Blog

Meet 8 AAPI Leaders in Sustainability: Across the Globe and At Home

Written by Andrea Smith

The month of May is known to many as the end of classes and the start of Summer, but May is also known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Our team at TGP wanted to take a moment to recognize the contributions and influence of AAPI Americans throughout history, culture, and achievements both on a global scale, and from those who are a bit close to home. We also encourage you to learn more about AAPI Heritage Month and get involved through additional resources.

Global AAPI Leaders:

Below is a list of AAPI leaders and activists who are responsible for the creation of change and innovation in the sustainability industry. Take a few moments to learn more about them and what they have done not just for the community but for the world as a whole.

0utOV8UP 400x400 1


Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner
Climate Activist and Poet from the Marshall Islands

She is the co-founder and director of Jo-Jikum, an organization that supports Marshallese youth in taking action on climate change and other environmental issues. She was named one of Vogue’s 13 Climate Warriors and the 2017 Impact Hero of the Year by Earth Company. In 2014, she performed an inspirational poem at the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Summit.  — Instagram

Screenshot 2022 05 18 123501


Jayathma Wickramanayake
UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

In her role, to which she was appointed in 2017 at the age of 26, she leads the UN’s youth engagement and advocacy efforts on sustainable development and economic empowerment. She is originally from Sri Lanka and has been named to the Time 100 Next and Forbes Under 30 lists. Follow her on Twitter @jayathmadw. — Instagram

20160209 RITGER Climate Equity 024


Miya Yoshitani
Executive Director of APEN

The Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), is an organization fighting for environmental, social, and economic justice, particularly for Asian immigrant and refugee communities. She has a long history in the environmental justice movement and currently serves on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC). Follow her on Twitter @miya_yosh. — Instagram

Charlie Jiang 165 WO


Charlie Jiang
Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace

He is currently focused on fighting for a Green New Deal and bringing economic, racial, and environmental justice to the communities most impacted by the climate crisis. In 2017 he was a delegate at COP23, the annual UN Climate Change Conference. Follow him on Twitter @charlieyj12. — Instagram


AAPI Leaders Close to Home:

While there are many more AAPI leaders across the world innovating the space for sustainable efforts, there are just as many right here in our own backyard! From our very own TGP team members to our Alumni community, we want to take a moment and highlight what a new generation of AAPI leaders are up to today.

Screenshot 2022 05 18 124759


Melissa Lee
Founder & CEO of The GREEN Program

Melissa was recognized by the National Association of Women Business Owners as the Environmental Advocate of the Year, Philadelphia magazine’s Best of Philly® – Expander of Frontiers, and the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Education. As CEO, Melissa has expanded TGP beyond its roots as an experiential education program, partnering with leading universities and to create a global, socially-conscious, public benefit company that focuses on our world’s most pressing issues in sustainable development.

Screenshot 2022 05 18 125344


Dr. Sumie Song
Director of Strategic Partnerships at TGP

Before joining TGP, Dr. Sumie Song was Director of Global Education at North Park University, where she worked to reduce structural and systems barriers for underrepresented students. She has also done work in grassroots organizations that organize for equity in education, immigrant rights, youth investment, juvenile justice, and college access. She continues to organize alongside those in her community for racial, economic, and environmental justice.

Screenshot 2022 05 18 125916


Katerina Levantis
TGP Alum Peru 2019 and Japan 2019

Katerina is a 2-time TGP Alum who graduated from Stonybrook University with a degree in Environmental Humanities. In 2021, she coordinated and directed a charity Art Show in support of the world’s Stop AAPI Hate campaigns. She has always strived to promote sustainability awareness in her jobs by linking her projects to sustainable initiatives – in this way, she featured artists that use sustainable creative practices. Her passion is to link together art and sustainability to help promote awareness to multiple facets of some major world issues.

ProfilePic 2022 v1 high resolution 2


Avril Hsu
TGP Alum Costa Rica 2013

Avril is an Award-winning Experience Design Leader at Dell Technologies. She is also a Board member on multiple CX, Product Design & Innovation, and Sustainability Advisory Boards where she is passionate about providing thought leadership on design & innovation for the customer experience, that also takes sustainability into consideration. She completed her MBA at Rutgers University and continues to pave the way for innovation and change by addressing environmental issues caused by current convenience technologies.


