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Announcing the 2015 Lead Now Fellows!

SustainUS is excited to announce the selection of the second class of Lead Now Fellows. From all over the US and from a myriad of backgrounds, the new class of Fellows are strengthening their leadership skills as they develop creative projects to advance sustainability in their communities. They will be supported by SustainUS through trainings, mentorship, and funding to extend their leadership and project development to new depths.

The 2015 Lead Now Fellows are an inspiring group of young people that are not only developing their own leadership capabilities, but creating positive and lasting change in their communities. From a website that gives people a platform o share their experiences with climate change, to developing curriculums for teaching school aged children about the environment, the Lead Now Fellows have a vision for change.


Rebecca Chung

Born and raised in Southern California, Rebecca (Becky) Chung was first introduced to conservation work in Costa Rica, where she volunteered to help preserve endangered Leatherback sea turtles. Since then, she has worked on the Lost Coast on a trail crew, returned back to Costa Rica for a few months, and spent time volunteering at her local science center. An active leader of both the Sierra Club SYO and iMatter Youth, a national organization that works to empower youth to become the voice of climate change, she enjoys creating new marketing projects, running social media platforms, and leading hikes in Orange County. Inspired after participating in the People’s Climate March in NYC, Becky created Our Climate Story, a project that works to help people understand climate change by sharing the stories of those directly affected and providing accessible resources to learn the science behind climate change. When she’s not thinking up new ideas and campaigns for Our Climate Story or hiking, she can be found in a café with a good book in her hands.

Michelle Coe

Michelle Coe is a graduate student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. Michelle grew up in Henderson, Nevada and studied Geography and Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) as an undergraduate. She is now pursuing her interests in science education and outreach by working as a NASA Space Grant Graduate Fellow at Manzo Elementary in Tucson, AZ while finishing her M.A. degree. As a graduate fellow working at Manzo Elementary, Michelle has started a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum development program aimed at incorporating Manzo Elementary’s unique restoration ecology program further into the classroom. Manzo Elementary and Biosphere 2 (a University of Arizona research facility) have joined forces to help create this STEM curriculum program to promote outreach and education between students, local communities, and scientists, as well as to increase science education and experiential learning. This STEM program allows students to get a sense of how their own research relates to current scientific research happening in their community, as well as allows a new and innovative area for math, science, and reading curriculum integration. The project is set to expand to other local schools in Spring, 2015 and Michelle is excited to continue to work on and improve this curriculum for middle and high school students.

Emily Donaldson and Kim Meersma

Emily Donaldson and Kim Meersma are both Senior Environmental Studies majors at Mount Holyoke College. They are working together on a project to expand high school greenhouse programs to promote environmental education and sustainable food systems. Over the past two summers, Emily has studied climate justice at the Vermont Law School. In the field, she has worked as a community advocate to oppose a Walmart development in rural Vermont and volunteered for a congressional campaign. When Emily is not reading John Ehrenfeld or Wendell Berry, she’s generally running the trails of New England or playing the mandolin. Kim has pursued her passion for environmental policy as an intern with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). She has also worked on both U.S. Senate and House of Representative campaigns. Kim enjoys being active on campus and is a leader for Mount Holyoke’s Outdoors Club, a member of the school’s Climate Justice Coalition, and singer in a choir ensemble.

Patrice Gonzalez

Patrice Gonzalez graduated from Pittsburg (Kansas) State University in the spring of 2013 with a major in Sustainability, Society, and Resource Management with an emphasis in Biology and a minor in Spanish. She was one of the first to graduate with this major within the four state area. In the summer, after she graduated she attended an ISSRM (International Symposium on Society and Resource Management) conference in Estes Park, Colorado to network and gain more experience and professional development on addressing environmental issues in today’s society. In the fall of 2013, she moved to Denver, Colorado to serve as an AmeriCorps member by doing homeless outreach for one year. When her term of service finished, she signed on to be an AmeriCorps VISTA at a community garden in Kansas City, KS, where she is now the coordinator. Patrice grew up in Kansas City, KS and is grateful for the opportunity to give back to the community that nurtured her throughout her youth. Her goal is to increase awareness and educate her community for a more sustainable future.

Kyle Lefton

Kyle Lefton is a graduating senior at California State University, Northridge where he will be completing his Bachelors of Arts in English. However, the path towards obtaining this degree wasn’t a typical four year college experience. After participating in the Sacramento Semester Internship Program, he was introduced to the world of politics and had the opportunity to learn how the government works from the perspective of a lobbyist for a political watchdog organization. Kyle transferred to California State University, Sacramento for an additional year to continue his pursuit for more professional experiences. Within that time, he participated in several local initiatives and acquired another internship with Environment California. Working with a lobbyist for environmental issues illuminated the numerous complexities that go into passing meaningful legislation. In July of 2014, Kyle relocated to Los Angeles when he was presented with an opportunity to intern with Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority in their Environmental Compliance Department. He currently oversees their Environmental Management System and their Environmental Training Institute. One of his main underlying personal goals is to create a dialogue on sustainability-related issues across multiple disciplines and to provide pathways for passionate people to understand the interconnectedness of issues through applied systems theory and how to become agents of change in the translocal community.

Anna Peare

Anna Peare is originally from Lafayette, California and is currently studying Community and Regional Development and Spanish at the University of California, Davis. For over five years, Anna has been involved with the international non-profit organization Amigos de las Américas, or AMIGOS. Through her involvement with AMIGOS, Anna has traveled to Panama, Peru and Ecuador and will be spending this upcoming summer in Costa Rica. Besides volunteering internationally, Anna also works stateside as the Director of Programs for the Amigos de las Américas: Sacramento-Davis Chapter developing the first nationally-based AMIGOS program, titled the Backyard Program. The Backyard Program aims to give youth of all backgrounds the opportunity to become catalysts for positive development and change in their own local community. When she is not studying or working, Anna enjoys running half marathons, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and going on spontaneous adventures around the Bay Area.

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