Driving Climate Action with Pride
As Pride month kicks off, meet some of the inspiring LGBTQ+ staff at RMI who are working every day for a better tomorrow.
June is Pride month, when members of the LGBTQ+ community come together to celebrate their identities and fight for their rights.
We at RMI proudly stand with our LGBTQ+ staff, contractors, partners, and supporters in celebrating Pride Month, acknowledging the LGBTQ+ community’s contributions to the energy transition and the fight against climate change.
Meet some of the LGBTQ+ staff of RMI who are working to change our world for the better and to create a clean, sustainable future.
Laila Atalla, Senior Associate – New Mexico
Laila Atalla (they/them) works to transform policy to support an equitable transition to resilient, all-electric buildings. They believe that transitioning to efficient buildings powered by renewable electricity is not just a climate solution — it’s also an opportunity to safeguard our health, make energy bills more affordable, and support good jobs. Atalla feels that climate justice is an intersectional issue that connects with LGBTQ+ rights in multiple ways. “LGBTQ+ youth are 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness than other youth,” they explain. “And being unhoused makes it much harder to survive extreme heat, huge storms, and other severe weather events caused by climate change.”
Conrad Borges, Social Media Community Engagement Lead – California
Conrad Borges (he/him) is the social media lead at RMI, helping to get our work in front of more people and the right people. He loves that he gets to help transform RMI’s insights into action through strategic communications. Borges believes that climate change and inequality are intimately and systemically connected. “Without justice and equity at the center of the energy transition,” he explains, “a sustainable future is out of reach.”
Joanna Footman, Senior Early Career Recruiting Specialist – Texas
Joanna Footman (she/her) manages career recruiting for associates and interns and serves as a chair for RMI’s LGBTQ+ Coalition employee resource group. She is currently working on an early career diversity recruiting strategy that includes attending conferences, career fairs, and professional development workshops at specific minority-serving institutions. Footman has a strong passion for career development so is excited that she is able to bring her expertise from the higher education space into a nonprofit with such an important niche. “I get to connect with faculty, staff, and students from all over the world to bring opportunities to them in an industry that is still growing for many years to come,” she says.
Madison Hall, Social Media Content Lead – Tennessee
As the social media content lead, Madison Hall (she/her) uses the power of social media and communication to encourage climate action. She believes that real change demands a relentless commitment and determination to challenge the status quo and forge new paths toward sustainability and justice. “I understand that real change is not achieved through empty words or fleeting trends,” Hall explains. “Every call to action, every piece of content, and every campaign I create is carefully crafted to ignite a spark within individuals, compelling them to rise and take action.”
Scott Ladd, Design Manager – Texas
As RMI’s design manager, Scott Ladd (he/him) says he gets to work on a lot of “cool behind-the-scenes things” that help get our mission across to larger audiences. After working in newsrooms and corporate communications, he realized that he wanted to be part of something that makes a difference in the world. Visually telling the climate change message is important to Ladd. He explains that throughout time, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC individuals routinely found community and acceptance in neighborhoods overlooked by environmental controls and standards, making them a significant portion of communities directly impacted by climate change or hazardous emissions. “Those same areas are still affected,” he says.
Caitlin Odom, Senior Associate – California
Caitlin Odom (she/her) works on infrastructure planning for electrification. She got involved in the climate space because she wanted to have a career that was centered on dismantling systems of oppression and finding ways to repair the damage that has been done. “Climate poses an existential threat that can serve as a transition point out of the systems that don’t serve everyone and into structures that prioritize reparations and equity,” she explains. Odom thrives on connection and feels that collaboration and collective change can accomplish anything.
Ben Proffer, Communications Lead – Colorado
Ben Proffer (he/him) is currently developing communications assets and narrative pieces for much of our electricity work as well as developing communications strategies for our global energy transition work in Southeast Asia. He appreciates that he gets to work with some of the most dedicated and down-to-earth people in this space. And although Proffer believes it’s easy to get jaded with the amount of doom, gloom, and paranoia that is out there about climate change, he feels that “helping to tell the stories of the everyday leaders who are plugging away at the solutions we need feels like a gift.”
Matt Solomon, Public Relations Operations Lead – New York
Matt Solomon (he/they) coordinates the external communications outputs and media strategy for RMI’s global programs. Prior to RMI, Solomon, who identifies as genderqueer — a person who does not follow binary gender norms — worked in global LGBTQ+ advocacy and realized the numerous ways that struggles for Queer acceptance intersected with the climate crisis. “People don’t meaningfully engage with what they don’t understand,” they say. “That’s what makes communications work in both Queer and climate spaces so necessary.” Solomon believes there are vast inequities surrounding global climate politics, and loves that RMI works tirelessly to center local voices in these conversations.
Allisandra Stoiko, Senior Associate – Washington
As part of RMI’s Strategy team, Allisandra Stoiko (she/they) helps RMI maximize its impact, including supporting its energy equity work. When they learned about climate change for the first time in high school, they felt an immediate sense of purpose and urgency to help protect life on the planet. They haven’t looked back since. Stoiko believes that climate change is absolutely an LGBTQ+ issue. “From weaker support systems to higher poverty rates, gender non-conforming and other queer folks can be more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” they explain.