A climate defense that actually works

Terry Odendahl

By Terry Odendahl, Executive Director and CEO

I am writing this note from New York on the heels of the People’s Climate March. An estimated 400,000 people flooded the streets on Sunday morning to demand bold action on the climate crisis. Not only do those numbers make this gathering the largest climate march in history, but it also rivaled some of this country’s largest, most famous public rallies.


I wish you could be here to feel the charge of energy. Staff from our Boulder office took to the streets with supporters, grantees, and partners. Together, we are sending an unequivocal message to world leaders:

We want a world safe from the ravages of climate change. Change has to happen today. Not at some future date. Today.

This week, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, will convene delegates from around the globe to discuss how to deal with climate change. I believe UN involvement is essential. But here’s the reality: These large international efforts have yielded little progress.

If we want to stop climate chaos in its tracks, we need to listen to local people already taking positive actions against it.


People like Suryamani Bhagat, an indigenous woman who is mobilizing villagers in Jharkhand, India, to safeguard their forests and tribal culture. Forests like theirs are the lungs of the planet, soaking up carbon from our atmosphere. And protecting them is a critical defense against climate change.

Our responsibility is to make sure Suryamani, and others living in parts of the world hardest hit by climate chaos, have access to resources that will help them raise their voices on decisions affecting their safety, their health, and their ways of life.

This is why last year, we made 471 grants worth almost $4 million to people on the front lines of climate change. And our Next Generation Climate Board is getting grants to young people working on cutting-edge climate projects everywhere from Iraq to the Philippines.

I’m so proud of all the ways our grantees, our staff, and supporters like you are stepping to the line to demand action on climate change. Thank you for raising your voice. I promise we will continue to do the same.

Terry Odendahl

Terry Odendahl

Terry has spent more than 40 years working to bridge the gap between our natural and human worlds. Prior to joining Global Greengrants in 2009, Terry helmed the National Network of Grantmakers for over a decade, and later the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers. She also worked to protect public lands in the western United States as a program officer at the Wyss Foundation. An anthropologist by training, she has held faculty positions at Georgetown University, the University of California, San Diego, and Yale University. Terry’s background in anthropology and philanthropy is complemented by her expertise in gender studies. She is the co-author of four books about philanthropy and is the co-founder of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, D. C., and the Institute for Collaborative Change in New Mexico.