Thank you for taking the time to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with us as we continue to recognize both global and local AAPI Leaders in Sustainability. TGP encourages all of you to research and learn more about AAPI Leaders that could be in your very own neighborhood!

TGP celebrates diversity and is an equal opportunity organization. We are strongly committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and seek stories from members of underrepresented groups, as well as those who share this commitment. For collaboration, please reach out to our team at [email protected].

Read Another Article

An International Graduate Student Embraces Nepali Culture by Studying Abroad through Shine On Scholarship

On one hand, I believe that every student should be given a chance to study abroad at least once in their life, because it teaches us things that textbooks cannot: adaptability, resilience, curiosity, empathy, just to name a few. Whether good or bad, bursting our bubble and learning about our world will inspire us and open our minds. On the other hand, the people we interact with benefit from the diversity, because all of us bring unique perspectives to the table. Perhaps we share an idea that no one has thought of but could be key to solving a problem; we fuel the aspirations of someone who is facing similar difficulties; or help take down stereotypes.  

read more

Remembering Juneteenth and the Fight for Environmental Justice

n June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. It is on this day every year since that we celebrate “Juneteenth” as the end of slavery in the United States. It is a day that we celebrate ancestors and leaders who fought to be liberated. We celebrate their power, resiliency, and tenacity. 

read more

LGBTQ+ Leaders and Organizations in Sustainability to Know About this Pride Month

The GREEN Program loves to celebrate love, and there is no better way to do that this month than by recognizing a few LGBTQ+ leaders and organizations that are making a difference not just in their own communities but for our planet altogether. Read below to learn more about some people and spaces that are working together to promote a better world that focuses on inclusion and equality.

read more

From a Start Up to a Sustainability Study Abroad Program: How Patrick Applied his Passion for Renewable Energy in Iceland

When Fall 2021 rolled around and I saw the TGP scholarship opportunity, I thought I’d apply not expecting much. When I found out that I actually got it, I was like “I guess I’m actually doing this!”. I was a little nervous and anxious but also so excited for the opportunity! I was also grateful that the enrollment process was very smooth for me with no significant challenges along the way.

read more

Boston University Student Gains a Unique Perspective for Renewable Energy & Sustainability by Studying Abroad in Iceland

Global experiences have definitely shaped me into the person I am today through increased cultural awareness and sensitivity. Getting to really know a great group of diverse individuals from all over the world has not only shaped my perspective on current world issues, but has also allowed me to take a glance at certain topics from another angle and point of view.

read more

A Construction Science Major Turns Lessons into Opportunity after a Sustainability Study Abroad Program 

AJ Ewing spent his past Winter Break a little bit differently than most students, by studying abroad on our GREEN Nepal program. As a Construction Science major, AJ notes that he was nervous coming into the study abroad program having no prior experience in sustainability or electrical/solar grids, but he was excited and eager to learn. As soon as he arrived, all his nerves were gone as he was welcomed by our team and ready to dive in. Now, he can honestly say that when he thinks of The GREEN Program, he thinks of “family away from home.”

read more

How a Geologist Made His Sustainability Dream in Iceland a Reality through a Study Abroad Scholarship

As someone who is in a field with a limited representation of ethnic minorities, TGP created a neutral ground where there was a range of diversity on different levels. My GREEN Program experience in Iceland wasn’t just about the adventures and cultural immersion, but about the education too. I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures because I saw how passionate the different lecturers were about their work and research which is truly inspiring. As a geologist, learning more about the wonder that is Iceland in Iceland was definitely a dream come true.

read more

Get to Know GREENie: Maryam Aida Tidjani

Maryam Aida Tidjani got to experience a brand new kind of GREEN Program during the hard times the world was facing, a 100% Virtual and Online experience. Initially planning on traveling to Peru in 2021, the global pandemic continued to shift things around and we had to pivot all travel programs to Online experiences.

read more

Environmental Engineering Graduate Paves the Way for Women in STEM through a Renewable Energy & Sustainability Program in Iceland

I loved learning about the geothermal resources in Iceland and how they were used to both create electricity and heat homes. The way the country has harnessed their resources and used them in their everyday lives is so inspirational to me. I hope that the world will learn from Iceland and look for ways to be more sustainable.

read more

Subscribe to The GREEN Program newsletter & updates

Loading...
Skip to content