Gen Z Environmental Justice Leaders

Date / Time

February 18, 2021

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


The UIC Freshwater Lab presents a panel of Gen Z climate justice leaders who sit at the vanguard of the movement for social change. Through their work, they heighten awareness of the magnitude of the climate crisis and the burden thrusted upon local communities on the ground. Join us to discuss the intersections of environmental justice and scales of engagement. Watch live on
Yesenia Chavez she/her/ella (Chicago; Southeast Environmental Task Force, United Neighbors of the 10th Ward)
Isaias Hernandez he/him (Los Angeles; Queer Brown Vegan, Intersectional Environmentalist)
Brandon Tyus he/him (Detroit; Freshwater Future)
Moderated by:
Rasaan Khalil he/him (Chicago; Firebrand Arts Network)
This panel is the first in a series planned for spring 2021 by The Freshwater Lab Media Group as part of “The Backward River,’ a digital storytelling project about the Chicago River, with the goal of continuing the conversations initiated through the project, lending a voice to the river and amplifying the response by surrounding communities.
Yesenia M. Chavez is an activist and organizer born and raised in Chicago. As the eldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, she witnessed first-hand the health disparities plaguing families such as hers due to lack of environmental policy and political representation. She is also from the city’s #SoutheastSide and attends college at Olive Harvey College studying Biology to pursue her dream of becoming a physician. She currently works on several campaigns focused on achieving a healthier environment for residents of a predominantly Black, Latinx, and immigrant community. Yesenia considers herself a vessel of change for her community. and pursues environmental and health equity for all.
Isaias Hernandez is an #EnvironmentalEducator and creator of #QueerBrownVegan where he introduces forms of environmentalism through colorful graphics, illustrations, and videos. After earning his B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of California, Berkeley, he seeks to provide a safe space for like-minded environmentalists to advance the discourse around the climate crisis.
Rasaan Khail is an artist and environmentalist from Chicago. As co-founder of Firebrand Arts Network, he has worked for almost the last decade with #ChicagoPublicSchool students facilitating workshops and programming that merges performance art and environmental justice. He is a proud #FreshwaterLab alum, graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in History. A prolific artist across multiple mediums, his poetry has been featured published by Belt Press and elsewhere; his debut EP “Feedback” was released in February 2020.
Brandon Tyus focuses on community engagement; working with people to identify the needs and assist in creating solutions while staying up to date with current policies within the Great Lakes region as a Community Program and Policy Associate at Freshwater Future. He is also the Vice Chair of the Benton Harbor Community Water Council and co-led actions that have been recognized by the city. Brandon enjoys cooking healthy dishes, exercising, and reading. Finding that his ever-evolving goal is to transmute ideas into working services for people.
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