ACE Fellow to Speak at United Nations

ACE is proud to announce that Victoria Barrett, New York City ACE Action Fellow, will be speaking for the opening ceremony of the United Nations High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals on Thursday, April 21, 2016. She will be joined by New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, actor Forest Whitaker, and a host of heads of state from around the globe. She is an active member of the Get Loud Challenge and looks forward to speaking on behalf of her generation.

"I'm already seeing the effects of climate change on the people I love."

                                               —Victoria Barrett

Her remarks will focus on the movement building, particularly with young people, that will be necessary to achieve the goals by 2030, when she will be 31 years old. Victoria is currently a 17-year-old high school student at the Notre Dame School of Manhattan. She was born and raised in New York and identifies as a Honduran-American with roots in the Garifuna Indigenous culture. She is currently serving as a Fellow with ACE and says about her personal experience with climate change, "I'm already seeing the effects of climate change on the people I love. My grandparents' house in Honduras is on the beach, and with sea levels rising, the shore has gotten much closer to our home.”

Victoria has been engaged and is active in human rights and climate activism work throughout high school. In late 2015, she spoke at United Nations Headquarters in New York on a panel, Youth At The Forefront: Bridging the Gap Between Climate Change and Climate Action, in the lead-up to her trip to the Paris Climate Talks with ACE in December 2015. While in Paris, she attended key climate events with world leaders, led youth activism actions on the ground, and met one-on-one with the Minister of Environment and Energy of the Maldives. Bloomberg News named Victoria one of the top 10 attendees to watch in Paris.

Earlier in 2015, Victoria became a plaintiff in a landmark lawsuit holding the US government accountable for the effects of climate change on her generation through ACE’s partner, Our Children’s Trust. According to the lawsuit, “the Complaint alleges the Federal Government is violating the youth’s constitutional rights by promoting the development and use of fossil fuels.” The lawsuit and Victoria’s story have picked up momentum in recent months attracting the attention of national media.

In addition to her work nationally and globally, Victoria is highly engaged in local climate activism work in New York. She helped organize youth for the historic People’s Climate March that drew more than 400,000 people, and co-designed a campaign asking that the New York City Schools Chancellor, Carmen Fariña, mandate climate education in all K-12 NYC Public Schools.

Victoria says she plans to study international affairs and foreign policy in college, and would one day like to work for the United Nations.

Leah Qusba

Leah joined ACE in 2009 and is currently serving as Deputy Director. She brings with her more than 12 years of experience in the nonprofit sector as a relationship-builder, communicator and strategic problem solver. She manages ACE’s program, campaign, communications, media, and marketing strategy.