Launching NWF EcoLeaders Top 50: Inspiring the Next Generation

The recent climate talks in Paris – along with the launch of the U.S. Clean Power Plan and reports of increasing green economy jobs – signal unprecedented opportunities for current students and young professionals to secure careers in line with their sustainability values.

Our four February EcoLeaders. One common thread in each of their stories is the importance of seeking out and acquiring hands-on experience.
Throughout 2016, the EcoLeaders Career Center, hosted by the National Wildlife Federation, will celebrate the motivating stories and career accomplishments of young professionals making their names (and a difference) in the sustainability movement. We’re calling this initiative to identify a group of change-makers and rising stars “NWF EcoLeaders Top 50: Inspiring the Next Generation”. We will announce a new batch of 4-8 inspirational leaders each month, culminating in the first full group of 50 Inspirations in December.

Four Leaders

Our first group of EcoProfessionals for February are each at very different points in their careers and have recently been interviewed for the national EcoLeader Career Center, which is a career development perk for registered EcoLeaders.

These featured four have exemplified the same key leadership principles that we seek to instill in all NWF EcoLeaders:

  • Shaping a personal mission to guide the focus and purpose of their work and life
  • Designing and leading projects that engage their communities’ sustainability needs
  • Supporting others by providing valuable advice and sharing lessons learned with students and young professionals all across the U.S.

February’s Featured Inspirations

Jessian Choy
Jessian Choy. Photo by Diego Rodriguez Garcia
1) Jessian Choy: Jessian is a Green Purchasing and Toxics Reduction Specialist at the San Francisco Department of the Environment and shares tips and tricks on how to live a greener lifestyle on her site She served as an NWF Campus Ecology Fellow in 2001. As a student, she was started the University of California Santa Cruz Student Environmental Center (UCSC SEC) and oversaw the efforts of six ad hoc committees, and helped educate and engage campus and community members.

“I mean, really everything anyone does influences people. You never know how far it will influence people. I think it’s really important when you’re a role model to always remember that people might be watching you and copying you. In ways that they may not even realize.” – Jessian Choy (read the full interview)

2) Niraj Ray: Niraj is the founder of Cultivate the City. He served as a 2013 NWF Emerging Leader Habitat Fellow. As a fellow, Niraj was involved in restoring the J.O. Wilson Elementary School Kitchen Garden in Washington, DC in order to increase the sustainability of the school, better integrate it with the community, and provide educational opportunities for students on nutrition and urban agriculture.

“I would say my personal mission is focusing on helping people realize the impact that their individual actions have on the environment for better or worse and helping create those small changes that eventually add up to not just environmental change but also social and economic gains as well for the community.” – Niraj Ray (read the full interview)

Photo courtesy of Niraj Ray
3) Jomar Floyd: Jomar is an Alumnus of Florida A&M University, and he has been active with NWF in Florida as well as nationally. Jomar was co-chair of NWF’s Emerging Leaders Council (ELC) and was a 2014 Emerging Leaders Fellow with his project “Science for Us” 4-H Club Charter: Engaging Youth in STEM/Environmental Awareness, for which he also received the 2015 National Conservation Youth Leader Award.

“It’s important to have a platform that really allows young professionals to have a voice but also able to share and also mentor one another; I think that’s critical moving forward.” – Jomar Floyd (read the full interview)

Photo courtesy of Jomar Floyd
Pamela Millan4) Pamela Millan: Pamela is a Certified EcoLeader and a student at St. Edwards University. The project for which Pamela received certification studied the relationship between white-tailed deer density and activity in a residential area.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to people. Sometimes I think as a young professional, we’re kind of intimidated to reach out because you don’t want to annoy people, but I think you’d be surprised. Just try to communicate and get yourself out there. People are interested in working with each other. People always need help.” – Pamela Millan (read the full interview)

Jessian and Jomar were also recently featured in the 80th Anniversary Edition of National Wildlife Magazine article: “Student Star Power: EcoLeaders are lighting the way to solutions on campuses, in communities and beyond.

Read full interviews in the NWF EcoLeaders Career Center (note that career center contents require registration with EcoLeaders for access). EcoLeaders is the nation’s first project-based leadership development program for sustainability, leading to certification for college students and young professionals. EcoLeaders provides a career edge that helps the planet while helping thousands of emerging leaders do well by doing good for their communities.

Stay tuned as we announce a new batch of 4-8 inspirational leaders each month, culminating in the first full group of 50 inspirations in December.

If you think that you, or someone you know, would be a great addition to this list as it grows throughout the year and beyond, please send us a brief email with contact information and a quick bio at