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Meet The Board of Directors 

Our Board of Directors leads our 7 core teams and 2 subcommittees composed of over 1,500 organizers around the globe!
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Samir Chowdhury

Founder and Chairman 

Samir is a freshman at Stanford University. Having spent much of his childhood traveling to Bangladesh and witnessing the detriments of climate change on his heritage firsthand, his personal convictions have led him to pursue climate activism and found YCAT. His activism has led him to advise and be publicly honored by EPA Administrator Michael Regan, be invited to speak at the Harvard Institute of Politics, and be featured by various publications.  Fully invested in changing the world for the better, Samir is immensely gratified by the past success of YCAT and the future impact it will cultivate. 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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Melat Asmerom

Senior Trustee

Melat Asmerom is a freshman at the University of Virginia. In addition to YCAT she is involved in a multitude of other clubs like DECA, Big Mac Program, and McDance-A-Thon at McLean. She is really passionate about social justice and environmental justice and the intersections between those two. She really enjoys learning more about these climate related topics both inside and outside of YCAT.

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Vihaan Mathur 

Operations & 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 

Communications & 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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Cynthia

Ma 

Finance Director 

Cynthia Ma is a senior at McLean High School involved in environmental conservation. She is particularly involved with the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District. Over the summer of 2020, Cynthia worked on a ten-week independent research project with the NVSWCD, and this past year, Cynthia initiated a 7-month long soil compaction study in Fairfax County residence homes. 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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Christian Daniels 

Student Network Director

Christian is a junior at Hylton High School. He is PR Director for the International Studies Program and BSU at his school, as well as Vice President of his class. Christian takes pride in founding the African American Culture & History Initiative that has an outreach of over 380,000+! Christian is passionate about being the voice for the greater good. He represented his school in the Human Rights Student Leadership Council, currently serves as a Student Senator for the School Board, leads a county wide student podcast to promote Cultural Awareness teaching, and is a student ambassador for his local delegate. The environmental injustices experienced by his family in Louisiana fueled Christian’s passion to fight against the climate crisis, which is why he is a proud SNC Director for 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!

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Ben 

Ringel

Press 

Director

Ben is a senior at Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California. 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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Shifa
Shaikh

Social Media Director

Shifa is a junior at Hammond High School in Laurel, Maryland. She has participated in various environmental initiatives throughout her community including her school’s Green Team, the Howard County Student Climate Change Institute, and more. Shifa is also the founder of a youth activism platform, called Youth for Humanity, which aims to educate students on present-day societal issues and provide them with the means of making tangible change. Empowered by YCAT’s diverse initiatives and expansive community, Shifa is grateful to be involved with this growing movement and hopes to contribute to the cause with her experience and passion for the environment.

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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. 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.