Climate Emergency Coalition (CEC) is a lead organization creating the national conversation on the current climate emergency to result in an Emergency Climate Mobilization. CEC is creating a campaign of moral conversation events to be hosted in faith communities and civic spaces—to alert, engage, and activate Americans to call for responses to meet the scope, scale, and urgency of the crisis: national climate policies and an emergency mobilization to phase out fossil fuels within a decade.


Cliff Cockerham, National Campaign Director
[email protected]

Cliff Cockerham has a long history of activism, going back to the 1970s. Much of his current work nationally and internationally involves speaking and teaching about climate justice (CJ) and intersectionality. 

Cliff is especially adept at engaging and organizing young people. After a diverse teaching/research career, he began engaging inner-city youth as Sierra Club (SC) activists in 2008. He revived both the SC - Tennessee Chapter's Environmental Justice (EJ) Committee and the SC - Tennessee Chapter's Environmental Education (EE) Committee, both of which he chaired until 2018. Consequently, dozens of students have been awarded SC scholarships to attend national trainings and conferences in addition to participating in seminal activist events and rallies. As Co-Chair of the Environment & Climate Committee of the NAACP - TN Conference he mentors EJ student activists at historically black college and university campuses. 

After receiving SC national's Cox Award in 2011 for student empowerment, Cliff served in roles such as: keynote and plenary EJ/EE speaker at over a dozen national and international conferences; SC - TN Chapter Chair 2015-2017; EJ adjunct faculty at Merritt College. He accepted SC’s Bay Area “Emerging Voices” Award with Merritt College President Burns in 2017, owing to his founding role in designing and deploying the college’s San Francisco Bay Area EJ/CJ Education Pipeline. As a Lifetime Member of the Sierra Club, Cliff continues to serve nationally on the Climate Emergency Mobilization Team, the Climate Adaptation & Response Team, and the National Toxics Core Leadership Team;  while coordinating the national network of Climate Health Action Teams.   

Early retirement in 2014 allowed Cliff to dig deeper, spending six weeks on the Peoples Climate March team that brought 40,000 college students to Manhattan in 2014. This was an exciting prelude to the 2015 convening of COP21 in Paris, where he produced live webcasts of college students to American audiences. He also had the pleasure of organizing an NGO/SC side-event against fracking while participating in the international meeting of anti-fracking activists during COP21.

Cliff’s science background specifically informs his activism. He is a highly engaged Climate Ambassador with Physicians for Social Responsibility [PSR] and a co-moderator of PSR national's Environment & Health Roundtable.  He is also a member of the national "Scientists Network" public outreach program of the Union of Concerned Scientists [UCS];  the "Ignite Change" network of the Center for Biological Diversity [CBD];  the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS] section on Societal Impacts of Science and Engineering.

On SC’s [https://content.sierraclub.org/grassrootsnetwork/teams/national-toxics-team] National Toxics Team [NTT] and NTT's core leadership, he helps monitor POTUS administrative impacts on EPA’s clean air/water/energy protection. As President of the TN Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility [which shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985;  http://tennessee.psr.org/] he partners with various organizations on a Connect-the-Dots Campaign to link various environmental issues to the underlying existential problem of climate change.  He is a speaker in the Climate Reality Leadership Corps (Vice President Al Gore's Climate Reality Project) and a Climate Ambassador with Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Within TN Cliff sits on the Board of Directors [https://www.tcwn.org/staff-board] of the TN Clean Water Network and the TN leadership teams of the Citizens Climate Lobby [CCL], Elders Climate Action [ECA], and the Global Catholic Climate Network [GCCM];  while representing TN in America's State Carbon Pricing Network (climate-xchange.org).  Currently, he lobbies and speaks in Washington several times per year.  Except for field studies on Mayan Ejidos in the Central Yucatan, Cliff’s current focus is to teach, write, and continue building the Connect-the-Dots campaign, which seeks to expand environmental activism beyond America's metro hubs.  

His formal education includes: B.S. in Genetics and in Communications Arts [double major] with Honors from Cornell University; Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Georgetown University; Faculty Traineeship Certificate from Harvard Medical School; post-doctoral Research Fellowship, Molecular Cardiology in the Department of Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine.  While at Emory University he also taught as adjunct faculty in the African-American Studies Program, funded by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Program in Biology at Emory, and sat on the faculty round-table at the Emory University Center for Ethics & Public Policy in the Professions, which focused on health care reform in America.

