Dear Greening Forward community,
My name is Ananya Singh, and I am thrilled to introduce myself as Greening Forward’s new Chief Executive Officer. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to work with such a passionate team to empower young people from around the world and create real community change. Greening Forward represents a beautiful intersection between youth leadership development, service-learning, and environmental action. I have experience in each of these areas, yet I have never been a part of an organization in which they have been so deeply ingrained in the mission and the culture. I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of shaping Greening Forward into the organization that it is today. I am so inspired by the impact it has had over its past 11 years and I am excited to begin leading the organization into this new phase of our development.
My passion for environmental action and youth leadership has fostered me into a variety of different roles within several organizations. I served on the National Youth Leadership Council’s Youth Advisory Council, where I learned about the impact of high quality service-learning, discovered my passion for youth-adult partnerships, and gained an understanding of the inner workings of a non-profit. I went through the Climate Justice League Fellowship with the Sierra Student Coalition, diving into the principles of environmental justice, community-building, and social movement strategy. I led my school’s Environmental Action Club, coordinating events, organizing meetings, and working with administration to implement stronger recycling.
There are many other opportunities that I’ve had beyond these, from public speaking to workshop facilitation to coalition building, and more. I have developed critical organizational skills, discovered my own strengths as a leader, and experienced many different types of programming structures. Transitioning from being a participant into being a coordinator, a counselor, a coach, or any other type of leader has given me an incredible perspective. Everything that I have learned has prepared me to take on the responsibilities of being a C.E.O. and I feel confident in my ability to lead this organization.
We are truly in a critical moment right now for youth activism. My generation of peers are uniquely at stake when it comes to the climate crisis; we have grown up with the threat of mass destruction looming ahead, and we know the impacts we are seeing today will only get worse throughout our lives. I am not alone in feeling a sense of fear when thinking about the scale of environmental transformation needed. Young people, motivated by this urgency, have catalyzed the conversation about climate change, from Greta Thunberg and all of the youth climate strike leaders, to Sunrise Movement and the push for a Green New Deal. Young people are bringing fresh ideas, moral clarity, and an energizing burst of passion into the environmental movement. However, we cannot change the world alone.
We need investment in youth leadership and a focus on intergenerational organizing. This is where I see Greening Forward stepping up. We know that when young people have access to resources and support, they are able to bring remarkable environmental change into their communities. We have the tools to help develop more empowered, confident, and trained young leaders, based on our years of experience as an entirely youth-imagined, youth-led, and youth-driven organization.
Some of my intended priority areas for the organization are expanding our partnerships with other youth-serving environmental organizations, creating more pathways of engagement with Greening Forward, including volunteer opportunities, and developing more programming and resources to support youth and adults in working together more meaningfully. Another goal I have for the upcoming year is to refresh Greening Forward’s visual identity and branding to more accurately reflect the organization we are today. I am also very excited to use my platform on Greening Forward to spark more conversations about what investing in youth voice really looks like at an institutional level, and how we can make environmentalism more inclusive and diverse.
I am truly looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish as an organization over the next few years. Please subscribe to our newsletter for more regular updates and consider donating to make this work possible and support my vision for this organization!
Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m a rising senior in high school from New Jersey. I’m passionate about environmental activism, youth empowerment, and civic engagement. At my high school, I am a part of the Academy for Visual & Performing Arts, where I have the opportunity to experiment with many different art forms and mediums including theater, film, and graphic design. My favorite projects have been working on documentaries, posters and zines. I’m vegan — for environmental and ethical reasons — and I love making smoothie bowls and trying out different types of recipes. Another thing to know about me is that I always have to go back and edit out the extra exclamation points from my emails. I am so excited to bring that kind of passion and energy to Greening Forward! Outside of my activism, I love hiking, listening to podcasts, journaling, and reading.
What other clubs and organizations are you involved with?
Last year, I helped establish the New Jersey Student Sustainability Coalition, a collaborative network that shares experience, resources, and expertise to build student power across the state. I currently serve as co-chair, with a focus on coordinating high school groups. I also have the pleasure of working with the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC), an organization that develops young leaders through advancing the field of service-learning. During my term on NYLC’s Youth Advisory Council, I learned so much about service-learning, education equity, and effective youth-adult partnerships. I gained valuable opportunities to develop my voice as a servant-leader. It is so rewarding to guide a new group of passionate young people through their experience on NYLC’s Youth Advisory Council. A few of the other organizations that I worked with throughout the year have been the Sierra Student Coalition, Sunrise Movement, and Youth Empowered Action Camp.
What is your earliest memory experiencing the environment? How have you been impacted by nature?
My earliest memories of nature are of spending time in my backyard with my brother and cousins. We would climb trees, give names to every creature we came across, and spend hours outside every afternoon. I have been so fortunate to have grown up with nature all around me, from the woods in my backyard to the plentiful streams, rivers, and lakes nearby. Nature has always been there, as a reminder of the beauty in the world, a place to recenter and ground myself, and an escape from all the pressure of our modern lives.
How did you first become involved with youth activism?
I first became involved in 2015 by attending Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp, a week-long activist summer camp! Before this camp, I thought that I had to wait until I was an adult in order to actually make a difference, but being there I quickly learned that this belief was simply not true. I met so many inspiring young people who were truly leaders in their own communities, creating real changes through their activism. This really gave me the inspiration and courage to return home and begin advocating for environmental action and youth empowerment. I still work with YEA Camp, now as a counselor, inspiring other young people!
What made you interested in being a part of this organization?
I first heard about the organization through Charles Orgbon, the founder of Greening Forward, who was one of my counselors when I first attended YEA Camp. His leadership and his mentorship had been very valuable to me as an emerging activist and the organization’s mission really resonated with me. We recently reconnected and he told me about some of the projects Greening Forward had been working on, and I immediately was excited about the opportunity to plug in and get involved!
What is one goal that you have for Greening Forward?
One of the goals I have for Greening Forward is to expand our partnerships with other organizations in the field! I think the power of youth voice is incredibly important within the environmental movement as a whole, and I think there is so much value in intergenerational partnerships for everyone involved. I am excited to collaborate meaningfully with organizations across the environmental movement to create a stronger collective impact.
What do you think is the most pressing issue our Earth faces today?
I think the most pressing issue our Earth faces today is clearly the climate crisis. Climate change is not only going to create devastating impacts across the globe, but it is going to exacerbate all of our existing environmental, economic, health, and social issues at the same time. We are already seeing so many consequences, including more extreme natural disasters, warmer temperatures worldwide, and increased sea level rise. The predictions are even more alarming, with shocking projections for the near future.
If you had one piece of advice for kids who want to be involved but don’t know how: what would it be?
Think about what issues are directly impacting your community and start with something local! This can be at your school, in your neighborhood, or in your town/city. The hardest part is starting the initial conversation, but there’s probably other people who will connect with you and support you moving forward! Don’t be afraid to ask for help! That’s what organizations like Greening Forward are here for!