5. Daniela Cortez: Make it personal.
This work can be heavy and sometimes even frightening, but I stick to it because I have five siblings. I want for them to be able to grow up in a world where they don’t have to worry whether their planet is doomed or not. … It’s so easy to give up — but it’s so much more empowering to be able to keep going and to be able to be that person for someone else. I’ve always wanted to be a person who makes sure that no one gets left behind.
Since she was 13, Daniela Cortez has been a part of the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps, a vibrant youth advocacy program of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC). The DRCC exists to advocate for a clean, healthy and equitable environment for the people and wildlife impacted by the pollution of the Duwamish River, and to act as a technical and stakeholder advisory group to monitor the EPA-mandated cleanup of the valley. Through its programmatic emphasis on environmental health and social and climate justice, the organization and its youth corps prioritize community action through education and empowerment.