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Meet the Board of Directors 

Our Board of Directors lead our 8 core teams and sub-commitee, composed of over 2,000 organizers around the globe!
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Samir Chowdhury

Founder and Chairman 

Samir Chowdhury is a junior at Stanford University. His background spans national policymaking on The White House Council of Environmental Quality, climate tech investing at 17 Asset Management, academic research at Stanford's Doerr School of Sustainability, and machine learning applications at carbon transformation leader, Twelve. As the principal investigator of the first global youth-led energy study, Samir has published novel research on the public health benefits of the modern energy transition. In 2021, Samir was named the Gen-Z Leader in Energy & Sustainability at the Four Generations of Leaders in Clean Energy and Sustainable Solutions Awards. 

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Catherine Jeon

Executive Director

Catherine is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She is passionate about promoting social change via youth activism and leads various youth organizations geared towards everything from climate advocacy to political awareness. Catherine is also interested in biomedical research and data science, specifically for mental health applications. In her free time, she can be found lost in a book, exploring the world, or listening to Taylor Swift;



Senior Advisor

Max is a freshman at Yale University. He previously served as YCAT’s Executive Director, providing leadership to the organization and facilitating worldwide growth of the program. He was a proponent of YCAT’s involvement in intersectional partnerships and has fostered YCAT’s growth in the educational and government relations fields. His leadership is informed by his experience serving on the McLean Community Center Governing Board and time in various leadership roles at McLean High School. He is excited to continue expanding his knowledge in environmental studies and economics at Yale.

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Co-Founder & Senior Advisor

Odessa Zhang is a student at the University of Virginia, and previously served as the Management and Communications Director for YCAT. Odessa is the author of Turtle's Climate Adventure, an interactive climate education picture book. She has led global lobbying efforts, catalyzing 5,000+ actions. With a keen interest in the interconnection between sustainability and business, Odessa hopes to advocate for and implement sustainable practices within the corporate world.


Vihaan Mathur

Co-Founder & Senior Advisor

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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Lavanya Lakhmani

Social Media

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.




Nehal Bajaj is a senior in high school who is passionate about community service and advocacy. She is the founder of the Franklin Township Free Little Food Pantry, which works to combat food insecurity, and is the Legislative Director of the New Jersey High School Democrats. Nehal has interned on two city council campaigns as an Organizing intern and is the Secretary-General of her school’s Model UN team. Additionally, she was selected as a NJ Delegate at the 4-H National Conference in DC where she met with the White House and has been awarded the Gold Congressional Medal. As the Finance Director, Nehal hopes to encourage other youth advocates to fundraise to raise awareness about issues that are important to them.

Emily Pickering

Emily Pickering


Emily Pickering is a high school senior at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She is an officer on her school’s student representative board, a member of Youth in Government, and a previous vice chair for her state’s high school democratic group. As YCAT’s Communications director, she hopes to create meaningful impact through collaboration.


Alyssa-Leigh Alcantara

Climate Education

Alyssa-Leigh is a junior at Arizona State University Preparatory where she is an active member of student government and NHS. Alyssa wants to work as a dermatologist while researching the connection between the environment and human health. She discovered her passion for this through studying the medical implications of carbon pollution for her final project freshman year. That experience led Alyssa to deeply value the role of education in increasing environmental awareness. As the director of Climate Extracurricular Education (CEE), Alyssa hopes to provide kids with similar opportunities and sources of inspiration.


Simrin Chowdhury


Simrin is currently a senior at McLean High School in Virginia. She is passionate about driving social change through youth-based policy and hopes to pursue politics in her future after high school. She is the founder of her own nonprofit, the Her Civics Foundation, which empowers young female students to be more civically engaged. She also serves as the Political Director for the Teen Caucus of Virginia Young Democrats and has worked under numerous congressional campaigns within Virginia. As Policy Director for YCAT, Simrin hopes to further mobilize youth around the globe to partake in climate justice advocacy.


Tanvi Modugula

Operations Director

Tanvi, a dedicated sophomore at Mount Hebron High School, has been driven by her lifelong passion for the environment. Over the years, she has actively engaged with board and state members to advocate for the implementation of essential climate change policies. Tanvi’s commitment to the environment goes beyond advocacy; she has taken it upon herself to educate and inspire the younger generation, imparting knowledge about how to embrace eco-conscious practices.In addition to her environmental advocacy, Tanvi has been dancing for eight years and has been playing the flute for four years. She is very passionate about leveraging computer science and AI to mitigate environmental impacts. As Operations Director,  she aims to foster a strong sense of community and collective responsibility towards the environment.




Aditi is a senior in the IB Programme at Braulio Alonso High School. She is an IB Ambassador, assisting prospective students with their educational decisions. Aditi has always been deeply passionate about the environment, and is the president of her school’s environmental club. Her enthusiasm for environmental protection and strength in writing led her to join YCAT with the goal of spreading climate awareness. In her free time, Aditi enjoys taking part in community service, playing the piano, and watching anime. As the Director of Press at YCAT, Aditi hopes to empower the public to take action against climate change by educating the world through the media.


Alana Desai


Alana is a junior at West Ranch High School in Valencia, California. She is incredibly passionate about youth-driven and youth-targeted initiatives. Having worked as a tutor, counselor, and mentor, she is dedicated to creating quality education and exposure for the next generation. Alana is a dancer, a tennis player, and an editor for her school’s newspaper. She hopes that by shining light on climate action and environmental policy, she can lead the YCAT Press Branch to continue to inspire teenagers to use their voice and step up to the challenges of today.

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Aoun Ali

Global Affairs Co-Director

Aoun is a 17 year old high school student from Karachi, Pakistan, who loves to explore new TV shows, go cycling on the beach, and travel. His interests lie around scientific research, environmental action, and legal reforms! He has done extensive field in climate action and is very keen on expanding YCAT to Asia and other continents as a global affairs director!

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Kai Wong

Global Affairs Co-Director

Kai is a junior living in California, Huntington Beach. He is very passionate about global affairs and has made it his priority by working with Sunrise International and Fridays for Futures. In his free time, Kai loves to connect with other environmental advocates, play video games, and perform in musical theater!

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