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Vivien Toumey joins The Climate Center as its first Engagement Manager

Vivien Toumey enjoying nature.

The first time I remember learning about threats to our environment was in elementary school. The Amazon rainforest was introduced to me: a lush ecosystem spanning many countries, full of flora and fauna seen nowhere else on the globe, and home to many endangered and rare species. As a child, this place was full of wonder and awe — it was truly otherworldly. Imagine my surprise when I learned that corporations were razing trees and eliminating huge swaths of this lifeforce with no regard for its ecological significance. So, I searched for an organization dedicated to saving the rainforest acre-by-acre, printed out photos of the threatened species, glued them onto construction paper, and scheduled a meeting with my principal. My school was going to do something about this!

I’d like to think that my approach hasn’t changed much since childhood. Gather your facts, mobilize supporters to stand with you, present a compelling solution to people in power, and inspire action.

This spirit has driven me to organize for campaigns in my home state of South Carolina, conduct national research on the divisive political climate as an undergrad, and become a Community Leadership Corps leader for the Obama Foundation. All the while, climate change remained top of mind for me. In 2015, my hometown experienced a thousand-year flood during a particularly nasty hurricane. It was a wake-up call for my community and a realization that the effects of climate change are not a distant idea. They are here, and we need to pursue bold, ambitious actions now to protect our future.

Joining The Climate Center is a dream come true. I’ve built a second home here in Southern California, and I’m excited to work alongside such a dedicated community to become bolder, more swift, and more ambitious in our climate policy. This starts with California, but we know our work will have a ripple effect across the nation. Soon, I hope to see my home state of South Carolina adopting the same climate policies that we are pushing for here in California.