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Lisa Kohler, Regional Organizer for Western GTHA

Saturday Spotlight Series

· Climate Reality Canada Team
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Full Name and Title

Lisa Kohler, Regional Organizer for Western GTHA

Short Biography

Strong business development professional who graduated from Bowling Green State University, Lisa started her career working in the environmental not for profit sector in the United States. She is the orchestrator of the Halton Climate Collective, a dedicated team driving local climate change. She oversees successful programs including Halton Green Screens, OakvilleReady, Halton Food, Generation Green, and Greening Sacred Spaces Halton-Peel Chapter. She networks with numerous environmental organizations, municipalities, and community members to inspire change and action.

Why did you join the climate movement/what pushed you to become interested in climate change issues?

My passion for the environment, social equity, and living sustainably started when I moved from Ontario to Ohio. Growing up in Ontario, I learned a lot about ecosystems, recycling, and respecting our environment. I moved to Ohio as a teenage and was shocked to discover no recycling program, nor any eco clubs at my new school. With a call to action, I quickly set up a recycling program for my high school, sorting and driving aluminum cans to the Cleveland Alcoa plant. Selling the cans allowed for me to kick start a school wide eco-week, eco club and tree planting event. I also became engaged in volunteering with Cleveland non-for-profit environmental groups: Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings (IC0) and the Earth Day Coalition (EDC). Environmental justice and education was at the cornerstone of my formative years and I am very grateful for many mentors in Ohio. I was awarded EDC’s David Brower Award, named Volunteer of the Year with EDC, and traveled to Washington DC representing Ohio for ICO.

Through my youth, I discovered that propelling action was my calling. Not content to let others do or not do good works, my journey became one of activism to ensure that our world was better protected and our communities were better served. Through my education, work, and volunteer experience, my life is dedicated to making a difference by leading effective change accomplished through authentic community engagement and projects that inspire people. It is also important for me to “walk the walk,” with my environmentally-responsible family continuously working to walk more softly on our planet in a hopeful way, in order to ensure a brighter future for all.

What is one achievement you are proud of?

The project I am most proud of is the Halton Climate Collective (HCC), an initiative of the Halton Environmental Network (HEN). As Executive Director of HEN, I was in a position to innovate and create a collective impact concept working with diverse community partners. Drawing on my community and climate action experience, the need to establish a collaborative collective to inspire climate action was clear to me. I facilitated bringing together diverse regional partners to work towards common goals to achieve climate change understanding, action, and environmentally aligned programs integrating authentic community engagement delivered to address community needs.

The HCC’s mission is to lead local regional systemic transformation towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient community. Over the past 3.5 years, the HCC has effectively delivered programs, outreach, and supported local GHG mitigation efforts, including Generation Green, a project by youth for youth that supports change making and supported the reduction of over 20 tonnes of GHG emissions locally in its first year.

What was your most iconic/memorable Act of Leadership?

I have many! Presenting to youth at high schools and at faith-based organizations, and hearing from our community about their own personal calls to action to advance mitigation is always memorable. However, I think chatting with Al Gore after the Seattle training was an incredible, memorable experience. Mr Gore was generous with his time and supported me with his experiences and wisdoms around collective community action and change making. I reflect on this conversation often.

What are some climate change initiatives you are currently taking part in?

The Halton Climate Collective, Generation Green, Halton Food, Greening Sacred Spaces, Food waste study, OakvilleReady, Community Energy Taskforce for the Town of Oakville, and Halton District School Board’s Environmental Management Team. I’m also currently building synchronous learning tools on climate education.

What do you think is the most effective way for people to take climate action?

Collective community action. If, every day, we try to reduce our own emission, share our successes, and get others to act and speak up.