The Equalizer

Sudha Nandagopal

Job:Program manager, City of Seattle Equity & Environment Initiative
Age:34
Reps:Seattle, WA
Follow:@nsudha

Green cred: Nandagopal oversees Seattle’s new environmental justice initiative — one of the only examples of its kind in the country. As part of the EEI, she convenes a working group that represents the interests of people of color, immigrants, refugees, and low-income and limited-English individuals in the face of environmental decision-making. (She’s also contributed to Grist!)

What to expect in 2016: “This is the year we begin to actually shift the environmental movement,” she says. For Seattle, this means rolling out the official Equity and Environment Agenda this spring. While Nandagopal can’t reveal all the details yet, she is hopeful. “Mayor Ed Murray has championed the importance of equity and the environment, not just for Seattle but also for other cities.”

Leveling the field: What environmentalism is sorely lacking, she argues, is a meaningful response to the current distribution of benefits and burdens of environmental policies. “Who has the opportunity to drive clean-energy vehicles?” she asks. The EEI is all about “community-driven solutions” — with communities of color as the “leaders, strategists, and power-brokers.”

Sweet discovery: Chocolate chai truffles, with cayenne and cardamom. “How’s that for intersectionality?” she says.

Photograph by Bill Phillips