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Announcing the Third Impact Lab on Climate Justice

By October 26, 2021

“To address our climate emergency, we must rapidly, radically reshape society. We need every solution and every solver…What this moment calls for is a mosaic of voices — the full spectrum of ideas and insights for now we can turn things around.” – Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson, ‘All We Can Save’

Today, we’re announcing our third Impact Labs cohort, which will focus on climate justice. Recognizing that the effects of climate change aren’t equal, this lab aims to co-design a technology solution to support low-income communities of color that are most impacted by the climate crisis.

Impact Labs convenes community experts across sectors to co-create new technology solutions to support specific issue areas. Our first Impact Lab cohort designed Service Match, an open-source app designed for case managers who connect people experiencing homelessness to vital human services. Our second Impact Lab recently announced the Financial Aid Chatbot to support students as they navigate the FAFSA application.

By bringing together the expertise of leaders from across sectors with the power of Salesforce technology and pro bono talent, this new Lab will aim to generate shareable insights and create a solution that will contribute to a more sustainable future for all.

Screenshot of virtual meeting
Kick off meeting with the Impact Labs Climate Action Cohort

Why Climate Justice?

In order to decide on this topic, we asked our community to submit challenges. The responses were clear: climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and it should be an urgent priority for us all to act.

“Climate change does not discriminate, but the ability to respond to the climate crisis does,” explains youth climate activist Xiye Bastida in her essay, ‘Calling In.’ Today, people of color and low-income communities are more likely to be impacted by natural disasters, live close to hazardous waste, and die of environmental causes.

As the frequency of climate emergencies increase, low-income communities are at risk of extreme weather events, causing unsalvageable damage to their homes and reversing years of economic progress. And according to the NAACP, race is the number one indicator for the placement of toxic facilities in the U.S., resulting in contaminated water, food, and lungs of communities nearby.

We know communities disproportionately affected by climate change are already advancing solutions, and the goal of Impact Labs is to bring those experts together and identify solutions where technology can have the most impact. We’re looking for new ways technology can help, and we’re looking to bring together experts who are already leading the path forward. We know technology alone won’t solve these issues alone, but we think it can help those who are working to address the issue amplify their impact.

Meet Our Impact Lab Climate Action Experts

This lab will bring together leaders from across the nonprofit, government, and for-profit sectors to lend their expertise to ideate and co-design technology solutions to advance progress on this issue. These experts will come together to research, participate in a collaborative design sprint, test ideas with the community, and ultimately work with Salesforce pro bono volunteers to develop and launch a solution that will be free to all.

Learn more about the fellows and why they are joining Impact Labs.

Clayton Aldern, Data Strategist, GristClayton Aldern
Data Strategist, Grist

Clayton Aldern leads data journalism at Grist. A Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow and a research affiliate of the University of Washington’s Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, his writing and data visualization have appeared in The Atlantic, The Economist, The Guardian, Vox, and many other publications. He holds a master’s in neuroscience and a master’s in public policy from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes scholar.

“The essential word here is ‘action’. There’s a lot of lip service paid to environmental and climate justice. I’m interested in needle-movement.”

Jennifer Anderson, Executive Director, Trellis for TomorrowJennifer Anderson
Executive Director, Trellis for Tomorrow

Jennifer Anderson is the executive director of Trellis for Tomorrow, a nonprofit that works to build resilience and compassion in local communities through food justice and environmental sustainability efforts. For the last 20+ years, she has worked in management with and for nonprofit organizations. Among other things, this has included helping to run an innovative federally funded program offering healthcare, wellness and prevention services through a consortium model to underserved communities in the greater Philadelphia area and co-founding a company that provided enterprise software and consulting services to organizations looking to better manage their environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts.

“I have done a considerable amount of work in both climate change solutions and in working with low income communities of color. I also LOVE designing solutions and being a part of the creative process, especially with an experienced and passionate team.”

Sharlene Brown, Senior Fellow, Croatan InstituteSharlene Brown
Senior Fellow, Croatan Institute

Sharlene Brown is a Senior Fellow at Croatan Institute where she focuses on how to leverage finance in support of racial equity outcomes. Given Croatan Institute’s focus on ecological concerns, a recurring consideration is the implication of climate change for communities of color. Her prior experience internationally highlights climate change as a significant factor in many low-income countries, resulting in the inability of communities to build or secure their financial livelihoods.

“The Croatan Institute and its REEFS program is hoping to organize a summit for climate leaders of color in 2022. My participation in this Lab may shape the summit’s agenda and lead to potential new collaborations.”


Siobhan Foley, Executive Fellow for Climate Action, FUSESiobhan Foley
Executive Fellow for Climate Action, FUSE

As a FUSE Fellow for Climate Action in New Orleans, Siobhan developed the city’s first climate action plan in 2017. Now with C40 Cities, she supports cities in the global network to develop and implement inclusive climate action plans, policies, and programs. For ten years prior to FUSE, Siobhan led a variety of community-based sustainability and resilience initiatives focused on energy, transportation, urban trees, education, and behavior change.

“I’m looking forward to collaborating with other fellows in this Impact Lab on Climate Action because the climate crisis is already unduly impacting low income communities of color worldwide, exacerbating existing challenges and creating new risks, and I think technology can play an important role to help people organize and prioritize action and center equity and inclusivity in approaching the urgency and complexity of the crisis.”

