Teryn Norris (Founder and former Associate Director) is a leading young energy policy analyst and strategist. Currently a public policy major at Stanford University and a Senior Advisor at the Breakthrough Institute, he has developed and advanced clean energy policy at the federal and state level, and his writing has appeared in the Harvard Law & Policy Review, San Francisco Chronicle, Baltimore Sun, Yale Environment 360, Huffington Post, and other publications. As a former Project Director at the Breakthrough Institute, he supported successful advocacy to achieve a $150 billion clean energy investment platform for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and co-authored the National Energy Education Act proposal, which led to President Obama’s RE-ENERGYSE initiative. He is co-author of several policy reports, including “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant,” and his work has been featured by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Financial Times, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, The Guardian, Issues in Science & Technology, Energy & Environment News, and other media outlets. He is founder of Breakthrough Generation, the young leaders initiative of the Breakthrough Institute, and he co-directed its fellowship program in 2008 and 2009 to train a group of the nation’s leading college and graduate students. Before joining the Breakthrough Institute and transferring to Stanford, Teryn worked with Environment California to advance the California Global Warming Solutions Act. He served as president of his class at Johns Hopkins, where he led a successful student campaign to achieve a university-wide climate initiative, and he served on the Johns Hopkins President’s Task Force on Climate Change. Email Teryn
Jesse Jenkins (Associate Director) is an energy and climate policy analyst, activist and blogger. Jesse joined the Breakthrough team in June 2008 to co-direct the Breakthrough Generation Summer Fellows Program. He currently directs Breakthrough’s efforts to develop and advance new energy and climate solutions to power America’s future, secure our energy freedom, and halt global warming. Before joining the Breakthrough Institute, Jesse spent two years as a Research and Policy Associate at the Renewable Northwest Project where he worked to advance the development of the Pacific Northwest’s abundant renewable energy potential. In the past, Jesse has worked as a researcher and software developer with the Department of Physics at the University of Oregon, where he focused on alternative vehicles and fuels, and as a teacher’s assistant in energy studies courses at the university. Jesse has a history of grassroots climate and energy activism and co-founded the Cascade Climate Network, the Northwest’s largest network of youth working to tackle the climate crisis and build a sustainable, just, and prosperous future. An active blogger, Jesse is the founder and blogmaster of the site, WattHead – Energy News and Commentary. He currently writes at several sites throughout the blogosphere and has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Baltimore Sun and Huffington Post. Jesse is a graduate of the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon (magna cum laude), where he completed an interdisciplinary course of study in computer science, philosophy, liberal arts, political science & energy studies.
2009 Breakthrough Generation Fellows:
Yael Borofsky graduated from Cornell University in spring 2009 with a degree in Human Development. During her time there, she worked as a sports writer and columnist for the Cornell Daily Sun and enjoyed opining about various sports controversies. She decided to pursue a career in the environmental field after spending a semester in Washington D.C. where she interned at Wildlife Alliance, a non-profit committed to ending the illegal wildlife trade. She also conducted research on the effectiveness of political documentary and its impact on the agenda setting of political elites. Her fascination with environmental communication and passion for writing led her to the Breakthrough Institute. Last semester, her course on expressions of nature in popular culture inspired her to blog about what it really means to “be green.” When she is not convincing her housemates to recycle, she loves playing hockey, running, hiking, watching the Phillies win the World Series, and creating misshapen pottery on the wheel.
James Burgess graduated from Princeton University in spring 2009 with a B.A. in Mathematics and a certificate in Environmental Science. James is particularly interested in clean energy, sustainable development, and market-based approaches to both. As an Energy Grand Challenges fellow, he spent time studying the technical and economic feasibility of a large-scale algae biomethane program. James also has done research investigating the role of forests in the global carbon economy. James has a deep passion for the outdoors and spent much of his time in college trying to spread that passion to others as a member of the Princeton University Outdoor Action steering committee.
Leigh Ewbank graduated from Australia’s RMIT University in 2008 with a B.A in Social Science – Environment. Last year, Leigh completed an Honours dissertation investigating his longstanding interest in the framing of ‘environment’. Conducting a case study analysis of a leading Australian environmental group, he modeled the ways in which the environment is framed and discussed the effects of those framings on policy prescriptions and political action. Leigh seeks to publish the findings of his dissertation later in 2009. As the first Australian Breakthrough Generation fellow, Leigh will provide an international perspective on investment-centered and innovation-based policy responses to our changing climate. He will also highlight valuable lessons from the Australian Government’s approach to climate change policy. Specializing in framing analysis, Leigh seeks to gain further experience with political strategy and communications through the fellowship program. He’s excited to work with the Breakthrough Institute team and learn from the next generation of progressive leaders.
