Some of the most important environmental leaders from across the spectrum of our time have stepped up to the challenge of adjudicating this competition. We couldn’t be more proud to have them on board and they can’t wait to see the impressive work you’ve done.

For more information about how these contest judges will review your submissions, please see Scoring and Criteria.



Quentin Foster, EDF

Quentin is the California Program Director for Environmental Defense Fund. Quentin discovered his passion for environmental issues when he was a fellow and then policy director with the California State Assembly. Quentin served as staff for then Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell and tracked environmental and energy policy issues for both Assembly Natural Resources Committee and Utilities and Commerce Committee. His role showed him that environmental policy could be more than an “either or” conversation; people’s lives and the environment are inextricably linked. By helping one, we can help the other. Quentin didn’t expect to find his way into environmentalism, but he did always want to go into policy. Quentin was born in Chicago, and then spent his childhood in the foster care system in South Los Angeles. This experience as a member of an underserved community exposed Quentin firsthand to the dangerous effect environmental degradation can have on a person’s life. Although it wasn’t until Quentin’s senior year of high school that he completed a full year of schooling in one location, he then went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of San Francisco and then his master’s degree in public policy and public administration from USC.



Lydia Avila, Power Shift Network

Lydia is the Executive Director of the Power Shift Network. Lydia grew up in a working class home in Los Angeles, where she was taught that using your resources responsibly was an obligation to your family, to your community, and to the generations who would come after you. In college Lydia discovered the power of her voice and actions as a student activist fighting extreme student fee hikes. She then spent three years winning coal fights in Texas with the Sierra Club and a few more years in graduate school learning how to help organizations do their work as effectively as possible. Lydia now works to ensure that all youth discover the power of their words and actions and use them to fight for a just transition to the clean energy future we all deserve.


Jacqui Patterson, NAACP

Jacqueline Patterson is the Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. Since 2007 Patterson has served as coordinator & co-founder of Women of Color United. Jacqui Patterson has worked as a researcher, program manager, coordinator, advocate and activist working on women’s rights, violence against women, HIV&AIDS, racial justice, economic justice, emergency response, and environmental and climate justice. Patterson served as a Senior Women’s Rights Policy Analyst for ActionAid, Assistant Vice-President of HIV/AIDS Programs for IMA World Health, Outreach Project Associate for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Research Coordinator for Johns Hopkins University, and as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica, West Indies.  

Patterson holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, Advisory Board for Center for Earth Ethics as well as on the Boards of Directors for the Institute of the Black World, Center for Story Based Strategy, Fresh Coast Capital, the River Network, the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, and the National Black Workers Center.


Ken Alex, Governor's Office of Planning and Research 

Ken is the Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and serves as Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown and the Chair of the Strategic Growth Council. As the longest tenured OPR Director, Ken has led a broad effort to modernize land use planning through greater transparency; easier access and local application through mapping tools, templates, and streamlined permits; reduced barriers to in-fill development; promotion of transit oriented development; protection of agricultural land and open space; recognition of water constraints; and updated general plan and CEQA guidelines. Ken is also the architect of the Under2 Coalition, an organization of over 200 sub-national jurisdictions representing 40% of world GDP, leading world action on climate change.

Before joining the Governor’s Office, Ken was the Senior Assistant Attorney General heading the environment section of the California Attorney General’s Office, and the co-head of the Office’s global warming unit. From 2000 to 2006, Ken led the California Attorney General’s energy task force, investigating price and supply issues related to California’s energy crisis. California Lawyer named Ken an “Attorney of the Year” in 2004 for his work in energy law, and he received the ABA award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy in 2007 for global warming work.

Ken is a graduate of Harvard Law School and holds a B.A. in political theory from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

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Yassamin Ansari, Mission 2020

Yassamin Ansari is the Deputy Director of Policy for the Global Climate Action Summit. In this role, she serves on behalf of Mission 2020 — a global campaign led by former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres — to work with Governor Brown's Office on the development and delivery of ambitious outcomes across the Summit's five main themes. 

Previously, Yassamin was the Director of the Climate Action 2016 Summit in Washington D.C., where she led all aspects of the Summit's planning and execution under the direction of Dr. Robert Orr, the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Change. Yassamin was also the youngest person to serve in the Executive Office of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon between 2014-2016. She was a member of the climate team that advised the Secretary-General and helped to deliver the historic Paris Agreement. Prior to this, she worked on multi-stakeholder initiatives to advance women's and children's health, innovative uses of big data for development, and sustainable energy through her role as the Special Assistant to the Secretary-General's Senior Advisor on Partnerships, Ambassador Tomas Christensen. 

Yassamin holds a bachelor's degree from Stanford University in international relations with honors in international security studies, as well as a master's degree from the University of Cambridge. 

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Bob Inglis, RepublicEN

Bob Inglis was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1992, having never run for office before. He represented Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, from 1993-1998, unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings in 1998, and then returned to the practice of commercial real estate law in Greenville, S.C. In 2004, he was re-elected to Congress and served until losing re-election in the South Carolina Republican primary of 2010.

In 2011, Inglis went full-time into promoting free enterprise action on climate change and launched the Energy and Enterprise Initiative (“E&EI”) at George Mason University in July 2012. E&EI is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt, educational outreach that lives to demonstrate the power of accountable free enterprise. E&EI believes that climate change can be solved by eliminating all subsidies, including the implicit subsidy of the lack of accountability for emissions. By creating a level playing field in which all costs are transparently “in” on all fuels, E&EI believes that the free enterprise system will deliver innovation faster than government regulations could ever imagine.

E&EI supports an online community of energy optimists and climate realists at You can say you’re “En” on free enterprise solutions to climate change at

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Elysa Hammond, Clif Bar & Company


Elysa Hammond is Vice President of Environmental Stewardship at Clif Bar & Company. She is the chief architect of their sustainability program which addresses Clif Bar’s ecological footprint from field to final product and works to drive change beyond their four walls.

In her role, Elysa leads ongoing efforts to expand the company’s support of organic, sustainable agriculture, drive the use of renewable energy into their supply chain, and achieve zero waste. She also guides the integration of sustainability into Clif Bar’s two commercial bakeries in Idaho and Indiana and works with non-profit partners to lobby for climate action.

Elysa serves on the advisory board of the Bard College MBA in Sustainability. Prior to her position at Clif Bar, she worked in environmental education and conducted research in tropical agroforestry. Elysa holds a M.F.S. degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a B.S. in Crop Science from California Polytechnic.