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Kresge’s Environment Program welcomes two new hires

Environment, General Foundation News

Yeou-Rong Jih and Alejandra Hernandez, two distinguished climate change advocates, are joining Kresge’s Environment Program team.

In her new role at Kresge, Jih will serve as a program officer overseeing the Climate Resilient and Equitable Water Systems (CREWS) portfolio, which consists of more than 30 organizations working to advance equitable solutions to climate-related urban flooding.

Jih recently served as the Director of Urban Initiatives at Greenlink Analytics in Atlanta, Georgia. She co-led Greenlink’s equity-mapping efforts, working with cities and community-based organizations across the U.S. to craft clean energy strategies that go beyond maximizing carbon savings to prioritize the equity and energy justice needs of residents. Jih also worked with the City of Atlanta as the Senior Manager of Resilience Policy and Programs. In this role, she assisted with the development and implementation of the Resilient Atlanta Strategy and the Clean Energy Atlanta plan. Jih earned the distinct recognition as one of Grist Magazine’s 2021 50 Fixers for her work on climate and equity solutions. She has a master’s degree in Psychological Research from Oxford University; a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology; and a bachelor’s degree in Chinese from Emory University.

“As a prior grantee of The Kresge Foundation, I’ve seen firsthand the Foundation’s commitment to racial equity and climate justice, as well as the incredible impacts of its grantees’ initiatives in the water, energy and health space,” said Jih. “I’m elated to be joining the Kresge team. I hope to bring my passion for environmental justice and community building to my role and look forward to supporting national and place-based environment programs and grantees.”

Hernandez will serve as a fellow, supporting the Environment Program’s strategy to help cities combat and adapt to climate change while advancing racial and economic equity. She will also work with Kresge’s Climate Change, Health & Equity (CCHE) initiative team to mobilize equitable climate action in low-income communities across the country, collaborating with health care institutions, health practitioners and community advocates.

Prior to joining Kresge, Hernandez served as a Conservation Policy Associate at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in Madison, Wisconsin. Hernandez has conducted research and promoted legislation in support of equitable climate resilience in agriculture, food systems and supply chains. She earned a master’s degree from the Yale School of the Environment with a specialization in Ecosystems and Land Conservation and Management. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Dallas. Before graduate school, Hernandez worked at the John Bartkowski Department of Environmental Health at the Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, providing health education and social services on Milwaukee’s multicultural south side.

“I am thrilled to join Kresge’s Environment Team and for the opportunity to focus on issues of climate resilience and health equity at a national scale,” said Hernandez. “I hope to bring my passion for climate justice to my new role, and I am looking forward to working with Kresge’s inspiring partners across the country.”

Lois R. DeBacker, managing director of the Environment Program, added, “We are delighted that Yeou and Alejandra have joined the Environment team. They bring strong knowledge about climate change, particularly as it relates to racial justice, and a commitment to social change. I know our grantee partners and other colleagues will enjoy working with them.”

Read a recent feature story published by Grist where Jih shares how data can reveal hidden disparities and give residents a voice in city planning: Too many clean energy programs leave the poor behind. Enter the ‘equity map.’