CmdZ: What would you undo? Meet 4 state and local elected leaders fighting for our planet
Fast forward to the year 2053– the world as we know it has become a literal dumpster fire with an environment so toxic from climate change that you have to wear a biohazard suit whenever you’re outside. Now, imagine you could go back in time– to our time– 2023 and change things to stop climate change and make the world more livable, fair, and decent for all.
That’s the premise of CommandZ, a new independently produced series that asks the simple question, “What would you undo?” While we may all have different answers, meet four RFS alumni who are in the fight for climate justice and working towards a future we don’t have to undo.
DeAndrea Salvador- North Carolina
DeAndrea Salvador is a fifth-generation Charlottean dedicated to serving her community. The founder of a groundbreaking Charlotte-based organization focused on energy efficiency and sustainability, DeAndrea works to improve the community’s most pressing issues including climate, clean air, and energy affordability. She believes in strengthening our infrastructure, supporting schools, and ensuring teachers are paid a fair, living wage. Currently raising two young boys with her husband, Kirk, DeAndrea graduated from UNC Charlotte with an Economics degree. While earning her degree in Economics, DeAndrea worked in economic development and government affairs for organizations like the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce and the Electric Power Research Institute. When she saw her Charlotte neighbors spending more than 20% of their income on energy expenses, DeAndrea founded RETI, a non-profit focused on helping families sustainably reduce energy costs. RETI also consulted on the City of Charlotte’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan. DeAndrea serves on the boards of Clean Air Carolina and she was on the Mecklenburg County Air Quality Commission for three years.
When elected to the North Carolina Senate in 2021, Deandrea became the youngest Black woman to ever serve in the body. As a legislator, she has passed policy that requires significant cuts from the energy sector by 2030 and carbon neutrality for the state by 2050.
Melissa Cheatham- Kansas
Elected to the Overland Park City Council in 2021, Melissa Cheatham is a mom, community advocate, and policymaker with experience solving problems at the federal, local, and neighborhood levels. As the primary author of the region’s Climate Action Playbook, a member of the city’s Environmental Advisory Council, and former Professional Staff for the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Melissa will also work hard to incorporate sustainability in city decisions.
Ashantae Green- Florida
GREEN is her last name, and so is her life! Ashantae Green is a sustainability ambassador, educator, & advocate for environmental justice/ equity, food security & healthy resilient communities. As an architectural & digital designer specializing in Green building by trade, Ashantae was appointed to the City of Jacksonville’s subcommittee for resiliency advising on environmental planning & community protection. This local farmer and green eatery owner is a graduate of Florida State college at Jacksonville, and currently completing certificates in Sustainability Management from LSU & Sustainable Agricultural & Urban Land Management from UF. Elected to the Duval County Soil and Water Commission in 2020, she brings gardens to local elementary schools and is the producer of Jacksonville’s only completely carbon-neutral beer.
Much of her life is centered around Green living– whether actively engaging communities to be green or living in spaces that were not green at all. Ashantae grew up in Jacksonville on the East Side and witnessed the impacts of environmental inequities during her childhood. In 32206, the zip code she grew up in, there were higher rates of asthma and heat stroke among children because of the lack of trees, factories, and the fact that highways cut through mere meters from playgrounds, spewing carbon emissions, making neighborhoods up to 10 degrees warmer than the rest of the City.
She fights for people across the First Coast– from working with Jacksonville residents to keep the St. Johns and waterways clean: to the Beaches, dealing with erosion & plastic pollution; to Baldwin concerned with food insecurity & inequitable access; to north-side Jacksonville where flooding and contaminated soil goes unaddressed, she believes citizens deserve better. Each of these communities and so many others create the diverse biosphere that is Duval County, her home. It’s a biosphere that Ashantae deeply believes needs to be cared for and protected.
Sue AnderBois- Rhode Island
Sue AnderBois serves on the Providence City Council. Her career has been focused on public policy solutions for climate change, clean energy, and sustainable food systems. She is the Climate and Energy Program Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island. In this role, she advocates for strong state-level climate and clean energy policy and manages TNC’s involvement in the Municipal Resilience Program.
Prior to this, AnderBois served as Rhode Island’s first Director of Food Strategy and led the development and implementation of the State’s first Food Plan — Relish Rhody. As a long-time climate justice and clean energy activist and chair of Providence’s Sustainability Commission, she also serves on the RI Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council, as a board member of the Southside Community Land Trust, and is a founding board member of the Local Return.