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
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. With the Environmental & Climate Committee of the NAACP - TN Chapter he is currently developing a multilevel team that mentors EJ student activists at three historically black college and university campuses in the South.
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; and 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.
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 Paris COP21, where he served as producer for a team of American students who delivered live-webcasts 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 also informs his activism. He is an active member of the national "Scientists Network" public outreach program of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is part of the "Ignite Change" network of the Center for Biological Diversity and is active in the American Association for the Advancement of Science section on Societal Impacts of Science and Engineering.
As a member of SC’s national Toxics Committee and its Core leadership team, he monitors Trump administration impacts on EPA’s clean air/water/energy protection. As President of the TN Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility he collaborates with various organizations to on a Connect-the-Dots Campaign to link various environmental issues to the underlying existential problem of climate change.
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 has the potential to expand environmental activism to beyond America's largest 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; a faculty traineeship certificate from Harvard Medical School; and a post-doctoral fellowship in 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, and sat on the faculty roundtable at the Emory University Center for Ethics & Public Policy in the Professions.
Cliff’s research projects have included guest collaborations at Brookhaven National Laboratory, National Institutes of Health, CDC, Atlanta-VA Medical Center, NASA, the Gulf Coast Research Lab, and The Bristol-Myers Squibb Institute at Princeton.
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); and breakout session moderator at the Climate Convergence Conference in association with the UN Climate Summit (New York, New York - 2014.
He bridges his work on environmental justice to climate justice globally, serving as Director of Curriculum & Instruction at the Mayan Environmental Education & Research Center [MEERC, in Tres Reyes Ejido and in Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico], guiding American college student volunteers on environmental fieldwork projects and their collaborative STEM education of indigenous students pursuing sustainability studies. Much of his current work also involves bringing science into art galleries and promoting art that addresses the existential problem of climate change. Previously he published over 100 photographs in print media, illustrated 2 books, and was executive producer on a documentary. Now he also paints, organizes gallery exhibitions, and delivers gallery talks on climate change messaging in arts and performing arts.
As a member of "Artists for the Earth" and through MEERC's partnership with the international Akumal Arts Festival [AAF], he advises AAF on the promotion of climate change messaging in conjunction with the themes of sustainability and community resilience in the developing world and in collaboration with indigenous peoples. He also uses art as a means of focusing meditation during retreats he leads on climate change messaging in the writings of Pope Francis, in collaboration with the Global Catholic Climate Movement. 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
jean [at] tree-of-life.wo
Jean has been raising awareness about global warming and the threats posed by fossil fuel use for 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.