Youth Activism in Action Panel


On Thursday, February 4th at 6pm EST, Columbia University GSAS Office of Academic Diversity and Inclusion and the Earth Institute hosted Youth Climate Activism in Action!, the second event in the Columbia Climate Conversations Initiative. This panel focuses on youth activism by young women of color in the environmental movement. These youth activists would share their journeys, the causes they are championing, and encourage others to get involved.  Moderated by Columbia College Sustainable Development student and founder of The Eco Justice Project, Lauren Ritchie, this panel aims to inform our perspectives on activism, experience, and agency.

Youth Activism in Action Panel

Panelist Bios:

Isra Hirsi, 17 years old

Isra Hirsi is a 17-year-old organizer from Minneapolis. She co-founded US Youth Climate Strike in 2019 and has helped work on getting hundreds of strikes organized across the country on March 15th and September 20th, 2019. In 2020, she was put on Fortune's 40 under 40 for her work.

Hannah Testa, 18 years old

Hannah Testa is a sustainability advocate, international speaker and founder of Hannah4Change, an organization dedicated to fighting issues that impact the planet. She is a vegan who enjoys healthy living and loves to share her passion with others. She excels at partnering with businesses and government to influence them to develop more sustainable practices. Hannah has received numerous awards, including the Teen Earth Day Hero by CNN, the Young Superhero for Earth Award by Captain Planet, the Action for Nature International Young Eco-Hero Award, the Gloria Barron Prize, and many others. She is a board member, advisor, and youth ambassador for several organizations.

Genesis Butler, 14 years old

Genesis Butler is a 14-year-old activist and one of the youngest people to ever give a TEDx talk. She went vegan at the age of 6 and has earned numerous awards for her activism, in addition to being featured on an episode of Marvel’s Hero Project by Disney+. Genesis is currently leading the Youth Climate Save movement, the first youth-led environmental organization that focuses on animal agriculture’s impact on the environment and planet.

Helena Gualinga, 18 years old

Helena Gualinga is a 18 year old indigenous right defender and climate advocate from an Indigenous community in the Ecuadorian amazon called Sarayaku. Gualinga has followed in the footsteps of her fellow community members to create awareness regarding extractivism in the Amazon and the importance of Indigenous people's rights. In 2019m she co-founded Polluters Out, an international youth led climate movement and in 2020 she co-founded Tandari, an organization working towards sustainability in Ecuador. She has attended multiple international conferences and summits.