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Meet The Board of Directors 

Our Board of Directors leads our 7 core teams and 2 subcommittees composed of over 2,000 organizers around the globe!
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Samir Chowdhury

Founder and Chairman 

Samir Chowdhury is an internationally acclaimed environmentalist and social entrepreneur at Stanford University. Samir is the 2021 Gen-Z Leader in Energy & Sustainability, a Leaders in Energy nonprofit Hall of Famer, and one of The Conversationalist’s 2021 LIST Honorees. Famous for coining empathy models of change, he’s lectured at the Harvard Institute of Politics, Stanford School of Medicine, Commonwealth Club, and global climate events. He’s worked alongside the Biden Administration, UNEP Executive Director, and EPA Administrator and has his work featured in CNN, The Teen Magazine, and The Stanford Daily. Learn more about Samir here.

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Max
Blacksten

Executive Director

Max is a junior at McLean High School. He participates in his schools student government by serving on class council, competes in DECA, and is involved in Venturing and the Boy Scouts of America. His experiences in the outdoors through scouting, volunteering, rowing, and cycling has made him passionate about environmental justice and working to combat climate change. As Executive Director, he plans to help empower high school students around the world by expanding their ability to be climate activists. He is enthusiastic to help YCAT grow and hopes to expand other young peoples' enthusiasm to make change for the better.

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Vihaan 
Mathur

 Co-Founder & Managing Director

Vihaan is a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School, in Alexandria, Virginia. He is an active member of his school's Model United Nations and Ethics Bowl teams where he has developed a passion for speaking and learning about current events. He also co-founded an initiative called Speak to Empower (STEP), which helps young students learn about public speaking. He is also Editor in Chief for Lenses, a platform where teens voice their opinions through journalism and articles written by teens for teens. As Operations Director for YCAT, he is able to be a change maker and advocate for climate reform while also working to foster a environmentally aware teen population.   

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Odessa Zhang

 Co-Founder & Managing Director

Odessa is a junior at McLean High School in McLean, Virginia. She is passionate about youth activism, specifically through the climate movement. She is the co-founder of the Speak to Empower (STEP) initiative working to cultivate public speaking and leadership skills in marginalized communities. Odessa is also part of her school's National Model United Nations Team and serves as a local tutor in her community. As the Communications Director, she is constantly inspired to continue the fight for climate justice by YCAT's growing success to an international scale.

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Victoria Wang

Logistics Director

Victoria is a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School. She is on her school’s varsity volleyball team and policy debate team. In addition to joining YCAT, Victoria has explored her passion for aquatic ecology through participating in invasive species removal, stream monitoring, trash pickup events, and performing research. During her free time, she enjoys reading, singing, and watching cdramas. She is always up to giving book or show recs! Victoria was drawn to YCAT for its youth-led advocacy and intersectional initiatives and is excited to be a part of this movement for change.

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Odessa 
Hott

Finance Director

Odessa Hott is a Richmond, VA native, passionate about advancing intersectional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in environmental advocacy. Odessa holds career certifications in entrepreneurship from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and has received academic awards for leadership and public service. She served as Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative's Director of the Student Ambassador Program, offering accessible climate advocacy and education opportunities for youth. As a team leader for YCAT's grant writing initiative and incoming Director of Finance, Odessa is enthusiastic to involve youth in advocacy through fundraising and research projects.

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Cynthia

Ma 

Co-Founder & Finance Director 

Cynthia Ma is a senior at McLean High School and will be attending Duke University.  She is involved in environmental conservation and is particularly involved with the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District.  She is currently working for the US Department of Agriculture. Cynthia always emphasizes the importance of staying curious to look deeper into human interactions with the environment. As YCAT's Finance Director, Cynthia leads her team to perform research and fundraise for environmental causes.