Isabella Gonzalez Potter, Policy Associate, The Nature ConservancyIsabella Gonzalez Potter
Policy Associate, The Nature Conservancy

Isabella Gonzalez Potter is a Policy Associate with the California chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) where she leads policy analysis in support of TNC’s conservation priorities, manages the state legislative portfolio, and serves as a registered lobbyist. Before her time in Sacramento she worked for environmental NGOs throughout Arizona, California, and Bolivia. Isabella received her B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Latin American Studies and her M.S. in Environmental Management with a concentration in Water Management, both from the University of San Francisco.

“Working on the frontlines of environmental policy in California, I am excited to collaborate with my peers on equitable opportunities to address climate change. As we navigate the determining decade of our planet’s future, we must ensure our approach is intersectional and does not leave anyone behind.”

Derrick Jones, VP of IT, NAACPDerrick Jones

Derrick Jones is the vice president of information technology at NAACP. A Computer Engineer by education, his work in the information technology space has allowed him to broaden his scope to include all things computer, networking, and engineering related. His work with the NAACP has helped him view the world differently and enabled him to think outside of the box to create innovative ways to create long-term solutions.

“I am interested in Impact Labs because it will allow me to provide a different perspective on how this actually impacts low income communities of color and it also speaks to the mission of the NAACP. More often than not, these spaces do not contain or appreciate the perspective of someone that has first-hand knowledge of low income communities of color.”

Tom Knox, Executive Director, Valley Clean Air NowTom Knox
Executive Director, Valley Clean Air Now

Tom Knox is the founder and executive director of Valley Clean Air Now (CAN), a nonprofit dedicated to cooperative and proactive approaches to improving air quality in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Valley CAN’s signature programs, Tune In & Tune Up and Clean Cars 4 All, have become key examples of California’s global leadership toward clean transportation in disadvantaged communities.

“I think that innovative data management is a key element in developing equitable solutions for both climate change and air quality in disadvantaged communities.”

Amit Patel, Managing Director, Nonprofit Group, AccentureAmit Patel
Managing Director, Nonprofit Group, Accenture

As the lead of Accenture’s Nonprofit Group, Amit Patel helps domestic and international nonprofit organizations and foundations define their strategic objectives and develop solutions to improve their outcomes. His expertise covers the spectrum of challenges faced by today’s nonprofit by helping them innovate and drive transformation.

“There is already research out there on how climate change is disproportionately impacting people of color. I am excited to participate in this Impact Lab to see what actions we can take to make an actionable difference.”

Eloisa Portillo-Morales, ACCC Climate Equity Co-Director and City Strategist, Natural Resources Defense CouncilEloisa Portillo-Morales
ACCC Climate Equity Co-Director and City Strategist, Natural Resources Defense Council

Eloisa Portillo-Morales is the interim equity co-director and a city strategist with the American Cities Climate Challenge at NRDC. She brings over 15 years in local government and nonprofit environmental expertise where she actively works to make multicultural communities and organization’s climate work equitable through thoughtful leadership, capacity building, and authentic relationship building with communities most impacted.

“I am excited to work with others bringing diverse perspectives and expertise to help face the largest human threat centering the people who are impacted the most.”

Aneri Pradhan, Senior Manager, Corporate Partnerships, Elemental ExceleratorAneri Pradhan
Senior Manager, Corporate Partnerships, Elemental Excelerator

Aneri Pradhan is a climate and clean energy ecosystem builder and has spent her career at the intersection of entrepreneurship and clean energy through various incubators, accelerators, and networks that she has either founded, governed, invested in, or worked at. Currently she manages corporate venture capital partnerships at Elemental Excelerator, a climate tech growth accelerator based in the Pacific.

“Climate justice is an overlooked problem within the climate sector. Impact is measured mostly through CO2 drawdown, but that measurement misses the point that vulnerable populations have low carbon footprints not because they are environmentally conscious, but because they have been denied access to power both literally and figuratively.”

Karen Uffelman, Partner & Lead Strategist, Percolator ConsultingKaren Uffelman
Partner & Lead Strategist, Percolator Consulting

Karen Uffelman has spent the last 15 years working at the intersection of technology and civil society. She currently runs a Salesforce-focused consulting practice and helps her clients better engage and mobilize their constituents for social change.

“Low income communities of color are experiencing the early brunt of climate change and have historically been left out of the decision-making process on what the best strategies are to address it.”

Jacqueline Yannacci, Chief Program Officer, California Volunteers, Office of the GovernorJacqueline Yannacci
Chief Program Officer, California Volunteers, Office of the Governor

Jacqueline Yannacci oversees the California Volunteers Program Department which comprises the state’s AmeriCorps programs, California Climate Action Corps, Disaster Services, and Volunteer Services. Her focus area over the last 15 years has been community engagement to tackle social and disaster related challenges.

“I am excited to collaborate with others and learn how we can shape our climate corps program to engage communities in taking climate action.”

About the Author

Cheryl Timoney, Vice President, Tech for Social Impact,
Cheryl Timoney
Vice President, Tech for Social Impact,
Cheryl Timoney is the vice president of Tech for Social Impact at helping change-makers realize the promise of technology to scale their missions and impact. Cheryl has successfully designed and scaled high-impact programs, including the Pro Bono Program, Technology Grants, and Impact Labs. Prior to, Cheryl led program teams in the nonprofit sector building community solutions for economic and community development. Outside of, Cheryl serves on the Board of Directors for Community Action Marin.