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Volunteer Spotlight: Garima Desai

Garima Desai

Volunteer Spotlight: Garima Desai

By Elise Koepke

For Garima Desai, a recent UC Santa Cruz graduate and Rhodes Scholarship recipient, environmentalism is more than just an interest—it’s her calling. “I believe that environmentalism is my dharma,” she says. When she’s not volunteering with CCL, Garima works as a transportation planner for AECOM, where she uses her work “as an avenue for environmental progress because the way we design our cities heavily affects long-term carbon emissions.”

Garima is a volunteer with her local chapter, CCL Silicon Valley East, and a member of the Motivational Presenting Project. Through this project, Garima helps prepare CCL volunteers to design and deliver effective climate presentations. By taking a motivational approach, speakers learn how to engage and galvanize grassroots audiences in support of climate legislation.

She’ll be heading to Oxford University this fall to pursue double masters degrees in Environmental Change and Management, and Economics for Development. Before she hops across the pond, we caught up with her to learn more about her work with CCL.

How did you first get connected with CCL?

I first learned about CCL about four years ago when I was looking for a strong environmental solution that I could volunteer for. President Trump had just been elected. At the time, nothing seemed better than CCL’s bipartisan work. 

What did you like about CCL?

I like that CCL has one focus on pushing a carbon tax through Congress. It’s quite the feat, so I appreciate CCL taking it head on. The bipartisanship is a huge reason why I got involved, but more importantly, the fact that CCL’s solution is supported by economists across the political spectrum. Although I don’t believe that the carbon tax is the only solution, it is certainly an important and urgent solution we need.

Please tell me about your main efforts or projects within CCL.

I am lucky to have been brought on to the Motivational Presenting Project team. They are a group of wonderful, passionate individuals committed to reforming the way CCL talks about climate change. Through this group, I have been able to lead a volunteer training on narrative presentations and give internal team trainings on vocal tones for presenting. I adore public speaking, presenting, storytelling, and writing, so the work I do in this group always excites me!

What keeps you motivated to do this work?

I have many interests—I love music, writing, reading, teaching, and environmentalism. However, for my career, I chose to be an environmentalist. I know I could have been a musician, teacher, or author, but from a young age, I saw that climate change is the most pressing issue we face as a species. Nothing could stop me from fighting for a healthy planet for humans.

Got a suggestion for our Volunteer Spotlight series? Send the name, chapter, and some brief info about the volunteer to Flannery Winchester at flannery @

Elise Koepke is a communications intern with Citizens’ Climate Lobby. She is a recent graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she studied Earth Science.