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Lavanya Lakhmani

Social Media Director

Lavanya is a sophomore at Charter Oak High School, CA. She is an avid reader, an enthusiastic hiker, and she loves to play basketball. In her free time, Lavanya also volunteers for several humanitarian clubs and feminist organisations. She is incredibly passionate about climate justice; her passion was evoked when she witnessed the drought and wildfires in California. One of her biggest goals is to empower youth and urge global restoration.

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Dishitha Dhakshin

Social Media Director

Dishitha is a sophomore at Chantilly High School. She plays for JV Lacrosse and manages her school’s wrestling program. Additionally, she co-leads Amnesty International’s Chantilly branch and is pursuing a junior diploma in Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance form. In the future, Dishitha dreams of going into Cosmetic Dermatology, so she currently works at the Dermatology & Dermatological Surgery Group of Northern Virginia. As Social Media Director, Dishitha looks forward to further building the face of YCAT and being a leading force in its mission to fight the climate crisis from the youth level.

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Ben 

Ringel

Press 

Director

Ben is a senior at Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California and will be attending Brown University. Through running YCAT’s blog on Medium, Ben hopes to shed light on the intricacies of climate change––advancing both climate justice and social change. In the future, he hopes to earn a PhD in Public Health and work towards eradicating global health disparities. Ben’s incredibly grateful for the opportunities YCAT has given him, and eager to see how the organization grows in the future.

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Catherine
Jeon

Press
Director

Catherine is a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She is active in her school’s competitive Biology Olympiad, Public Forum Debate, and computer science teams, having garnered national success in all of them. Her passion in the sciences has led her to conduct award-winning research and to organize educational STEM outreach events for youths. As a firm believer in the power of social action, she enjoys regularly volunteering for various causes, including environmental justice, tutoring, and political engagement. Through YCAT, she wishes to spread awareness about a diverse range of climate-related topics, especially those that are undercovered in today’s media.

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Alejandra Peraza Kerber

Internal Affairs

 Director 

Alejandra is a senior at Bellaire High School. She is passionate about activism and works to spread student voices via her position as the editing team lead for One Step Closer and her active participation in her Feminist Club. She enjoys giving back through her work as Historian and Social Media Director of PAWS club, focused on volunteering in animal shelters, and through her service to the Houston Public Library. For fun, she enjoys reading and spending time outdoors. As an Internal Affairs Director, Alejandra is excited to lead onboarding & recruitment to grow the YCAT family as well as the movement surrounding the climate crisis.

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Lucy

Troy

Global Affairs 

 Director 

Lucy is a high school senior from New York City and will be attending Cornell University. She is her high school’s environmental club leader and one of the founders of the Bronx Youth Climate Summit. In addition to her environmental endeavors, she demonstrates a passion for social justice by tutoring for at risk foster youth, working on local political campaigns, and volunteering at a nonprofit called Friendship Circle. As Global Affairs director, Lucy is passionate about instituting global change by amplifying the voices and experiences of those traditionally neglected by people in power.

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Colden Russell

Global Affairs 

 Director 

Colden is a junior at Caldwell Parish High School. He is a part of his school’s student council, BETA club, National Honor Society, varsity track team, and is the founder of Brighter Through Art. This past summer, Colden taught 170+ Pre-K–8 students and was a curriculum contributor at the Caldwell Accelerate Summer Program. He is a representative to Louisiana’s Legislative Youth Advisory Council, where his focus is improving the state’s economic and environmental policies. He enjoys reading environmental policy books and studied environmental justice at Tulane over the past summer. As Global Affairs Co-Director, Colden hopes to leave a positive impact on YCAT.

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Zora Rodgers

Climate Education Director

Zora Rodgers is a senior at McLean High School. She is a CEE Co-Director, and has a passion for social and climate justice advocacy. She loves working with kids, and volunteers with a program called Music Buddies, where she teaches violin lessons. She is also an Executive mentor in her school’s “Big Mac” leadership program, and co-founded a social justice club called SAFE (Students Advocating for Equality). Zora loves public speaking and interacting with people of all age ranges. As Climate Education Director, Zora actively makes and teaches lessons pertaining to climate change that educate the younger generation!