Climate Corps Programs: A Path toward Economic and Climate Justice – Next100
Event   Climate

Climate Corps Programs: A Path toward Economic and Climate Justice

Join us in-person to learn more about climate corps programs that can build environmental resiliency and workforce pathways to green jobs.

Join Next100 on Thursday, April 27 at 2:00 PM to learn more about climate corps programs that can build environmental resiliency and workforce pathways to green jobs in frontline communities.

Our conversation will highlight a recently introduced bill in Washington State, which would create a state-level climate corps program, as well as delve into federal grant opportunities that can help support similar programs in other states. The event will include a Q&A session.

Light refreshments will be provided.

All public areas of the venue are accessible.

Live ASL interpretation will be provided. If you would like to request an accommodation to ensure maximum inclusion or have questions about accessibility, please make a note in your RSVP.

Welcome Remarks: 

  • Stefan Lallinger, executive director, Next100


  • Robert Godfried, policy entrepreneur—national service, Next100

Panel I: Climate Corps in Washington State

  • Amber Martin-Jahn, executive director at Serve Washington
  • Miguel Raimilla, partnerships director at EarthCorps
  • Gus Williams, workforce development manager at CleanTech Alliance

Panel II: Climate Corps Across the Country

  • Kristen Bennett, chief executive officer at Service Year Alliance
  • Kaira Esgate, chief executive officer at America’s Service Commissions
  • Mary Ellen Sprenkel, president and CEO at The Corps Network

Closing Remarks:

  • Michael Smith, CEO, AmeriCorps

Presented by Next100 and The Century Foundation.

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Notice of Filming and Photography

When you attend this event, you enter an area where photography, audio, and video recording may occur. By entering the event premises, you consent to such recording media and its release, publication, exhibition, or reproduction.

*COVID-19 PUBLIC NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: By registering for this event, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending an in-person program presented by  The Century Foundation, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold The Century Foundation, its trustees, officers, agent, and employees liable for any illness or injury.

**Masking is encouraged but not required. 

Speaker Bios

Michael D. Smith is the eighth CEO of AmeriCorps, the federal agency for service and volunteering. He was nominated by President Biden and confirmed by the United States Senate in 2021.

Smith has dedicated his career to social justice and public service in support of underserved children and families. Prior to leading AmeriCorps, Smith served as executive director of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and director of Youth Opportunity Programs at the Obama Foundation.  

During the Obama administration, he served in the White House as special assistant to the president and senior director of cabinet affairs, overseeing the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and serving as director of the Social Innovation Fund, which was housed at AmeriCorps.

Robert Godfried is a policy entrepreneur at Next100 and an advocate for creating public service opportunities that are accessible to all. At Next100, Robert is focused on increasing equity and inclusion in AmeriCorps by making federal, state, and local public service more accessible for people from all backgrounds. Previously, Robert worked as a field organizer for Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign, as an associate at a progressive political digital marketing firm, and served as an AmeriCorps member where he helped tenants fight for heat, hot water, and stable housing. Across these positions, he experienced the value and challenges of public service first-hand.

Amber Martin-Jahn is the executive director of Serve Washington, the state commission on national and community service. Serve Washington administers $21.3 million in federal funds that support twenty-one organizations which collectively support 1,490 AmeriCorps members across the state to meet locally identified needs. Working together with members of the governor-appointed commission, she and the Serve Washington team work to advance national service, volunteerism and civic engagement to improve lives, expand opportunity to meet local needs and strengthen community capacity.

Miguel Raimilla is a social entrepreneur with extensive experience in creating multicultural and inclusive organizations. In 1993 he came to the USA to support the launching of EarthCorps and later joined founder Dwight Wilson taking the model created in Seattle to multiple countries worldwide. He returned to EarthCorps in 2021 to expand and diversify EarthCorps’ community partners, projects, and services that support underserved and BIPOC communities and advance environmental justice agendas throughout Puget Sound.

Gus Williams is a workforce development professional with over ten years of experience, currently serving as the director of workforce development at CleanTech Alliance, a nonprofit organization focused on advancing clean technology innovation and job creation in the Pacific Northwest. In his role, Gus is responsible for developing and implementing workforce development programs and initiatives that support the growth of the clean technology sector.

Kristen Bennet is chief executive officer and responsible for formulating and ensuring the execution of Service Year Alliance’s strategy to make a service year a common expectation and opportunity. A leader at Service Year Alliance since its founding—most recently as chief strategy officer and interim co-CEO—Kristen brings nearly fifteen years of national service experience and an in-depth understanding of the sector to the role as national service launches into a new era. Her vision for a new era of national service prioritizes the experience and outcomes of those who serve and focuses on how to make national service more equitable and accessible for youth of all backgrounds.

Kaira Esgate serves as CEO of America’s Service Commissions (ASC), the national association for the fifty-two governor-appointed state and territorial service commissions. ASC represents and promotes as well as builds the capacity of service commissions around the country.

Prior to her current position, Kaira served as the executive director of Reimagining Service, a national multisector coalition dedicated to converting good intentions into greater impact through effective volunteer engagement strategies. With Reimagining Service, Kaira led efforts to bring new data and insights to volunteering and developed the nationally-recognized nonprofit service enterprise model. During her tenure with California Volunteers, the state service commission in California, Kaira served in a variety of roles, including overseeing the agency’s program development and grantmaking activities, leading planning efforts with the service and volunteering field in the state, developing advocacy strategies at the federal and state levels, and serving as chief of staff to the nation’s first cabinet-level secretary of service and volunteering.

Mary Ellen Sprenkel is president and chief executive officer for The Corps Network. She has been a long-time champion for youth. Mary Ellen came to The Corps Network in March of 2008 and has served in a number of leadership roles. During her tenure, Service and Conservation Corps have become better known programs to lawmakers and policymakers throughout the federal government. Under Mary Ellen’s leadership, in 2010 more than $63 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects were granted to Service and Conservation Corps throughout the country by fifteen federal agencies. These projects provided youth with jobs and service opportunities while connecting them to public lands including national parks and forests. More recently, Mary Ellen has served as a member of the Federal Advisory Committee tasked with providing recommendations to federal land management agencies on how to implement a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.