We grew up in the San Juans, or on the reservations; in Los Angeles, Albuquerque, or Salt Lake City. Find out more about the passionate team of young conservationists behind Uplift 2017.
the 2017 organizing team
Window Rock, NN
Kayla (Shawnee/Anishinaabe) presents herself as part of the Ats'oos Dine'é clan in Navajo. She grew up predominantly in Appalachia, but her family also spent a lot of living on the road, from Oklahoma to Canada. Currently, she is studying Diné Studies at Diné College and a Masters of Mechanical Engineering at Arizona State University, degrees to accompany her undergraduate studies in Civil (Geo-Environmental) Engineering and French. Kayla, an AISES Sequoyah Fellow and Gen-I Youth Ambassador, focuses on renewable energy feasibility, energy efficiency, and tribal policy. She is especially interested in how to uplift traditional knowledge and promote sovereignty through the reformation of laws and structures that oversee activities on tribal lands. Kayla was a SustainUs COP22 delegate who traveled to Morocco and Standing Rock to gain solidarity between indigenous communities. Recently, she accepted a Board Member position with the National Peace Academy to address issues of cultural loss and damage, such as those encountered in the ongoing #NoLoop202 issue in Phoenix. In her spare time, she writes for the Good Men Project and conducts research with the Diné Policy Institute.
Salt Lake City, UT
Brooke grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and romped around the Wasatch Mountains and deserts of Southern Utah throughout her childhood. As a current student in the University of Utah's Environmental Humanities Graduate Program, Brooke is exploring the role of storytelling in building climate justice movements across the Colorado Plateau. She is the publicist for Torrey House Press, a nonprofit dedicated to elevating voices for the land. Brooke graduated from Colorado College with a degree in environmental policy and spent two years researching conservation and water issues in the American West with the State of the Rockies Project. With a deep love for Colorado Plateau, Brooke finds hope in the community of young agitators, visionaries, storytellers, and artists who call the red rock region home.
Born in Berlin, Germany and raised on Fort Carson Army Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Leandra Taylor is Coordinator for Merge New Mexico, a community alliance based in Albuquerque NM bringing together multicultural groups working to ensure equitable access to New Mexico's natural resources. She is a graduate of Baylor University with previous experience working for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Leandra identifies strongly as a Military Child, a Black Outdoor Enthusiast, Artist, and avid Birder. She was recently selected as an Outdoor Afro Leader of New Mexico and is an alumni of SHIFT's Emerging Leader's Program.
Eva Malis grew up in southern California and spent the most recent years of her life studying environmental science at UC Berkeley. There, she delved into youth activism and student organizing in a number of social and environmental justice campaigns. She was the core organizer of 2016's Power Shift West Convergence and did her undergraduate thesis on wetland restoration in the San Francisco Bay. She fell in love with the red rock and rivers of the Colorado Plateau as a participant in the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program. Her passion lies in the overlap of racial and environmental justice, and she has deeply explored intersectional movement-building, environmental communications, and restoration ecology. Now, she works as the Uplift Coordinator from Flagstaff, AZ.
Juan Jaramillo is an incoming senior at Pomona College. He’s majoring in Environmental Analysis with a concentration in Environmental Justice. Throughout his time at Pomona, he has been actively involved with the low-income community. In the summer of 2016, Juan was a part of the UC Santa Cruz Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program and this summer he is interning with the Uplift Colorado Plateau specifically on Outreach. He hopes to apply knowledge he has learned in the classroom into tangible results and help Uplift in any way he can.
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Marcel developed an early appreciation for all things wild. Having spent much of his childhood adventuring outdoors with his family and friends, his love for the Colorado Plateau is rooted in experiences backpacking in the sprawling wildernesses of the Southwest. His concern for the longevity of these landscapes stems from an understanding of Earth science, human history, and a deep affection for the fragile beauty of the natural world. Having recently graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor's in geology, Marcel splits his time between working for the Journal of the American Chemical Society as an editorial assistant and working at his family’s ranch near Afton, Wyoming. He hopes that Uplift will act as a platform for youth-dominated, solutions-based discussion on climate change, giving voice to the often marginalized diverse communities of the Colorado Plateau.
Makenzie was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is pursuing a degree at Northern Arizona University in Environmental Policy and Conservation Biology. She is passionate about environmental education, especially about providing equitable opportunities for youth to access quality environmental education and career development in the natural sciences field. She hopes to continue this work throughout her life in many different forms. She has previously worked at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge for three years and other local organizations on education and outreach. She is currently interning at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts for the summer to further develop youth programs on ecology. She hopes to carry forth what she learns there and elsewhere to address these issues back in her home town!
Erica Braidhair is a proud Diné mother from Chinle, Az on the Navajo Nation. In her 32 years on Mother Earth, she has walked many paths. She has seen many wonders of Nature and has been on many vast adventures that led her to Conservation work as her life's mission. Having spent years living a confusing life as an Urban Indian and a Rural Native, her outlook on the environment has many peaks and valleys. As a member of the Little Colorado River Watershed Chapters Association (LCRWCA), Erica's passion for water safety, food sovereignty, land restoration, agricultural & traditional teachings and knowledge is being restored. She finds joy in being able to take what she is learning and teach the youngest generation how very important it is to strengthen, restore, protect and uphold all that we see around us for our youth and future generations.
Montana Johnson was born and raised under the California sun but made her move to Flagstaff, Arizona in 2011 to pursue an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science. After delving into the depths of South American environmental issues by studying abroad in Chile, conducting research in Argentina, and helping run a local non-profit focused on Chilean Patagonia, she wanted to take the lessons she learned and apply them to her home. She is dedicated to bridging the communication gap between science and the public and utilizing experiential learning to create change. She has a passion for all things wild and loves spending time outside playing in the dirt, identifying aquatic invertebrates, climbing up rocks, and practicing yoga.
uplift 2016 Organizers
Interested in getting involved with Uplift? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.