A Lot of Optimism as Ben Jealous steps into Lead at the Sierra Club

“I’ve stepped into this role with a lot of optimism, a lot of pragmatism, a lot of realism and a lot of hard-learned lessons about politics. But a lot of optimism because things are lining up in a way that gives us hope that we can really transition industries in a way that’s just, and we can build a better future that’s exciting and sustainable.”

Ben Jealous, new Executive Director of the Sierra Club, said he will build on the Club’s goals for 2030: Protect 30% of U.S.A. lands and water, further the transition to #renewable energy and address inequalities in the ways the government responds to climate disasters. He aims to focus on rebuilding health within communities and combatting the climate crisis while still growing the economy.

In an interview with Boiling Point,  Ben said, "My optimism about this moment for the planet, and for the Sierra Club, comes from fact we have carrots on the table. It gives us something to help guide industry and impoverished communities in the right direction. I’m also hopeful when I see the Sierra Club’s Massachusetts chapter working to introduce a bill in the state Legislature that would cut red tape and increase incentives for accelerating solar panel deployment across commercial rooftops and as parking garage canopies. That’s the type of thing I believe bipartisan cooperation is possible on, and urgently needed."

In a conversation at UPenn, Ben said, “I am optimistic ultimately because I choose to look at history in centuries and not in days or years or decades."

He also said, "he came by that optimism honestly, he said. Jealous’ worldview was shaped by his grandmother Mamie B. Todd, who commuted from West Baltimore to West Philadelphia to attend the School of Social Policy & Practice at a time when the University of Maryland refused to admit Black students. After graduating in 1953 with a degree in social work, Todd went on to set up Child Protective Services in Baltimore with a campaign against gentlemen’s clubs that were sexually exploiting teens, Jealous said. “She was a force of nature. Penn helped accelerate that.” (https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/race-politics-america-history-ben-jealous-book)

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