, Indigenous, (and) People of Color (BIPOC) fellowship program through the nonprofit “The Skatepark Project” formerly known as the “Tony Hawk Foundation.”
Bio: Anushka Kargathara is an urban planner with an educational background rooted in environmental sustainability, mathematics, and research. She holds an undergraduate degree from an accredited, learn-by-doing institution, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. During her senior year at Cal Poly Pomona, Anushka served as the president of a not-for-profit organization called the Environmental Design Council under the College of Environmental Design. This organization was responsible for ten clubs and approximately two-thousand students. The goal was to build/brainstorm the next generation of sustainable and resiliency design solutions. In her free time, Anushka likes to hike, listen to podcasts, and learn to do manicures herself. She also enjoys finding recipes and learning to execute them to perfection!
Bio: Terumi Tanisha Garcia was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Cal Poly Pomona and an Architectural Design certification from Mt. San Antonio College. Terumi has a fresh passion for resilient plants and sustainable practices. She has over ten years of leadership experience through retail management. She is also a fourth-generation gardener. Terumi currently serves as a California Climate Action Corps Fellow at CultivaLA where she engages community members directly to showcase how, together, they can maintain community agricultural spaces in the urban environment.
Bio: Alyssa Jaipersaud is a first-generation American pursuing her undergraduate degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a concentration in information systems and a minor in Law and Public Policy at the University of Southern California (USC). At USC she is a Grand Challenges Scholar focusing on sustainability. She is passionate about sustainability, specifically on the topics of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Her interest in environmentalism began in high school when she worked with a local environmental department that was working on getting her town Sustainably Certified.
Alyssa's efforts continued in college when she was selected to become a member of USC's Student Sustainability Committee headed by the Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. She is currently working with the Sustainability Hub task force to create programming for USC’s first campus sustainability hub. Alyssa is also working with a startup company called GreenHome. With a team of 8 undergraduate USC students, they are encouraging residential utility control and automation in the name of the global quest to reduce consumption and promote living sustainably.
She recently culminated a California 100 Futures Fellowship, where she aided in developing a manifesto for the future of California, focusing on environmental justice and conservation. Alyssa was given the opportunity to lead the fellowship Summit in Sacramento, where assembly speakers heard their calls to action and vision for a better future. Her career goals entail utilizing her engineering background in the environmental field to take action against climate change. In her free time, Alyssa enjoys practicing archery, watching movies, spending time with friends, and visiting amusement parks.
Bio: Emmanuel is an advocate whose work is aimed at increasing awareness of what local elected officials can be doing to create a more livable and sustainable city. Growing up in South Los Angeles, he knows firsthand the need for housing, climate justice, and economic investment to address issues of equity. Emmanuel currently works as a Media and Communications Coordinator for Climate Cabinet, a national climate organization that supports downballot candidates running for office. He has previously worked as a Policy Director for several municipal campaigns. Additionally, Emmanuel currently serves as the Education Representative for Voices Neighborhood Council. He received his undergraduate degree from University of California, Santa Barbara.
KEVIN J. PATEL
Bio: Kevin J. Patel is a climate justice activist and social entrepreneur based in Los Angeles, California, with over a decade of experience advocating for a sustainable and equitable world. He envisions a future where young people can access the resources they need to implement climate solutions and combat environmental injustice. Kevin is recognized for his pioneering work in establishing and helping pass the motion to establish the Los Angeles County Youth Climate Commission with fellow activist Delaney Michaelson in 2019. As the architect of this initiative, Kevin has enabled youth voices to be heard more effectively in addressing the climate crisis. In addition, he is the founder of OneUpAction International, a non-profit organization that supports and empowers young people to implement and accelerate climate solutions in their communities. Kevin's commitment to sustainability has earned him numerous accolades and ambassadorships. He serves as a UN Togetherband Ambassador and was named a 2020 National Geographic Young Explorer. He is also a member of several influential organizations, including: the Environmental Media Association (EMA) Activist Board; the World Economic Forum's 1t.org US Stakeholder Council; the Ingka Young Leaders Forum; Youthtopia World: Circle of Youth; the Climate Power Council' and the Intersectional Environmentalist Council. Kevin's exceptional achievements have been widely recognized and he has been awarded the Men's Health 20 Under 20 in 2020 and the 2021 NowThis News Sustainability Honoree. Kevin is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Political Science at Loyola Marymount University, he remains committed to his mission of creating a sustainable and equitable world for all.
