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Meet the Board of Directors 

Our Board of Directors lead our 8 core teams and 2 sub-commitees, 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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Vihaan 
Mathur

 Co-Founder & Managing Director

Vihaan is a senior 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 Zhang is a senior at McLean High School in McLean, Virginia. For the past 2 years, she has served as the Management and Communications Director, leading lobbying efforts, children’s picture book creation, facilitating partnerships, and more. Outside of her work for the climate movement, she is the co-founder of the Speak to Empower initiative dedicated to cultivating oratory and leadership skills in marginalized communities. Odessa is also a member of her school's National Model United Nations Team and volunteer speaker for the American Association of University Women.

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Max
Blacksten

Executive
Director

Max is a senior 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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Victoria Wang

Logistics
Director

Victoria is a senior 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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Lavanya Lakhmani

Social Media
Director

Lavanya is a junior 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 junior 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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Catherine
Jeon

Press
Director

Catherine is a junior 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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Alyssa-Leigh Alcantara

Climate Education
Director

Alyssa-Leigh is a senior at Arizona State University Preparatory. In school she create posters and advertisements for Student Government. She is also a student representative of the DEI Committee, a math tutor, and a member of NHS. Outside of YCAT she is also a part of the Asian Passion Program (APP). In APP, she is a graphic designer and a Philippines country director. She organizes and develops free virtual tutoring services for students in the Philippines to learn and practice English easily. As Director of Climate Extracurricular Education she is focused on teaching and organizing resources for the next generation to learn about the environment.

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Simrin Chowdhury

Policy
Director

Simrin is a junior at McLean High School. She has worked in numerous congressional campaigns and is an avid believer that youth belong in the political scene. She has done policy and social justice work under multiple nonprofits and organizations, and is now founding her own nonprofit to bring more marginalized women into advocacy and policy. As YCAT’s policy director, she hopes to drive change in the climate policy space and make a real impact on our environment.

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Ava
Knickerbocker

Global Affairs
Director

Ava is a senior in high school from New York. She is the founder of Youth Climate Save New York which focuses on the relationship between animal agriculture and climate change. Ava is passionate about the relationship between the environment and human health, more specifically how environmental toxicants contribute to neurodegeneration. In her free time, Ava enjoys playing the bass guitar and curling. As Global Affairs Co-Director, Ava hopes to increase youth involvement in the climate movement around the world.

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Sreya
Chakraborty

Global Affairs
Director

Sreya is a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, NYC. She is heavily involved in Girls Who Code where she has developed her passion for computer science and she's worked on climate justice campaigns both locally and internationally. She hopes to combine her passions for climate justice and activism with her passion for computer science. In her free time, Sreya is an avid reader and a musician, having played the violin for 7 years. As co-director of Global Affairs, Sreya hopes to get the youth involved in the campaign for climate justice on an international scale.

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Nehal
Bajaj

Policy
Director

Nehal is a junior at Central Jersey College Prep Charter School in NJ. She is the founder of the Ted-Ed Student Talk Club, her school's FBLA club, and is the State Treasurer of the Leo Multiple District 16 Cabinet. Nehal is also part of the NJ High School Democrats Legislative and Advocacy Committee where she specializes in mental health research and legislation. Nehal is currently pursuing her BA in Kathak and enjoys watching The West Wing in her free time. As Finance Director, she hopes to encourage other youth advocates to fundraise to raise awareness about issues that are important to them.