Celebrating the Leaders in Our Leader-full Georgia Climate Movement

Here we are at the second anniversary of the launch of the Drawdown Georgia movement centered around a list of 20 climate solutions for our state. It’s what we treat as the birthday of this initiative, and I do feel that we are still just getting started. That especially feels true looking ahead to the rest of this decade, knowing how much work there is to be done to get Georgia on the path to Drawdown.

Building a Leader-Full Climate Movement in Georgia

At the same time though, much has already occurred! Some of that we can’t take credit for, like the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and the influx of climate capital it will provide. But within the Drawdown Georgia ecosystem itself, we have many noteworthy accomplishments.

Drawdown Georgia Second Anniversary collage

Rather than talk about what those accomplishments are, I instead want to talk about who is making them a reality. That’s because one of Drawdown Georgia’s central theories of change is that we can create a leader-full movement to help scale climate solutions in our state. It’s as much about the people doing the work as the work itself.

Georgia Leaders in Climate Research

Georgia Tech’s Dr. Marilyn Brown and Dr. Beril Toktay are two of Drawdown Georgia’s leaders. They’ve played an instrumental role in building upon Drawdown Georgia’s backbone of research, co-directing the work that has been completed since the original launch two years ago.

Drawdown Georgia Marilyn Brown cogeneration

Also on their team at Georgia Tech is Dr. Bill Drummond, who has spearheaded the work to develop the Drawdown Georgia GHG Emissions Tracker. As the old saying goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” and Dr. Drummond is the one who led the development of Drawdown Georgia’s ruler. Every other professor and graduate student who participated in this work is also a leader in my book.

Leading Georgia Businesses, Universities, and Religious Communities in Climate Action

Michael Oxman and David Eady are Drawdown Georgia leaders. Along with Dr. Toktay, they have orchestrated the creation of the Drawdown Georgia Business Compact. Through their efforts, we now have a consortium of more than 40 businesses collaborating on climate solutions in our state. As a result, each of the designated representatives from these businesses has become a Drawdown Georgia leader as well.

David Beril John Living Future

David Eady, Arianna Robinson, John Lanier, Dr. Beril Toktay, and Michael Oxman

Dr. Patricia Yager, Dr. Kim Cobb, and Rachel Usher are Drawdown Georgia leaders. Their stewardship of the Georgia Climate Project includes leading Drawdown Georgia Higher Ed, through which Georgia universities are going beyond studying climate solutions to actually implementing them.

Similarly, Codi Norred is a leader in this movement through Georgia Interfaith Power and Light’s Drawdown Georgia Congregations work. Communities of faith across our state are now using Drawdown Georgia’s research to inform how they respond to the climate crisis.

Georgia Communities, Nonprofits, and NGOs Leading on Climate

Maurice Carter at Sustainable Newton is a Drawdown Georgia leader. He was one of the first adopters to leverage our framework of climate solutions, and he immediately began using it to inform the work of his nonprofit. He has gone on to be a resource for others who see how Drawdown Georgia’s efforts can be advanced in different regions of our state.

Dory Larsen and Patrick King at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy are Drawdown Georgia leaders. They authored Drawdown Georgia’s first climate solutions toolkit, titled How to Switch to an Electric Car in Georgia. They were soon joined by more Drawdown Georgia leaders in other sectors: Mike Barcik and Peter Carpenter at Southface (How to Make Your Georgia Home Energy Efficient); Claudette Ayanaba at the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (How to Join a Demand Response Program); and Carol Hunter and Khari Diop at Truly Living Well (How to Compost at Home in Georgia).

Drawdown Georgia Leaders at the Intersection of Climate and Equity

Jill Cartwright, Dennis Creech, MaryBeth Deiters, Chandra Farley, Juan Figueroa, Hermina Glass-Hill, Tamara Jones, Seandra Pope, Suzanna Stribling, Christine Reeves Strigaro, Eriqah Vincent, David Weitnauer, and Janiece Williams are Drawdown Georgia leaders. Each has played an instrumental role in helping create the Drawdown Georgia Climate Solutions and Equity Grant. We received 99 letters of inquiry for the grant, showing me just how many nonprofits statewide see themselves in the work of scaling Drawdown Georgia solutions.

Nathaniel Smith at the Partnership for Southern Equity is a Drawdown Georgia leader. It was an honor to share a stage with him in the spring as we explored all of the intersection points between equity and climate solutions.

Celebrating the Drawdown Georgia Leadership Council and Foundation Teams

His fellow co-chairs of the Drawdown Georgia Leadership Council, Jasmine Crowe-Houston of Goodr and Roy Richards Jr. of Southwire, are leaders as well, and each has lent their influential voices and wisdom to this movement we are trying to build. So too have the other members of the Leadership Council, who are too numerous to count in this space, but I am grateful to each and every one of them.

Drawdown Georgia Leadership Council

Last but not least, there are some amazing women I am privileged to work with at the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, and each is a critical part of the Drawdown Georgia movement. Valerie Bennett, Lori Blank, and Blair Beasley - thank you for all that you do for our foundation and for climate solutions in Georgia. Lisa Lilienthal, Nora DePalma, and Jen Datka - thank you and your team at Dialogue for helping us tell the Drawdown Georgia story and celebrate our many leaders. You are each among their ranks!

Celebrate Georgia’s Climate Movement Leaders!

This list is far from exhaustive.

In our short two years, so many amazing people have found their place in the Drawdown Georgia ecosystem. It is growing, it is thriving, and it is making a difference. From where I sit, I see that we already have a leaderful movement in support of climate solutions, but there is still plenty of room to grow.

Looking ahead, the part of Drawdown Georgia that excites me the most is the new champions who will join this important work in the years to come.


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About Author

John Lanier
John Lanier

John A. Lanier joined the Ray C. Anderson Foundation as Executive Director in May 2013. He serves on the Board of Directors for Southface, the southeast's nonprofit leader in research, design, and implementation of a regenerative economy.

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