Women Activists and Leaders in the Campaign of Students for a Just and Stable Future

By Dominique McCadden

Dominique McCadden April 22, 2010, presenting the Climate Courage Awards to legislators, business, and community leaders.

Women activists have played a key and influential role in the success of The Leadership Campaign over the past year.  In the fall of 2009 The Leadership Campaign kicked off, mobilizing faith and community groups to join hundreds of students demanding 100% Clean Electricity in Massachusetts in the next 10 years. The Leadership Campaign has motivated hundreds to commit to non-violent civil disobedience, attracted over 100 media hits in state and regional media, and garnered the support of over two dozen legislators by “sleeping-out” on the Boston Common and on campuses, refusing to sleep in houses, dorms and apartments powered by dirty electricity. In December, leaders from the House and Senate Global Warming Committees introduced – with 15 co-sponsors – legislation to move the state toward 100% Clean Electricity in the next decade by creating an Emergency Task Force that would recommend policies on how to achieve the vision.  Our Campaign has been endorsed by over two-dozens organizations, including the Mass. Council of Churches, the Mass. Climate Action Network, the Mass. Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Sustainable Business Network, the Mass. Coalition for Healthy Communities, Religious Witness for the Earth.

Over the past year The Leadership Campaign has watched strong women organize college campuses, religious communities, and their own neighborhoods across Massachusetts, inspiring and leading others to take a stand.  Marla Marcum, the Faith and Community Outreach Coordinator has played an invaluable role in organizing faith communities across Massachusetts.  Currently a Th.D. Candidate in Ecological Ethics at Boston University School of Theology, as well as the Chair of the Climate Change Task Force for the New England conference of the United Methodist Church, Marla has dedicated everything she can to fighting climate change and has stood as a role model to others across the movement.  She has shown the campaign the power of bringing different groups of people together to fight for a common cause.

(l-r) Mairead Kennelly and Marla Marcum speaking on April 21, 2010, at Earth Day Climate Rally.

Women on campuses across the state have proven to be some of the strongest and most passionate leaders.  Katie MacDonald, Western Mass. Campaign Coordinator and a student at UMass Amherst, has been able to build support and ties across numerous campuses and encourage others to step into leadership roles. An impressive activist since high school, Katie has been organizing and working to influence the Massachusetts legislature since her first days of college.  A favorite speaker at rally’s, Katie’s enthusiasm and energy is contagious and the student movement would be at a loss without her.

Jamaica Kelley, a graduate student at Simmons College and State Legislative Coordinator, has been able to build strong relationships with numerous representatives, senators, and aides in the statehouse, which has allowed the campaign to gain legitimate support and traction.  Jamaica has been able to develop her team of students into strategic thinkers who know the ins and outs of the statehouse and are near professionals at training others to lobby and gain support of their legislators.  The legislative process can often prove boring, but her positive and hopeful attitude has been inspiring and necessary over the past year.

In November of 2009, as current State Campaign Coordinator, I testified to the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, along with NASA’s James Hansen, economist Frank Ackerman and Reverend Roy Cederholm.  After testifying, several people complimented me on my passion and integrity, one saying  “only a woman could have spoken so truthfully and passionately about her hope for a clean and just future for her children.”

Dominique McCadden is the Mass.  Campaign Coordinator for the Leadership Campaign.

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