William Oman graduated from McGill University in spring 2009 with a B.A. in economics. In the fall of 2009 he will start a Master’s in Public Administration at the London School of Economics. He has dual French and American citizenship, was born and raised in Paris, and has also lived in San Francisco and Montreal. His areas of interest are economic development and international political economy. Among the issues he cares most deeply about are the identification of “institutions for development” in developing countries, the promotion of social entrepreneurship, and the role of government in driving innovation technological progress. At McGill, he worked as a research assistant for two economics professors on a project about the link between patent right systems and economic growth. He has interned at the U.S. Senate and has volunteered for Ashoka. As an inveterate traveler, he has a passion for Brazil and is keen to discover South-East Asia and the Middle East.
Johanna Peace graduated from Wellesley College in spring 2009, where she studies sociology with a particular interest in mass media theory. While at Wellesley, Johanna served as a reporter and editor at The Wellesley News for over three years and served as Editor-in-Chief. She has also worked as an intern at The Cape Cod Times and reported on a UN conference for Non-Governmental Organizations as a student journalist. Her writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including CNN.com. Growing up on Cape Cod, Mass., Johanna developed an interest in clean energy technology from an early age–her environmentalist father has been a longtime advocate of the Cape Wind renewable energy project. Johanna hopes to dedicate her journalistic skills to advancing progressive environmental policy. She also looks forward to exploring sunny California after many years braving the wintry East!
Daniel Spitzberg is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on prize incentives that organize science communities (think X-prizes). Danny believes peer-review collaboration can bring environmental research closer to making a lasting impact, and he has brought this to bear in several research projects in academia, the United Nations, and think tanks in India. Danny also works as a freelance photojournalist and reporter on science breakthroughs, emphasizing the often-obscured value to society. He recently left a company he co-founded that provides an online interactive for group work and collaboration. On land, Danny bikes and runs. On water, he rows on the Charles River.
Devon Swezey, a native of Boulder, Colorado, is a recent graduate of Stanford University and holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a concentration in International Political Economy. Devon’s major academic interests are in energy and environment issues, particularly as they relate to international economic development and poverty alleviation. As a member of the Roosevelt Institution Center on Environment and Energy at Stanford, Devon authored a policy paper that argued for greater federal investment in solar energy technologies. The paper, “An Apollo Project for Solar Energy”, was subsequently published in the inaugural issue of The Roosevelt Review, a national student research journal. While at Stanford, Devon worked on a political psychology project examining American’s perceptions of global warming, and interned for the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Washington, D.C. After graduating from Stanford, Devon was as a field organizer for Barack Obama’s campaign in Colorado. Devon is inspired by the Breakthrough Institute’s bold, progressive vision for the future, and is excited about the opportunity to contribute to the big ideas that will transform this country.
Juliana Williams is a youth organizer, writer and activist. As the Great Plains Organizer for the Sierra Student Coalition, she works with youth across the Midwest building solutions for a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable society. Over the last five years, Juliana has won clean energy campaigns at Whitman College, organized the Northwest Climate Justice Summit, co-founded the Cascade Climate Network, helped establish the Midwest Climate Network, and supported the development and creation of statewide youth climate networks in Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri. Juliana is a frequent contributor to It’s Getting Hot In Here, where she focuses her attention on movement strategy and communication that resonates with public values. She graduated from Whitman College in 2007 with a degree in geology and her organizing work has been recognized with the Thomas Cronin Award from Whitman College; Dr. Joseph Barbosa Award from the Sierra Club; the Adam Werbach Award from the Sierra Student Coalition; and as Finalist for the Brower Youth Award. Juliana will be pursuing a Master’s of Public Policy at the University of Maryland in Fall 2009. In addition to organizing, she is an avid ultimate player, string bassist and obsessively nurtures her plants.
2008 Breakthrough Generation Fellows:
Zach Arnold, a native of Swarthmore, PA, is a sophomore at Harvard College studying social theory and environmental policy. He serves as co-chair and communications director of the Harvard College Environmental Action Committee and is currently leading a major campaign for climate neutrality and expanded climate research at Harvard. He also works as an urban gardener in the Cambridge school system, and will be a delegate to this year’s session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Zach is particularly interested in deforestation, agriculture policy, and the effect of institutional design on conservation outcomes. Before coming to Harvard, he spent time working for the National Park Service and as a farmhand in Pennsylvania and Italy. In his spare time, he cooks, bikes around, and reads far too many blogs.
