The Policy Shaper

Heather McGhee

Job:President, Demos
Age:35
Reps:New York, NY
Follow:@hmcghee

Green cred: If the green struggle must be first and foremost a struggle for human rights, then Demos, a research and advocacy organization that fights economic and political inequality, is in line to help save the planet. McGhee took the wheel at Demos in 2014, at the age of 33, which is unusually young for someone running a multimillion-dollar nonprofit that directly influences national policy. She regularly appears on news shows to talk about jobs and poverty.

“Inequality and climate change are the twin challenges of our time, and more democracy is the answer to both.”

What to expect in 2016: “Demos will be taking on climate change in a big way,” McGhee says. That means writing op-eds, pushing for policy development, and articulating a vision for the clean-energy economy. After all, the clean-energy economy won’t work if all the benefits end up going to wealthy homeowners (see solar-power subsidies).

“The racial wealth gap is an urgent national problem,” says McGhee, “and we think that the new energy economy must address first the needs of [certain] communities, which have been last in line in the old economy.”

Why inequality is a green issue: “Inequality and climate change are the twin challenges of our time, and more democracy is the answer to both,” McGhee says. “Our planet is in this situation because the profit of a few wealthy individuals and corporations was put ahead of the well being of the rest of us.”

Tech addiction: Unroll.Me, which helps you clean up your inbox. “There are zero inbox people — and I’m not that person,” she says. “I probably have 10,000 unread messages in my inbox. So I’m obsessed with anything that can help me master my email problem.”