Welcome to the Spring 2024 LEAF Fellowship Crew! Get ready to meet an awesome group of folks all about making a positive impact on the environment. Each one brings their own cool skills and passions to the mix, but they’re all united by one thing: wanting to make the world a better place by empowering youth voices for climate action. Check out their stories and profiles below!

Aniqa Ahmed is a recent graduate from the University of Florida where she studied Political Science, where she took the opportunity to focus on environmental and educational policy. She has a vested interest in program/project/non-profit management and in how policy can directly impact communities facing inequities. She had spent the past few years developing her project management, policy development, and relationship building skills through diverse work experiences.

When she’s not at The Climate Initiative, she actively contributes as a board member for the Florida Community Innovation Foundation, employing civic technology to enhance the lives of Floridians. She is excited to join TCI as a Policy Fellow and cannot wait to see what she will co-create in the next few months!

Esperanza De Lara is originally from San Diego, California, but now splits her time between Los Angeles and New York City. She is a recent graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Professional Writing. During her studies, Esperanza interned at the U.S. Senate, Greenpeace, and Stojo, where she acquired skills in policy analysis, marketing for non-profits, and corporate sustainability. Now in the early stage of her career, Esperanza advocates for a greener, cleaner world through effective communication and storytelling. She joins TCI as the Communications Fellow, where she hopes to continue using her voice to empower others in the fight against climate change.

In her free time, Esperanza enjoys vintage shopping, reading Russian literature, and visiting her local tide pools.

Marilyn Soliven Martinez is a second-year USC graduate student pursuing an MPH with a concentration in global health. Her primary focus lies in collaborating with NGOs to address the impact of climate change on the health of marginalized communities in low-income nations. Her academic background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of California, Riverside. Exploring the evolution of societies, understanding the pivotal role of health in civilizations, and embracing the significance of cultural diversity during her undergrad journey fueled her passion to advocate for change through public health initiatives.

Presently, she serves as a teaching assistant within her community, drawing from a diverse range of experiences – from working with children at a non-profit to interning in marketing for a student-led newspaper and a film nonprofit’s social media team. Her skill set encompasses program development, agenda structuring, organization, time management, and fostering collaborative teamwork. She prides herself on being a quick learner, a keen observer, and a dedicated team player!

Becca Ferguson is incredibly excited to be joining the first cohort of LEAF Fellows as the Programs Fellow at TCI, an organization that combines several of her passions including environmental education, youth empowerment, and climate justice advocacy!

Becca recently moved back to Maine after graduating from National Taiwan University with a Master of Science in Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Previously, Becca graduated from Bates College with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies.

Becca has worked as an environmental educator at Boothbay Sea and Science Center, Scarborough Land Trust, and Massachusetts Audubon Society. As a passionate advocate for climate and environmental justice, Becca has also worked as an advocacy intern at the Natural Resources Council of Maine and volunteered with Maine Youth for Climate Justice advocating for policy changes that prioritize climate justice.

In her free time, Becca enjoys making pottery, running, skiing, traveling and singing.

Check out a sample of the LEAF Cohort’s Professional Development Training!