Bio: Sim Bilal is a youth organizer and climate activist from South LA. He was raised by a single mom and is Korean, Black, and Chickasaw. Sim roots his work through his identity. Currently, he works with Youth Climate Strike Los Angeles (YCSLA) as the head of logistics. Sim has been a climate activist for over 5 years and is a community organizer, working on banning oil drilling in his neighborhood, advocating for green spaces, and climate literacy. He is active in his community fighting for the enrichment of other local South LA youth, through supporting elementary, middle, and high schools through mutual aid programs and volunteering as a robotics and coding instructor for the past three years. Sim has been working on integrating tech, activism, organizing, and legislation into addressing the climate crisis in Los Angeles. As a youth climate organizer he has organized climate strikes in southern California mobilizing thousands of LA youth to call on divestment from fossil fuels and investment into green jobs, infrastructure, and spaces. Through the coalition, his organization YCSLA has helped pass legislation banning and phasing out oil infrastructure in the City of Los Angeles within the next five years, they pushed for SB-1173 divestment of pensions, and created a unique climate action plan for Los Angeles.
Bio: LewaNana Pinkney is a multidisciplinary anthropologist. She spends her time traveling the world, studying ethnobotany, and sharing the knowledge she learns along the way. LewaNana's full name is translated into “Beautiful mother of the Earth who is aware of her dignity. Be Bold! You are the one who brings wealth.” She learned early on that carrying this name came with great responsibility. She is a leader in her community and loves sharing knowledge. LewaNana is an active member of her community garden and has co-founded groups dedicated to sharing knowledge with young people her age via workshops, panel discussions, and events.
This work is what has allowed her to be chosen as one of the keynote's speakers for Girls Learn International (GLI). At the Los Angeles premier of the film "He named me Malala" LewaNana spoke to over 7,000 girls. After graduating, she took a gap year to teach English at a school in Bali, Indonesia. During her time in Bali she experienced a new religion, filled with beautiful ceremonies, this inspired her to ask women in her village if she could pray with them. Their shock was undisguisable, she was the first of the volunteers in 8 years, since the school began, to ever ask to join them. Despite language barriers between them they were able to bond due to LewaNana's dedication to participate in their ritual prayer. This experience sparked a travel bug, LewaNana loved the feeling of connecting with people despite not speaking the same language. The smile on people's faces when she makes it a point to learn the language, religion, and culture inspired her to begin studying languages to connect even deeper.
While majoring in film at California State University, Northridge, LewaNana decided to study abroad in France for 2 years. She escaped to Europe in 2020 during the pandemic and continued to grow her skills in the study of fashion and graphic design. This landed her a curatorial internship with the Getty Foundation’s Getty Marrow Program. There LewaNana helped international artists enter the art world in America. Currently she is taking Anthropology and Plant science classes at a local community college, she will resume her University studies during the fall of 2023.
Bio: Hennessy Martinez is currently an undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) majoring in environmental science. She hopes to help her local community as a commissioner at the Youth Climate Commission and further her experience in environmental policies. She has done sustainability research at UCLA, conservation research at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and is involved with different environmental efforts on campus. On her free time she enjoys dancing, painting, and being out in nature. Hennessy hopes to continue her education by pursuing a Juris Doctor (JD) after undergrad.
ISAAC MICHAEL YBARRA
Bio: Isaac Michael serves his community to replenish the land, sky and water through indigenous practices relevant in the present. He is Tongva, Chumash, and Xicano. In Contribution with multiple First Nation Peoples' Organizations, he commutes throughout the County tending to different sacred ancestral sites. He has spoken and prepared arguments against toxic planning in Los Angeles at the California Coastal Commission meetings. While serving as the president of the American Indian Student Association at California State University, Northridge, Isaac has helped coordinate and preserve the school's garden club. He has taught that community about the importance of Native Plant species, advocating for the university to practice these methods. He currently works as a consultant and freelance artist with the non-profit Meztli Projects, an Indigenous led collective aimed at healing the community through art based practices. He is looking forward to the construction of the proposed "animal bridge" over the 101 freeway in the 3rd District.
Bio: Madison Jennings is a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) undergraduate studying ecology and behavioral evolution. She was raised in Los Angeles County. When she is not busy with school, Madison works with clubs and nonprofits that advocated for legislation that would improve California's sustainability future. She is the founder of UCLA’s annual “Climate Action Night”, which engages students to contact their representatives to fight for bills that would protect the environment. She also has been involved in ecological field research in Big Sur, Perris, and the Peruvian amazon rainforest. Madison enjoys spending her free time reading, gardening, and loving on her animals.
