Brenda V. Perez Amador
Green Fellow, Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE)
Brenda Perez (she/her/ella) is an award-winning community activist who is passionate about the environment and immigration. She has been awarded both the Empowering the Future Award from the Washington Peace Center, the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, was a recent Green Fellow at the DC Department of Energy & Environment, and is currently earning a master’s degree in water resources management. Perez, who is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient, came to the United States at age 10, and has been deeply involved in community advocacy. Perez was featured in the Smithsonian documentary “Risers,” a film about how two young students navigated the challenges they faced being young undocumented immigrants. When asked in a 2015 Latinitas Interview, what the difference between dreamers and risers are, she responded: “We’re not dreaming anymore. We’re rising. We’re stepping up to the plate.”
To support her through the academic challenges and bullying that came with not speaking English upon her arrival to the US, she became a leading voice in the Student Multiethnic Action Research Team (SMART), a project of Many Languages One Voice (MLOV), and eventually a lead student organizer. In that role, she spoke out about the needs of immigrant English Language Learners in DC Public Schools. After college she continued her work with MLOV focusing on youth organizing and also served as its deputy director. Perez has also worked with City Blossoms, an urban gardening organization in DC, as part of the Mighty Greens program. With this organization, she has worked with community youth to promote entrepreneurship and food co-op practices, while maintaining cultural sensitivity and relevance in the community despite language barriers.
Recognizing that climate change is a time sensitive issue, she strives to be inclusive and open up spaces for action in communities that have been impacted. “Communities of color and communities with economic differences have been impacted disproportionately. In order to resolve that, we need to make these issues more intersectional,” says Perez. “I want to build unity in our communities by looking at the intersectionality of issues like immigration and the environment.”
Perez brings multiethnic and multilingual communities together while putting youth participation at the forefront. She helps young people in the community develop the skills they need to become community organizers, leaders, and to advocate for language justice and other aspects of community advocacy. Her dedication to the Latinx community and to the environment is what makes her a Naturally Latinos Environmental Champion.