Reflections on My Tenure as Executive Director as I Embark on My Next Chapter
By Jasmine Davenport, Former Executive Director at Our Climate
As I think back to July 1, 2020, I remember the joy I felt as I was beginning this new chapter in my life…namely, becoming the first Black Woman Executive Director for Our Climate. I remember my first 90 days as if it was yesterday…back-to-back phone calls and Zoom meetings with stakeholders and colleagues, assessing our programs and systems, learning the ins and outs of the organization. You see this was going to be the strangest and most intense onboarding experience I was going to have because we were in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, we were in the prime of it. I had only left my house a few times over the past three months and pretty much was winging life like the rest of the world. So, to start a new job, let alone to lead an organization during this time seemed about the craziest, yet dream-achieving thing to do. I’ve always had this go-getter attitude, so when tasked with this new role of coming into an organization and leading it…I was ready to go with all of the energy you could imagine. This role was the culmination of my education, experience, and passion. It was truly a life-changing moment. Fast forward to January 2023, where I have decided to transition out of the organization for an amazing opportunity that I had to say “Yes” to. While I am excited about this next journey, which is another dream come true, I will miss OC.
Over the past 2+ years, Our Climate has truly grown and made an impact. From expanding our creative programs, to recruiting phenomenal student leaders and staff to consistently being in national news to being recognized as a trusted partner in the youth climate justice movement to receiving significant funding from individuals, foundations and organizations to help us grow, to holding our first ever summit in Washington, DC…these are just a few things we’ve been able to do.
Leaving my footprints on this Earth has always been my personal mission. I look at OC and know that I have done that in this chapter of my life. I have indeed left a legacy. But it wasn’t done alone. To all of the student leaders – thank you for all of your passion, creativity, and for using your voice over the years. To the staff team – thank you for your excitement, hard work, and tenacity. Thank you to the Board & Advisory Council for your support and thought leadership. Thank you to all of the foundations and individuals who supported us financially. And thank you to our partners for your innovative collaborations. I am so grateful for my roots in Louisiana and my family, village and tribe who support me. I want to give a special shout out to my Husband and our daughter for celebrating the wins, always giving me hugs after a long day, and being my biggest cheerleaders.
I am so proud of where Our Climate is today. It took work. It took overcoming challenges. It took perseverance. It took a team of folks who believed in the vision and the teamwork it would take for us to not just grow programmatically, but to create a culture within the organization where we truly have one another’s backs. For the past 2+ years we have accomplished a number of things, including, but not limited to: 1) updated our Mission, Vision and Values through an intense, collaborative stakeholder process facilitated by Dr. Akilah Cadet and the Change Cadet team, 2) advanced several climate justice wins, such as the Cumulative Impacts Bill in New York which prevents the approval and re-issuing of permits for actions that would increase disproportionate and/or inequitable pollution burdens on disadvantaged communities, the Growth Management Act in Washington state which improves the state’s climate response through updates to the state’s comprehensive planning framework, the historic climate bill in Massachusetts…”An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind”, the Heat Relief Bill in Oregon which provides emergency heat relief services to low-income households and BIPOC communities, the veto of the anti-net-metering bill in Florida, the Defense Production Act which will accelerate domestic production of clean energy technologies, and more 3) continued to recruit, retain, and diversify our staff, student leaders, Board and Advisory Council, 4) implemented our equitable salary adjustment initiative and maintained a paid fellowship program, 5) made ⅘ of our field staff full time and on track to make all 5 full time in 2023, 6) launched our Is It Hot Enough For Ya? podcast, 6) reached over 1.3 million people via the Frontline Climate Warriors docu-short series made in collaboration with Caravan Lab, 7) started our Resilience as Resistance: Mental Health & Climate Activism programming, 8) created our first ever 3 Year Strategic Plan, 9) streamlined our HR, Admin and Operational processes, including improving our organizational policies and best practices and 10) more than doubled OC’s operating budget, resulting in doubling the size of the staff team and expanding the communications department. I have absolutely no doubt that Our Climate will continue to flourish and make an impact as the team empowers young people to advocate for climate justice solutions.
During the transition, the Board of Directors is working with NRG Consulting Group, an executive search firm, to hire Our Climate’s next Executive Director who will lead the organization, build upon the momentous growth and foundation, and implement the organization’s 3 Year Strategic Plan. Stay tuned for my next steps as I am excited to share about this new part of my journey in the coming weeks.
Thank you for this gift to my life. OC will always have a piece of my heart, but I’ll be just a flutter away.
Guided by her southern roots and seeing the impact of climate change on the Gulf Coast, Jasmine has been a passionate environmental advocate for over a decade. Prior to her appointment as Executive Director of Our Climate, she managed the strategic initiatives and special projects for HIAS, an $80 million international refugee rights protection agency, operating in 16 different countries with over 900 employees. Her passion for environmental issues and keen academic aptitude in the sciences and mathematics won her the coveted internship with the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee and a policy fellowship with Terpstra Associates, a DC lobbying firm where she advocated on Capitol Hill for agricultural and environmental issues. She holds a graduate degree from the University of Essex with a MSc in Tropical Marine Biology. Specializing in climate change, her graduate thesis detailed the Shifts in the Genetic Composition of three DMS-consuming cnidarians. Ms. Sanders is a graduate from the University of South Alabama with a BS in Biology and a minor in Spanish. A native of Monroe, Louisiana, she currently resides in Washington, DC.