Bio: Yue is an urban planner with a strong focus on environmental justice and sustainable transportation. She currently works as an associate at Estolano Advisors (EA), a mission-driven public policy and urban planning firm based in LA. She works on various projects on climate infrastructure, community engagement, and mobility justice. Prior to joining EA, Yue interned with the City of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, conducting community outreach efforts to better engage and serve regional transit users. She previously worked as a project coordinator for the Global Environmental Justice Project at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), researching environmental justice issues within the U.S. prison system. Yue holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
Bio: Guisel Hernandez is a first-generation college graduate of Zapotec descent. She holds an Masters in Peace and Justice Studies from the University of San Diego and a Bachelors in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. For over ten years, Guisel has worked and volunteered locally and abroad with non-profit organizations dedicated to providing legal and social services to low-income and immigrant communities. Born and raised in a low-income, immigrant, and Zapotec community in Los Angeles, she has seen firsthand the disparities in social and economic opportunities. From her personal, academic, and professional experiences, she has developed skills in community outreach, monitoring and evaluation, peacebuilding, and advocacy to improve the lives and well-being of marginalized communities.
In addition to her commitment in advancing the rights of marginalized populations, she is also passionate about the environment. Her interest in environmental rights and justice stems from visits to her parents’ Zapotec village in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico. Inspired by the communal living and land management practices of the village, she gained a newfound appreciation for nature and sustainable development. Her interest in environmental rights and justice has also further developed through her research of armed conflicts over natural resources in Northern and Southern America and from hearing stories of people fleeing from their countries of origin due to environmental disasters. She has also observed how Indigenous and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted and the first to experience the direct consequences of climate change. She envisions a city with safe and equitable green spaces that children, families, and vulnerable populations can go to for the benefit of their mental and physical health.
Since the pandemic, Guisel expanded her understanding of the connection between health and the natural environment. Due to the transition to working from home, she began interacting more with the natural environment by exploring the outdoors. She recognized her privilege in being able to access nature and green spaces, which may not be accessible to everyone, due to limitations like financial constraints, unwalkable neighborhoods, or lack of transportation. As a result, she believes environmental issues are a human rights issue and through her participation with the Youth Climate Commission she hopes to foster social cohesion, create spaces for dialogue, and promote community engagement with the natural environment to make an impact on the lives and well-being of everyone.
Bio: Lizette Romano is a first-generation college graduate and is completing her Master degree in environmental health at UCLA this year. Lizette is passionate about addressing climate and environmental justice primarily in low-income, immigrant, and communities of color. Having worked in family advocacy and health coverage, she hopes to bring this perspective to environmental health problems. Lizette is interested in water and air quality, toxic substances, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Lizette was previously a climate justice fellow for Climate Resolve and is now an air quality science intern at IQAir. Lizette became interested in sustainability formally during her time at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), though she has always enjoyed being connected to nature in her personal life. Lizette credits her interest in nature with her frequent childhood travels to her parents’ birth states of Michoacán and Veracruz in Mexico. In her free time, Lizette likes bike riding, painting/drawing, reading Greek mythology spin offs, taking martial arts classes, and watching movies.
Bio: Jordan Salcido is a multidisciplinary community organizer based in the Los Angeles area. Through a number of projects, she supports efforts to advance environmental justice and amplify community needs and priorities. She greatly believes in the power of storytelling and seeks to shine a light on community stories of strength and resilience. Jordan is inspired by her community and is eager to further expand her network and to learn from a group of strong and thoughtful leaders. As a California naturalist, Jordan enjoys learning about the land and its plants, animals and people.
Bio: Mayra Catalán-Orozco is an experienced community specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit sector. She is passionate about the environment and health, and believes that we all deserve a just and resilient future. In her current role at Climate Resolve, she builds collaborations to champion equitable climate solutions. She attended California State University, Long Beach. Mayra has a bachelor's degree in health science with an emphasis in community health education. In 2016, she proudly received the Zahra Bailoo Cabinet Member of The Year from the CSULB Student Association Inc., as well as an award from The Student Life Development at CSULB.
Mayra lives in Lakewood, CA where she enjoys spending time outdoors, time with family, and supporting local businesses. Mayra emigrated from Guerrero, Mexico at the age of two and spent most of her life in Lennox, CA before moving to the Bay Area for 5 years. She is excited to be back to her hometown of Los Angeles and giving back to her community.
