Climate Action through Community-Focused Philanthropy

Leaders from the front lines of non-profit organizations share how strategic investments in climate funds and STEM education programs can help scale sustainable solutions on a community level.

Presented By

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About The Speakers

Esther Whieldon - S&P Global Sustainable1 ESG Insider Podcast

Esther Whieldon - Senior writer and Co-host of ESG Insider podcast, ESG Thought Leadership Team, S&P Global Sustainable1

Esther Whieldon is a Senior Writer on the S&P Global Sustainable1 Thought Leadership Team and co-host of the S&P Global podcast ESG Insider. Esther has worked at S&P Global for 14 years and was previously a Senior Reporter in the S&P Global Market Intelligence newsroom where she wrote about climate change, ESG and energy issues. Prior, Esther worked two years as a reporter at Politico and spent several years before that in the S&P Global Platts energy newsroom in Washington, D.C. Esther earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland.


Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali - National Wildlife Federation

Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali - Executive Vice President, National Wildlife Federation

A renowned thought leader, international speaker, policy maker, community liaison, trainer, and facilitator, Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali serves as the Executive Vice President for the National Wildlife Federation. He is also the founder of Revitalization Strategies, a business focused on moving our most vulnerable communities from “surviving to thriving.”

Before joining the National Wildlife Federation, Mustafa was the senior vice president for the Hip Hop Caucus, a national non-profit and non-partisan organization that connects the hip-hop community to the civic process to build power and create positive change. In his role, he led the strategic direction, expansion, and operation of the Hip Hop Caucus’ portfolio on climate, environmental justice, and community revitalization.

Prior to joining the Hip Hop Caucus, Mustafa worked for 24 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He began working on social justice issues at the age of 16 and joined the EPA as a student, becoming a founding member of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). He most recently served as senior advisor for environmental justice and community revitalization and assistant associate administrator, working to elevate environmental justice issues and strengthening environmental justice policies, programs, and initiatives. Mustafa worked for EPA administrators beginning with William Riley and ending with Scott Pruitt.

Mustafa uses a holistic approach to revitalizing vulnerable communities, and has worked with more than 500 domestic and international communities to secure environmental, health, and economic justice. Throughout his career, Mustafa has conducted more than 1,000 presentations across the country, including speeches, training, and guest lectures at over 100 colleges and universities. He is a former instructor at West Virginia University and Stanford University. 

Mustafa currently serves as a board member for Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Union of Concerned Scientists, Rodenberry Foundation, TREE, and Climate Hawks Vote. He is frequently seen on television, including appearances on MSNBC, CNN, VICE, BET, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and Democracy NOW! Mustafa is also a regular guest on WURD radio, Roland Martin Unfiltered, The Dean Obeidallah Show, and many others, and is the former co-host of the live radio show and podcast Think 100%: The Coolest Show on Climate Change with Grammy-nominated singer and actress Antonique Smith and civil rights icon Rev Lennox Yearwood. ​

Clay Stranger - RMI’s Carbon Free Transportation Program

Clay Stranger - Managing Director of RMI’s Carbon Free Transportation Program

Clay Stranger is a Managing Director at RMI where he leads the Carbon Free Transportation Program, co-leads the India Program, and serves as Chair of RMI’s Portfolio Management Group. Through global engagements with the public and private sector, he works to establish and implement ambitious decarbonization plans.

Clay has worked on energy transition strategies in more than two dozen countries and serves as an advisor to central and state governments around the world on clean energy policy and technology. He co-founded the Urban Mobility Lab, a platform that supports a replicable process for identifying, integrating, and implementing electric mobility solutions in leading geographies, called Lighthouse Cities.

Previously Clay served as the Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist, where he oversaw diverse research and collaboration engagements both within and outside RMI. From 2013-2015 he served as the Project Manager of Reinventing Fire: China, a partnership with the Chinese government to examine the maximum feasible share of renewables and efficiency technology in the Chinese energy economy through 2050.

Clay applies a rigorous approach to research and engagement to help solve complex challenges in the energy sector. He lives in the Rocky Mountains with his wife and daughter.

Dr. Carol O’Donnell - Smithsonian Science Education Center

Carol O’Donnell - Director, Smithsonian Science Education Center

Carol O’Donnell is the director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center, which is dedicated to transforming K–12 Education through Science in collaboration with communities across the globe. O’Donnell is responsible for all operational activities and planning for the unit, including building awareness for preschool through 12th-grade science-education reform, conducting programs that support the professional growth of P–12 teachers and school leaders and overseeing all research and curricular-resource development, philanthropic development and administration. O’Donnell serves as the U.S. representative on the Global Council of the InterAcademy Partnership Science Education Programme, an appointment by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and she serves on the UN Broadband Commission Working Group on School Connectivity: Hybrid Learning. O’Donnell also represents the Smithsonian on the Subcommittee on Federal Coordination in STEM Education, which advises and assists the Committee on STEM Education of the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the Executive Office of the President.

Before joining the Smithsonian in 2015, O’Donnell worked at the U.S. Department of Education where she oversaw nearly $17 billion in annual federal investments under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. These investments focused on education reform, school improvement, teacher professional development, improved student achievement and assistance for states building their capacity to implement and sustain education reforms and achieve improvement in student outcomes. She also oversaw the cognition and student-learning research program at the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the Department of Education.

While earning her doctorate at the George Washington University, O’Donnell managed a five-year, National Science Foundation-funded trial aimed at identifying the conditions under which effective middle school science curricular interventions improve student learning and reduce achievement gaps when scaled-up. Her research on curriculum implementation was published in the Review of Educational Research and earned her an “American Educational Research Association Division of Learning and Instruction Graduate Research Award” in 2008.

Before attending George Washington University, O’Donnell spent 11 years developing science-curriculum materials for the Smithsonian Science Education Center’s science and technology concepts elementary and secondary programs.

O’Donnell began her science-teaching career in Virginia public schools. She currently serves on the part-time faculty of George Washington University’s physics department.

O’Donnell earned her bachelor's degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh, her master’s degree in geosciences from Mississippi State University, her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from George Washington University and an Executive Education certificate in nonprofit management from the Harvard Business School.


Clay Stranger

Esther Whieldon

Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali

Dr. Carol O’Donnell

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