For Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru, caring about the environment started early. While farming with her mom and grandmother as a child, the conversations would often turn to saving the earth. The first-generation American of Kenyan descent became even more invested when taking an environmental science class in high school, when she learned that social justice and climate issues were deeply intertwined. Everything suddenly became personal. “It was in this call I learned that the environment had everything to do with me,” she says.
Her passion soon turned into activism. Today, Wawa is a climate justice storyteller motivated to uplift the voices of those most adversely impacted by the climate crisis. She has become the voice of her generation, using the power of social media to share how communities of color and women have been adversely affected by climate change and the racist roots of the environmental movement.
Passionate about bringing climate conversations into untraditional spaces, Wawa works collaboratively alongside other creatives, musicians and culture shapers to bring climate justice to the mainstream. She is the first-ever activist board chair at the Environmental Media Association, an organization that brings climate to the entertainment industry.
Wawa is also the founder of Black Girl Environmentalist, a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, a Narrative Fellow at the All We Can Save Project and a recent Revolutionary Power Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy, where she worked under the first-ever Deputy for Energy Justice to integrate energy justice in the federal landscape. She is also the youngest member of the Earthjustice Council and the first Black person in history to receive the Rhodes, Truman and Udall Scholarships.
Wawa has been recognized as a Young Futurist by The Root, a Grist 50 FIXER, a Glamour College Woman of the Year, a Victoria’s Secret PINK Purpose Project Winner, and has spoken about her work across the country.