Bio: Rebecca Gloyer is a second-year El Camino College honors transfer student studying data science and business administration, looking to transfer to UC Berkeley in Fall 2023. Her passion for problem-solving and environmental equity has driven her to tackle sustainability on campus through her involvement in student government as Senate Lead, spear-heading waste management initiatives to promote student efforts in decreasing waste and adopting sustainable waste management practices.
Bio: Ryan Valenzuela-Holguin is a first-generation college student double majoring in aerospace engineering and sustainable architecture at College of the Canyons. His academic goals are to transfer to either University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) or University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) in the Fall 2024 and achieve an undergraduate degree. A career goal he has is to one day develop a career at Lockheed Martin or Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). While attending College of the Canyons, he became actively involved in many different areas of the campus community. One of those areas being sustainability, which he found a passion for as he began researching more about environmental and climate related issues. As a College Assistant, he is actively involved in the Sustainable Development Committee, which is tasked with keeping the College in compliance with state and local government regulations on environmental sustainability, as well as implementing district-wide initiatives and ordinances.
He is also an active community member in the City of Santa Clarita, serving as a board member for the Santa Clarita Environmental Education Consortium, which is an award-winning non-profit organization whose mission is to improve environmental literacy for students and community members. As a student, he is always striving towards advancing his own skillsets and finding new learning opportunities in leadership roles. In doing so, he became a Lead for the STEM Equity Alliance at College of the Canyons, whose mission is to support marginalized students majoring in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) by creating an inclusive and educational environment for students to connect and have access to resources. Overall, his prospective goal is to use his educational background and experience from working in higher education to implement sustainable principles and design philosophies into the field of aerospace.
Bio: Elizabeth Harris is a sustainability professional experienced in creative communications and human-centered design. She is excited to join the Youth Climate Commission and raise the voice and impact of youth in Los Angeles County. She has worked internationally and locally on sustainability, innovation, strategy, and design endeavors. Her work in sustainability and innovation stems from a passion for sustainable innovation for good and fostering equitable, human-centered community change.
Elizabeth works for the City of Glendale as a Sustainability Associate, leading community outreach, student and youth initiatives, and climate strategy projects. Before working for the City of Glendale, Elizabeth launched a digital magazine, Toastee Mag, which aimed to raise the voices of everyday people. She also led innovation projects at Accenture's Global Innovation Center - The Dock, in Ireland. Elizabeth has also worked with various non-profits on developing new initiatives, such as new mental health services and student programs. Elizabeth has a Bachelor's in International Relations and a Masters in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the University of Edinburgh.
Bio: Emily Ng is passionate about creating sustainable, equitable, and resilient communities through environmental policy and planning. Her long-standing dedication to environmental sustainability began in high school when she was appointed to serve as the commissioner representing youth voices on her city’s Natural Resources and Environmental Commission. Previously, she served as a CivicSpark AmeriCorps Fellow with the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, where she spearheaded internal working group discussions and conducted the first Environmental Justice Audit for L.A.’s Green New Deal.
Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Analysis-Policy and Sociology from Pitzer College and recently received her Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Southern California. She currently advocates for environmental justice in her role as a Community Water Planner. In her free time, Emily enjoys gardening, baking, and supporting local restaurants throughout the San Gabriel Valley and greater Los Angeles area.
Bio: Kiana Dettman is a young individual who is currently pursuing a career in Environmental sustainability and Urban Planning. She has volunteered for many environmental advocacy groups, one being the Youth Outdoor Science Education. In her senior year, she was her high school's first Environmental Sustainability Representative, where she helped bring compost bins on campus, hosted sustainable crafting booths, and posted infographics on Instagram. For her future, she plans on attending the University of California, San Diego, starting in the Fall of 2023 and majoring in Urban Studies and Planning.
Bio: Carmel Dill-Cruz is currently attending California Polytechnic State University - Pomona with a major in Environmental Biology, and is planning to pursue a career in Environmental Policy and Management. With her passion for sustainability, Carmel helped found the Student Sustainability Coalition at Cal Poly Pomona, a club centered on promoting sustainable practices on campus.
As a three-year member of her high school interact club, she advocated for sustainability in the community of Claremont, along with an ongoing campaign of tree planting every month. This helped form her interest in taking care of our environment. During the summer of 2021 Carmel had the honor to be TRACE's (Tropical Responses to Altered Climate Experiment) ﬁrst-ever high school student intern. Located in Puerto Rico, she worked with the US Department of Agriculture's TRACE program studying how climate change and the devastation from Hurricane Maria has aﬀected the El Yunque National Rainforest, having 100% hands-on ﬁeld and laboratory experience.