Helen Aki, is a sophomore from Bard College at Simon’s Rock. Her interest in environmental, political and social studies have developed ever since her middle school years, and she is currently pursuing a concentration in Environmental Studies, Society and the Environment, or Sustainable Development, depending on what school she transfers to for her junior year. Helen recently wrote two chapters comparing environmental and ecological economics for a compilation of research perspectives on global peak oil production. Two years at a small liberal arts college has left her inundated and frustrated with theory, and she is anxious to channel theory into praxis. Recently, she has become interested in the potential of decentralized indigenous or grassroots power and the notion of “everyday resistance,” and has begun to appreciate the pragmatism of those involved in such politics, compared to disengaged academics. She is currently working on a black and white photography project, “exposing modernity through the bodies of mobilization,” in an effort to find a nexus of political acts, the aesthetic of modernity and community, interference with the pace of time, and what people look like when they think no one is looking. She is also a singer-songwriter.
Rachel Barge, is a graduating senior at UC Berkeley and a 2007 recipient of the David Brower Youth Award. Last year she co-created The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), a student fee referendum at Berkeley that successfully secured more than $2 million over ten years for sustainability projects on campus. TGIF funds clean energy, sustainable transportation, improved energy efficiency, water conservation, green internships, and improved recycling and composting programs. Rachel also founded The Sustainability Team (Steam), the central environmental student group at Berkeley. Steam implements green projects such as expanded bio-diesel for the campus fleet and created The Local — the first organic, local, student-run cooperative produce stand on campus. Rachel is now working to expand The Green Initiative Fund into a national program that will help university campuses nationwide secure hundreds of millions of dollars for renewable energy. In her free time Rachel loves cooking vegan desserts in her co-op, playing frisbee, teaching her Organic Gardening class, and biking in the Berkeley hills.
Genevieve Bennett, a 21 year-old New Jersey native, is primarily interested in the political economy of “sustainability” and environmental policy. She is intrigued by the implications for economic development and trade of a renewable energy-based economy, and by the possibilities for participation by different actors — public, private, and civil society. Most of her professional experience has been within the field of human rights, particularly in research and capacity-building for organizations working for social change. She interned at the Center for the Study of Human Rights, and worked as a project assistant at the Research Center for Leadership in Action, assisting in social science research on leadership in social justice work. Most recently she has been working for the New York City Commission to the United Nations planning an international summit, “Climate Change and Public Health: the Urban Policy Connection.” She expects to pursue a Master’s degree next year at the London School of Economics in environmental policy. She recently received her B.A. from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, concentrating in international political economy and political theory. At NYU, she was a co-founder of the interdisciplinary undergraduate Journal of Global Affairs. Genevieve currently lives in Washington Heights, New York. She plays for a soccer team in Brooklyn, and likes to search the city for cheap meals and occasionally escape to go rock climbing.
Joanna Calabrese, is currently a sophomore environmental science and policy major at the University of College Park, MD. In her freshman year, she co-founded a student group, Clean Energy for UMD in response to the lack of climate activism on her campus. Clean Energy for UMD successfully gauged student interest in funding green initiatives on campus and was integral in achieving a state wide victory to make all Maryland System schools carbon neutral. Joanna was elected president of Clean Energy for UMD in the spring of 2007 and is currently working to unite students behind clean energy investment. In response to student demands for a more sustainable campus, the President of the University of Maryland signed onto the President’s Climate Commitment, and Joanna was selected to serve as a student representative on the school’s Climate Action Workgroup, working on administrative and educational policy for CO2 emission reductions. Throughout this, she served as a legislator in her school’s Student Government Association, writing and passing policies in support of environmentally responsible campus affairs while working to register over 250 new voters. She also assisted in planning and organizing Recyclemania 2008 for the University of Maryland and helped to unite students to create a “Green Groups Roundtable” on her campus. Joanna has been interning this past semester in Washington DC for the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, researching legislative initiatives, attending Congressional hearings, and undertaking press and media projects for the committee.
Alisha Fowler, graduated from Hamilton College in 2006 with a B.A. in Geoscience and Environmental Studies. While at Hamilton, Alisha co-led the Hamilton Environmental Action Group and worked with the college community to bring more sustainable energy practices to their campus situated on the edge of the Adirondack Mountains. She still volunteers with Graduates for a Greener Hamilton. Alisha has spent the past year working in Communications with the National Wildlife Federation in their office of Congressional and Federal Affairs in Washington, D.C. Her media work with NWF has focused primarily on global warming and legislation currently being considered by Congress. To that end, she has written and distributed a weekly newsletter about global warming to reporters nationwide. She is also actively engaged in the blogosphere and online social media strategies. Before joining NWF, Alisha worked with PIRG as a campus organizer on the Campus Climate Challenge, and as a museum educator at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Alisha senses the enormous urgency and economic opportunities associated with global warming and strongly desires to aid the transition to a clean energy society. She is most passionate about utilizing her academic background in science and professional experience in communications to engage the public in creating positive environmental and economic change.
