By Jen Boynton
Emi Wang, 29
Environmental Equity Senior Policy Manager, Greenlining; Oakland, California
Emi Wang is a change agent for the marginalized at the Greenlining Institute, an NGO that “uplifts and provides economic opportunities for communities of color in California.”
A member of its policy team, she works on coalition-building to support legislation and its implementation. For example, California’s landmark cap-and-trade policy directed some of the funds collected to local community development. Wang’s team at Greenlining managed to increase the portion of the funds from 25 percent to 35 percent — and to direct the money to programs that have a climate or quality-of-life benefit, such as urban tree projects, bike lanes, affordable housing (which can reduce commuting) and solar installations.
Wang grew up in Brooklyn, the child of Japanese and Chinese parents, understanding “the general unfairness of the world,” as she puts it, without having the language to describe the structural inequality she witnessed.
She came to work at Greenlining from a background in community development and realized that climate justice is a key component of equity. For Wang, people who have been the most sidelined, living in the most polluted neighborhoods, have to be at the center of the solutions and the decision-making. And every day, she works to encourage their participation.