Cliff’s research projects have included guest collaborations and workshops at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the National Institutes of Health [NIH], the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Atlanta-VA Medical Center, NASA [National Aeronautics & Space Administration at Goddard, Huntsville, Cape Canaveral, etc.], the Gulf Coast Research Lab [University of Southern Mississippi], and The Bristol-Myers Squibb Institute at Princeton; along with non-degree studies at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences [Bethesda], the U.S. Naval Academy [Annapolis], Ohio State University, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He is a past member of The Gerontological Society of America [GSA] and served 5 years on its Task Force on Minority Issues in Aging Research; serving on the Committee that wrote the first Minority Health Research Agenda at the NIH National Institute on Aging.  He remains an active member of the American Geophysical Union [AGU], the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health [MSCCH], and the Environmental Defense Fund. 

In the 1990s Cliff was awarded Emory's Multicultural Faculty-Staff Excellence Award, recognizing his service as Chair of the President's Commission on the Status of Minorities at Emory and his work for Chairperson Coretta Scott-King of the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission in Washington, D.C. As the King Commission's co-chair for Higher Education, Cliff played a central role in nationally defining the King federal holiday as a day of community service, branded by the motto: "A day on, not a day off!"

On the international stage, he served as NGO observer for the UN Conference on Trade & Development (Manila, Philippines -1979); NGO organizer for policy consultations with U.S. Ambassador Stromayer in preparation for the UN Conference on New & Renewable Energy (Nairobi, Kenya -1981); plenary environmental speaker at the summative conference on UN Millennium Development Goals (Vadodara, India - 2014); breakout session moderator at the Climate Convergence Conference in association with the UN Climate Summit (NY, NY - 2014). 

He bridges his work on environmental justice to climate justice globally, serving as Director of Curriculum & Instruction at the Maya Environmental Education & Research Center [MEERC in Tres Reyes & Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico; https://www.facebook.com/MEERCenterMexico/], guiding American college student volunteers on environmental fieldwork projects and their collaborative STEM education of indigenous students pursuing sustainability studies. He also leads both workshops and spiritual retreats on the message of Laudato Sī, the Papal Encyclical on climate change, as well as artist residencies in the Yucatan. In January 2019, Cliff served on the volunteer support team for the half million pilgrims that journeyed to Panama to see Pope Francis, working with the Franciscan presence in Latin America to support messaging on the climate change encyclical.  In addition to leading the Global Catholic Climate Movement [GCCM] in TN and working with several churches across the State on "Care for Creation," he serves on the Earthbeat advisory panel for the National Catholic Reporter [https://www.ncronline.org/earthbeat/advisory-panel], America's foremost news outlet in the Catholic world.

Much of his current work also involves bringing science into art galleries and promoting art that addresses the existential problem of climate change [https://www.earthday.org/take-action-now/].  Previously he published over 100 photographs in print media, illustrated 2 books, and was executive producer on a documentary.   Building on that background he now also paints, organizes gallery exhibitions, and delivers gallery talks on climate change messaging in arts and performing arts;  also using climate change art as a means of focusing meditation during retreats he leads on the writings of Pope Francis and the Global Catholic Climate Movement. 

Cliff is a founding member of the "Artists for the Earth Collective" [A4E] within the Climate Emergency Coalition.   https://www.cecoalition.org/a4earth

With A4E and through MEERC's Education Partnership with the international Akumal Arts Festival [AAF;  https://www.akumalartsfest.com/support-us] he collaborates on the promotion of climate change messaging in conjunction with the themes of sustainability and community resilience in the developing world, in solidarity with indigenous peoples.  For Cliff, protecting the most vulnerable people on the planet from the "globalization of indifference" is a moral imperative that ultimately drives his dedication to climate mobilization.


Jean Arnold, Development Director
[email protected]

Jean has been raising awareness about global warming and the threats posed by fossil fuel use for over a decade through writing, lectures, graphics, websites, visual art, and organizational development. She has organized community events, actions, and guest speaker engagements. Over time, Jean's focus has shifted from the local to the national level, and towards the need for policy change, system change, and cultural transformation. Prior to her founding work with the Association for the Tree of Life and Climate Emergency Coalition, she founded and served as coordinator of Post Carbon Salt Lake.