Lindsey Franklin, graduated from Middlebury College in 2007 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies/Philosophy and a passion for climate change solutions. The summer and fall of 2007 found her in New Hampshire for the Presidential primary, working on three consecutive campaigns to highlight climate change as a key voting issue in the 2008 elections. She helped organize a five day walk for clean energy across New Hampshire in the beginning of August, then joined with the Step it Up campaign to coordinate hundreds of climate rallies nationwide in November. She spent the last months before the primary co-directing a campaign with the League of Conservation Voters to increase climate change visibility and coverage at candidate events, sparking and developing her interest in a socially just national climate policy that also spurs economic opportunity. Living now in San Francisco, she misses the snow of New England but loves the thriving culture of city life and the extraordinary amount of environmental and social justice action in the Bay Area. She also can’t wait to explore everything mountainous within just a few hours of the city.
Chris Knight currently works for UC Davis sociologist Fred Block on a project that seeks to uncover some of the government’s hidden roles in the economy, and is also employed as a math T.A. at De Anza high school in Richmond. He wrote his senior thesis on the influence of political variables upon the development of economic thought, and maintains strong interests in economics, humanistic psychology, and clean energy. Growing up in a rural and somewhat conservative household, Chris is especially interested in seeing how Breakthrough can build diverse coalitions that create solutions to seemingly intractable problems. When he’s not scheming for social optimization, he enjoys trail running and listening to all kinds of music. He graduated from UC Davis in June 2007 with a B.A. in economics.
Ashley Lin is a second year rhetoric major at the University of California, Berkeley. Originally from Minnesota, she loves that California is sunny most of the year and appreciates not having to run through snow in the winter. She has spent a summer as an intern for the Institute for Food and Development Policy and has written about bio-fuels for the student science journal The Triple Helix. Ashley plans to minor in Chinese and is fluent in the mandarin dialect. Concurrently with Chinese, she is learning French and will spend a semester abroad in Lyon. Ashley enjoys watermelon and is known for her ability to eat an entire half by herself. She is very excited to be working with such an intelligent group of people this summer!
Adam Rodriques is a rising junior at Yale University, where he is majoring in Political Science. More specifically, he is focusing his studying on the ongoing crises in the Middle East on a regional as well as a geopolitical scale. By combining scholarship in history, religion, psychology, cognitive science, and political science, Adam hopes to be able to approach the situation from a sufficiently comprehensive perspective, both in academia and in the rest of his career, which he wants to spend working in a think tank. Adam is also a member of the Center on Security and Foreign Policy of the Roosevelt Institution’s Yale chapter, where he has collaborated on a policy paper examining the feasibility of an international fund to promote peace efforts in the Middle East, as well as an ongoing project that is looking into bringing together Kenyan youths across tribal lines.
Molly Tsongas is focused on using social marketing and community organizing tools to mobilize Americans to create a clean energy economy. She served as the Pennsylvania State Director for SmartPower, a non-profit marketing organization for clean energy and energy efficiency from 2006-2008. In that role, Molly managed the Pennsylvania Clean Energy Communities Campaign, a program that recruits municipalities to purchase and market clean energy in their communities. In 2007, she was trained by The Climate Project to give “Inconvenient Truth” presentations to educate the public about climate change. Molly founded the Estabrook Woods Alliance, an organization that conducts community organizing and direct action to preserve a forest in Massachusetts. Molly graduated from Brown University in 2005 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies.
Natasha Yurk is a junior Social Policy and Legal Studies major from Northwestern University. Originally from Indianapolis, Natasha has been competing in speech and debate for the past seven years. College debate has exposed her to some of her greatest research interests, including African development and innovation in renewable energy (part of the reason that she is drawn to the Breakthrough Institute). Next year’s research topic is Latin American politics and foreign relations, one of her favorite areas of study. At Northwestern, Natasha is currently working on a project called the Northwestern Political Forum, a bipartisan, open forum, political discussion group. She has also worked on several campus judicial boards and plans on becoming a lawyer/judge/law professor in the near future.
Adam Zemel is finishing up his first year at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. He grew up in the D.C. area, where political and governmental awareness and discussion are a fact of life. A philosophy major, he is deeply interested in philosophy of language and theories of knowledge. Adam borrowed Break Through from a friend last November, and has been exploring the ecological and social ideas proposed in the book for the past few months. He is drawn to the Breakthrough Institute for the broad and big ideas about progressive politics, the recognition of a need to create a new social contract in America, and the acknowledgment of material security as a precondition for ecological concern and awareness. The understanding that humans organize their world and understand their individual places within it through narratives and stories, and the recognition that this is more profound a fact than liberals have appreciated up until now, is the reason he identifies with the Breakthrough Institute’s mission.