In the 5th grade, Charles Orgbon III was troubled by noticing litter around his school’s campus. He started a student club that would help lead campus beautification projects. After three years of founding and leading such projects, Charles was off to high school, but wanted to show even more young people how they could create similar campaigns. Therein lays Charles’s impetus for creating an organization that would support young environmental changemakers across the globe: Greening Forward. Under Charles’s leadership, Greening Forward has grown into the largest youth-engineered environmental organization (measured by total operating budget). Charles holds a number of national leadership positions and awards in the youth service field. Charles’s efforts have been commended by President Barack Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and former EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. Today, he is a Presidential Leadership Scholar studying environmental economics and management at the University of Georgia. Learn more about how you can book Charles for public speaking at your next conference, workshop, or event.
- Charles Orgbon III
- Marissa Vessels
- Sara Webber
- Deanna Upchurch
- Jabari Allen
- Ryan Szvetecz
- Cindy Wang
- Sam Good
- Sean Bradley
Marissa Vessels is a graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Science and Public Policy and currently works as a full-stack marketer at MerusCase. Marissa comes from a background rich in the nonprofit sector and is excited to bring her unique experience to the table as a member of the Greening Forward team. In her free time, she enjoys camping, exploring all of the fabulous brunch spots in San Francisco, and her endless search for the perfect cup of coffee.
Sara Webber went to public high school for most of her life, but decided that wasn’t her thing. She now pursues her education at a self-directed learning center in Princeton, NJ and will be attending Hampshire College in the fall of 2016, where she hopes to combine her interests for environmental science, sustainable development, and international relations. In addition to environmental issues, Sara is also passionate about alternative education, sexuality and gender studies, Deaf culture, and travel. When she isn’t pursing her educational goals, you can find her hanging out with friends, searching for the best doughnuts in the greater NYC area, or perfecting her homemade hot chocolate recipe.
Deanna Upchurch grew up surrounded by natural beauty in a small town outside of Nashville, Tennessee. She loves traveling, hiking, and spending time with her family. Deanna recently graduated from Watertown High School and plans to take a gap year to study Arabic while living in Rabat, Morocco. After returning from her gap year, she intends to pursue a degree in international affairs.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Jabari Allen discovered his passion for fostering change while studying at Truman State University. As the self-proclaimed busiest person on campus, Jabari devoted the majority of his time to his fraternity and to GlobeMed, a student-run nonprofit. While involved with GlobeMed, Jabari saw first-hand how young people can affect change with regard to global health equity. A summer internship in the Rockies exposed him to the wild and wonderful beauty of nature, and a second internship in Northern California provided the opportunity to learn more about preserving natural resources through water and energy conservation. However, it was a road trip across the Southwest that catalyzed the transition from concerned citizen to environmental advocate. While listening to Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Climate vs. Capitalism Jabari realized an overwhelming need to fight for health equity and environmental justice, and that in fact the two were intrinsically inseparable. Regardless of the mission, Jabari operates on the premise that innovation is the best vehicle for delivering societal change.
After a baseball-filled childhood in the suburbs of Atlanta, Ryan Szvetecz is currently attending the University of Georgia to pursue degrees in Finance and Environmental Economics and Management. He is the oldest of 3 siblings, and has two beautiful dogs back at home. In his free time, he enjoys dominating the competition in intramural sports, exploring the many incredible restaurants Athens, GA has to offer, and relaxing with friends. In high school, Ryan knew that he wanted to work in the business world, but after taking an environmental science class, he became fascinated by the environmental problems facing the world today. He is excited by the role businesses can play in becoming a more sustainable society, and in the future, wants to help companies embrace a triple-bottom line approach.
Cindy Wang is a first-generation Chinese American college student who is currently attending Macaulay Honors College at CCNY. She explored the fine arts while attending LaGuardia High School, which allowed her to develop a natural admiration and appreciation for the environment. In her free time, she likes to participate in marches and rallies for social and environmental change. She recently attended the annual climate march in response to the Climate Summit and plans on continuing her social activism on campus by forming a Sustainability club. She aspires to continue exploring the common link between the arts and the environment and hopes to one day become a conservationist scientist.
Proudly hailing from the mountains of northern Utah, Samuel Good has gained a respect and love for the environment by living in it: whether that be mountain biking on his high school’s competitive race team, skiing at one of many local ski resorts, or just taking a walk with his parents and two younger sisters on the trails near his home. Samuel participates in a variety of extra curricular activities, one of those being music. As an accomplished pianist and violist, he has participated in an array of musical events, perhaps most notable the Sid and Mary Foulger International Music Festival and the Northern Utah Youth Symphony. In addition to music, Samuel conducts research on environmental issues that press our society today, and is currently experimenting with algae-based biofuels at a local university. Samuel hopes to pursue a career in environmental-based engineering to further advance our country’s use of renewable and alternative forms of energy.
Shannon Kollasch lives in Illinois, where she attends high school. In school, she is the secretary of her environmental club, with which she has lead projects such as an Earth Week awareness project and a smart house design project, and is the graphic design editor for her school’s literary magazine as well as a member of the Chinese Honors Society. Outside of school activities, Shannon is very involved with not only environmentalism, but also her violin. Every week, she takes violin lessons and plays in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Symphony and Encore orchestras. Recently, she received her Chicago street performer’s license and often plays the violin publicly to raise funds for the environmental organizations she cares about. In regards to environmentalism, she attends community events, lobbies in Springfield with the Sierra Club, and is involved with Chicago 350.
Everyone has something that they are really attached to as a kid. For Rose Straus, this was seals. Some would call it obsession, others would call it passion, but Rose’s love for seals eventually morphed her into an environmentalist, and she made it her life’s mission to help save earth’s ecosystems. Rose and her three siblings and parents are all originally from Canada. Now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Rose is a hiker and backpacker, scuba diver, and lover of music and nature. Rose has always enjoyed fundraising for various environmental organizations, and helping with local gardening and restoration projects. Now in highschool, Rose participates in environmental clubs, mock trial, volunteers at the local audubon center, and sings opera and jazz. Rose dreams of becoming a marine biologist and environmental activist, specifically interested in helping to stop global warming.
Ivy Chen is a junior in Fremont, CA. She first got interested in environmental science in her biology class at school, where her teacher constantly shoved environmental documentaries at her students and tried to convert them to vegetarism. Her fervent passion had inspired Ivy to pay attention to the world’s environmental problems and how individuals can take simple initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint on earth, from buying local foods to eating a vegetarian diet! She and a few other of her friends have started, or “revived”, an organization called Fierce and are putting together their first ever Green Summit. In addition to advocating green lifestyles, Ivy participates is on her school’s tennis/track teams and is in the process of developing an art porfolio! She is a coffee enthusiast and knows the Starbucks menu by heart.
Jayden Ruiz is a high school student living in Pennsylvania. He is a former Boy Scout who retains the love of hiking and the outdoors that his time in scouting gave him. In school he is an avid sculptor and participant in art contests. Outside of school along with environmentalism he is a student of piano and the martial arts as well as an avid gardener. In his spare time he enjoys writing and composing music or poetry. Jayden hopes to obtain a degree in biology and to use it to deal with pressing environmental issues such as global climate change and sustainability.